You come out to the back yard and lower yourself into an Adirondack chair, close your eyes, and turn your face to the August sun. You are 24 days postpartum, and you’ve come out here to escape. Inside your house are eight people and all of them want something from you.
But you want to be alone. You want silence. You want sleep.
Your stomach churns with anxiety. It feels like a million frenzied caterpillars crawling all over each other in there.
Your best friend slips into the Adirondack chair beside you. You didn’t even hear her come outside. She rests her hand on yours. “You okay?” she asks. You’re not sure. You shrug and manage a wan smile. She is a good friend. She sits beside you in silence as you keep your face turned toward the sun, hoping its light will seep through your eyelids and calm the caterpillars.
The screen door bangs open, then shut, and your oldest son—he’s six—runs out. “Mama? Mama, will you read me a story?”
You open your eyes to see the book he holds in his hands and his eager, hopeful face. But you, bibliophile though you are, are too tired to read. You pull him, book and all, into your arms. “Let’s just sit here, shall we?” you say. He snuggles against your chest.
The screen door bangs again. This time it’s your daughter, who’s three.