I manage to strong arm my way into an early evaluation appointment that ends up not being an evaluation appointment, but rather another appointment to confirm the need for an evaluation appointment. I can’t help feeling like I’m having a trick played on me. I keep waiting for someone to admit that they’re just kidding. The psychologist reminds me of my ex sister in law. Both boys cry their way through the evaluation before the evaluation and on into the waiting room. The receptionist covers his ears. The psychologist confirms the need for an evaluation.
We go the van to calm down and then come back in to use the restroom. I have to force K into a stall with me and pee while he screams and pounds on the stall door, terrified that I’ll flush the toilet before I let him out so he can run to a safe distance. I manage this with his little brother in my arms. We finally open the door and another mom greets me at the sink. “I have one of those too. It gets better.” I try to smile but it chokes me on its way to my face. We rush back out to the van and hurry home to beat traffic.
I make a stop at the grocery store before picking their sister up from the sitter. K asks to use his cane, but he chickens out in the produce section. The sounds of the coolers are a lot for him to handle. We move to a quieter area and he works up the nerve to try again. Strangers stare at him, wearing sunglasses indoors and pushing around his cane. Some asks questions, some smile, others avoid us. We leave without another breakdown. Victory.
The sitter invites us in. She has a lot of questions. She offers to help us out more often. I’m not good at accepting help, I say. Drowning feels like a better option than admitting that I’m tired. We bring out legos for K to play with. He screams and we decide to go home. I politely avoid more offers of help. I remember that my husband and I haven’t been alone together in over three years.
We gather together for another dinner that K won’t look at. He stares at the ceiling light instead. I mix him yet another cup of formula. I watch my husband across the table, handsome and speckled worried gray. Our dining table seems a mile long.
We are finally able to wrestle all three children into bed and now there are dishes to wash and the day to put away. Once we finally have a chance to collapse on the couch, I pass out before I’m able to make good on my half-hearted promises of intimacy. He massages my tired feet and I know that his need for physical contact aches like my tired body. He never says so, but rather tucks me into bed and snuggles in close behind me. We breathe together for 45 minutes until K’s first night waking. I spend most of the night in his room after a few rounds of musical beds. My husband texts me good morning from our room down the hall.
I decide to accept the help.
“I have one of those too. It gets better.”