Lying Here, Doing Nothing

This morning, as Jen and I lay in bed, nearly motionless, at an hour far past that which should have seen us up and about, she said, “I feel really lazy, just lying here doing nothing.”

“Hey,” I said. “You’ve earned it. You deserve to lie here doing nothing for a while. Go back to sleep.”

On Thursday morning, I woke up and went about my routine, just like every other weekday. I checked my email, took a quick look at NetNewsWire Lite, shaved, took a shower, gathered my gear, packed my lunch, kissed Jen goodbye, looked in on Grace, and looked in our foster daughter.

But it was the last time I’d look in on her.

The social worker arrived at 2:45 PM, a full fifteen minutes early, to come and take her back to her mother.

I had left work a few hours early so I could be home when she left. Her departure was kind of anticlimactic in the end. The social worker took the baby, strapped her in her car seat, and drove her out of our lives.

Jen, Gracie, and I stood in the front yard for a moment or two and blinked back tears. She was gone. We walked inside and closed the door, and then started cleaning up and packing up baby gear. More tears came, but we were okay.

We had picked up this baby from the hospital when she was two days old, in mid-February. She’d been with us ever since. Now, at just over five months old, she was going back to her mother.

I tried not to get attached. But she wiggled her way into my heart, and she had become my girl, a title I’d previously bestowed upon only Jen and Grace. She knew me, and I could see in her face that she thought I was her Daddy. When I came home from work, she smiled and giggled. She knew my tricks. When I held her up, she arched backward to get me to swing her gently back and scoop her up again. Then she’d smile a crooked smile at me and lean back again. I knew her most ticklish spots, and I knew which of my silly faces made her smile and laugh.

As I stood in the yard and watched her drive away, I wondered what would go through her head as she cried for us. Would she wonder why we weren’t coming? Would she think we’d abandoned her?

The consolation, of course, is bittersweet at best: within a few weeks, she’ll forget all about us.

Last night, Grace went to sleep at my parents’ house so that Jen and I could have the first night to ourselves we’ve had since February. This morning, we slept in, more for Jen’s sake than for mine.

Jen’s the real hero. She was the one who did the late night feedings and diaper changes. She was the one who carted her to the doctor. She was the one who still took care of Grace and me while she took on this baby. She was on who hadn’t had a decent night’s sleep in five and a half months.

So this morning, as Jen and I lay in bed, nearly motionless, at an hour far past that which should have seen us up and about, she said, “I feel really lazy, just lying here doing nothing.”

“Hey,” I said. “You’ve earned it. You deserve to lie here doing nothing for a while. Go back to sleep.”

And she did.

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