February 22nd, 2007 - Jennifer Cohen
Remembering, February 22, 2007, gives me the vertigo of tumbling through a kaleidoscope.
My daughter is two-and-a-half years old. It is a Thursday and, blessedly, on Thursdays we attend Music Together. We join a circle of other bleary mothers, desperate for conversation. We try to believe that this developmental activity will assure our child’s acceptance to Harvard but know it is mostly our own sanity that this hour is saving. Anna sits in my lap and bangs her maraca against my thigh, then smashes it into my chin before jamming it into her mouth.
Music Together will save me from having to read Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book twenty times today. Eleven may do. Music Together also means that my sleepless child just might take a thirty-minute nap later, which will allow me to sit in the armchair next to the sliding glass door and stare out at the three feet of snow on our deck.
I am living in my favorite house; I am perhaps in the midst of the favorite time of my life. It is all windows and light and open concept, and at this point my marriage seems solid enough. Even though he refuses to get up with her at night. Even though he insisted on Ferberizing her so that she wouldn’t disrupt the comfort of our life. But it didn’t take. She continues to be a hell-cat at bedtime and wakes at least twice a night.
If I slow the turn of the kaleidoscope, I will perhaps see clearly what I don’t yet know.
I don’t know that I will never again sleep through the night. That it will take another six years before Anna does, and that by that time I will slide right into peri-menopausal insomnia. I will spend years awake beside my comfortably sleeping husband.
I don’t know that his inability to get up with our child will become his inability to take care of her while I try and write my packets for my MFA deadlines and then my novel. And that will become his inability to admit to a marriage counselor that anything is wrong. And that will become the beginning of the end of our twenty-two year marriage.
The novel manuscript now sits on my desk. It waits patiently while I re-ravel all the things in my life I had to unravel to be able to lie awake at night by myself.
The twelve-year-old is in her room with the door shut, Snapchatting and rolling her eyes. I would give anything to read Doggies: A Counting and Barking Book to her one last time.
Jennifer Cohen has her MFA in Creative Writing from VCFA. She writes fiction and has a novel-in-progress. This is her first essay.
Jennifer urges you to learn more about REACH, a non-profit organization providing safety and support to survivors of abuse while engaging communities to promote healthy relationships and prevent domestic violence. Visit reachma.org.