If my favorite romantic comedies have taught me anything, it’s that once you get married, you live happily ever after. You ride off into the sunset with your Prince Charming and live the good life. Cue the sappy music and roll the credits.
Except my reality is turning out to be so much different.
With a sigh, I smear peanut butter on a slice of bread and wipe a blob of jelly from the counter with a paper towel.
First of all, you should know I married my dream guy—my one-time best friend turned sex tutor, Owen Parrish—and things started off great.
When we got together eight years ago, he was the starting goaltender for the famed Seattle Ice Hawks hockey team. Life was filled with games and charity galas and private planes. We lived lavishly, completely in love, and enjoyed every stolen moment we could get. Each season was intense, and there was a lot of time away for games all around the US and Canada.
The hockey life was a good life. Whenever he got home from a particularly long trip, we’d basically maul each other with kisses and I love yous, and hump like bunnies until it was time for him to leave again.
Summers were spent traveling. At Owen’s urging, I left my job in public relations to be able to spend more time with him. We ventured all over the globe, visiting exotic locales like the Seychelles and Portugal, and even Bora-Bora. We ate and drank and napped and, quite frankly, had a lot of sex. Life was blissful.
And yes, I’ll admit, sometimes I missed my job, missed my old colleagues and having a purpose, but mostly I was happy. I was living a life most people only dreamed about. It wouldn’t have been appropriate to complain about the little things I might have missed. Even if sometimes I felt alone and sad.
Which brings me to the present.
My hair hasn’t been washed in four days, my T-shirt is stained with breast milk, and I haven’t brushed my teeth yet today, even though it’s well past noon.
Worse than that, though? I’ve kind of lost the ability to care. I’m in survival mode. I’m not sure if you’ve ever been there, but just getting out of bed in the morning feels like an accomplishment.
And the main reason why I’m so despondent? Well, I’m terrified to tell Owen that I’m pregnant. Again. He’s been so focused lately, and also so stressed out, I don’t want to pile any more worry on him.
Although Owen is still technically on the team at the moment, he’s not on the active player roster, which means he’s been home with us. Essentially, he’s retired. But lately, he’s been working with a trainer and has plans to play again rather than retire officially , something I have big, messy mixed feelings about.
I told him I’d support his decision no matter what, but the truth is, I can’t imagine us going back to the professional hockey schedule. The training and practices alone are brutal . . . not to mention his traveling for away games.
Owen hasn’t even decided yet if a return is possible for him at the age of thirty-five, but he’s been training harder than I’ve ever seen him train. Seven days a week, he’s at the gym before I’m even awake most mornings. He’s already added fifteen pounds of new muscle and replaced his dad bod with his professional-athlete body.
If he does return to the NHL, I know it will be harder than when he was playing before. For one thing, we’ll have four children under the age of six. Everything domestic will fall on me—cooking and cleaning and discipline. Yes, we have a cleaning lady who comes once a week, but she’s not here 24/7. I love having my toilets scrubbed and beds made every Tuesday, but there’s a lot of life that happens between her visits. I swear my house looks like a tornado passed through it only hours after her visit.
“Bishop! Your lunch is ready!” I call out.
Our six-year-old son, Bishop, is dribbling a basketball down the hallway, even though I’ve told him at least six thousand times not to do that. The sound bounces off the marble flooring and straight into my brain. I can feel a headache forming behind my eyes. It doesn’t help that I’ve had to give up caffeine.
The twins are crawling around at my feet, probably searching for any crumbs I might have dropped. I need to fix them lunch too.
“Soon, sweetie pies. Soon,” I tell them as I carry the sandwich and a plastic cup of milk over to the dining table. “Here you go, buddy.”
“Thanks, Mommy,” Bishop says, smiling sweetly up at me when he sees I’ve sliced the sandwich into four tidy squares, just like he likes.
I tousle his hair and lean over to press a kiss to his forehead.
Our son is absolutely adorable. And it’s not his fault that I’m overwhelmed. I lean down and give him a sniff. He smells a little like cheese. Hmm . . .
I begin a mental list of all the things that need to be done later—dropping off a birthday gift for a friend, returning library books, bathing Bishop and then the twins. Just as I’m giving myself a pep talk, all hell breaks loose.
Bishop drops his sandwich on the floor, and when our naughty goldendoodle puppy snatches it, devouring the thing in two noisy gulps, Bishop begins to cry.
Charli and Bella are next—each of them sobbing along with their older brother. They’ve always been sympathetic criers. When one of them starts, so does the other, even though half the time, I’m convinced they don’t know why they’re crying.
Emotion wells in my throat. Keep it together, Becca.
I can’t let myself break down, even if the only thing I want to do is curl into a ball in the center of my bed and cry. For like a thousand years.
Later, I tell myself.
After I secure the twins in their matching high chairs and shush them with kisses, I replace Bishop’s sandwich with a new one and shoot our dog a death glare. The twins babble as I fix plates of sliced bananas and avocado for them and then collapse into a dining chair.
I should fix myself something to eat as well, but I’m too exhausted. I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t been sleeping well or because of the pregnancy hormones. I’m only about nine weeks along, and I don’t recall my other early pregnancies being this difficult.
I’m so tired. All. The. Time.
But this will be the fourth baby my body has grown in six years, so it’s a lot. Especially on my petite frame. I’m convinced there will be nothing left of my boobs at all by the time I’m done nursing the twins. Which really needs to be any day now. They’re ten months old. I need to begin weaning them soon, but it’s another chore that I don’t want to deal with.
When he’s finished with his lunch, I get Bishop settled with a board game, and then wipe sticky globs of banana from between the twins’ chubby fingers with baby wipes before I put them down for a nap.
Exhausted, I curl up on the sofa in the living room, thinking I should check my email. Maybe reply to my mom’s text. But I’m too tired to move. I let out a huge yawn and have just closed my eyes for a brief nap when I hear the front door open.
“Angel? I’m home,” comes Owen’s voice from the hallway. “And I have great news.”
“Yeah?” I call from the living room.
“Yeah,” he says as his footsteps move down the hall. “My agent says Nashville is interested.”
My stomach does a weird little flip. It’s good news that a team is interested in him, right? That means his dream of coming out of retirement is one step closer.
But Nashville? Uprooting our entire lives to move to a city where I have no friends, no family, no connections? And more importantly . . . no childcare help? That thought is terrifying. I’ll have four kids soon. Researching new schools, pediatricians, ob-gyn . . . all of it.
Anxiety settles into my chest, making my heart beat faster.
“Becca?” Owen says, his voice closer now.
“That’s great,” I hear myself say, but my voice sounds far away in my own ears, like I’ve lost another piece of myself.
Too many more of them, and I fear there will be nothing left of me.
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