A Not-So-Typical Night

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I heard the phrase "it takes a village" when it comes to raising multiples. It couldn't be more true. The first two weeks I had both Mom and Poppy home. Even Cler came to help one afternoon so I could nap, and Julia came over a few times too.

Now, school was back in session for the past few weeks. Even without Poppy, I felt like I could manage as long as Mom was there to back me up.

Then her month-long leave of absence was over. I still had two months left of maternity leave, so I'd be going solo until then, most of the time.

Jace wanted to keep skipping school, but I kept pushing him to keep going. If he didn't pass some of his classes, he'd have to go to summer school.

I really wanted him to be free this summer so he could help me with the boys. At least he was able to help me out a few times a week after school.      

I learned pretty quickly that being a single mom was awesome, but also super tiring. When Blaze cried, so did Oliver. If Oliver cried, Blaze would suddenly decide to fill up his diaper.

Between feeding and changing, I was more exhausted than ever, and I couldn't call for my mom or sister to help with a diaper change. I was doing literally everything when Jace wasn't here.

Oh, and for the first month, I never slept. Some days I was lucky if I could get an hour nap in. After two weeks of no sleep, Mom bought me an extra baby swing, and it worked wonders.

The boys were now two months old, and still cute as ever. Blaze could sleep through the night, which was great. Even Oliver, who I started calling Ollie, could sleep for four hours at a time during the night. I was still constantly stressed and exhausted, but well-rested. 

I peeked around the corner to the living room. The boys were in their swings, sound asleep as I stood over the stove, stirring a pot of sauce. Poppy was upstairs, hopefully doing her homework instead of binge-watching Chase Hetcher movies.

Jace had just left for the night so he could get home to do his homework. I was so impressed at how quickly he was able to get the boys calmed down and sleeping. I wished I could do the same.

The front door opened, letting in a burst of cold air. The noise was enough to wake both boys. There goes that sweet silence I loved so much. 

Mom tiptoed into the kitchen, cleaned her hands, and then went right over to the boys. She went for Oliver, who was screaming at the top of his lungs. Blaze whined for a bit, then quieted down and went back to sleep, like always.

"So, how was your day?" Mom asked, rocking Oliver.

"I got Julia's wedding invite in the mail," I said, turning off the burner. "I asked her if I could bring Cler as my plus one. She said yes."

"Oh, that's good. Weddings are so much fun!" she said. "Did Jace drop by again?"

"Yeah. He helped me out with them so I could do some laundry and cleaning."

"Wow. I'm really impressed at how well he's been able to turn himself around. If only his mom could do the same," she said.

"Yeah. That would really be something," I said.

"And big news, that District Manager position I've always wanted has an opening again! I already put in for it."

"Mom, this is the fifth time you've tried to get promoted to District Manager. I don't mean to be a downer, but—"

"But nothing. Remember what I taught you girls?"

I smiled. "Don't give up on your dreams, no matter how hard you have to work or how long it takes you to get there."

"That's absolutely right," she said. "Speaking of which, I need to get changed. I'll be right back."

She set Oliver back down in his swing, still crying. I took out a tupperware container and placed some spaghetti inside, topped with a little bit of sauce and exactly three meatballs. Mom was back downstairs in a few minutes, dressed and ready to go in her CO uniform.

"Ready to go. Be safe," I said, handing her the container.

"As always." She pulled me in and kissed the top of my head. "Hey, I'm proud of you. You're doing great. I know it's extra hard right now, but you'll get through it." 

"Thanks, Mom."

"Hey, remember," she said, one foot out the door already. "If I get that promotion, I'll only need one job. I'll be home at six every night."

"I remember. That's what you said the last four times," I said, chuckling.

She left and I held Oliver in one arm while fixing my plate in the other. Usually, once he was with me, he settled down right away. I patted him on the back and sat down to eat my dinner. It was a calm, typical night...for now.

Out the back window, I saw snowflakes starting to coat the deck. I thought about what the house would look like when we got going on the construction. Mom told me she started saving for an addition so the boys would have a separate place to sleep.

She'd move into the new room and the boys would get my current room. It made sense that they'd have the bigger room, so there would be space for all their toys, which were all over our living room floor right now. As for me, Poppy would become my roommate again. 

"Oh, shoot, Poppy," I said under my breath.

I didn't want to wake up Blaze, so I walked upstairs with Oliver to her room. I knocked on the door. No answer. I knocked again. Nothing. I sighed. She must've had her headphones on. Typical angsty teenager.

"Hey, Poppy!" I said, still knocking. I waited a few seconds before turning the doorknob. "Hey, dinners r—"

I saw that the window screen was taken out, leaning up against her bed. The fire escape ladder we kept under all our beds was attached to the open window. I looked at her nightstand and the hook on her closet door. Her phone and purse were gone.

"Not again," I said.

For the third time since the boys were born, Poppy snuck out.

I looked over at the ladder, which was still clunking around, like someone was using it. I dashed over to the window and looked down. There was Poppy, almost near the bottom. A car I didn't recognize was waiting out in the street. 

I ran as fast as I could down the stairs, set Oliver down in his swing, and ran into the freezing cold night with no jacket. One way or another, I wasn't going to let her run away again.

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