Sari moved her chair closer to the table, nervously fingering the tablecloth.
“I don’t think this is going to work anymore. We’ve spoken about this before. What can we do?”
Chaim, sipping his coffee, just shrugged.
“We’ll have to think of something.” There was finality in her voice.
The sound of running feet shattered the quiet.
“I’ll get them,” Chaim offered, “You sit for a few more milliseconds.”
Sari grinned, shuffling her swolen feet. Just two or three more weeks, and the pregnancy ailments will be over. Somehow, she’d imagined that with each child, the aches and pains would get easier, more habitual. On the contrary, she’d learned, experience and age weren’t necessarily coveted qualities; instead, they turned you into a high-risk patient.
Sari got up to prepare sandwiches as the first of the twins’ curls arrived over the banister.
“Good mooorning,” she sang out cheerfully.
Chili was first to grab the cereal box, but when Miriam tried to take it from him, it somehow slipped and spilled. Or spilled and slipped.
Welcome to another morning at the Einhorns’, Sari thought ruefully.
It wasn’t until Wednesday that she broached the topic again.
“Your mother called today,” she said, trying for nonchalance, as she gratefully accepted the cold glass of juice Chaim offered, trying not to think of the acid heartburn that would follow.
She waited another minute.
“Nothing special; the regular. And she mentioned taking the twins when the baby comes.”
Chaim shifted, uncomfortable.
“You know…” he started.
“Yes, I know,” Sari interrupted, a tad icily, “that every other woman at my age and stage would be thrilled to have her mother-in-law offering to take her two-year-old twins for a week. You think I’m not appreciative.”
Chaim looked abashed, then defensive, but Sari plowed on.
“However, I’m sure that every mother would change her mind if she’d know that her children were coming home after that week without a bath. Without their nails cut or hair combed. Ruchi was wearing the same outfit I sent her in, remember? And all the rest of her things were packed neatly, untouched. Your mother just can’t do this anymore. She is just too old to take care of little children. I can’t do it to the twins; I just can’t. ”
She paused for breath, aware that her voice had risen to a shrill mid-rant.
“My mother was a preschool morah for 42 years,” Chaim said mildly, “and the parents all loved her. You think she didn’t wash the children’s faces a million times each day?”
“I assume she did. But that was then, and this is now.”
“Her identity is tied to this now. It’s the only thing she talks about—how she has her little einiklach when their next sibling is born. She’s so proud of it. None of her friends do that, and she’s still doing it.”
Sari sighed. What was the point in arguing over this? They’d gone around in circles enough.