“… the next thing I know, I’m staring at a baby who’s 6 pounds, 18 inches. Her big blue eyes stare back at me, her hand is curling around my finger. Less than a week old, and in good health and shape, and unnamed, one of the nurses say. Somehow, I know I’m going to see this baby again. The moment I saw her, I fell in love with her. The adoption papers took five months, but I was right. I did see that baby again — and I see her every day.”
“How much do we have?” my five-year-old brother asked.
“What do you mean?” Dad asked.
“How much money do we have?” he said.
“We have enough,” Mom said, not looking up. Truth was, I knew we had more than enough. While the other kids at school lived in apartments we lived in a townhouse.
“Ee, ee,ee!” my six-month-old adopted sister Evelyn “Evie” screeched from her playpen.
“Yes, but how much?” Tony asked.
That’s not something you need to know,” Mom said.
My name is Harriet “Hattie” Roxanne, age 11, and the money business was just starting.
“How much?” Tony screamed. Temper tantrum. I knew the drill.
“Hattie,” Mom whispered. I nodded. Dad stood up. So did I. I walked over to Evie and picked her up. Then, we walked slowly up the stairs. I heard Tony screaming from below. I heard mom soothing him. Suddenly, there was no more of Mom’s voice. I looked at Dad. He looked at me. Oh no, oh no. You see when Tony gets real angry he hurts someone. One time he knocked Mom out. That’s why we created the drill. Dad and I slowly crept down the stairs. Mom had fainted. And Tony, well, Tony was drawing all over Mom’s most precious statues that had been with her family for a long long, time.
You see, since Evie was adopted, some kids at school assumed she had something wrong with her. But there’s nothing wrong with her. She simply had a mother who died at her birth and a father who died not long after because of heartbreak. When it was time for the Saturday shopping, Dad wasn’t home. Mom had hired a babysitter to take care of Tony and Evie. We drove up to New Jersey.
“Onions, Hattie. Help me find the onions,” Mom said. Just then, Mom’s phone beeped.
“Just a minute, Hattie,” she said. She answered the phone, then she began walking frantically.
“Mom! Watch it!” I shouted. Too late. She slipped on a loose piece of cabbage. She fell backwards. I pursed my lips to hide my laughter. But I couldn’t hold it. I burst out laughing. People stared. Finally, an employee helped her up.
“Young lady! In the car now!” she shouted. People looked at her. She blushed, then stomped out the door. I raced after her.
“Mom! I warned you!”
“Hurry up, Hattie!” she answered. What was she so mad about? I asked.
“We didn’t get the onions or anything else!” I said.
“I don’t care. Evie and Tony are stuck in the bathroom, and the babysitter can’t find the key. They’ve been stuck in that bathroom for hours!” she nearly shouted. I sighed with relief. It wasn’t about slipping on cabbage after all. But I knew my mother didn’t feel relief. She stormed into the house and unlocked the bathroom door. I followed her.
“Ah!!” Mom screamed. She fainted. Right on the spot. I looked inside and burst out laughing. My brother was drawing on my sister — with Sharpie.
“See, see,” he said. “Tiger!”
And that is how we learned never to leave the children with that babysitter.
“Down the hatch!” I whispered.
Evie slurped down half of the pea-flavored baby food, then spit out the other half of it. I sighed. Feeding Evie took long. Way too long. Evie would always eat half of the spoon then spit the other half out. Tony walked in.
“Hey, Hatt,” he said.
“Who’s Hatt?” I asked even though I knew who he was talking about.
“You!” he laughed like crazy.
“Ooo!” Evie said spitting half of the half baby food over the side of the highchair, then spitting the other half of the half onto me.
“Cool!” Tony shouted. “Food fight!” he screamed. He began looking through the fridge and finally grabbed Evie’s leftover yucky mucky spinach baby food. He poured some over me and some over Evie. I screamed. Now I was covered with yucky mucky half spinach and half pea baby food. Evie started crying. Satisfied, Tony poured the rest of the spinach baby food onto his own head.
“Stop that, young man! Stop that right now!” I screamed.
Suddenly, Mom bursted in.
“What is going on!” she shouted.
I pointed to Tony.
“TONY!” she screamed. “I am disgusted by you!”
“I tried to stop it,” I said.
Suddenly, Evie vomited all over Mom, who was standing in front of the highchair.
“Who’s disgusted now?” Tony said, shielding his eyes.
“Young man!” Mom screamed. “Time-out now!”
Mom (Carrie Roxanne’s POV)
“Mom! Come quick!” Hattie shouted.
“It wasn’t my fault, Mom!” Tony shouted back.
“Caroline! You didn’t forget the cabbage, did you?” Oren, my husband shouted.
“Ma… ma,” Evie said softly.
Sometimes, I feel like everything depends on me. I feel like if I wasn’t there, the whole house would fall apart. Sometimes, I feel jealous that Oren does not have to spend time caring for the kids.
First of all, I’m Caroline (Carrie) Becker Roxanne, Harriet, Tony, and Evelyn’s mom. Sometimes I don’t even know if I should have even adopted Evie. In fact, that’s an interesting story…
I was with Oren, visiting my friend Isabel, who was adopting a baby. I overheard the nurses talking about an orphan. I heard this baby was very sweet and intelligent, that was already making noises — noises that sounded like words. I thought, I have got to see this baby. I told Oren my thoughts. And the next thing I know, I’m staring at a baby who’s 6 pounds, 18 inches. Her big blue eyes stare back at me, her hand is curling around my finger. Less than a week old, and in good health and shape, and unnamed, one of the nurses say. Somehow, I know I’m going to see this baby again. The moment I saw her, I fell in love with her. The adoption papers took five months, but I was right. I did see that baby again — and I see her every day. So, who is that baby? That’s right! She’s Evelyn Williams Roxanne, the same baby I saw in that adoption shelter months ago. So every time I’m boiling mad at my family, I try to think of the four happiest days of my life — the day I got married, the day I had Harriet, the day I had Tony, and the day I brought Evelyn home.
I try to keep my temper when — for example — Oren goes on a boy trip with his friends. Why? Because it’s all worth it — adopting and giving birth to my three children, and my wedding.
Harriet Roxanne’s POV
Mom invited my favorite Auntie, Isabel, her son Bryan, grandmama and grandfather, and granny and grandpa, and some of Mom and Dad’s friends for a Christmas get together. I loved my new bottle green velvet dress that matched with Mom’s. I wasn’t too happy about Grandmama and grandfather coming though. Grandmama and Grandfather were on Mom’s side of the family. Grandfather cared a lot about manners. And when I say a lot, I mean we have to call him Sir instead of Grandfather. We had to walk properly, sit properly, get excused properly, and many more. He expected all women to be housewives, and all men to serve in the army. Grandfather “the Sir” and Grandmamma arrived first, as always.
“Straighten your back, young lady,” he said.
“Yes sir,” I said quietly.
“Huh?” Grandfather said.
“Yes sir!” I said. Grandfather was hard of hearing and seeing. Auntie Isabel and Bryan arrived next. They dumped presents in our hands and gave us a warm greeting.
“How’s my favorite girl?” she said, hugging me. She always held that soft, perfume smell that only Auntie Isabel had. Granny and Grandpa came. Then other people I didn’t really know. Yum, pie, I thought, as mom unloaded bags of food. Just then,the pie dropped. As Mom bent down to pick it up in, “The sir” came. He spanked Mom hard on the butt, in front of everyone, and her dress flipped up, revealing underwear with a hole in one of the buttcheek parts. The crowd gasped.
“How many times, Hattie, have I told you not to bend down like that?” The sir said to Mom.
What? I thought. I was right here! Wait a minute. Grandfather thought I was Mom!
“Sir, I’m right here!” I said.
Mom screamed. Loud. One by one, the guests left.
Oren Roxanne’s POV
Sometimes I feel bad for Carrie, staying in the house and caring for the children. I don’t know. Want to know my secret? I’ve been out dating with another woman, Suzanne. I feel like Carrie and I don’t share the same interests anymore. We don’t really talk anymore. There’s been issues. My boss gets mad at me because because I drink and smoke (I didn’t tell my family yet) and, I really love Suzanne. It’s getting serious now. I want her as a spouse instead of Carrie. I want a divorce. No one can stop us. I want a fresh family. The day I said that to Carrie, she fell apart.
Mom (Carrie Becker Roxanne’s POV)
I felt like a part of me had died when Oren told me he demanded a divorce. I felt like my heart was broken in half when I found out he was marrying another person, and especially Suzanne Marinata. The day I broke the news to Harriet, she sobbed. Sounds came out of her. Groaning. She was clutching her chest. I cried with her.
“Will we still live here?” she asked.
“We’ll figure something out,” I told her.
“Send that woman away!” She sobbed. “It was all her fault!” she screamed. “I hate Suzanne!”
Five months later…
The divorce wasn’t final yet, but Suzanne moved in, and the children and I moved in with my parents. I worked full time as a nurse. We split the money. I was tired.
“This is not you, you were made to be mine,” I told him desperately. I found out Suzanne was pretty nice, but I knew Oren was supposed to be mine.
I don’t know how I feel sometimes. Like, one minute I’m washing the dishes, doing nothing, and the next minute I feel like I’m going to melt. Everything’s changed. I feel like my dad doesn’t love me anymore, even though Mom has told me they both still love me, and this has nothing to do with me. Tony’s changed too. He’s more quiet. More serious, too. He’s becoming a shy, hazel-eyed boy. I feel like everyone’s ageing.
Caroline Becker Roxanne’s POV
One morning, I heard knocking at the door. I looked through the peephole, and that’s when I saw — Oren.
“Go away,” I said.
“Caroline, please,” he said.
“I’m going to shatter to pieces if you argue with me. If I hear one insulting word, I will shatter. Please don’t,” I say. “For the sake of the children.” I turned away.
“I’ve come to say — ” he sputtered.
“No. please don’t talk,” I said.
“I’m sorry,” he said. I opened the door. I sobbed. He hugged me.
“What happened to Suzanne?” I asked.
“She’s not my woman. My woman is in front of me,” he whispers. I sobbed harder.
“Does this mean… ” I started.
“Yes,” he said.
“I’ll only move in you stop drinking and smoking,” I whispered. We laughed together. He hugged me tighter.
“Where’s your ring, Carrie?” I ran upstairs. He placed the ring on my finger. I laughed, then sobbed. We stood there, cuddling for hours.