We all woke up sick and feeling lousy that day. After struggling though breakfast, I put the girls down for a midmorning nap. We were feverish and grumpy and needed the rest. It was bad.
Once they were drowsy, I climbed into my own bed, exhausted. Through the soft hum of the baby monitor I heard Ellie quietly practicing her diction as she dosed off, per the usual. Mahmee. Ab-bee. Doghee. Kit-thy. Ah-gone.
And then I heard him through the baby monitor, clear as a bell. The man in their bedroom was speaking softly and quickly in Vietnamese. And then once again I heard Ellie, enthusiastically giggling.
Before I could even process what was happening, I was out of bed. I said a rushed prayer as I darted toward their room. Who was this intruder? Why was he in my house? And, boy, would he regret messing with this momma bear. I was ready to open a can of whoop@ss.
I swung the door open and looked around, ready to fight. Both girls sprang up in their beds, rubbing their tired eyes, pink cheeks and sweaty little heads. They were as confused as I was. No kidnapper or chatty serial killer. I checked every nook and cranny, every inch of every corner. Nothing.
I looked down to realize that I was clutching the James Thurber book that had been on my night stand. I guess it grabbed it on my way out to use as a weapon. What was my plan, humor him to death?
And then I had one of those flash-forwards, where I knew I’d look back and realize THIS was the moment when I started to lose it. This was my breaking point. The voices in my head had officially taken over and made their way right into the baby monitor. I was a goner. Somebody order me a straight jacket.
I kissed the girls and put them back down, then headed back to my room. Confused, but grateful that this misunderstanding was caused by my newly self-diagnosed mental illness and not an actual intruder.
As I settled down under my cozy duvet, I heard him again through the baby monitor.
And it was only THEN that I realized the channel had been changed on the receiver and I was picking up a frequency from someone else’s house. Some other dad in some other house with some other baby.
No intruder. No mental illness. Just a sleep-deprived mom.