New story due out in spring 2016 in Conjunctions.
All of us were middle-aged. All of us were tired. All of us had children, many of them grown or almost grown. Two of us were single mothers of still-young adopted children and thus were especially tired, as was the one of us who’d given birth to twins the year before (at forty-five, after three rounds of IVF)—she was spectacularly tired, even though the father of the twins, who was nine years younger, was in residence, sleeping on the far side of their California King, the twins nestled between them.
But there wasn’t one of us who wasn’t tired: none of us had had a good night’s sleep in at least fifteen years. Fifteen? one of us said. Try twenty-one. (She was the one of us whose eldest daughter had just dropped out of Cornell and moved back home.) One of us—who had a thirteen-year-old daughter she’d adopted out of foster care the year before—wondered aloud then if she’d ever get a good night’s sleep again, and one of us (she was the mother of twin ten-month-olds with her much younger husband) said, God, seriously, I was just asking myself the same thing. Two of us—one whose twenty-seven-year-old daughter was teaching in China, and one whose son was seventeen and newly driving and who’d recently become a stepmother (her new husband, in a reversal of the paradigm, had left his young wife for her, a woman of his own age) to two children under four, of whom her husband shared joint custody with his abandoned young ex-wife—said, at exactly the same time, No, not a chance….