Jenna-Louise lay staring at the ceiling, listening to the sounds of the night. Somewhere she could hear a tap dripping and she sighed, wondering who had forgotten to turn it off this time. Beside her, her husband snored softly and she moved slightly to avoid his outstretched arm. Next to the bed the digital clock illuminated one small corner of the room and she glanced at the time: 1.53. The house had been quiet for hours except for its groanings as it settled down to sleep.
Sleep. It was eluding her tonight.
In a nearby room she heard a muffled cough. She tensed hoping the cough would pass. Probably Jackson. I hope it’s not another one getting sick. I really don’t want another night of broken sleep.
She chuckled wryly. The first night in weeks that the kids had slept through and she couldn’t get to sleep. Figures. Nothing ever goes right in my life.
Placing an arm beneath her head she contemplated the past five years. Nothing was going according to plan – not her life-plan anyway. She’d had no intention of marrying anyone before she’d met Dennis Carthwright. Even after their initial meeting she couldn’t understand why anyone would choose to marry. Marriage is not for me, she’d often said and she’d had no desire to change her mind. But within six months of meeting they were married. Even now she couldn’t comprehend what madness had taken over her reason, however momentarily. At least children had not been a part of the new adjusted life plan. That was one thing they’d agreed upon – or so she had thought.
It had been a shock when she’d found she was expecting. Even worse when she’d learnt she was having twins. But Dennis had told her to look on the bright side: they would complete their family in one go and within twelve months she could be back at work and the children in daycare.
Except it hadn’t happened. Nine months after the twins had been born, with their names on the waiting lists at several daycare centers, she'd learnt she was again expecting.
This can’t be happening to me! she’d screamed, and when Bree had been born almost three months early it had felt like the end of the world.
Unbidden a picture of a judge in his court rose to mind: “Jenna-Louise you have been found guilty of marrying and producing children, therefore the sentence is … life.”
It is a life sentence, she whispered to the darkness. It’s not fair. It’s not what I wanted. None of it is was my choice.
Even now, eighteen months on, Bree was still fragile and requiring special care. Jenna-Louise had been forced to give up her dreams of returning to work. She and Dennis had argued over that, the most recently only a few days ago.
“Why can’t you stay home and I’ll work full-time?” she’d asked Dennis angrily. “I’d earn as much if not more than you do anyway.”
“And you’d never be home.” Dennis’ voice was harsh and cold. She should have known better than to remind him of her superior salary-earning capabilities. It had always been a sore point.
“I could keep my hours to a minimum. We could work something out.”
“You say that but the reality’s different. Within six months you’d be back to working fourteen, sixteen hours a day. It’s just the way you are. No, at least if I’m the one working I’m home in the evenings and can spend time with my family.”
“Perhaps we could both work part-time.”
“It wouldn’t work. You’ve said so yourself in the past. This is the best solution. Bree needs her mother and I need my wife at home.”
Jenna-Louise clenched her hands, remembering the tension that had pervaded their home. This is all his fault. Why was I the one that had to make all the sacrifices? She moved even further over to her side of the bed. This isn’t life.
Suddenly she remembered a verse that she’d learnt years ago in Sunday School: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.*
Focusing on the illuminated numbers on the clock, she felt her eyes grow heavy. Abundantly? What a laugh!And yet ...
Her eyes started to close, her thoughts drifting. I think we have a Bible somewhere. … Grandma’s Bible … Perhaps I’ll look … it up. … Tomorrow … Life … abundantly. ...
* John 10:10 (KJV)
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