A notebook for his class notes: Also for when I’m feeding the baby but forgot to fetch a burp cloth, and he’s at freshman orientation so can’t hand me one, and I just use whatever’s nearby to mop the spit-up from my body.
Pencils for doing homework: Also for logging how many times he absently leaves the wipes container open, drying out the wipes, because he’s memorizing the periodic table.
Colorful Post-its for marking very important facts that may appear on a quiz: Also for entertaining the baby when he comes home and I throw the baby at him so I can get a margarita alone while watching videos on my phone of the baby that I recorded mere hours earlier.
Textbooks from which he may learn: Also to pitch the bassinet forward in an attempt to prevent “silent reflux,” in which the baby silently suffers from something you as a parent cannot control, observe, or treat, which leads to nighttime wailing, waking (me), not waking (husband in college).
Dosing syringes for lab experiments: Also to administer Tylenol when the baby has a fever after his vaccines, which my husband misses because rather than watching our baby suffer due to our decision to follow medical recommendations and wondering, secretly, if we’re making the wrong decision, he’s eating a scone and pondering Aristotle.
Earplugs for taking exams: Also to block out the wee-hour sobs of his family because crying creates unpleasant sounds that aren’t amenable to authoring a five-paragraph essay with MLA citation in the morning.
A dictionary of new slang so he can communicate with his classmates: Who, being actual college kids, are young enough to be his children. But of course, they aren’t, though he does have a child, who is home alone with me, the person working to both raise that child and support the family while he’s doing a keg stand with Blake.
A bookbag for his books and computer and breast-pumping supplies and the pump itself plus some ice packs in an insulated container for when he finds time to sneak away to a dirty bathroom to make, from his body, food for our 12-pound, helpless—oh, wait, that’d only be if I went back to school. I am actually home feeding that kid while, from the neck up, I am also on a conference call.
Illustration by Ellen Voorheis