Elly's co-worker asks how she learned to juggle 20 jobs at a time. Elly replies, "I'm a mother," but with a sly expression, not a smug one.
Elly at the beach, huddled up in a t-shirt as skinny women in chic swimsuits stroll past. Very large woman in a tank suit lumbers down to the water; Elly sheds the shirt and steps forth with confidence.
School starts again for Mike and Liz. Elly declares, "With the slam of that door, I have regained my sanity!!!" But in the very next strip, she reveals that she "hasn't felt well in the morning for about three weeks." DUNT-DUNT-DUNNNNNNN!
Pregnancy is confirmed. Elly thinks: "Dirty diapers...late night feedings..." John thinks: "Music boxes...teddy bears..." Elly: "I've got no clothes! No crib! No extra room!" John: "Baby giggles, baby hugs...That very first step!" Elly: "I'll have to quit -- or work part time. I'll be tied down again. This is awful!" John: "Another kid! -- I like the idea!" Elly, out loud: "...I guess we're both thinking the same things...aren't we."
Later, John remarks that he and the kids have "accepted it," and "I know you're upset, honey, but I'm sure you'll grow to accept it too." Elly: "[sigh]One thing's for sure...I'll certainly grow."
Mike finds Elly baking muffins, and comments on how domestic she's become: "Cleaning up, baking stuff, hanging 'round the kitchen...What is it they say about keeping a woman barefoot and pregnant?" As Elly grabs his shirt collar, he thinks, "Whatever it is, I bet they don't say it often."
Elly's appetite starts to spiral out of control. "Know what I want to do? Sleep on my stomach. I want to be able to bend over. I want to see my feet again. I want to do what I want, take a deep breath, wear my old clothes! Look at me -- I'm the size of a duplex!" Already, Elly does not like April.
Later, she wonders if it's time to stop working. "What am I doing? Some women work right up until the time they deliver! Where's my courage, my strength, my stamina?...Probably the same place I left my size 10 pants."
After April is born, Elly complains of being tired and overworked. And right about then, John's cousin Fiona calls, claiming she's "coming out here...and asked if we could put her up for a few days." Long story short, she said on the phone that she'd "help with the baby," but once she arrived, she did nothing but create more chaos.
The reason I note this is because it's the first instance of Doormat Elly. When John asked when Fiona was leaving, she pleaded ill health. Elly called bullshit, but when she went to confront Fiona, she didn't get two words out before Fiona was groveling and thanking her for her hospitality. "Oh, please! Don't be silly -- it's no trouble at all. We WANT you to stay!" John: "Struck out, huh." Elly: "We are playing against a pro."
I don't know; is it like this in real life, or just in fiction? What is so difficult about saying, "Look, you invited yourself, you've stayed longer than you said you would, you contribute nothing, and we have enough going on"? Especially since it appears that there are no intermediate relatives who would give John and Elly an earful of how-could-you-be-so-cruel. (And furthermore, I could have done without the Three's-Company misunderstanding, in which John's employees thought he was complaining about Elly instead of Fiona, and that the apartment he rented was for him, not her. First glimpse of the fin, although the shark itself was still way below the surface.)
Elly wants to get back to work. She guffaws at Connie's suggestion that she can take care of the baby and still work from home, but gives it a try anyway. "Do they miss me? Will they want me back? I feel lost. At work, I had an identity. I had a title that MEANT something!" Liz: "Hi mom!" Elly: "Then again -- maybe I still do!"
Book 12, "Things Are Looking Up...": John comes home from work, cuddles April and revels in his pastoral home. Freshly bathed baby, housework all done, the look in a little child's eyes and seeing them thrive in your care..."What words can describe the intense and special feeling a mother has after being at home with her baby all day?" Elly: "GET ME OUT OF HERE!!"
Later, Elly is sitting strung out on the couch. John asks what she did that day. "I bought groceries...That's all. I bought groceries." "So what do you think you'll do tomorrow?" "Put them away."
Weeks later, Elly tells the still non-verbal April that "I do love you," but that she misses her job. "I'm putting out energy...But I'm going nowhere!" That night, she discusses the matter with John, who says, "Well, the one person to consider is the baby. Would she be happier with a guilty mother or a crazy one?" Elly: "GUILTY! Definitely guilty!"
Elly tries bringing April to work, but the results are less than productive. About time to leave her with Annie, though: she's teething.
Elly and John take turns singing "Rockabye Baby" to a howling April. Liz: "That's a weird song, Dad. Who would ever put a baby outside in a tree?" "Someone who succumbed to temptation."
Liz finds a mentor in Miss Edwards. Elly: "That's great, honey. I'm glad you have someone like her to confide in!" After Liz leaves the room: "WAAHHHHH...."
Elly wants a new car. When she and John go to the lot, the dealer gets all buddy-buddy with John, who says, "Don't ask me -- it's my wife who's buying the car!" as Elly gives the dealer the Look of Death.
Elly is exhausted after being up with April all night, but manages to pull herself together to get to work, grumbling all the way. "It's amazing what you can do when you have the right attitude."
Book 13, "There Goes My Baby!": In a Sunday strip, Elly notes that, at "over 40", she's a better swimmer than she's ever been. "That definitely proves one thing...Cellulite floats." In another Sunday strip, she tucks in and kisses an already-asleep Mike, then erupts in outrage when she sees he was reading "Erotic Lust XXX".
Elly starts taking on a lot of volunteer work again. When John asks her to go for an evening walk with him, she begs off at first, then agrees when he asks what she'd do if she were single and got the same offer.
Elly starts getting on Liz's case about not being a nanny to April. "April poured apple juice down the hall and into the living room!" "I didn't know!" "When you give her a cup, you have to watch her, honey!" She also has issues with Liz borrowing her clothes, because "She looks better in them than I do."
Mike takes John's sportscar out and gets lost. John wants to throw the book at him; Elly pleads for and gets clemency. Later, April throws her breakfast on the floor, and Elly puts her in her crib. John turns into a pile of mush when April wails "Da-DAAAAA!" and tells Elly she was "too strict." "What happened to our united front?" "I think it lifted and separated."
Elly looks forward to a time when all the kids are grown and on their own. "I'm going to do all the things I can't do now...Have a bath uninterrupted."