Is this my life? Are these really my children? Do I actually live here?
I’ve woken up almost every morning for the past two weeks going through the same inventory. The great reality check that I can never fully fathom. Is that bad?
No. I’ve decided that this is probably a natural cognitive process for most moms. The rubber meets the road when you affirm, yes, this is my life; these are my children; I do live here. Thankfully, I may add, and God is in control.
One of the nicer things about having an eight pound baby violently barrel out of one’s body is that people generally feel inclined to help with anything and everything afterwards. I had a nice reprieve curtesy of the grandmas. Two weeks of cooking, cleaning, and letting me sleep. ‘Twas glorious.
But…the day came when I had to say goodbye to those ladies with the lamp, and go down to the scary trenches alone.
I saw being home alone with my children as a Herculean task. The peril loomed ahead. Would I survive? Would my children survive? Good gracious–how would I even go to the bathroom?!
I woke to dishes and crying children. Or was it the other way around? Somehow, I noticed and was bothered more by our dirty dishes more than the by the wailing of my little ones. Is that bad?
First up: breakfast. Peanut butter on toast for the toddler, and a boob for the baby. Oh shoot, I forgot to feed myself. No time.
I scurry to clean my peanut-butter-clad daughter before she touches anything. Why is peanut butter so sticky? A quick look in the living-room reveals a breast’s worth of baby puke all over my beloved recliner. At least that’s not sticky.
Which do I tend first? The severity and permanence of such a quandary sends a cold shiver down my spine. I will be asking this question for the next eighteen years.
Wait, what’s that I smell? One thing becomes abundently clear on this day: my kids’ poop “cycles” are synchronized–how can this be? More than ever I am aware that potty-training is imperative.
1:34 p.m. We have so much longer to go! But I’ve got a golden ticket. Nap time. God bless nap time! I throw a batch of pre-made Tollhouse into the oven, and brew a pot of coffee. No way is this going to be decaf. Devil take the consequences.
The first bite bewitches me. The rich, hot sip ferries me to some rosy place that looks and smells nothing like my crazy world of poop and peanut butter. I close my eyes and relish the delicious peace.
They wake up.
Both children wake up around the same time. A boob for one and a cookie for the other. And another cookie for me, after all, I didn’t have my breakfast.
There are events. Catastrophes better suited for the cheery, illustrated pages of Curious George or Amelia Bedelia.
Never mind, let’s go with The Three Stooges. She waltzes out of my bedroom with Boudreaux’s Buttpaste in her hair. Singing, “Buttface, buttface!” she twirls round for her astonished audience to catch every angle of her newly coiffed hairstyle.
We’ll call it The Boudreaux Hawk.
A failed bath time, due to the protective powers of butt paste. Yes, it is the brand to trust for diaper rash–just don’t use it for hair sculpting.
Dishes, dishes, dishes.
The hours tick by as I wait for my husband, the cavalry, to relieve me.
She wants dinner–I haven’t made any. He also wants dinner–thank God these breasts refill themselves.
I sit in my crusty recliner listening to one child whine and the other gulp. “Sorry, sweetie. You have to wait until Daddy gets home.” I say four-hundred and seventy-six times.
After hearing me say “No” four-hundred and seventy-six times, she parries with the look.
The look. Every kid has one. They reserve it for special occasions like church and airports. My daughter’s particular look is a sort of “hell hath no fury” followed by some great physical finale. Like throwing things or hitting people.
I sit completely defenseless in my crusty recliner. I await the inevitable.
The look–followed by the finale.
With extraordinary, protracted determination she lifts her doll stroller and allows it to hang above her head.
My body is tense with expectancy.
And then something happens.
Slowly, her scowling face rights itself back into the soft, toddler lines. Defeat has never looked sweeter. Quietly, deliberately, she settles the pink contraption on top of her head and looked me in the eyes. She wears her bonnet of failure well.
In this moment she looks exactly as I feel. Ridiculous. A failure–heck, I could put the coffee table on my head I am so far gone.
This day is too ridiculous to fight any more.
I surrender with her, and for the first time that day, we burst into laughter.
Part hysteria, part mirth, part grace. The kind of laughter that pulls even a post-partum stomach into full engagement.
My husband walks into a joyful home. You should have seen us two minutes ago. Thank you, Lord, for laughter.
And thank you, Nestle Tollhouse, for making cookie dough so accessible.