For the third night in a row, both twins are asleep currently (just shy of 10pm). Normally I, who voluntarily take the late shift (9pm-1am) so that I don’t have to do the 3 or 4am feeding, am up roaming the darkened house at this time of night, trying to jostle one twin or the other (or, yegads, both) into a relaxed, non-crying state. But for the last few nights, nada. They’re both asleep in their respective sleep receptacles, as are Kris and Alex, and so I find myself at last again here in my office at my computer, typing away while the owls call and the bats flitter-flutter just outside my window.
Night before last I planned to write a blog post, too, but instead I spent most of my rare free time searching in vain for notes I took weeks ago on what I was sure would be the best ever meditation on non-biological motherhood. I never did find my notes, but fortunately, I came up with a new idea yesterday and managed to get it mostly written during last night’s quiet spell. In reality, rarely does a day pass without the flicker of what my sleep-deprived brain is certain must be absolutely the most profound blog idea in the history of blog ideas. But alas, I never seem to have the time to write down my thoughts. Until now…
Nope, just Maggie snoring. Whew.
Some of you are probably expecting a DOMA/Prop 8 blog, given that I have written about such issues in the past, not to mention that our eight-year-old marriage is finally recognized both by the state we live in (yay, Washington!) and by our oh-so-grudging federal government. I did have several undoubtedly brilliant ideas to explore last week, if only I’d had the time. The gist of one of those ideas, in fact, was that Kris and I were too busy living our life together to do much more than read the SCOTUS blog, cheer loudly, and say to whomever would listen, “About effing time!” (Or, as Alex announced periodically throughout Wednesday, thanks to the Huffington Post headline on the iPad at breakfast, “Happy Gay Day!”) These days, as a couple with three small children, our focus is on keeping the minutiae organized so that each day can pass with a modicum of crying by all parties involved.
Well, most days, that is. Yesterday, Kris and I had the brilliant idea midway through the morning that we could feed the twins, get all three kids dressed and ready to go out, and go to town for a shopping/park-going/lovely walk on the bay kind of Sunday, and still be back in time for Alex’s pre-nap lunch and the twins’ next feeding at 1pm.
I’m not sure if it was the caffeine we’d both imbibed or the fact that neither of us had slept terribly well the night—make that the six fortnights—before, but we smiled broadly at each other and congratulated ourselves perhaps a bit prematurely on our adventurousness as we set out to put our plan in action.
The day did indeed turn out to be quite the adventure, though perhaps not the exact one we believed we’d chosen. First off, and perhaps most predictably, the assorted bodily functions of our seven household members along with an impromptu photo shoot (I’m sorry, but the twins were actually both smiling at the same time, a moment I could not allow to go undocumented) made us miss our estimated leaving time. Like, by an hour. Secondly, we hadn’t thought to check the weather beforehand, but as it turns out, yesterday was the hottest day of the year, to date. As in 88 degrees hot. That may not sound like much to you, but picture me walking with a two-year-old during the warmest part of the day, pushing 11-week-old twins in a broiling stroller in a bay-side park with little shade and no escape route because Kris had dropped us off “to have a nice time at the park” while she did the weekly grocery shop.
I know, major parental fail. All I can say is, sleep deprivation really does interfere with one’s reason and judgment. Especially Kris’s. (Just kidding, honey! Really.)
To complicate factors, the twins were intent on reenacting their own variation on the movie Speed: Anytime the stroller slowed below a brisk pace or [gasp] stopped—which it pretty much did continuously given that I was walking hand-in-hand along the edge of Puget Sound with a curious two-year-old—one or both twins would go off like the proverbial bomb, causing passersby to stare at me in horror as Alex and I strolled on, apparently blithely ignoring the twin alarms clanging beneath their stroller hoods.
“At least they’re doing it outside,” I cheerfully told more than one onlooker. “Better here than at home!”
Later, after being chastened at least half a dozen times for not rushing to stop the cries emanating from our Bob Duallie, I said perhaps a bit testily to one disapproving grandmother type, “They’re 11 weeks old. If they’re not asleep, they’re crying. It’s what they do.”
Said grandmotherly type pursed her lips and hurried away, shaking her head to make sure I grasped the level of her disappointment in my mothering skills.
You might not be surprised to learn that we didn’t quite make the 1pm deadline. At 12:45, in fact, we had only just reached the park, our second stop of the day. With the 1pm deadline looming, we hurriedly fed the twins their bottles while Alex played on the slides, and then Kris headed off to shop while I walked Alex and the twins through (again, and I only repeat this because it was such a harebrained thing to do) the hottest part of the sunny day. The beautiful, gorgeous, sunny day.
At 3:30pm, as we headed home with all three sweaty, nap-deprived children finally asleep in the air-conditioned minivan—for those of you who don’t like to do math, that means we forced our Pacific Northwest children for whom the sun is only ever a rare sight to spend two-plus hours in bright, 88-degree sunshine—Kris and I rehashed the day.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Kris asked, apparently failing to recall the several desperate phone calls I had placed inquiring when she thought she might be back from Fred Meyer to retrieve us.
“You know,” I said, basking in the air conditioning as we sped homeward beneath the blue sky, “I’ve decided that today was an apt metaphor for life with the twins.”
“What do you mean?” Kris asked, giving me the sidelong glance that I recognized as her wary, are-you-about-to-be-even-more-full-of-BS-than-usual face.
“I mean, we started out with this plan, and it got derailed before we even really got started. But we just kept going, determined to make the plan work in the face of overwhelming odds.”
“Sort of like the odds when I’m home alone with the three of them and you’re at work?”
“Yeah, a lot like that.”
“Well, I thought we were pretty efficient at the consignment shop,” Kris offered.
“We were. I’m still amazed at how quickly we got out of there. And you know, for a little while, the walk was going really well. The twins were asleep and Alex was happy and I kept thinking what a wonderful day it was and how great that we could be in such a beautiful place, even if you weren’t with us.”
“And then Alex got really hot and so did I, and the twins started to cry, and all of these people we passed seemed upset at hearing them cry, or possibly at the fact that I didn’t seem upset hearing them cry.”
“I know! That’s what I said.”
“Besides, they’re 11 weeks old. They cry like it’s their job.”
“I said that, too.”
“You actually said that to someone?” my Minnesota-Nice wife asked, clearly dismayed by my strategic lack of repression.
“Back to my metaphor—so we’d been having a nice time, sort of like in the beginning when they slept a lot…”
“And didn’t cry as much…”
“And didn’t seem to need to be held every second of every day… But then as the day wore on, they got hot and testy, and I knew I should get them in out of the sun but I just didn’t have any way to do it.”
“And then they stopped crying and you showed up and Alex went running to you and told you all about the things we’d done and seen, and everything was okay again. I even thought, ‘Yay, us,’ again for being so adventurous.”
“Um, not even close.”
“But I still think it was a good day.”
“I do, too,” I said, smiling at her.
And we drove on to our house in the woods, where we proceeded to park in our shady driveway and open all the doors in the minivan so that Alex could keep sleeping in her car seat while Kris and I fed the twins on the front porch where we could keep an eye on her. Because it isn’t just that you should never wake a sleeping baby. You should also let your exhausted toddler sleep if she can.
Especially on the hottest day of the year.