I am a mom of two kids. The transition has been completed while still evolving. Ike and Connor have me trained to take care of both of them at the same time, juggling one kid who gets out of his bed and tries to slip into mine multiple times a night with the other who likes to startle in the night and cry until Z or I fumble in the dark to reinsert his baba. I’m attuned to listen for a crying baby or the rumbling of Connor’s pocket door as he slips out of his room during nap time or in the middle of the night. One arm is getting accustomed to balancing jelly-necked Ike while the other lifts or steadies a goofing, wobbling Connor. Weekday mornings are still a lot of work, but I know to open the door on Connor’s side of the car on my way to locking Ike’s car seat into the base on the other. After getting the boys buckled into the car I find it best to tell Connor I’ve “forgotten something” in the house just to run down the hallway and feed the fish before leaving the house (I usually remember to feed the fish with 5 minutes left before we need to leave – not enough time to have Connor feed and marvel over them on his own). Our portable changing pad is always stocked with two sizes of diapers and every pocket of the diaper bag is crammed with Connor’s cars and toys for Ike which he has yet to be old enough to use.
Yet, in spite of how clumsily I’m adapting to life with two under 3 years old, I always appreciate help at the same time that I feel guilty getting it. When someone offers to help by taking care of Ike, I worry that I’m taking unfair advantage of their generosity when I spend a few still minutes not chasing Connor or rocking the Rooster. Don’t get me wrong, I take those minutes when they’re offered, but they are minutes that my mind wrestles with. They offered to hold Ike, so they must be ok with it. But, maybe they only wanted to hold him for a minute and didn’t really want to feed him or carry him around for the 15 minutes during which I haven’t offered to take him back. These moments feel like coming upon someone in a narrow hallway and doing that awkward dance while trying to get out of each other’s way. That dance can go on for quite a while, getting more and more uncomfortable, or it may last just a few seconds when you and your partner decisively choose a path and stick with it. It is all just a dance – often times clumsy, sometimes coordinated, sometimes unintelligible, and other times beautiful. Today had every kind of moment in it, as most days do.
In this moment I’m trying to enjoy the silence; the boys have been put to bed and Z is at band practice. But like phantom limb pain, I keep thinking I hear Ike crying or Connor waking when the only noises are from the heat kicking on or the creakings of our old house. I want to violently shush the barking neighborhood dogs for fear that their bow-wowing will wake one of my sleeping beasts. Noises that may wind about the house during the boys’ daytime naps seem suddenly deafening. While clicking away on the keyboard I imagine Ike popping his pacifier out; I am on edge during these late-night waking hours, the only hours that seem to be mine. I get anxious on nights when it’s soley up to me to put the boys to bed. But once they have stopped their grumblings and are sleeping, there’s nothing so sweet as sitting in bed, doing my thang, knowing that Z will slip into bed after I have started to drool into my pillowcase. Selfish moments are often too few and far between. I’m off to enjoy the rest of mine.