Ever since Quinn moved into Saoirse’s room, the girls are up, running around the house, by 6:30 each morning. Just try to ask me if I’m running around the house with them. I know, I’m laughing too. Pre-pregnancy Leah would be, but that Leah also prepared her girls a hot breakfast most mornings (frozen waffles count, right?), and applied mascara every day, and could remain coherent and sociable past 9 p.m. on any given night. Pregnant Leah is different. Pregnant Leah is tired. Do you remember when pre-pregnant Leah was hitting the gym for a 5:30 a.m. cardio class during the week? I know! I don’t either.
But back to the girls. As long as there’s orange juice in cute cups (“Mom, I get the one with pink flowers,” says the eldest) waiting for them in the fridge every morning, they’re usually happy to run around for a little while, pounding the hardwood floors like a bunch of tiny-footed buffalo and playing with whatever odds and ends they’ve dragged all over the house, until I can drag my own self upright around seven a.m. or so. I realize that seven o’clock sounds luxuriously late to anyone with kids in elementary school, or to my former fellow teachers who are dutifully working in their classrooms by seven, and I have no excuse. No excuse at all, other than I can’t drink a lot of caffeine anymore, and I’m up every hour–no joke–during the night wearing a pregnancy-induced path to the bathroom, and that these little kids can wipe a girl out. Just bear with me, okay?
On one particular morning, I could hear that the girls had decided to settle in what will be the baby’s room to play, which is what was destined to happen because David and I had just organized it the day before, rearranging furniture and cleaning and basically making it picture-perfect and baby-ready. So it only makes sense that I would walk in there after a half hour to find board books in the crib and stuffed animals on the changing table shelves and wipes scattered everywhere because they were playing “Mom and Dad”. OF COURSE.
Mom and Dad is a big game lately. I don’t know if it’s the age, or the impending arrival (dum dum DUMMM) of a new baby in the house, but role playing has been in the forefront of all the girls’ play. And I’ll tell you what, nothing gives a parent more insight into how he or she is doing as a parent than eavesdropping on her kids while they’re pretending to be you. I’ve witnessed soccer balls being punished, where the girls run the balls up to their room, place them inside, and close the doors for a bit, only to go get them again and tell them they were being punished for hitting. They’ll do this over and over again, this running up and down stairs, telling the soccer balls (very calmly, at least) that they’re “being punished,” only to fetch the balls from their room and have to do it again. I’ll let you guess how confident I am in the effectiveness of my discipline tactics at this point.
Then there’s Quinn changing her stuffed dog’s diaper: “Oh, my goodness! That’s HUGE!”
I think it’s time we cemented those potty training skills, yes?
Or Quinn calling to her sister, in the absolutely kindest tone I’ve ever heard, “Come on, sweetheart! Sweetheart! Come with me.” When she says that, I get all mushy inside. When she says that, I know that sometimes I don’t have to be so hard on myself, that maybe–just maybe–I’m doing an okay job at this full-time raising-my-kids thing. Either that or she hears David call me “sweetheart” sometimes when we’re disagreeing about something and trying to keep the conversation courteous, but nah. It’s because I’m awesome, okay?
And that morning, as I listened, I heard the girls talking back and forth, taking care of their stuffed animals in the nursery, calling each other, in the nicest voices, “Leah” and “David”. Well, let me be more specific: Saoirse was Leah, and Quinn was playing David, because always, every day, no matter what, Saoirse gets to be the mommy and Quinn is the daddy, to the point where if you ask her what she wants to be when she grows up, she tells you that she’s going to be a daddy. SK has that poor child very confused.
One day, very soon, I’m going to be awake, though bleary-eyed and barely human-like, nursing a newborn while the girls patter around the house before breakfast. I’m worried. Worried about time management, and energy management, and being able to be as ‘there” for the girls as I was before we started procreating again (it keeps happening, doesn’t it?!). I worry that my temper will be short, that I’ll be throwing stale bread crusts and brown bananas at them for breakfast, that by the time I get all three children out the door for school and gymnastics and errands Saoirse will have finished with preschool and be impatiently standing there, tapping her foot, reminding me to help her with her college applications.
Sleep is not happening for the next year or so. I know this, I realize this. But I also know how life settles into a bit of a (albeit busy) rhythm, that I actually sleep better, even if as infrequently, once the baby comes (though I suspect that could be from the Percocet they give me after the stupid c-section), that we want this and are excited for this and seriously, I get restless when I have too much time on my hands, anyway. And who doesn’t love lots and lots of laundry? Right? And I also know that I’ve gotten better at recognizing when my nerves are short, or taking a mental breather toward the end of the day when the girls are exhausted and David has a late conference call and I’m craving a shower and some time in a silent house, at knowing that I have to move things around–chores, activities, life–when something’s not working well. I know that I have a husband who does as much as time allows, who also moves life around if he needs to do so, who is as in this as much as I.
I got this. I know (sort of) that I do. But you can bet your cold mini wheats that I’ll continue to eavesdrop on the girls’ role playing from here on out. Because it’s the best way to gauge how I’m doing. Hearing the girls act out our family life is the truest, clearest window into knowing if we’re doing the right kind of job we signed up to do. And, of course, it’s the best excuse to stay in bed just a little bit longer before I gear up to face the crazy joy and squabbles and cheers and punished soccer balls of the day. Because we got this. We do, even before that first cup of coffee in the morning. It’s about to happen anyway, so I should probably just go with it already.
C’mon, sweetheart. Come ON.