While Glory and Elena took their morning nap, I let Manny watch Clifford on PBS Kids so I could spruce up a little bit for our coffee date with Amy, do the dishes, start a load of laundry, brush Manny's teeth without a big fuss (I spend the entire time saying, "Open your mouth! Aaaah!" My mouth hangs open like I don't know how to close it and Manny's jaw always stays in a tight lock) and plan ahead for all the food experiments I am going to try on the babies. At 9:59 I realize the time and rush into the family room. If I let Dragon Tales begin, it will be a much bigger deal when I turn off the television. It's a big deal anyway. Manny wails like I just cut off his toe or his supply of raisins. I try to play it cool and lay down on the sofa bed next to him. It is amazing how this kid will succomb to snuggling even when he is blazing angry at me. I realize someday this will stop working. Or will it? Perhaps I will tell him he can't use the car and then we will spoon for fifteen minutes and share a mug of Fran's hot chocolate.
We have coffee with Amy and it's delicious. I love the company and having a friend to hold a baby offers opportunity to savor my latte, which has become my back-up parenting generator. After she leaves, I stay outside, holding both the girls while Manny runs around the yard delighted with pea gravel and plastic shovels. He makes his way to the front door and plays with Aslan's new rope that prevents the dog from making the entire yard his toilet. Now he is limited to just 1/3. I try to deter Manny by saying, "Honey, let's not play with that (using inclusive language as though I too am rubbing the urine soaked rope all over my hands and face). You don't want to get pee-pee in your mouth. Especially not Aslan's pee-pee" (as though there is a hierarchy of pee-pee you would and would not want to get in your mouth). None of this works. Eventually he starts riding his bike down the ramp without a helmet and this brings me relief.
2pm. All the children are sleeping. This is a rare enough pleasure that I feel a bit giddy. Not only have I eaten my lunch in peace, but I almost done reading The Good Earth and I have enough time leftover to roast the chicken that I am planning to use and reuse in fun and creative ways for the next three days. I get it in the oven and clean my prep area, feeling like an overachiever to not be leaving salmonella everywhere. And, oh, look at the time. I might even be able to lie down for a while. But no! The smoke alarm goes off! Freakin, frackin, why the heck is this thing so sensitive, I just put the chicken in for God's sake! I am so mad. I run around the house opening windows, turning the fan on high, muttering to myself and waving a giant bath towel at the smoke detector (which, incidentally, gets nowhere near it because we have high modern ceilings). The only benefit to it being so loud is I can't tell yet whether or not all the children are screaming. The horrible beeping ceases. No crying. I am amazed and shiver at the woosh of cool air that travels up into the kitchen and through my thin, attractive mom shirt that I finally ironed last Friday after weeks of being wadded up in my closet.
Ten minutes after the smoke alarm silences, both of the babies wake and I sit them down to play in the kitchen while I baste the chicken. I realize Sam left his iTouch at home and turn on his classical music playlist, in the hopes that I can still make them really, really smart by hearing the occasional Mozart. Moonlight Sonata comes on. I look over and Glory and Elena are performing synchronized modern baby dance on the rug. They both wrap their legs around their body in preparation for the crawling position and their arms reach up over their heads and back to their sides. It seems like it is all in time to the music. They are getting smart. It's working! Manny gets up and we are snuggling some more. It all seems so idyllic until Aslan throws up on the rug. Dog vomit has a funny way of deadening moods.
For dinner, all the children eat some of my roasted chicken. Manny and Glory especially love it. The girls have never eaten chicken before and I feel bolstered that my girls have added another food to the short list of things they will eat that don't require the dreaded spoon. Sam comes home and we get the girls ready for bed. It is early and that is good. For over a week, Glory or both have cried upwards of an hour trying to go to sleep. We have finally decided they are overtired from all their developmental leaps. Elena goes down peacefully. I take Glory back to her room to nurse her and while I am there, the face of Jesus appears to me on her concrete floor. I spend the time looking away and looking back, but I still see the face. I think about Jesus appearing on refrigerators and on pieces of bread and now on my daughter's floor. It is about as clear as a rabbit in a cloud, but it doesn't matter. It gives me peace and it makes me think about my kids and how much I love them. Glory cries for five seconds when I leave and it is quiet.
Manny plays outside with Sam. I bring him in so Sam can go to hear the man who coined the phrase "green collar job" speak and I give Manny his first gummi worms. A very special occasion. Watching him eat the food coloring pains me a bit. I think I will stick to raisins and natural food store gummi vitamins. After candy, he is in an especially good mood and we get his jammies on, read books, brush his teeth again, read more books and it is then that I realize he has wound his toothbrush into my hair for the second time today. This time I laugh as I unravel all the pieces of knotted hair from his red Bob the Builder toothbrush. How I managed to not notice he was doing this, I'm not sure. I guess I was really into Moo Who?, the gripping story of how Hilda Mae Heifer got her moo back after being clocked on the head with a rogue cowpie.
Glory wakes up shortly after I leave Manny and cries for well over an hour. When I go to her, and I do three times, she quiets immediately at the sound of my voice which melts my heart and makes me want to hold her, nurse her, do whatever she requires to be at peace. But I know that I cannot do these things or else it will become a pattern. This is the way it went with Manny and this is the way it goes with the girls. So I talk and rub and pat and talk some more, all in a voice I didn't know I had. A voice so soothing that I want to lay down and go to sleep. Thinking of it now, I suppose I will. Good night.