Mamie has returned to France. The futon is folded back up and her trademark post-visit “secret card” has already been collected from the letterbox. Tragically, paternity leave is now over as well. As if that were not enough seclusion, said pater has deemed our house unsuitable to work in now that air fills the lungs of TWO expressive children. As it stands, it remains unclear whether we kicked him out or he left us on his own volition.
No one is gathering up stray burp cloths, helping bathe a child (see photo, right) or neatly organizing kitchen cupboards. I hear no more work calls. No one is asking for a coffee. Instead, unrestrained squeals of delight and tears of uncaught falls fill our home. I hear Ayo repeating “maman? maman? MAAAAman?” until I answer. Délice is crying for mamaaan-waaah until I pick her up. Gosh, even Thomas the Train is cheerfully proclaiming “Brendham Docks, I am on my way!” in a loop until I turn ‘him’ away from the wall he ran into while Ayo fell off the chair. I pick raisins off jeans, sweep granola from the floor, berate Ayo for throwing banana at the wall and wipe almond butter off magnets. I should clarify: I did all those things before Délice joined our family. But now, such things get done while feeding both kids, all in assessing which poopy diaper is more threatening. For the record, it’s always the newborn’s. So, I lay Délice down, continue to respond to Ayo’s constant jabber and prop my daughter’s head up, hoping she won’t puke her meal up while I grab a wipe, while I speak a quick text message to my phone: “Its bak 2 realty”..I mean “back to reality”. No hands left to type and even Siri can’t keep up with the pace. It’s just me and the chilluns now.
I knew Monday, January 13th would come fast. I dreaded it, yet couldn’t wait to see what it would be like all at the same time. We all kissed papa goodbye at least twice at a ridiculously early hour of the morning (considering I am up all night) and I took a deep breath as I watched the garage door close. You see, after two half days of initiation last week, yesterday was my first full day all on my own with two kids. I’ll admit that I feel a little ridiculous making a big deal of it, especially knowing that at least two mama friends with four kids read this blog. Still, I think I might like to look back on these beginning days and remember what life was like to learn to juggle a 22 month old and a 3 week old…
Our very first outing was a trip to the post office to mail some books we sold on Half.com, in order to make room in the house for a second baby. That turned out to be a brave first outing because the line was longer than a seven year itch. It’s no wonder the US Post Office is going out of business! After changing both children’s diapers, I pre-tied my Moby wrap at home, lugged Délice in a carseat and a diaper bag and bribed Ayo to follow us to the car with his lion-face backpack filled with toys and snacks. At the post office, Délice in the wrap, I got Ayo & backpack out of his carseat. He bolted towards busy Broadway street as I grabbed our packages. I ran after him, catching him by his hood, squishing Délice’s head with my packages. We joined the back of the line and by the time about three people were behind us, Ayo had pooped his pants again. This sort of threw off my afternoon of errands since I now needed to go to a store where I could find a changing table. There was plenty of time to muster up a plan since we had entered the twilight zone of the post office. Ayo lost it by the time we reached the counter. He giggled and ran for the door and to everyone’s dismay, I plopped my packages on the counter and I ran after him to save his life. This time, supporting Délice’s head. If only the people buying our books online from the comfort of their plush armchairs and frolicking out to collect their mail could see what it took to get those packages in the post! We wrapped up at the post office and Ayo eagerly said “Bye byesh” to everyone and blew kisses on our way out. I stuffed our children back into their carseats and instantaneously coveted my parents’ era of being able to nurse at the wheel and keep small babies in wraps instead of in clumsy, clunky carseats.
From there, we went to the grocery store. I heaved Ayo into the cart after Délice was stuffed back into the Moby wrap. I lifted him back out when we reached the bathroom. He shook his head and said “non, non, non” before realizing a diaper change wasn’t a negotiable. I changed him, considered changing Délice and opted against it when I saw Ayo crawling on the bathroom floor. I quickly washed hands and lifted him back onto the cart as I tried to remember if we actually needed anything from the store. Milk! Yes, we need milk! I headed to the dairy section and aimed for the center of the aisle as my toddler’s hands tend to dangle in hopes of grabbing all colorful bottles. A pregnant woman stopped me to ask me about my Moby wrap. Several grannies just ‘had to see the newborn’. And one woman asked me what it was like going out with two young kids so close in age, as she has another on the way as well. “I have no idea! This is our first trip outside the house!”. We laughed.
Okay, that was enough laughing, I really needed to race home to avoid missing precious naptime for Ayo and *sigh* for Délice’s next feeding. Quick, quick to the checkout… And then I heard Ayo say “Maman?” and mouth the fish sound. Yes son, of COURSE we were going to make one last stop at the aquarium next to the store’s entrance. He squealed with delight and waved “BYE BYESH” to all cashiers with both arms, generously blowing them all huge kisses. The aquarium was a precious haven of peace in the middle of our storm. This moment was as special for mama as it was for Ayo. In that moment, it was like nothing had changed. We always stopped there and checked out all the fish. “Maman? Piti!” he said as he pointed to the smaller fish. “That’s right, Ayo, there are little ones and big ones too. Look behind that rock, do you see that one?” We stood there looking for the hidden orange fish, the pretty tiger striped one and the ugly grey bottom-feeder. We stopped there until we had seen and counted them all.
I could carry on with all the details of these past two full days on my own with Ayo and Délice. On how they fit into one stroller (see photo) or are getting along. But I think you get the picture. The past 48hrs have been busy, chaotic and full with some added logistics and laundry. And I predict this season will be even fuller, more taxing, more fun, more dull, more lonely and more lively than the one before. At the same time, I never expected to find such special moments like the one in front of the aquarium to delight in my son, like I get to experience in the middle of the night with my daughter. I can’t wait to find more of these moments as I choose to truly stop and see beauty in the midst of our new chaos.