That was the sound in our house ... just a short while ago ... a really loud BUZZ ... followed by zzzzzz. Oh, how we love the sound of sleeping babies. The quiet is heavenly.
But just a short while ago … it was a whirlwind of activity. A flurry of activity. They've been fed, they've had their bedtime bottles, and once they are lowered down from their highchairs they are super turbo charged. It's this pre-bedtime BURST of energy, that takes them tearing through the house ... running all over the place. I'm convinced that if we could bottle the energy of a toddler, we would solve the global fuel crisis. I'm chasing Elizabeth in to the back bedroom because she grabbed a hold of one of my knitting needles and is now waddling away from me at an impressive clip.
I see a reflection of myself in the window and hesitate. Surely - the window must be dirty. I can't look that frazzled. I go in to the bathroom to get a closer look in the mirror and I'm frightened by what I see. My hair is all over the place. Probably because Carolyn was trying to run her fingers through my locks the way I run my fingers through hers. I typically don't wear makeup during the day, but because I had a business meeting this morning, I put on a little "color." I now look like a warrior from "Last of the Mohicans". My mascara is running down my cheeks ... undoubtedly due to William giving me open mouth kisses all over my face when I came home this afternoon. Obviously, waterproof mascara isn't slobber proof, too. I look tattered. I look tired. I look confused. My wrinkle-resistant shirt is untucked and there are chunks of graham cracker mixed with ... prune juice (?) ... on my nice slacks. I come out of the bathroom to see Carolyn licking the bottom of my shoe that I had taken off, but not yet put in the closet (serves me right for moving too slow), William trying to pull my laptop out of my brief case, and Elizabeth has my $60.00 Talbots belt draped around her shoulders and is chewing one end. How in the world did she get my belt off of me without my knowing it...?
Where am I? How did I get here? Who are these children?
For those that don't know our story ... here's a little background. Charlie and I are managing all of the baby care on our own, without any outside help. I'm really proud of that accomplishment and our commitment to making *this* work. I typically work 2 days a week ... Charlie works 3 days a week. On the days that he works, I'm home ... on the days that I work, he's home. It's been a great arrangement and we are very fortunate to have good employers and flexible schedules. Even though Charlie and I happen to work for two different companies ... I rent an office space, within his office.
A few weeks ago - on the day that I was working (and hence, Charlie was home), one of his co-workers in passing said to me, "So today's Charlie's day off, huh?" I just stared at him and repeated ... "Charlie's day OFF? Do you understand that he is home, alone, with 3-17 month old toddlers? I don't really consider that a day OFF ... do you? It's actually the total opposite. Today is my day OFF." I've heard several people comment that they don't understand how I could go back to work after 1-year of maternity leave. Isn't it crazy for me, working a demanding, often times, high stress job? I chuckle. No job will ever seem demanding or high stress after my job of being a parent. NO JOB. Being a parent has undoubtedly been the best job of my life, the most rewarding, the most fulfilling. But also, the hardest. When people ask me how I could come back to the *stress* of corporate America ... I just tell them that it's like a little vacation for me. And, I believe it is.
Tonight, Charlie seems cool and collected. He's been home with them all day. He's prepared for this. I've noticed that the person who has been home all day, is not as fazed by the sudden burst of energy that comes on as bedtime approaches. Yet, the person who has been out *working* always gets blind sided by this commotion at night. I don't know why we aren't better prepared ... but for whatever reason ... those 8-hours away during the day make you kind of forget just how busy life is at home. I feel like an alien being dropped in to this mix of craziness.
The babies get rounded up - literally corralled - put in to their cribs ... we say a little prayer, give kisses goodnight and turn on their lullaby CD. We hear a lot of babbling ... they are talking to one another in a language that only they can understand. There's lots of laughing, squealing ... and the sound of what might be someone banging their head on the wall. More laughing ensues. After a few minutes, there is some crying. I walk in to the nursery, fully well anticipating that everything that was once in their cribs, is now on the floor. I'm not surprised by what I see. I pick up their blankets, pillows and stuffed animals - lay the babies back down - tuck them in and give them another round of kisses. There's some more babbling ... quieter now ... and then silence.
The last burst of baby energy has been absorbed. Whatever energy Charlie and I had to get us through this last hour, has been absorbed, too.
As I finish this post, I do so with the knowledge that our babies are now asleep for the night. Hopefully, I pray, the next time we see their bright little faces will be in 11-12 hours. Meanwhile, I don't why I didn't realize before children ... just how comfortable our couch is. At the end of a long day ... nay ... at the end of EVERY day ... there is no better feeling then collapsing on the couch with Charlie and saying aloud "Could we love them any more than we do?" No ... we couldn't love these babies any more than we do. But as much as we love them, we really love seeing them asleep. There is no better sight in the world to me - or satisfaction that we made it through another day. I can't think of a greater accomplishment in life, than that.