Now that Iâ€™m back to work fulltime and los babies still like to rage against the machine from 2 a.m. till about 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m., I feel that I may tell you that life is insane. Sleep deprivation, as Iâ€™ve said, is a torture. Some days, Husband and I just toggle back and forth between depression/anger/depression/anger/depression/anger. It can be a drag. Add on top of that the stress of work, I sometimes end my day with a huge ball of stress energy inside that I really donâ€™t know how to get rid of.
But these words may come across more negative than what I feel in the moment, because somehow, as Iâ€™ve gotten older, Iâ€™ve developed an emotionally safety valve. I might be Dark and Gloomy for a while, but then Iâ€™ll hear a joke or a perspective that lets me not take it seriously and laugh it off. One night this week, Mom was over helping and relayed how babysitting communication ran amuck between she and Husband. As I was already wound up, I wanted to call him right away in order to straighten things out but since she thought I was going to berate him, she grabbed the phone, and we had a tug-of-war from the living room to the bedroom with First Son in between, all three of us yelling till we bumped into a wall. And maybe it was the night before when Mom grabbed my belly and asked â€œIs this fat?â€ I held her hands firmly there and made her follow my dance moves and sang â€œYes, itâ€™s fat!â€ First Son looked on in this scene and also got into the mix.
My point is, My God, my home life is like a Chekhov play right now. Like thereâ€™s hilarity, thereâ€™s misery, no gun â€“ but lots of high drama (although I mentioned to Husband that I think it might really stress-relieving to go to a shooting range and he agreed). I think I now know how to play Chekhov. I could totally do a cart wheel as Arkadina while crying and laughing. I understand Masha now, who I would play as deeply sleep-deprived.
I’m so glad I have a girl. When the world was about to end, Husband’s co-worker B.C. said every gay male friend he had posted on Facebook as their status update, “You in danger, girl.” (The line, apparently, is from Whoopi Goldberg in “Ghost.” See the clip here.) I’ve begun to say that to Baby Girl. I just pick her up, smoosh her right near my face, and keep saying girlyouindangergirlyouindangergirl and make myself laugh. Husband rolls his eyes by now and Baby Girl gives me a “You’ve got to be kidding me” look.
I am going to be 40 years old very, VERY soon. It feels strange to even write that, because turning 40 always seems like something that happens to other people, something you see in the movies. But now that Iâ€™ve arrived at said age, I have to say itâ€™s not bad at all. Forty, you see, is actually quite young â€“ or I still feel young, I have a great deal of energy (I have two infants and one toddler, so thereâ€™s that), I have a lot of ideas for stories, etc., and I still have my health. I mean, sure, Iâ€™m heavier and my knees are kind of creaky, but itâ€™s not like Iâ€™m paraplegic.
I got the kids, the husband, friends, and my still-kicking-it senior citizen parents. I know this particular birthday can be a source of anxiety â€“ which I get. Maybe you/I want to be at a certain place by this age, but it’s just one year our of all the years you get to live. Hopefully, I’m only at the midway. And I am trying to think of aging as Laura Linney does. I read some interview she did after Natasha Richardson died, that she thinks people should stop trying to look younger, you’re lucky you get to be your age, because not everybody makes it. This is a different take that seems very sensible.
I will say that time flies. I still remember when I thought fifth graders were impossibly older and intimidatingly sophisticated. Now I’m FORTY! BA-DA-BOOM! Every time my mom says “Nearly 40, wow, you are really old, middle-aged,” I respond, “Look who’s talking, you have a 40-year-old child.” And so on.
I caught this on cable a few weeks ago and consequently could not sleep, it is that upsetting. They have these horrible scenes where the Don Cheadle character and his wife prepare to say good-bye, and make “in case I die” wishes to each other. Ugh, I could not stand it. It made me feel both fortunate for my current circumstances but also ashamed that people suffer so much and there is little I did/do to try to appease it. Movies can push your buttons, man. If there were a “Hotel Afghanistan,” forget it, I would be unable to the Obama’s 18-month withdrawal plan, despite the fact that I think it’s for the best. (No more gazillion dollars for unwinnable wars that don’t necessarily improve the lives of those who live near the fighting, thank you. It’s a very sensible thing Obama is advocating. This is the only news article I’ve read and retained from the last three months.)
Anyway, it’s not possible to sustain that “oh-my-god-life-is-precious-and-we-should-treasure-every-moment” feeling — it’s fleeting. Most of the time, you go back to taking stuff for granted, people for granted, transportation for granted, running water, cable, stocked supermarkets for granted. Pretty soon after seeing the picture, I started incorporating Hotel Rwanda as a personal metaphor for the torture of sleep deprivation, because I am that classy.
I doubt I could survive an ordeal like that with my spirit in tact. I can’t even handle mice, never mind massacred bodies. We have mice. Every time I see one scurry, busy on their errand of polluting my apartment, I let out a blood-curdling scream and wake everyone up, including the babies. (Husband: Could you please not scream? You know, you could choose not to feel that way. Me: Seriously? No, I can’t. It just comes out of me.)
This month, I thought I might include all the mouse poops I’ve collected in the mail along with my rent check.
It’s not all bad here. I’m learning stuff. The Wonder Twins do neat things.
* Both are beginning to smile, which is exciting.
* Both just slept four hours in a row last night, which was AMAZING.
* You can see their personalities a little more — the boy is hyper, constantly banging out Morse Code with his left leg. The girl is more mellow and lies around in Cleopatra-lounging poses.
* The Boy has sandbag cheeks and smells like Nacho Cheese.
* The Girl has mascara-ready lashes and mews.
I just put on eye makeup with one baby in my arms this morning for the first time. Skillz.
It gets better. Is it inappropriate that I’m cannibalizing a message from the gay community for my own needs? Probably. But get ready for all kinds of inappropriate.
Pparenting is tough. I’m not even up to the stage where kids are sending naked pictures of each other, or whatever insane online drama teens have now. I’m still in the Dark Days of Baby. Sunday, the washer broke so I wrung out loads of laundry, the dryer ate my quarters, a neighbor left me a “Dear -sshole” note because I removed their clothes from the washer, all the while minding First Son, who was wandering around the machines and kept bumping into them because he insisted on wearing sunglasses.
A friend from grad school said that you go through a period where you want to kill yourself/the babies because that’s what it takes to forge bonds for life. I like the drama of her sentiment, and it feels that intense when you’re going on four hours of sleep for months. If people remembered how tough it is to take care of a little one, no one would do it. Our species would just disappear.
Thank you, Tim Gunn.
No, don’t eat food off the floor
No, don’t pick your nose! Call Mom for a tissue!
No, don’t help yourself to the Brita filter.
No, don’t step on your brother.
No more singing, go to sleep!
No, don’t open the refrigerator.
No more chips.
No, don’t drink the soapy bath water! I am begging you.
No song, Mommy.
No diaper change, Mommy.
No Blue Guy!
No broccoli, Mommy.
No oatmeal! Un chip?
No [Roars like a lion]