I was setting him up to fail, and I knew it.
As if on cue at the end of watching the debates last night, your dad and I heard stirring from the video monitor.
“It’s him,” I said, without even looking, the house chef, washwoman and prophet.
Your dad stood by the kitchen island studying the grainy black and white screen.
“He’s still in her bed?” he asked, squinting.
“Yeah, another pajama party,” I said in the tone of no big deal. You, Baby Boy, have been crawling into your sister’s bed lately. Maybe you have memories of sleeping there as a newborn, it’s where you used to sleep together–a lot smaller–head-to-head about a foot apart. We would come in and find your two little bald heads touching, as if you’d been pulled together, limbs all swaddled up, by a magnet.
There was another stir. I could see from my post on the couch a mound of a behind come into view. You were restless, switching positions, hitting your sister in the head for sure. Even the act of storming into her bed in the dark must be so annoying. She’s less restless than you. When she’s in her bed, she’s like a log, thumb in her mouth and face down and out. Then, you come in a complete surprise attack.
“I feel bad for her. Enough is enough. She needs a good night sleep, right?”
I half listened to him. Half to Anderson Cooper.
I thought of all things that get compromised in a day just to keep us moving. After lunch yesterday I got us in the car and we just drove. Around. Until you fell asleep. Then I left you sleeping in the car in the garage. It wasn’t ideal, but at least there was napping. You slept for about an hour. I took it.
There are other compromises, of course, especially with twins. Days are filled with tiny little battles won and lost. (You: Mostly won. Me: Mostly lost.) I got the cowboy hat off your head, Baby Girl, for the first day of music (win!), but you still wore the leg warmers and long string of pearls and long pants and sweater when it was 80 degrees out, head-to-toe Pepto Bismol pink (loss).
There are the constant decisions. What should they eat for breakfast? Then, when you don’t want to eat what I thought you should eat for breakfast, there’s what else can they eat for breakfast? Did they have too much juice? Is this too much milk? Is Cheerios, cream cheese on english muffin, avocado on toast, eggs, home fries and fruit gross? Are they going to throw up? What time will they be tired? Is it warm out? Do they need these hoodies? Is it bad that these socks are wet? Is this juice on the seat of her pants? I think it’s juice. It’s fine. Whatever. No, I’ll go upstairs and get clean pants. Should I tell them I’m going? Are they going to freak out if they notice I’m not here? Are they going to follow me? Should I close the gate or run?
Motherhood is a series of split decisions forced to be made on subjects for which there are no answers. It feels a little like pulling things out of a hat. Hand me my diaper bag, my trusty bag of tricks.
Yesterday I read about a book being published called “Raising Human Beings,” a detailed and practical guide to raising children in a collaborative fashion, offering a framework for how to parent responsively so that communication is enhanced, relationships are improved and kids are prepared for the real world.
That’s great, really, in 100% sincerity, hats off to Ross Greene, PhD, Professor in Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
But, is there a book that can tell me what should my kids eat for breakfast?
And what time they should go to sleep?
And what should they wear on these kind of cool but still kind of warm October days?
“Do you think I should go get him?” your dad said. “Put him back in his own bed?”
Perhaps this, too, could be a chapter.
I had no intention of going into the battle zone I mean your bedroom at 11:00 p.m. and probably waking you up and dealing with the consequences.
I did not want to be responsible for another roll of the dice resulting with the odds not in my favor.
I said to your dad, “If you want to do it, go ahead. Do what you think is the right thing to do.”
And I smirked to myself from downstairs a few minutes after he’d gone in when I heard the crying.