You jump as the garage door slams shut. Even from this distance, it feels loud so you can only imagine what it must sound like from the car with the window down. The air had been cool but very still, so you hadn’t thought to prop the door open. Now you cringe as you wait for The Boy to wail.
True to form, he doesn’t disappoint.
You pick up the pace now. You had been on your second trip trudging groceries and shopping and 25,000 other bits and pieces from the car to the house. The Boy is yelling, but The Girl wants to tear open the hair extensions you just bought her, in a moment of weakness, from the cheap dollar shop. You knew exactly what she was thinking – different attachable hair extensions in different hair colours means she gets to pretend to be a different Disney heroine as soon as a braid is fastened. Now she gets to be a redhead or a blonde. As a Chinese mother, you fret irrationally over lost roots (haha), but $1.99 is super-cheap in the kiddie dress-up arena, so you acquiesce.
Excuse me, but The Girl wants to tear open the hair extensions NOW.
Meanwhile, you’re trying not to swear when you step on a small toy that you had told The Girl over and over to put away. It’s just sitting there, in the doorway, waiting to trip you head over tits. You, with six bags of groceries.
This inability to care for her belongings fully and thoughtfully was what instigated this morning’s excursion in the first place. For she had taken her favourite toy and companion, a hot-pink cat named Kitty, to Big Girl School on Tuesday. And then of course, she had left Kitty behind. You know that The Girl tries – when she remembers. But she’s immature because she’s only little. It still complicates your life, however. Her stuff. All over the place. All the time.
You tear open the packet of hair extensions. As you repack your freezer meats deftly like a game of Tetris, you decide between bringing the yelling boy into the house, or preempting the whine for help with the hair extensions from The Girl. You go with sticking all bobby pins with the braids into her head in two seconds flat. You dash to the car. You tell yourself to take a pic of her hair braids later, because actually, she looks kinda cute.
You hope against hope that The Boy will nod off to sleep in his bassinet while you unpack the groceries. You laugh quietly at your own optimism while The Boy screams with indignation. Meanwhile, you’re already planning the menu and gifts for your little family Valentines picnic tomorrow in your head. You hope The Boy will sleep so you can spend some time with The Girl making the frittata and some Valentines art and craft.
The Boy won’t sleep. Those precious five minutes in the car before the door slammed shut are all you’re going to get for the afternoon, it seems. Meanwhile, you suddenly remember the blasted infant insert in the car capsule.
Yes, that’s right. Just before you had stepped out the door two hours later than you meant to this morning, you had discovered a diaper explosion so epic, it would’ve made a grown man throw up in his mouth. You had only put The Boy in the capsule for two minutes, tops. But as soon as you had returned to the room with The Girl, now out of pajama-and-princess garb and sensibly dressed for going out, you’d realised that he had crapped big and bad.
So you had spent an extra ten minutes getting The Boy cleaned up. You had congratulated yourself for not getting any poo on your clothes for once. Then you’d returned to the scene of the crime to frantically scrub his poo out of the seat. The dark grey bits are fine – they had obviously treated the fabric with some water proofer. But the white head-hugging infant insert is now fringed with poo yellow at the bottom.
You know that baby poo stains like beetroot. You had silently cussed because you were now wondering how to sell the capsule on Gumtree after you’re done with it. Who would want to buy a poo-stained capsule, you tell me.
This had been the other quandary. Do you
a) remove and soak the infant insert immediately, and if you do
b) are you allowed to have The Boy travel in the capsule without the insert?
You had spent another precious five minutes you didn’t have Googling that fact. You had not found your answer, but you’d ultimately decided Safety over Stain, and after scrubbing the worst of it off with baby wipes and determination, you had lined a face cloth over the stained bits, strapped The Boy in, and hoped for the best as you flew out the door.
You remember all this now, and realise that stain is now about 3 hours old.
Too late, this cannot be helped. So you do the best you can. You rub two capfuls of Dynamo over the stain while reciting the ’80s TV ad in your head, and pray for a miracle.
You suddenly realise the house is too quiet.
The Boy is asleep. And so is The Girl.
This flabbergasts you. You resist the urge to jinx it by taking photos, but you do risk it a little by texting your mother-in-law to celebrate the fact. Because you like living on the edge.
However, this also means that you won’t get to do all those Valentines activities you had planned for The Girl. You briefly flirt with the idea of forging her penmanship and artistry on The Husband’s Valentine’s card, but decide instead to make yourself a cup of tea. And blog.
So many of you have asked how I’m handling the transition from Child to Children. They say that one of the hardest motherhood gigs is going from one child to two. And maybe I’ve been told too many times how hard it’s going to be, because I’m surprised how manageable it has been so far. I had expected it to be a lot worse, honestly.
The very ordinary fifteen minutes I tried to recreate in the paragraphs above don’t do my new life chapter justice. But it can be so typical – the whirlwind of tiny, everyday things. The train of little stresses, so easily forgotten once they smile or thank you. Once they fall into a restful sleep.
Yes, I don’t get to do as much and my days have slowed right down again… but I’m not complaining. I’m even enjoying large chunks of it. The mind is busy with at least a hundred new decisions a day, but the heart is light. There are new tender moments. The fear that I’d never be able to love another child the way I love Arddun has evaporated like an early morning mist meeting the sunlight. I love another, just as intensely if a little differently – but only because Atticus is my son, while Arddun is my daughter.
I have two. What a blessing!