Here’s the thing about living with two teething toddlers. (Not that this is news to anyone who already has them, or to anyone has ever met a toddler, but I feel like I was not sufficiently prepared for this new stage.)
In a normal job, if you had a boss who yelled and screamed at and bit and puked on you all day long, and then repeatedly pooped his pants and made you clean it up, demanded you cut up all his food into little pieces and then threw 90% of it on the floor, reserving the last 10% to drop on your neck while you wipe up the chunks on your hands and knees, you would quit your job. I mean, no question.
In this toddler-hostage-crisis of a job, all of those things happen constantly, day after day after day and yet I can’t help but return every hard-won giggle with another tickle, smother their sticky selves with kisses, and marvel at their perfect little bodies and all that they are learning and becoming.
When they scream I feel equal parts anger and empathy, inconsistently offering cuddles and then time outs, patience and exasperation. Then Rowan toddles over and bite-kisses my lips and Evelyn very seriously wiggle-dances to the Morning Edition theme song and I’m undone. Again. Ugh. When we finally get them down to bed we struggle through 4 minutes of zombie attempts at conversation and then I pull out my phone and show Drew all the adorable things they did that day. Because I just can’t get enough of these perfect little monsters.
It’s definitely the most unhealthy relationship I’ve ever been in.
In other news: Drew was gone for 32 hours on a tiny trip to Grand Rapids this weekend and I have a newfound appreciation for single parents. I truly don’t think we could have made it through another night without him. Judging by the repeated house-pacing Rowan did today, worriedly checking every room for his papa and then Evelyn’s 3 minutes of giddy, joyful shrieks when he returned, I know I’m not the only one who was concerned. Yes, co-dependency of the highest order: the rock this family is built on.
As we continue to wade through the shark-infested waters of sleep training, I am learning all that I cannot control. It turns out there’s a worse thing than that thought you have at 2:30am when you remember that you can’t will yourself to fall asleep. You become hyper alert and aware of every thought you’re thinking and every breath and your very quickly beating heart. That is miserable, but the even worse thought is that you also cannot control when another person falls asleep, even if you do all their favorite things and follow all the rules and do definitely/never ever night-nurse them because it will/won’t lead to long-term self-soothing problems/successes. It’s a regular disaster. If you ever find yourself struggling with that horrible how-to-fall-asleep question between the hours of 2 and 4am, please feel free to join us. You’ll be aching for the quiet nothingness of your own bedroom in no time.
A few months ago I heard a report on NPR that suggested that babies cry to ensure their survival, not just making sure their immediate needs are met but also that mom and dad won’t ever think of upgrading to a newer, cuter model. This sounded crazy to me but the recent events of the entire last year of my life have made me believe it. I’m now convinced our children still wake us up in the night to ensure we will continue to struggle with basic life functions for the next 9 or 10 years with no time to contemplate expanding our family until one day when my ovaries will spasm and release 45 eggs at once and we’ll be accidental duggars.
So that’s what I’m thinking about tonight when I should be sleeping. Also, nobody answered my question about what to do with a kid who can climb out of the tub. Is there a baby gate? Some kind of plexiglass cage? Do I just keep putting him back in? How do I keep him from splitting his head open on the tile floor? WHERE IS THE MANUAL FOR THESE THINGS?