I think I may have broken a record for the longest inhale in the history of the world today. It started four hours ago when I woke up and I have only just released that breath, here, at my desk, in my first second of quasi-repose.
Mornings are hard. Some are harder than others. These days they seem impossible. When I take a moment to float above the universe we inhabit and gaze down at our three beautiful babies and my beautiful wife, I sometimes wonder: how are people physically able to do the things you must do in the duality of being a human being who works and being a human being who is trying to lovingly care for offspring? The part where you rise early to feed, clothe and cleanup yourself and children each day and then exit the house with some combination of them seems to especially defy physics.
Our twins are at that precious age of babyhood where they don’t want to be in arms but they also don’t want to be out of them. Most of their time in Darry’s presence and even mine involves whining and hollering to go “up” and then whining and hollering to go back down. Their preferred state is for both of us to sprawl on the floor so they can just crawl all over us at will.
Serafina is on the precipice of being a threenager, which, I think, means she is aware of herself on the threshold of bigger-kidness and, in full view of her sisters in babyhood, her exit from that phase. This morning she demanded she sit in one of their high chairs (her old chair) with a bottle full of Darry’s pumped milk and the remains of her breakfast, cut into miniscule bites safe enough for an infant to gum. Seconds later, she insists she wash the dishes “all by self.” We chose to honor these requests today, but there are others like this that we can’t, for lack of time and patience, and there is some protest that I am trying very hard to see and support, but somehow not feel.
Did I mention we’re all in our second round of (thankfully, mild) coxsackie virus? Which sounds either adorable or vile, and this time has brought a crop of mouth sores for me and Darry (not just the kids), a general sense of blech and a fresh veneer of grumpiness to our family dynamic.
When the morning chaos peaks, I feel like I actually might die sometimes. Scene: Both babies are at my feet while Darry is in the bathroom, Serafina is demanding I hold her. I have to poop and maybe even take a shower and get dressed, but how? And then so do all of the children, but how? In my head there is a long stretch of many more mornings like this and cartoon speed lines flying off a history of so many mornings already lived, just like this. There is the epic list of things I haven’t completed at work, still waiting there for me to start, and all the people who will ask my questions as soon as I arrive.
I don’t know what to do with this feeling of impending death, and today, throwing a spoon into the sink for the satisfaction of metal crashing against metal would have to suffice. It’s not my best moment as a parent or person, hurling a spoon from the counter to the sink. But it feels essential to my survival right now.
I start all of my days as a servant to our tiny creatures. But five days a week, I start my day again, in service to my job. I am waking up again, breathing regularly now.