1:30am: A sleepy voice floats over the baby monitor from Serafina’s room. Giraffsie.. Giraffsie… I can’t find Giraffsie. I walk upstairs, tiptoe across her room in the dark, pad around her bed until I find the crumpled, filthy lovie she calls Giraffsie, centimeters from her own hand.
4:30am: Mrowww, mrowww, mrowww. The cat enters our room with the ominous, persistent meow that means only one thing: she has caught a mouse. I turn on the light and there it is, a living, wriggling, tiny gray mouse hanging from her mouth. Seconds later, the babies start to whine over their monitor. Darry leaves the room to nurse them for the third time this evening. I close the bedroom door, run to the kitchen to rummage for rubber gloves and a plastic bag, and then entrap myself with the cat and her mouse. The cat tosses the mouse around a few times, threatening to let it run away and hide forever in the room where we sleep. But after one vigorous toss, the mouse falls on its back and is momentarily stupefied. I grab it, throw it in the bag and throw the bag outside on our driveway. I get back in bed and try to sleep, and fail to sleep until Darry returns 15 minutes later.
6:50am: Miraculously we have all slept late. Mamaaaa, mammaaaa. Serafina calls for me from her bed. She is perfectly capable of getting out of it herself, opening the door and coming downstairs but at 2 years and 11 months, she still prefers to call me when she rises and lie still until I pick her up. I guess this is a good thing. We come downstairs and our morning snuggle begins. A minute later the babies are chattering in their cribs. Darry goes upstairs to fetch them, comes down. They nurse again.
7am: We’re getting everyone fed but first, a round of diapers. She’s potty trained, but Serafina still sleeps in a disposable because we can’t fathom cleaning up a soiled toddler bed in the morning right now. This morning when we take her diaper off, there is a surprise, silver dollar-sized raised red bruise on her upper thigh — it was not there last night. I have a small panic attack. Then I remember she did have a spectacular crash on her scooter the previous night. There were no tears when the accident happened, but she did smack the exact spot on her leg where the bruise is now. I still call the doctor for some advice.
7:30-8:30am: We destroy the kitchen with another meal. A blur of babies whining to be picked up and put down whizzes around us. Serafina, excited for a visit to her preschool for orientation, packs a backpack with snacks and a sweater. I throw on clothes. Darry does too. A couple rounds of poopy diapers later, we are almost ready to take the whole family for a visit to the school.
8:40am: We’re outside and the hilarious circus act that is loading three children in a car commences. I notice the plastic bag with the middle-of-the-night mouse is stirring. The mouse lives! I carry it to the woods at the end of our road and liberate the mouse.
9am: We have a lovely visit at preschool. I wish I had no other responsibilities. I wish I could idle the day away with rainbow rice and homemade rain sticks. I wish I could watch Serafina climb on the monkey bars for hours. The babies demand we never leave, but we have to leave because I still have to go to work today and their morning nap is coming.
10:10am: The messages from work start pinging my phone. Am I ready to join the conference call starting at 10am? Haha.
10:15am: I say goodbye to Darry and the babies, who are headed back home. We kiss and sort of make up about the argument we had the previous night when I told her that Serafina was acting like an asshole and she told me it was wrong for me to talk that way.
10:20am: I deliver Serafina to my mother, who will watch her for the rest of the day. But first I have to re-install her carseat in my mother’s car for only the 30th time this summer. I love doing this though. I love installing carseats. So it’s OK.
10:30am: Serafina demands I personally escort her inside, so I do.
10:35am: I am alone. I join the conference call. I am on the call for my entire drive to work, which is one of the only times I can reliably breathe and experience life sort of as the human I once was. The drive is long because, in my haste, I accidentally go the wrong way. The voices on the other end are muffled, like they are traveling light years from another universe where people wake up with the sun, carefully clothe and feed themselves and move freely about their day. I used to live there. I sometimes miss it.