I got my newborn fix with these two little teenie tinies.
And am now anxiously awaiting the arrival of this little one.
The last thirty days with my children have, as always, been both bizarre and beautiful. The exercise of writing about them every single day, no matter what, come weekends or weddings, has been truly eye opening for me. It has forced me to examine my children more closely. It has forced me to engage in a more aggressive fashion. That isn’t to say that I was detached before, but simply to say that there is always room to grow.
My wife and I saw a billboard today that said, “You don’t have to be a perfect person to be a perfect parent”. My wife takes a bite of her burrito and says, “There is no such thing as a perfect parent”. And she’s right. You just try your best, everyday, every hour, every passing moment… because they are always getting older and those moments are forever slipping away, getting trapped in photographs and videos that you will cling to dearly. They become the things you run to if your house ever catches on fire; your memories of The Best Times.
There have been many firsts that we’ve seen this month for both of the kids, some written about, some not. Quinn’s two word sentence structure, “Where Mommy?”, Rory getting stuck on the sink, their very first Flaming Hot Cheeto. But it has also made me realize that with every first, there is a last, many of which have already befallen us. Their last bottle, their last sink bath. For my wife, the last time she breast fed them.
These things slip in and out of our lives, monumental moments that we tend to treat with a passing fancy while devoting all of our time and energy to That Big Email or That Big Phone Call or That Big Meeting. Finding a proper balance between being The Dad and The Husband and The Worker can be an all consuming job but it is the job that I (we) have all taken up willingly and now must (MUST) do our very best at. There are no do-overs. There are no try-agains. There are no I’ll-Do-Better-Next-Times. There is only now. Today. This Moment.
When your child hugs your knees, bend down and hug him back, furiously and without abandon. Squeeze the very breath from his lungs and breathe in the scent of his hair and the softness of his skin. When your daughter wants to sit next to you on the tub and brush her teeth with you but you’re late for work, take the grand God-given opportunity that has been presented before you and revel in it.
Rory and Quinn, now I speak directly to you. Know that if anything ever happens to me, I tried my best. I loved you with everything I had, I gave it all to you and I held nothing back. I taught you how to walk and how to talk. I put you in my lap when I backed the car down the driveway; sometimes one of you, sometimes both of you. I bathed with you and I changed your diapers. I ate peas for you… I hate peas… but I ate mounds and mounds of them to show you that vegetables are healthy.
I do this because I love you.
With all of my heart. With all of my soul. And with all of my strength.
And the only thing I ask in return… is that you pass that enthusiasm on to your own children.
As always, with love,
DAY 30 LAST DAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
EVENT 1 - GIRL
I lie on the couch and my daughter lies on top of me, her ear against my chest. Presumably she’s listening to my heart beat while attempting to fall asleep. It’s well past her bedtime and her arm is still all messed up from who-knows-what-happened to it. My wife took her to Urgent Care earlier today and the doctor “popped” her elbow back in but it’s still just dangling at her side like an al dente noodle.
She’s spent most the day sitting on the ground, staring at her feet and weeping. The doctor says her arm is fine and she’s just “afraid” to use it but the way she wails suggests otherwise. I pick her up and lay her on my chest and she stares up at me. I say, “I love you” and she says, “Wuff Foo”.
Jade enters the room and says, “You wanna put them to bed?” and I know that it’s thirty minutes, forty-five minutes, sixty minutes past their bedtime but I don’t care. It’s Saturday night and Quinn is hurt and she’s laying on my chest and I don’t want to ruin this moment.
I say, “Just a couple more minutes,” sounding like a kid who doesn’t want to go to bed rather than a husband who wants to keep his kids up.
I kiss Quinn’s forehead and will time to stop.
EVENT 2 - BOY
As I’m lying on the couch with my daughter, my son comes over. He’s gotten hold of my iPhone and has disabled it for 8 minutes. I use the locking feature because he knows how to slide the bar and then begins to “accidentally” (Uh-oh) delete apps. The phone gives you ten attempts to get the 4 digit passcode correct. If you fail, it locks you out for 1 minute. If you fail again, 2 minutes. If you fail again, 4 minutes… 8 minutes… 15 minutes…
Rory hops up in my lap, wedging himself between Quinn and the cushions, helping himself to the right side of my chest, and I can see the red “DISABLED” banner across my phone. Oh, well. At least I know that my apps are safe. At least I know that he won’t delete Words with Friends and Flashlight and Sky View Free, which allows me to locate constellations.
He lays down on his back and snuggles in close, the disable timer going higher and higher. He bumps Quinn’s arm and she squeals. He sits up and stares at her with a face that looks like he’s just recognized her existence; like the face you’d have if you unexpectedly stepped on a toad.
I run my fingers through Quinn’s hair and whisper, “It’s okay. It’s okay,” trying to work my voodoo-parent-magic on her busted elbow. She stifles a few tears back and I kiss the back of her head, continuing, for lack of a better word, to “pet” her, although it truly feels more sentimental than that.
I look at Rory, who has dropped the phone to his side and has taken a great interest in his suddenly-present sister. He says, “See-see,” and points at Quinn and I say, “That’s right!” and I say, “Can you rub her head?” and he reaches out and gently rubs his fingers through her hair and I say, “Can you say, ‘It’s okay’,” and he says, “O’tay… o’tay,” and sounds so much like Buckwheat that an image of Eddie Murphy from SNL is drawn to mind.
I kiss the back of Quinn’s head again and grab some of her curls in my mouth and playfully tug on them. Rory slowly leans forward, unhinges his jaws and grabs a mouthful.
He sits up, laughs and disables my phone for a full 60 minutes.
EVENT 1 - BOY
I kneel down next to Rory and point at his nose. I place my finger right against the tip of it and I say, “What is this? What is this?”
He quickly responds, “Rory!”
I suppose, technically, he isn’t entirely wrong.
EVENT 2 - GIRL
Quinn has hurt her arm; it dangles lifelessly at her side. She strolls over to me, clutching “Baby” in her good arm, and weeping openly. I ask, “What’s the matter?” and she sobs, “Blankie!”.
Sure enough, her little blanket rests at her feet but her useless arm makes it so she can’t pick it up. I grab the little rag and hold it out to her but she doesn’t accept it… can’t accept it. Can’t even lift her arm up. We have no idea what happened to it. She just woke up from her nap not able to move it.
I brush the corner of the blanket against her bottom lip and she bites it. I release the blanket and she wanders off, carrying her baby in one hand and dragging her blanket in her jaws.