Odie often tells Viva she’s tough. She is. She comes home from day care covered in scratches and bruises and is ever chipper. “Look at my owies, Mommy!” Not pride, exactly, but she loves to get attention for sure.
I hear her barking cough in the next room and I can’t make it better. I feel a strange divided loyalty. I want to cuddle and comfort Viva, but I want to swat her away from my precious infant as well. I am a mom divided. Tonight my toddler chased me around sobbing and barking her croup cough while my swaddled baby screamed in terror. Viva scares Pringles when she cries. Viva’s tears set Pringles off like a bomb.
One night when my sister was visiting from Oakland, Odie and I were juggling our wailing overtired daughters. When the din quieted, she confessed that I may have just made her daughter an only child.
I am often puzzled by the coexistence of such opposite feelings. I become nauseated and terrified at the prospect of leaving Pringles on January 30th to go back to work. I ache as I drive away from Viva’s preschool. Yet right now, I can barely hold my bone dry eyes open (some bizarre postpartum thing, eye dryness), and I can’t bear to go to bed because they’re sleeping and I’m alone. I only get to be alone at night, when everyone is asleep.
I’m afraid I won’t be able to do what Odie does. He works from 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., showers, shaves, goes to work, works until 3, tutors until 5 , picks Viva up at preschool, comes home and plays with kids, or does more work, then goes to sleep early with Viva and repeats.
He’s pretty miserable and I don’t want to be. Trying to hold on to my radiant optimism is enough of a struggle in the presence of his swirling vortex of negativity. I want us all to be happy, but working for a living is tedious.
Sometimes we laugh about how easy we had it as newlyweds. Work, romance, and restaurants, soaked liberally in booze. I even think we had it easy with one child. Whoever didn’t have hold of the kid was off-duty. Now there is no such thing. Except now, late at night. There’s a steep price to pay: lost sleep.
All the moms on Facebook write at some point “Kids are asleep, what am I doing up?!” Living for yourself. Like I do from 8:30 to 10 or so, when the baby takes a booby break and the todder begins the slow, all-night migration from her bed to mine. And I see peace on my husband’s face instead of weariness.
A two year-old and a four year-old. That’s why we did this. Two and four. Three and five. Four and six. You get the picture. We have to pay up front with infant and two as well as one and three.
And it’s costing us. Luckily we’re tough.