Once upon a time in a land far far away there lived a woman named Rose. She had two babies and thought that life couldn’t get any more hectic. Then the babies turned into toddlers and the real work began. The End. At least it feels like the end ’cause I don’t know if I can survive this! We’re trying to teach the twins to walk and talk and go potty on their own and even though Stephen and I can each dedicate ourselves to a child (when we’re both around) I still don’t have enough hands to keep up! When Stephen’s at work, I practically spin in circles instead of getting anything done. In my dreams I see the stars that we used to decorate the nursery and just as I’m starting to search for constellations, yup, you guessed it, a wailing toddler wakes me up. Usually Adam. And once Adam starts, Kaitlin’s not far behind.
At least now that they’re older I can leave them alone for a little bit. Sometimes Mommy needs a nap (or even just to close her eyes for a minute) and when I do feel like having that shut-eye I thank my lucky stars that Mama convinced me to put in that play area. Adam and Kaitlin play together marvelously, they get along like… I’m too tired for any metaphors or similes and I’m too tired to know the difference. They get along really well, is what I’m trying to say. They don’t throw blocks at one another or hit each other, I think they’re everything I could ever hope for with twins, except that they’re still too small to take care of themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my babies but I really miss sleeping.
Thank those same lucky stars for Violet who, even though she has a toddler who needs training of her own, helps me out in more ways than I can ever thank her for. She’s the one who finally got Kaitlin talking – or at least she’s the one who coaxed out that first word. I have to admit, I’m rather jealous that I wasn’t there to hear that first word, but I finally had Adam sitting still on the potty and since it was the last time I had to coerce him with cuddles, I’ll take what I can get. At least Vi has the good graces to feel just a little bit guilty, you should’ve seen the sheepish face she was making when I stepped out of the bathroom to see what her cheers were all about. Micah’s helping out around the house too… At least he calls it helping. I’m not really sure just what it is he’s doing to my appliances but they make weird sounds and have a strange glow but they break just as often and the food’s not much better than it was before. I’ll cut him a bit of slack though, at least he’s trying and I know he’s pretty bored now that there’s no where else in his department at the Lab for him to go. He’s like, head honcho or something over there now and that means he has a lot of days off to experiment on the electronics. At least he’s making them look prettier in a strange kind of way. One day we’ll work out what he’s done, hopefully before they explode or something.
Adam’s just had his first word and it’s a whopper too. Seriously, “microscope”? What kind of first word is that for a kid? Maybe he’s trying to tell me he wants to be a mad scientist like his uncle but I really hope not. IF he does want to be one though, I won’t stand in his way. My little boy can be anything he wants when he grows up, so long as he grows up happy. Reasonable? I think so! Now lets see if we can get him to start using sentences instead of just screaming “MICOSOPE” at the top of his lungs any time anyone tries to talk to him.
“Adam, do you wanna go nappy?”
“You want a bottle? Say bottle.”
Oliver’s already walking, talking and potty trained. I’m still not convinced that the kid was born with all his screws in tight but he’s a sweetheart nonetheless and when he sets his mind to something he tries his hardest. Adam and Kaitlin sure look up to him, which is adorable since they’re all the same size. Everything he does is just the bees knees (I’ve always wanted to say that!) and they look at him with something that looks to me like awe whenever they’re all playing together. Which is often. Which means that we are often either cleaning up or tripping over a toy. See, they’ve taken to pulling ALL the toys out of the toybox at once and pushing them through the bars in their playpen and if you’re not careful, if you step on the boat they scream like you murdered their favourite pet.
Somewhere along the line both Kaitlin and Adam have both learned to walk and talk and go potty on their own and as much as I thought that I would look forward to the blessed, blessed rest, I can’t help but feel restless. I’m so used to hustling and bustling to make sure that they’re both happy that I don’t know how to sit still anymore. Is it weird that I’d rather chase them around the park than sit on a picnic blanket and relax? It feels weird, that’s for sure. Violet’s told me that her and Micah are looking for a house. She’s a rock star now, she doesn’t need to live in the house she grew up in with her sister and her family and I guess I can understand that, but I’m still not looking forward to it. They’re going to leave once all the kids are, well, kids. So right after Ad and Kait have their birthdays which really doesn’t seem so soon right now.
With all parental units in the house out during the day other than yours truly, I get the dubious pleasure of being in charge of all the kids. Luckily as they get older they’ve calmed down a lot too. For the first time since the twins were born I’m able to actually use my studio on a regular basis! All of a sudden it’s the busiest room in the house, full of toddler babble, television babble and teenage girl babble. Millie is “omigawdlikesoexcited” to be moving to a brand new house and she’s “meh, I dunno, it’s OK I guess…” feeling about school but there is one “you’d totally like him as much as I do Rose, he’s just soooooo……. You know what I mean?” I’m not sure I do know what she means, I’m kind of feeling a lot more mom than carefree teenager than I used to. Funny how that works, huh?
We emerged from Oliver’s birthday without another fire. We gathered in the kitchen with the cake in the same place and the family gathered around to sing, hoot, holler and scream as the next Clarke ages up to a child. In that moment I was struck by how many more generations of us could possible do this exact same thing. I’m finally getting the appeal of this whole ‘legacy’ thing as I look around at my family and imagine my grand children and great grand children and their families cheering around a merry, store bought, birthday cake. Sparkle vision and squidgy feelings, vanilla chocolate layer cake, endless dishes and noisemakers… And soon we’ll be gathered for the twins turn.
Oliver’s a cute kid (I hope mine are cuter!) and he’s still really friendly with the twins. In some ways I don’t think that he realizes he’s not the same age as them… Watching the three of them together though, really is starting to make me kindofsortof anxious that they’re growing up! Soon I’ll have to start shooing them out the house for school and helping them with homework… Now that all the talking/walking/potty training training is out of the way I’m enjoying having them be so little and adorable. The realist in me suggests that I spend some time with them before their birthdays and just, well, spend time with them as toddlers. The other part of me is suddenly curious about just what sort of work Micah is able to do with genetics.
Please don’t think it’s mother’s bias when I tell you that Adam is destined to grow up to be a very good looking young man. I can just see it in him, he’s simply the most adorable little one that there’s no way for him to not grow up handsome. I think we’d all best keep our fingers crossed as well because I think he’ll probably also grow up to be a bit of a jerk. Already and screams and cries for no good reason and once his mommy, daddy and twin sister are all good and agitated he stops and giggles and laughs as if nothing was ever wrong… And I think he’s laughing at our reactions to him more than anything else!
Kaitlin, on the other hand, is in danger of killing herself before her next birthday! There’s nothing that that little girl sees that she doesn’t think she can do. Stairs? Sure, she’ll try ’em. Up, down, forwards, backwards, if you turn your back on her for one second you’re sure to find her a floor above or below where you thought you left her, looking proud as a peacock at that. She also loves to play airplane. You’ve never heard a more glorious laugh as Kait’s when she’s high above your head or being swung around in circles. Yes, she knows how to talk, but her vocabulary seems to consist of solely the word “up!”
I hold Kaitlin in front of her cake and watch as her little hands reach towards the flames of her candle, trying to grasp at the pretty light. Then, she remembers to listen to her mommy, puckers up her lips and spits all over the cake. Once I’ve blown out the candle I set her on the grass and
scoop her brother into my arms. Adam thankfully manages to make less of a mess of his cake, and while he still gets help blowing out the candle he seems mighty impressed with himself. Kaitlin too, since she’s just as loud as the rest of us as we continue to vocally celebrate their birthdays.
Sitting next to each other on the grass, the twins ham it up in a way I’ve never seen. They’re pulling faces and playing to the crowd of family that stands around them. Waving and laughing and then Adam gets this look in his eyes and I know it’s time, babies, so long ago, now they’re children. They’re practically real people!
Call it what you like, I choose to go with “Mother’s Intuition” but as first one of my children was suddenly, magically a child and then the second, still surrounded by sparkles of light looked at me with a surprisingly grown up face and grinned, suddenly I knew everything about them!
Both of them had always been so easily impressed by everything around them, Adam specifically from his sister’s bravery and it inspired him to be just as brave as he got older. Unfortunately, and it broke my heart to find out, Adam has a bit of an evil streak in him. That night I couldn’t help but sneak peeks into their rooms, to watch them sleep. I’d been working on decorating Kaitlin’s room pretty much since I was her age. Instead I’d gotten white carpet and white walls and my pick of bed coverings. I was really really nervous when I showed it to her and when she screamed with delight, well, it brought tears to my eyes. As I stand in her doorway, watching her sleep, I can’t help but wonder what’s in her future. She’s already just as athletic as her dad (but looks just like her lazy mom!) and I can’t see her being a girly girl, no matter how much she really loves the pink in her room.
Crossing the hall into my son’s room I start to wonder about his future as well. Evil? I guess some part of me always knew, always worried but he hasn’t done anything evil so far, maybe he’s stronger than it? I feel silly to be honest. Evil is as evil does, I tell myself and it brings me a lot of relief. He looks like a little angel, dreaming between his sheets and that’s all I can see. He mumbles, precious little sounds, and flops over onto his side as I quietly close the door behind me and head to my own bed, to cuddle into Stephen. “We did good” I murmur, before my head hits the pillow and I’m sound asleep.
For their birthday, we’d bought a trampoline and put it outside, completing the illusion that we had a better park in our backyard than the park did. All we need is a slide and we’d have a yard full of kids, all day every day! In the time between their birthday and starting school, the twins could be found jumping on the trampoline in the backyard, all day every day. Kaitlin at least. If she wasn’t jumping (and she usually was) she would lie on her back, staring up at the clouds and I think she even had a meal on it once too. Adam, when he wanted to stare at the sky, would use the telescope. I still didn’t even know how to use the thing but he’s pretty sure he discovered a new star. Mostly though, they bounced, and they nearly gave me a heart attack the first time I looked out a window to see them doing flips and twists in the air.
Violet, Micah, Millie and Oliver have packed their bags. Their boxes have left in the moving van and the pink limo Vi likes to drive is idling out front of the house. My sister and her family are packed and ready to go. Already the house feels big and empty and they haven’t even left yet. There are big hugs all around: A bearhug from Micah, the tight, clutching hug of teenaged Millie, a crouched, awkward hug from my awkward nephew and then, Violet. All my life I have lived under the same rough as my sister. This roof (more or less). And now she’s leaving, moving across the town. We hold each other close and say good bye as if she’s moving to Shang Simla and then… Then they are tail lights in the distance and then they’re gone.
A week later and I’m still unused to the strange quietness in the house. This is what I’m thinking about as I prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the twins and putting them into paper bags. A juice box each and an apple from the garden and I’m technically ready to send my kids onto the school bus for their first day of school. Technically. Realistically I’m freaking out a little inside, I’m ready to lock the door from the outside and not let them go. I’ll home school them, I could do it? Nah. Who am I kidding? The big, yellow bus pulls up and honks and the twins, who thus far have been nervously chatting all morning jump to their feet and head to the door. A quick hug and kiss for mom as they grab their lunches and then they’re off and I’m alone in the house for the first time in years.
At first, I didn’t know what to do with myself and I wandered the house, looking for something to do (other than clean, we’ve got a maid for that now. Trust me, it was necessary). Now though? Once I’ve packed the kids off to school and Stephen off to work I do whatever I feel like. I’ve been doing a lot of sculpting, not so much painting and surprisingly little watching of television. It’s nice to be ‘working’ again and I relish my weekly trips to the consignment store to drop off my latest creation. I hadn’t realized how much I’d missed having some time to myself, to think and not have to worry about anything. I’m flipping out less often at Stephen and the kids than I was before… This empty house thing is better than I thought it could be!
My children, Kaitlin and Adam, are amazing when it comes to school! They are eager and conscientious students and I never ever have to beg them to do their homework, they come home, sit down together and get it done! I don’t even have to help! Excuse me if I sound excited but I did exactly my fair share of homework and I really don’t want to do any more. Ever. They say they’re making friends at school, but I have yet to meet one. Mostly they’re just friends with each other I think, pretty much whatever they do, they do together. Trampoline, chess, homework, watching television… It’s really sweet and makes this mother’s heart happy.In all the chaos of kids, Stephen and I haven’t really spent much time together. We share the same bed and dinner table but otherwise we’re both following up on our other responsibilities. We try, sometimes, but it never seems to be quite right. The wrong tactic, the wrong time, the wrong token of appreciation. I’m not saying we’re distant or that we never talk, we do. Mostly about how we need to set aside some ‘us’ time now that the twins can be left alone, how we should go on a date again, but that we’ll have to remember to arrange a time. If the conversation doesn’t end with us making idle promises to one another, it stops being a conversation
and starts being an argument. Whose fault is it that we never have quality time together? It’s hard to say and that’s the honest truth. It seems the only way for us to spend any time together is to get ticked off and settle it all with mumbled apologies and sheepish looks as we head upstairs to the bedroom. At least some things never change, am I right? Nudge nudge, wink wink awww nevermind. Either way, I haven’t been to the Bistro in years and I would really like an opportunity to get all dressed up and hit the town. I wonder if that purple dress Stephen bought me still fits…
While Stephen and I are busy not making time for each other the way we should, I think it’s because we’re both spending so much time with our children. Whenever Stephen is planning to work out at home, instead of at the gym or at work, he makes a point of asking Kaitlin if she wants to join him, and you know what? Most of the time she does! She even keeps up with him, at least for the first ten minutes but she sure does try hard! She definitely idolizes him more than a little bit and she’s absolutely a daddy’s girl. She wants to curl up in his gym bag (’cause she hasn’t smelt it) and go to practice with him and can’t wait to get to see him play a game. His coach tells him that when the new season starts, he’s going to be playing!
Adam gets along with his father too, though he’s not as much of a fan of sports as his sister. Most of the time Stephen wants to play catch, but he really doesn’t know his own strength when it comes to throwing the ol’ baseball around and sometimes it’s just to fast for Adam. Every now and then though, Adam gets his way and the two will spend an entire afternoon playing chess outside. Stephen may win every round but he tells me that Adam’s getting a lot better and he wouldn’t be surprised if Adam beats him someday soon. As it is, our little boy is more than happy to gloat if he so much as comes close to a stalemate.
It’s a good thing Stephen’s so happy just being a dad (and that I love being a mom) because it looks like it’s going to be happening again soon. Very very soon. If I had only one wish it would be that this time the pregnancy is easier on me and if I get two, one child please! I’m really excited to tell everyone, especially Stephen. I can imagine the look he’ll get in his eyes and how thrilled he’ll be. I must admit, I’m really excited to have another child and to make this family bigger and happier. The sleepless nights don’t even sound too bad to me but I know that that’s only because they’re months away. When I’m living them again I suspect I’ll feel very, very differently about them.
I’ve cornered Stephen in the kitchen, butterflies flutter in my stomach and I can’t wait to tell him the good news, I’m already anticipating his reaction. “We’re going to have another baby!” No preamble, I’m not sugar coating this for him and I can see that that’s not necessary. It takes him a second and he looks at me quizzically but his eyes are lighting up and he’s starting to bounce in place as a smile spreads across his face. “We’re…?” He questions, just wanting to make sure and when I nod he throws his arms wide and moves across the floor to gather me in his arms.
One step and he falters. The smile slips from his face and the light goes from his eyes. He looks at me, scared, as he stumbles and clutches his hand to his chest. I’m frozen with shock, with fear, and I’m not proud to say that all I can do is whimper and feebly hold my hand out towards him. “Rosie…” he chokes out as his knees come out from underneath him and he falls to the ground, feet slipping and down he goes. My joints unlock and I make a shaky movement towards him but it’s too late, I freeze again as I hear the sound his head makes when his head hits the floor.
“Oh no… Stephen…”
Here’s Rosie’s totally natural and unforced reaction. >.>
Chapter 9 will be out soon.