Somewhere in this chapter you may notice a change: Thanks to Ladyfrontbum I have body skins and thanks to Peggy for face skins.
A week after Stephen woke up the doctors let me take my babies and my fiance (yikes!) home. I had spent nearly every day for just over a year at the hospital, waiting in a green room for him to wake up and it was only after we’d been home for a day or two that I realized just how exhausting that had been and how much of a toll it had taken on me. Now the green room I wait in is the nursery, and oh how I wish I had repainted! Too late for that now, but at least the couch is more comfortable than the vinyl chairs and I can nap as well. Short naps are all that seems to keep me going these days since I have five children, one still recovering from a coma man, myself and a house to take care of. Let me take this moment to sing the praises of the local maid service, as they have saved my life.
When I wasn’t looking (or at home or whatever) Adam and Kaitlin grew into two pretty independent children. I guess they didn’t have much of a choice since their mom wasn’t around but it means that now that she is home she doesn’t have to worry too much about what they’re getting up to. In fact, they’re both on the honour roll and I didn’t even have to nag them once! I feel both proud and guilty but I can’t change the past, I can only resolve to be there for them more now that everything is returning to a new kind of normal. When I can, I love to watch them fly through the air on the trampoline and that’s one thing that hasn’t changed. Any free time the two of them have is quickly turned into trampoline time when Kaitlin drags her brother outside. I think that girl was a bird in a past life.
I have vague recollections of my whining about having twins and how hard it was and blah blah blah. Let me just say, I love the triplets with all my heart and don’t mean this following statement but oh to have twins! How relaxing that could be. There are literally not enough hands around this house to help with Conrad, Lee and Troy. Mommy has two hands that can hold one baby and daddy has two hands that can hold one baby and baby number three is no doubt screaming it’s adorable little head off because mommy and daddy aren’t octopi. Oh to have tentacles! How helpful that could be. Sleep is a wish your heart makes… No… Dreams are a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep, sleep is just the wish I’m making. Oh to dream! How… Oh dear, there’s Conrad again.
“C’mon baby boy… Mommy and daddy want to go to bed tonight OK?”
This is my OMG I’m so excited face. I only have the energy to put it on for special occasions and I’d say that getting two more pairs of capable, helpful hands calls for a little bit of extra effort on my part. Adam and Kaitlin are growing up! Teenagers who can cook and clean and change diapers and hold bottles and I’m getting a little ahead of myself here but please don’t blame me. I’m truly happy for their birthday and it’s for more reasons than just the help around the house. There’s no guarantee I’m going to get help from them anyways, I remember being a teenager. I can’t wait to see the almost-young-adults my twins are going to be, can’t wait to see who they grow into and somehow this feels like step one, even though their first steps were many years ago… Oh no… The triplets are going to need to learn to walk too!
Family and friends gathered ’round to see Adam blow out his candles, Violet and Micah came and they’re looking old! Fabulous, but old. Millie came too and she’s much more than just cousin Millie to them. Oliver came and went, I don’t think he knew what was going on since he was in his bathing suit and the twins whole class as well. Hooting, hollering, singing out of tune, off key and at the top of our lungs we watched as Adam frowned into his candles, took a deep breath and in one try blew out all of his candles. What had been a raucous party just moments before fell silent as we waited to see the new, improved, and older (shhh… he can be new and old at the same time) Adam Clarke.
I’m amazed by the man standing amongst the falling sparkles. One minute a little boy the next, well, he’s a fairly handsome young man, wouldn’t you say? A little sullen looking, sure, but if that’s how his evil chooses to manifest itself, I can’t complain! May a moody teenager be the most of my worries from this day forward. Adam’s scanning his crowd of friends and that slightly peeved look on his face softens into something almost sad. He’s a giant amongst men, or rather, a teenager amongst children. I can remember when I aged into a teen (so long ago!) and how I felt to suddenly be so unlike my friends and right now… He’s even different from his twin sister. I can’t imagine!!
Soon enough though it’s Kaitlin’s turn. The cheers start up again and even Adam looks happy and excited. Not as happy or excited as Kaitlin. She’s looking up at Adam with envy and tapping her toe impatiently as we sing happy birthday again. Even with practice we’re no good, thank goodness for Violet, there to add something worth listening to in the midst of the din of our caterwauling. The last “to you!” is hardly out of our mouths before the flames that lit the candles are puffs of smoke and Kaitlin’s spinning the birthday dance in a cascade of flashing lights and colours. Yeah. Whatever. Sparkles. They did not explain the sparkles in high school.
In a flash of light, Kaitlin’s all grown up. A young lady ready to face the world and she looks ready to face it with a smile as well! Miracle of miracles, only one moody teen to contend with! She does a twirl for her appreciative audience, pig tails flying as she shows off the new Kaitlin and while I can’t speak for anyone else I know Stephen and I are proud. My fiance holds me close to whisper in my ear. “We did good Rosie. Real good.” And we did. Unfortunately, the sweet murmurings are past and it’s time to leave the kids to their party. The babies are screaming and I’m sure it was Conrad who set them all off again. Mommy’s coming.
I’m still getting used to not having children around the house. When I yell for ‘kids’ to come down to dinner the twins arrive but I’ve received more than one mini lecture about how they’re not kids any more and how I don’t have to treat them like they are. I suppose that’s true but old habits are hard to break. Kaitlin’s turned into quite a little tomboy, she’s planning on trying out for every sports team once school starts up and she’s so athletic that I’m sure she’ll make at least one. I was honestly expecting the two of them to be more alike since they’ve always been… twins. Y’know? Practically the same person but while Kaitlin’s working out, Adam seems to be set on developing his flirting skills. He looks positively gaga over every good looking woman who walks past him. I think he’s got more than a little bit of his grandmother’s hopeless romantic in him.
You know what has eight perfectly capable arms and isn’t an octopus? This family!! That’s right, more than enough helpful hands to go around and two of them aren’t constantly exhausted. It’s amazing. I’m so enjoying this time before Adam and Kaitlin go off to school. I know it’s selfish of me but since their friends still children the twins are feeling pretty weird about hanging out with them I get to give them chores and they’re actually doing them. Most of those chores are to help with the triplets. The two of them are happy to help out by giving food and attention, but you better believe that when a baby starts stinking there’s not a teenager to be found.
Meanwhile, I’m actually getting some studio time. Sculpting, painting, sitting on the couch in the blessed silence… I don’t ask for much, just my simple pleasures and at least for the time being I get to indulge them. At first I was tempted to just churn out as much as I could but I’m really enjoying taking my time and seeing where inspiration takes me. Perhaps no where, maybe a masterpiece but it’s at least feeling good for the mind, body and soul and even if I haven’t slept well I can come out of my studio feeling refreshed and rejuvenated… At least until I get back inside the house.
Stephen’s also working on the rejuvenating thing, with help from Kaitlin or at least support. She made every team she tried out for at school and in the end picked up soccer and baseball, her dad’s favourite sports. She’s bringing home all the exercises they teach her, the drills and that and putting Stephen through his paces as he tries to tone his body. I’m definitely not against that, except that his muscles are always hurting and he’s always complaining about how old he’s getting. Oh, did I say complaining? That’s not what I meant. I meant whining. “I’m old, my body hurts, my joints are stiff…” I should have more sympathy and I really do feel for him but how many times do I need to hear it? I get it!!! OK. My whining is done. Sorry readers.
Midway through the first semester I receive a call. I’ve had calls from this number before but they’ve never requested I come in to speak with the principal before. Usually it’s just updating me on the minor bullying Adam is doing but today they want to see me. I leave the triplets with Stephen and head to the school. Walking through those doors I remember just what it felt like the first time I came here and I have that exact same urge to flee.
“Thank you for coming to see me Miss Clarke, your son, Adam, will be joining us shortly. He’s doing very well in all his classes and his attendance record is impeccable but we need to discuss some… err… behavioural issues and I thought it would be best if you were present.”
He shows me to a seat and takes his own place behind his desk and then we wait. Adam enters the room with a tentative knock and he looks surprised when he sees me sitting there.
I’m not given a chance to respond before the lecture begins.
“Adam, thank you for joining us. I sincerely hope that missing a portion of…” he consults a sheet of paper in front of him “algebra won’t impact your understanding of the subject. I doubt it, you’re doing very well. I’ve asked your mother to join us since this is a… errr… rather delicate issue. It has been brought to my attention that you are making some of your… err… female classmates rather uncomfortable. They say you stare at them and follow them around the hallways and school yard during breaks, but don’t say anything. The word I have heard is… errr… stalked.”
The principal pauses to let the words sink in and sinking in they are, at least for me. This isn’t good at all.
“You are, I errr… suppose a… errr… good looking young man and I think that you could… errr… ease their minds if you were to speak with them or cease these… errr… activities. Yes?”For a moment the office is filled with our silence. I certainly don’t know what to say to this since he’s never shown any of this behaviour before. I’m shocked to be honest and can’t help but hope that these girls are making a mountain out of a mole hill. Adam’s face contorts from anger and frustration to confusion and maybe a little bit of guilt.
“I… I didn’t know they felt that way.” he mutters, now looking slightly ashamed of himself. “I just want to meet a girl who’ll like me. Like, like like me, right? But there’s so many and I want to ask the right girl out. I guess Miss Right or something but they’re always all in groups and it’s hard to get to know them like that… I just don’t understand girls!!”
With that reasoned explanation I let out a small sigh of relief. This is just a misunderstanding, a misunderstanding that has taken place since the beginning of time. Boys and girls don’t understand each other. They’ve written books, movies, studies, fiction, non-fiction, everything on the topic and here’s my boy caught in the line of fire. Poor thing.
“Principal ah… Sir, this won’t happen again. I’m sure Adam understands now how his actions have been making the girls here feel uncomfortable and I can assure you that we’ll speak about it more when he gets home.”
With a convincing nod from Adam the principal dismisses us – me to the house and Adam back to Algebra.
Adam still looks morose when he gets home, and I’m about to confront him about how he’s behaving with the young women at his school when I catch the pointed look Kaitlin’s giving me. She’s got her twin brother by the wrist and is dragging him up the stairs and towards the chessboard. For the first time I can recall the twins haven’t sat down to their homework the second they walk in the door. They spend hours out on the balcony, staring at the marble pieces on the board but not moving a single one as they discuss just what a teenage girl wants. Hopefully this chat with twin sister and BFF Kaitlin gets the message across because I’m not sure I could have this conversation without snapping at the boy and he sure doesn’t need that.
“Rock-a-bye babies, in the tree tops
When the wind blows, the cradles will rock
When the bough breaks, the cradles will fall
And down will come babies, cradles and all”
I don’t usually sing lullabies to the babies, it doesn’t usually put them to sleep… Usually they cry. But tonight is an unusual night ’cause tomorrow they won’t be babies any more. Tomorrow they will be toddlers and while I don’t have a party planned (who needs that much cake?) I do feel like their last day of babydom should be celebrated.
Soon I have three laughing, burbling toddlers to contend with. More precisely, I have the largest amount of mess I have ever had to contend with. All three babies are alike in one, simple but significant way. They are slobs! I didn’t even know it was possible at this age but they go through dozens of changes of clothes a day because they find messes that don’t exist to get messy in. It’s actually bewildering. I didn’t even know it was possible at this age but they go through dozens of changes of clothes a day because they find messes that don’t exist to get messy in. It’s actually bewildering. Conrad and Lee are little mini cross-versions of Stephen and I. Grumpy little Conrad, who can always be counted on to scream and wail over nothing has his daddy’s hair and his mommy’s eyes and Lee has the opposite. I’m so glad at least one of our children got Stephen’s beautiful golden eyes and with the dark hair they’re just magnificent. Lee’s a smart little cookie too, and those big gold eyes are lit with such an intelligence that sometimes I would swear to you that they glow like real gold. That’s weird to say but let’s just call it a mother’s love. And Troy? Well, Troy looks just like his grandma with Mama’s big, baby blue eyes and black hair. He’s a bundle of joy and nothing short of the most friendly toddler you could ever hope to meet. He wants to meet everyone who walks into the house and he want them to hold him and play with him and neglect their maidly duties to spend time with him and it’s really hard to say no to him. Really really hard. My house hasn’t been properly cleaned in weeks thanks to Troy and it needs it more than ever thanks to him and his siblings.
I no longer have to make breakfast. Can we have three cheers for that? Adam’s not great in the kitchen but at least he tries. The twins are up early every morning, they’ve got their own strange schedule and I envy that. I’m still awake or asleep (mostly awake) at the whim of toddlers. Either way, both the teens get to eat before school and there’s usually waffles or pancakes around for when I have a chance to eat and that takes a lot of the stress off. If there isn’t breakfast for me, there’s the acrid stench of burnt pastries to give it away… At least there’s always ice cream or pre-mixed cereal!
Kaitlin tends to spend her early morning time in the bathroom, primping and preparing for the school day before rushing downstairs to shovel down breakfast before running out the door. For a girl who doesn’t wear makeup on your average day, she sure takes a lot of time making sure she looks as flawless as she can. Ahhh… to have perfect skin! If she’s up even earlier, you can be sure she’ll be jogging or bouncing on that trampoline… I don’t think there’s any item in the house that gets more use than the trampoline. You wouldn’t believe how high she can bounce now, as if she’s straining for the stars! And the tricks! Yikes! They still scare me!
Kaitlin’s really good with her little brothers and sisters. She loves trying to teach them to talk or just spending time with them and they love her too (who wouldn’t though?). I don’t even have to ask for her help any more. Conrad cries? She’s there. Lee shrieks? She’s there. Troy hollers? You better believe that Kaitlin’s there. More than a mother could ask for. Adam also says he helps, and he does seem to and his siblings do adore him… At least Lee and Troy do but they pretty much love any one and are impossible not to love themselves.
Conrad and Adam though… That is a different story. Every time I leave the two of them alone together the house is shortly followed by the most anguished screams you’ve ever heard… and Adam seems to take a fiendish delight in his little brother’s discomfort. I don’t even know what’s going on except that Adam seems to have an endless supply of lollipops and I suspect he’s tormenting Conrad with them. Either way, Conrad is never happy to see his big brother and said big brother tends to regard the little brother with a disconcerting smirk. In fact, Conrad sometimes bursts into tears if Adam so much as enters the same room as him. Brothers!
Conrad does love his daddy though ’cause Daddy’s always there to scoop him up and comfort him. Stephen’s great with the children and he’s determined to be the one to teach them all how to walk. He’s not even prepared to let myself or the twins so much as take a shot at it.
“I know how to move, Rosie.” He tells me with a coy smile, the smile that makes me blush ’cause the man does know how to move. “And I can teach these kids to walk. I want to be the one who does.” So I let him, but it means he’s pretty much hands-off when it comes to teaching them to talk or potty train them. Ewww… Potty training…
It’s a busy job, trying to find the time to teach three little ones how to talk and get to the bathroom on time before they’re children and not in my care 24/7. And it’s hard too. It’s more overwhelming than anything else and while Stephen’s pretty good support for me he gets tired easily. His strength has never quite recovered from all the time he spent in the hospital and he frequently needs to take naps to recharge his batteries. On a school day that means I’m taking care of three kids on no sleep while my husband-to-be snores his pretty little head off in the next room. I try not to get upset with him ’cause I know it’s not his fault entirely but still… I want a nap too! It’s often the wee hours of the morning before the first baby is ready to sleep. Before his (or her) precious eyelids start to droop and the crabby sets in I’m already there, rubbing my eyes and trying to comfort my grumbling belly. By the time the other two are ready to sleep, the first is fussy and I’m even fussier. It’s a chore to get all three to sleep at the same time and I’m not always sure I’m up to it but I must say that looking down at three cribs and three sleeping babies at the end of a long day does me a world of good. Inevitably the second I’m in pyjamas I get a renewed spark of energy and there’s only one thing for me to do when that happens….
Yup! Night picnics! Or, more specifically, just before the break of dawn picnics. If the triplets are asleep there’s a pretty good chance it’s been hours since I last rested or ate, and if I’m too giddy they’re asleep to sleep myself I pack up the picnic basket and take myself – bathrobe and all – to the park across the road. In the silence of the early morning I sit, staring at my blessedly quiet house and have what is usually a very, very late lunch. This is pretty much the only time I get out of the house, to be honest I go more than a little bit stir crazy if I don’t get one of my picnics at least every couple of days. The hour or so I take to eat and relax is just enough to remind me that there is a world outside of the nursery.
Both the twins are getting out of the house more often as well. Kaitlin, on the days when she’s not at practice after school, occasionally goes over to her friend Darryl’s house. She says that they’re just friends, just homework buddies but I have a feeling that it may be a little bit more than that… Or maybe it’s just me hoping that she’ll bring home a boy one day to show off to her mom and dad. She just never talks about her friends! Soccer this, baseball that, class the other, the team did and so on and so forth but isn’t it every mother’s dream to have her little girl come to her for advice about how to deal with boys? At least just a little? She’s old enough now to at least have a crush…
Adam’s got more than a little bit of a crush on his friend Jess. She used to come over when they were kids (or so Millie tells me) to hang out with both of them butnow her and Adam are really the best of friends – next to his BFF twin. How sweet huh? But as best as I can tell he’s not getting anywhere. She’s not picking up on his hints and no matter how much he flirts with her she just doesn’t seem too interested. Every time he hangs out there he comes home just looking so sad and rejected. Stephen’s tried talking to him but that just makes Adam even crankier. Maybe one day the girl will come around, I can only hope so for my son’s sake ’cause she really is a sweetheart.
It’s coming down to the wire, as they say. All three children are potty trained and Lee and Troy can talk. Conrad’s getting close but both of the boys are walking and Lee won’t be far behind. She’s been our fastest learner, picking up everything in a heartbeat, especially talking and walking is no different, the boys were just taught first. Troy was the happiest to learn because it meant he was getting the attention he wanted and anyone could teach him anything. You should have heard the words Adam taught him! It took ages to un-teach. Conrad though… He has such a short attention span that he’s taken the longest and the most patience. One second he’s happily taking a step, the next he’s fallen and it’s a temper tantrum. He’ll come ’round, hopefully before the impending birthday!
With so much child training out of the way I’m back in the studio, again, and pleased as punch to be there. Hopefully I’ll be spending much much more time in here once all children are in school. I can hardly wait, really. The painting is just so therapeutic and sculpting is a great way for me to let out my frustrations. I had held out some hope that one of the twins would take to the brush or chisel the way I had but it that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen… Maybe one of the triplets? I can only hope ’cause I would hate to see this studio go to waste once I’m no longer using it in many many many years from now!!
Also nice, now that the stress levels are going down is that I’m getting to spend real quality (hint hint…) time with Stephen. It’s been years since I proposed and we haven’t so much as started planning for the wedding. I mean, it’s hard to plan when there’s no time to talk to one another but now there is time and now we are planning and I’m actually getting excited. Just after the triplet’s birthday, there’s a wedding planned and it’s my own! I honestly never thought I’d get married, I never thought I’d get engaged or have kids or even have a relationship as serious as the one I’m in now but I guess it all comes down to a matter of perspective… And finding a guy persistent enough to make himself enough of a pain that I finally gave in! All I know right now, and all that matters, is that I’m happy with the life I’m living. I have five healthy and happy (mostly) children and a fiance who always has open arms and encouraging words. I’m terrified of what our future holds but I know I’m strong enough to face it. I’m stronger than I was, that’s for sure, less likely to yell over spilled milk or flip out over someone elses’ flippant remark. And on the bones of stronger mom and even stronger dad, I know this family is strong enough to face whatever comes at us.
What IS in store for the Clarkes?
Are you as excited for this wedding as Rose is?
Is Adam behaving himself?
Will Kaitlin learn to misbehave?
Is it a miracle that all three triplets are still around?
Questions, answers, new Chapter 11 will come!
I’m not sure when Chapter 11 will be ready as I haven’t played any of it yet. As Christmas draws nearer my time grows more and more precious as I have less and less. Two jobs’ll do that! I hope to get one more chapter and an heir vote up before the new year since, as much as I love Rose, I’m ready to start another generation and I already have some plans if one of the twins wins. I don’t know the triplets yet so who knows what may happen with that?! I’m plotting and planning!
Thanks for reading!