Carter’s screams cut through my dreams and all I want to do is roll over and bury my head under my pillow, leaving Berjes to comfort our little boy. Instead, I throw back the covers and pull myself out of my nice, warm bed, shivering as the cooler air raises goosebumps on my skin. Tears of frustration prick my eyes but I blink them back and refuse to let the fall, it feels like I haven’t slept all week despite Carter sleeping through nights more and more often. The new Lee won’t let a baby’s cries render her helpless and she won’t give into despair. The new Lee will make that baby’s cries stop and she will do it with a (sleepy) smile and warmth in her heart ’cause she knows she’ll get back to sleep as soon as her son does. Turning over a new leaf has been far from easy. I’ve been mired in my depression for so long that acting like a normal sim again is decidedly difficult, but my mind has been made up and on some days I actually look forward to doing things. Of course there are days when I can hardly pull myself from one end of the house to the other, no one changes over night, but I have Berjes’ full support at all times. On one of my better days he carefully suggested that maybe I’d like to speak with a ‘professional’ but I really think I can get my emotions under control on my own… At least once this baby is out of me – I’m convinced that a good portion of my mood swings is simply hormones.
While I wrangle my hormones, Carter has gotten so big! In my head, he’s still the newborn I brought home from the hospital, to his waiting grandma, but in reality, his birthday is upon us. It’s realizations like that, the reminders of how much time I wasted, that really make every moment I spend with him precious. Instead of calling a babysitter I bring him with me everywhere. Instead of putting him down for a nap in his crib I snuggle up with him on my bed or the couch, tracing the tiny details of his tiny face and wondering at how delicate he is.
His birthday is upon us faster than I imagined, even though I counted down each day. There’s no pomp or circumstance, no party and no cake, just me, Berjes and Carter. As the ‘sparkle vision’ – where did that turn of phrase come from? Mom told me once… – takes over my little boy I’m finding it hard to watch, but he certainly isn’t! Each colourful flash of light distracts him immediately and he’s giggling and trying to grab them and going cross-eyed when they appear in front of his face. Soon enough, Berjes and I are laughing along with him and I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate a birthday.
Carter looks just like his daddy, the same tousled, sandy hair and the same ocean blue eyes and they get along like… Well, they get along great.
“Watch out, Bean! Here comes The Claw! It’s coming for you!”
I’ve seen this routine play out a million times and I’ll watch it a million more if I’m given the chance. The split second of fearful confusion that wells up in Carter’s eyes makes me feel guilty, but as The Claw descends towards him and begins to poke and prod at all his ticklish bits, shouts of glee fill the air. Laughter ensues and then we begin again.
“Oh no! It’s coming back! THE CLAW! Let it go, Bean! Let it go!”
Shrieks of happiness as Carter clings to Berjes’ fingers and refuses to let go.
“Prince Bean has conquered the evil Claw! Hip hip hooray!”
“IP IP OOOOO!”
Now “ip ip oooo” may not sound very impressive to you, readers, but I’ve been trying desperately to get more than that and laughing and crying from Carter for a while now, and he doesn’t seem particularly eager to communicate with us. Teaching him to talk has been wearisome and tedious, full of conversations that followed a similar pattern.
“Come on, Bean, can you say ‘dog’?”
“How about ‘Mommy wants to converse with her little boy’?”
“Dasssssssssssssssssshzapt!” followed by uproarious laughter or tears, depending on his mood.
He took to potty training far more quickly. From the first time we sat him down on the plastic seat and he didn’t use his diaper, he’s worn an almost smug, proud smile as he’s done his business. I must say, it’s a relief not to have to worry about diapers, except in the mornings. At least until his brother or sister is born… Which will be soon, hopefully.
This pregnancy has continued to wreck havoc on my life. It’s taken it’s toll on my emotions and my body and my stamina. With Carter, I was hungry, with this little one I’m grouchy and impatient, always sore in places I didn’t know I had and perpetually exhausted to boot. When Berjes gets home from work, mommy gets naptime. Through the walls I can hear Berjes reading out loud to Bean as he plays. I listen to the clatter of toys and my husband reading out measurements and ingredients and instructions to recipes he’s determined to learn. Not the fairy-tales and educational books I read, but they’re enough to put this mother to sleep despite the racket my son is making.
I’m determined to teach Bean all the skills he needs to know before I have another baby in the house to distract me, so after months of trying I’m sure you can imagine how thrilled I was when my firstborn uttered his first words. A little disappointed by the words themselves, but he’s certainly his daddy’s little boy.
“Can you say… uh… ‘Carpet’?”
“Hrm? Car-pet… Can you say ‘car’?”
“How about ‘pet’?”
“PANCAY PANCAY PANCY!”
Do you have any idea how long it takes to whip up a batch of pancakes with a child clinging to your pants, yelling? He didn’t let up until he’d stuffed his mouth full and I definitely did not miss the disappointment in his eyes when his plate was cleared.
After he started talking, we couldn’t get him to stop, but it did put an end to much of the screaming and crying around the house. Now I’m usually the culprit! Bean sits in bed and chatters to himself, telling tales about “dagons,” “pinces” and “wafas.” They’re pretty magical tales, though neither Berjes nor I is certain what has our son so enamoured with breakfast foods. I’m expecting “pafay” to come any day now, hopefully that will be followed by anything with a properly pronounced ‘R’ sound.
Now that I’m about as big as a house, Berjes is back in charge. I’m on strict orders from Dr. Dad that I’m to rest as much as possible. No heavy lifting – that includes our boy. No stairs – I can barely drag myself up them anyways. No running or jumping or pretty much anything that I don’t want to do anyways. That just leaves Dr. Dad to teach Bean to walk. Soon, our toddler will toddle with the best of them and we’ll have to chase him around the house to keep him out of trouble. Maybe we should just leave him toddle-less… That’s an idea.
As I’m sure you can imagine, Berjes continues to dote on me. He’s been just as excited about this pregnancy as he was about our first. He loves to feel our baby kick and shift inside me. I prefer it when the baby lies still. He talks in gibberish to my belly, which would be great if he didn’t do it in response to the questions I’m asking and he’s always, always fussing over me. I’ve been waited on hand and foots for the last couple of months and all I want to do, what I really want is to just do something for myself. I can’t even sit at a piano or hold a guitar with the baby inside me.
Be careful what you wish for, sometimes you might get woken up from a nap by searing pain that lets you know a baby is going to try come out now. And sometimes you’re wearing very ill-advised lingerie. I promise you readers, I don’t know where this came from! I was in no position to drive and Berjes had to try and wrangle Bean. I called a cab and it arrived before the boys were ready, but baby was ready so off I went. I couldn’t help but notice that I had missed quite a concert as a walked up towards the main doors. A policeman was handing out tickets to the curfew-breaking buskers but my sole concern was breathing and pushing.
Tired, but elated, I was released from the hospital only a couple of hours after leaving. A pink-faced, gurgling baby boy in my arms. I vaguely recall a nurse telling me, somewhere in the middle of my screaming and my contractions, that my husband was waiting outside, but it wasn’t quite real until I stepped out into the night. There was the rest of my family, waiting for me with sleepy, watchful eyes. “Is this him?” Berjes asked, the second I drew near. “Nope, someone else’s. We need to run.” But that was a lie. The little bundle in my arms? Ours.
I settled our newborn into his crib and left Berjes to put Carter back to sleep. There wasn’t much night left but I planned to be unconscious for the rest of it. As I left the room, dragging my feet behind me, I heard my husband explaining things to my first son.
“Dada? What dat?”
“That’s your brother, Bean. That’s Jack.”
“Ack is Bean budder? What budder?”
“Your best friend, buddy. Your best friend. And you’re gonna take care of him OK? ‘Cause he’s still little and what are you?”
“That’s right, a big boy. Good night, Bean. Sleep tight now.”
“Night dada. Night budder Ack.”
The next morning, or really closer to afternoon, it was Carter who woke us – shaking his crib bars like he meant to bring the furniture down around him. I had expected Jack to scream at some point, but he slept through the night and was still asleep when we let Carter out. Not for long. He immediately toddled over to Jack’s crib and wrapped his hands around the bars, pressing his face against the gap as he stared at his little brother. He stood in silence, just watching, while Jack woke up. The second those little eyes were open, Carter smiled. “Hi Ack. I Bean. I budder. You best fend, K?” Then he turned to me with a preciously innocent little expression and asked the most important question of the day. “Momma? Pancay?”
Life slipped into an easy rhythm. Jack was such a good baby, he’d sleep through the night pretty much from the start and never cried unless he needed something from us. Carter officially became Bean. That’s how he introduced himself and that’s the only name he would respond to. He was a handful in the best possible way. His head was permanently in the clouds and everything was exciting to him. He would get worked up for the same toy he’d had forever as if it were brand new, day after day. Berjes continued to work hard at both his passion – cooking – and his job – slaving over a hot stove at the diner and me? I loved being the wife and mother I was meant to be. My favourite times were the times spent just the four of us.
Mornings are my quiet time, it’s the hours right around dawn, when the world – and Bean and Jack – are still asleep and I can get things done! In those wee hours of the day I’m up and about, being productive and getting my head on straight. I’ve become quite good with our plumbing, I know just how to smack the pipes with a wrench to get them to stop spewing water now and I think I can work out how to get the tub and toilets to stop getting so dirty. Sure, we have someone who comes in every day to help with the cleaning and tidying, but I feel pretty guilty for having someone else take care of my substantial mess. If only mom could see me now! Just as the sun peeks over the horizon, I know that Jack will be waking up – hungry and lonely and short hour from smelly. I’m usually two coffees into my day by the time I sneak him up to the veranda for his breakfast. I keep planning to finally furnish it and get the last windows into the little room above the bedroom, but there’s no time in the mornings and once the boys are up I don’t have a second to myself.
My days are spent trying to juggle a toddler and an infant, which is not nearly as easy as it sounds. To play in the garden is an excursion; put both boys in their cribs (ignoring Bean’s protests), lug the rocker out to the patio, go back upstairs to get Jack, bring him down and put him in the cradle, hurry upstairs to carry Bean back downstairs and the whole time I know I’ll have to do it in reverse soon. I’m not prepared to let either of them be alone and out of my sight for long – not even in my own home. We have the beginnings of a little playground, one that Berjes promises will be a big playground once the boys are old enough to appreciate it, I can assure you that Bean love his sproing-ship. If I let him he’ll bounce around on it for hours screaming “fee fi fo fum! I gonna get you!” I guess ‘yarrrr’ is only for normal sized pirates?
I try to spend quality time with each of the boys, though Jack doesn’t really seem to appreciate it. Mostly the twilight hours I spend walking him around the yard or snuggled with him on the couch are hours I spend with myself. I dream of the person he will become when he’s older, and dread the day he’s old enough to toddle away from his momma to play with a toy instead of tugging on my hair as he does now. I feel the minutes slipping away from me, feel the seconds as they tick towards us all growing up.The time I spend with Bean is more educational for him than reflective for me. He loves to curl up on the floor with me while I read stories to him, mimicking the voices of the characters. He loves the books with the colours, the books with the numbers, the books with the pictures or the letters or the shapes and he never ever gets tired of them. Each time the ending to his story is perfect – he never wants it varied – and each time I pick up a well worn teaching book, he relearns his colours and numbers. I can’t tell if he’s slow or if he just can’t pay attention, but he forgets things the second he learns them despite being thrilled to learn them in the first place.
As much as Bean loves (“lubs”) his momma, he’s still daddy’s little boy to the end. Only daddy can read him his goodnight stories. Only daddy can kiss his boo-boos and really make them better. Only daddy can make ‘wafas’ but momma can still make ‘pancays’ even if they aren’t as good. Only daddy can pick him up and twirl him around like he weighs nothing, but that’s ’cause daddy spends his days lugging bags of potatoes that weigh more than a little boy.
“Not gonna be little for much longer, are ya, Bean?”
“I no little. I big boy. Momma say.”
“Oh is that right?”
“Yup! I big boy, right momma?”
“That’s right, baby.”
“I no baby. Jack baby. I big boy.”
With the look of certainty on set firm on his face, Conrad and I can’t help but chuckle. Of all my siblings, Conrad’s the one who drops by to visit and to keep my days from getting monotonous. He’s always wanted a big family and nothing seems to bring him more joy than being called ‘uncle Conny,’ unless you count his own kids.
“Nice song, little Lee.”
“I’m not little, I’m a big girl!”
“Hah. Sure you are, but really. I like this tune, like that you’ll play for me too. I remember a time when you would’ve shoved me out of this room. Did you write this?”
“I… Uh… No? I don’t write music.”
“Hah. Sure you don’t. I guess that’s just Bean’s chicken scratch all over the sheets on the table? Will you play some more for me?”
I put down my guitar, suddenly self conscious and silently reach to take Bean from his arms.
“Seriously, Lee, you have talent and well, Troy’s talking about writing a screenplay and I’d direct it, obviously, we want you to write the score.”
“I don’t write music, Conrad. I don’t.”
“Right. Think about it, please? We’ll need your talent. Really we will.”
I hate to send him away with a ‘no’ but that’s my answer and I’ll stand firm. My music isn’t good enough for public consumption.
Maybe music is what I used to do best, but now it’s family. It won’t be long before my toddler’s a child and off to school and before my infant is a toddler, looking for trouble to get into. Instead of beating my head against treble clefs and codas, I’d rather bask in the sun with my husband and children and truly enjoy the life we’ve built together before my maternity leave is over.
Do YOU know where I got the boys names from?
Hint: Not Bean.