Stretching lazily I glance at the clock. It’s about 10 minutes to 6:00 AM. Ten minutes before the alarm would go off signaling the start of a busy day. I take those precious minutes of calm before the madness starts. I reflect on the days before the girls when waking up before the alarm went off was a rare occurence. Times when my first waking thought would be “Crap!”or “Not another weekday!”. Days filled with questions.
I know in ten minutes, I would rush through my morning rituals and then tiptoe down the hall for my first glimpse of smiling, sunny faces and the sounds of mazhalai*. As I lift each child and shower her with kisses, my mind will already be in overdrive. Changing diapers, brushing toothless gums, blowing tiny running noses and applying cream to dry spots, I leave them to the care of their doting father who then takes over and shows them the sunrise or snow flurries. I hear tender sounds of a new daddy enthralling his kids with the sounds of a clock or marching to a band.
I smile to myself as I mix formula and set it on the now empty high chairs. I rush through making lunch for K and wondering what I should make for the girls. I wonder if their food is nutritionally sound. I wonder how to increase their vegetable intake and if their food needs to be fortified with iron. As I pack K’s lunch bag and slice up the crusts from the jelly sandwiches for the girls I remember the days of the mad morning rush. I cover the slices so they remain soft wondering if the girls have pooped yet.
Waving bye to K, I cuddle with the girls and watch their wonder filled eyes as they see their Appa disappear from view. Another hour of rushing through diaper changes, feeding breakfast and juice in a sippy cup, I burp them and let them down to play as I settle down with the phone for my ritual conversation with Amma. Something that goes along the lines of “Enna news?” “Kutties enna pannaradhu?”* and so on. Wrapping up a conversation filled mostly with sounds of the kids on speaker, I reluctantly hang up and carry the kids upstairs for their morning nap after a quick shower.
Folding tiny arms to fit into tinier armholes of their sleepsack, I reflect on the simple joys that motherhood brings. I wonder if I enjoy it so much because I have longed for it so long. I wonder about a million things that have to do with my motherhood journey. Each of those moments are punctuated with deep gratitude to the cosmos. Laying the girls in their crib I make silly faces and wave even as they are laughing and close the door behind me steeling myself for the few minutes of crying sounds. I tiptoe downstairs and switch the receiver on to hear babbling sounds. Sounds of siblings exchanging complaints about a cruel mom who locked them up in their cribs. The sounds give way to an even breathing and I settle down to some ‘me’ time.
Time flies and soon I hear the babbling again. Rushing to get their lunch ready before I bring them down, I am amazed at how quickly I can work if I need to. In five minutes I have their bowl of food mashed and ready. Their high chairs cleaned, bibs set out and sippy cups filled with lukewarm water. I run upstairs eager to see the happy faces. I carry both girls on my hips and gingerly walk down the steps knowing well I could not afford to drop my precious bundles.
Shoveling spoonfuls of paruppu sadham* into the tiny mouths I see how they look to each other for reassurance. They reach out to touch each other as they eat. Lunch done, sippy cups in hand they bumble off to play. The now familiar music from the stacking toy resonates in the house and is reminiscent of the bliss I feel. I hum along watching them play and look at themselves in the glass that houses the fireplace. As each girl watches fascinated by her reflection, I wonder how much longer the innocence will remain. I ache when I think of the confusing days ahead. When each girl goes through angst as they learn their life story. I wonder if they will support each other. If they will reach out to K and I for support.
Rinse. Repeat. The charade of the morning plays out again in the afternoon. I relax as the girls nap wondering what else I need to proof in the house to prevent them from getting hurt. I reflect on the one month the girls have been with us. From crawling babies to walking toddlers. From walking toddlers to stairs climbing mischief mongers.
As the Sun sets on yet another day, I mull over dinner and wonder in the corner of my mind if daddy is on his way home. I run through the list of things that need to be bought. I sit with the girls on the couch babbling along with them and telling them their story in thamizh*. The day is not far off when the questions will come. I watch as Kay traces her finger along my face and gives me an impulsive hug and a drool filled kiss. I am overwhelmed. I hear the sound of the garage opening and I smile even wider. I am not sure who is happier. Me or the girls. As K peeks in, I watch their shrieks and hold myself back as I watch the two scamper to him holding up their hands to be lifted.
The next couple of hours goes past alternating between play time, feeding and formula. As the kids start rubbing their eyes, pulling at their ears and want to be held, we hold them close and take up to the bedroom for a final diaper change and face cream before leaving them in the crib.
As the day winds down and K and I have dinner, we talk about the changes in our life and we just know. We are thankful. For the girls. For each other. As we climb into bed, the gentle breathing sounds of the girls lulling us into sleep, we know somewhere in the middle of the night, Cee will wake up screaming and wanting to be held. We fear the battle that will rage in us tearing us between wanting to give in to her cries and teaching her to comfort herself and fall back asleep.
In the wee hours of dawn, I hear the incessant cries from Cee and wake only to see K awake too. He ambles off to bring her back into bed with us. As he plonks her down between us and she wants to play. I hear him sigh and hold her close. As I drift off to sleep, I feel a tiny hand on my face and an unmistakable “mama”. I melt.
I know my life will never be the same again.
*mazhalai – baby sounds
*Enna news? – What is new?
*Kutties enna pannaradhu? – What are the kids upto?
*paruppu sadham – rice with mashed lentils
*thamizh – language common to parts of South India.