i found myself in a familiar scene yesterday afternoon. trying to sneakily lull both children unwittingly to sleep while simultaneously gulping coffee to keep myself awake as i’ve developed the annoying habit of dozing on my feet these days. it’s probably because i’ve been unwisely choosing any number of activities over sleep. i should sleep in as late as physically possible, but those moments in the morning are precious moments alone with joel. at night, when the baby is rhythmically squeaking in the crib and ruth is in the other room, a tornado frozen in time, sideways on the bed, arms thrown out, legs splayed, body wrapped up in the sheet like a funnel cloud, sweaty hair plastered to her head, those are even rarer moments for greg and i to reconnect. in other words, mutually unwrap the burdens in our chests and present them to each other, one of the ways we’ve learned to nurture a marriage.
things being as they are, predictably, there is a time a little after lunch when everyone, even the baby, though he still pretty much sleeps on and off all day and night long, needs a nap. that’s when i found myself, yesterday, multitasking like nobody’s business, pushing ruth in the swing tied to a bough of our tree (“higher!” she yelled, detecting even the faintest reduction in the strength of each push), intermittently stepping sideways to jiggle the stroller joel was in facing us, while sipping reheated and heavily-sugared coffee from my free hand. both kids eyelids were hanging low. i knew if i played my cards right, i could earn myself a solid hour of peace to just sit in the yard, guarding the kids faces from flies, coming after the milk residue. i kept up the dance knowing that continuous motion is the key to it all. trying to imitate the motion of the womb, is what it is, the motion that they experienced from the status of single cell onward up until the moment of birth. zero gravity, or close to it, and gentle jostling. funny how that tendency follows us all through our lives, even into adulthood, as anyone who has fallen asleep in a car or on a train can attest to. we never stop liking the feeling of getting rocked to sleep.
the day was thick with moisture and all of the intense plant smells that can linger on such days. we had somehow managed to plant some vegetables in our garden and i was just thinking that i could easily put my feet up with my now cold coffee and spend some time staring into the newly planted beds, setting my mind adrift on the heavy waves of humidity when ruth must’ve sensed my thoughts because she snapped her head up, a look in her eyes halfway between dazed and accusatory, and yelled, “why are you not pushing high?!” in a tone that triggered her brother’s startle reflex, sending his arms flailing out from his sides, his eyes bursting open, eyebrows all a-crinkle, looking puzzled, seeming to be deciding if he should sound the alarm, join in with crying, or if it’d be safe to drift off again.
well, so much for any respite today, i thought, downing the rest of my coffee in a single gulp, chewing some grounds that found their way over the brim of the filter and into the pot, shaking the haze from my own eyes, beginning to push ruth with renewed vigor, her look of indignation fading, joel’s initial worries put at ease. and we continued our day.