The warm water ran down my back, washing away 36 hours of sweat and grime. I systematically defunkified each of my body’s nether regions with my extremely manly loofah and inhaled the warm, misty scent of my 2-in-1 shampoo.
It was beautiful.
You should have been there. (But it’s probably for the best that you weren’t, because I was naked and that would have been awkward for you, due to the devastatingly chiseled one-pack bulging from my abs.)
As a parent of twins, I’ve grown to truly appreciate the quiet, reflective alone time a shower buys me, and twelve days into being a parent of three, I was absolutely loving the opportunity to finally hear myself think for five freaking seconds.
As you can probably imagine, adding a newborn to the mix has turned the Pseudonymous household into even more of a zoo than it already was. My wife and I settled on fielding the incessant requests for Lego-building assistance and “another snack after diss one” from the Twins as our “new normal” about a year ago, but we’ve added some new floors to our funhouse with Baby Number Three. On top of our typical twinherding duties, my wife (who is also monumentally wiped out from breastfeeding) and I now also spend our days attempting to get our new addition on a suitable feeding/sleeping/not crying schedule–all the while shushing the Twins like two shaven Grinches as they excitedly play with their noisy new Christmas toys two inches from their slumbering sister.
Our meals consist of shoving granola bars and fast food into our faces the moment the opportunity arises, and while we fully intend to shower daily, it doesn’t always pan out.
Now, as I’m sure many parents will agree with, none of this is all that difficult when you’re well-rested, but when you have a newborn, the concept of “well-rested” becomes your own personal Everest. I think my wife’s Ob-Gyn at the hospital put it best as we were getting discharged: “I’m sure you guys already know what you’re in for, but sleep deprivation is literally used to torture prisoners. Sleep when you can, and get all the help you can to make that happen.”
And we have had help–both my family and my wife’s have kicked SO much ass. But still, at some point, our help has to go home…
It also has NOT helped that while the Twins are on Normal Human Hours (waking up at 6:30 am and going to bed at 8 pm), the baby prefers to pass out most of the day, but like clockwork, wakes up around–you guessed it–8 pm, eyes wide, ready to carpe noctem, and stares up at me as if to say, “All right, Dad. What’s next?” So essentially, at least one of our children demands our attention across all 24 hours of the day. While in many ways this is a blessing, it is also in many ways not. So as this situation has surfaced, my wife and I have grown proficient at dividing the night into shifts (a luxury we were not afforded with the Twins), but we’re still each only getting about four hours of sleep a night.
I should also mention that my daughter is the only baby in the entire galaxy who hates to be swaddled. While she was still inside her Mommy, she famously practiced kung fu every 30 seconds, and has brought this enthusiasm for physical fitness with her outside of the womb. Even when she’s fast asleep, this kid is moving, and the swaddle really puts a damper on her patented flying roundhouse kick during the REM sleep cycle. This anti-swaddle movement makes laying her in a bassinet very short-lived. While we’d prefer her to sleep on her own, my wife and I have found that just holding her all night (and bypassing the bassinet) is the only surefire way to get all three of us sleep. That means much of my sleep is interrupted by tiny punches in the sternum (or in my wife’s case, getting elbowed in her already-tender boobs), but it’s a trade-off I’m okay with for the time being.
I don’t know what I was thinking, but I figured that while I was on paternity leave, I’d have time to do a little pleasure reading, catch up on some movies I’ve wanted to see since before I started my friggin’ PhD program, and even spend some time writing for this fine publication about the arrival of my new daughter. In fact, after catching up with a buddy of mine about our current situation on Christmas Eve, he thought aloud, “Well, if nothing else, it should give you plenty to write about.”
“Yeah,” I replied. “If I can find the brain capacity to form a sentence.”
Because when I finally find quiet moments to myself that could potentially be used to spill genius onto the page, it’s typically been during my night shift, while
begging rocking my daughter to sleep–during which I have the mental capacity of a honey-starved Winnie the Pooh, the attention span of Tigger on crack, and the energy of Eeyore on Ambien. All of my efforts to one-handedly tap words into my phone have ended in either crashing and drooling in my daughter’s hair or totally devastating the pack of Oreos my mom got me for Christmas (it’s a yearly tradition spanning several decades) to keep my energy up while making a 3 am breastmilk cocktail for the little one waiting at the bar. I guess I just forgot just how taxing the first weeks of a kid’s life can be (I probably blocked out much of the torrential early days with the Twins).
Anyway, I realize the above is not necessarily what you’re here for, O Loyal Reader. You’ve come because you were promised a tap-dancing butt crack. Well, I was just getting to that.
. . .
After feeling for almost two weeks that my brain was complete mush, the shower had suddenly revived the old noggin. Ideas came flooding in just like the olden days, and I began outlining several particularly epic pieces sure to make me a contender for the Nobel Awesomeness Prize. I was fighting to collect every drop of the brainstorm in the flimsy Dixie cup of my memory–after all, this quiet, private focus could be taken away at any moment…
“Daddy?” called my daughter’s unmistakable pixie voice from beyond the bathroom.
“Yes, Sweetie?” I replied, sighing only internally.
It was then that I saw her. Our shower has glass walls, so I had a perfect view of her entrance.
She was already in stride as she rounded the corner and in front of the shower door—wearing a t-shirt but otherwise bare-assed, waving a single wet wipe in her hand, and tap-dancing the whole way in.
Beaming with her I-know-I’m-being-über-cute-right-now grin, she then made her proposal. “Are you almost done in there? Because I just poopied and I need someone to wipe my BUTT!” To emphasize the word “butt,” she turned around, stuck her tush toward me, and continued her soft-shoe routine.
And I just about lost my mind laughing.
I didn’t bother seeing if she’d already asked Mommy for assistance because my wife was already playing zone defense backfield and likely feeding our youngest. In fact, I assumed my daughter was parroting something Mommy had suggested (which my wife later confirmed was the case).
I’m also proud to report that the Twins are actually quite proficient at wiping their own behinds, but a few “incidents” have led to the policy that Mommy or Daddy need to “double-check” their wipe-jobs just to make sure the poop deck has been properly swabbed.
“Okay Sweetie, c’mere,” I chuckled. “Daddy’s not done in here, but I’d be happy to help you now.”
As I cracked the shower door open and cleaned yet another crack, I couldn’t help thinking, This is my life right now, in all its hectic, exhausted, hysterical glory.
And if that means the best story I can muster at the moment is one culminating in wiping my daughter’s ass, so be it.
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If not, go wipe your butt.