ONE YEAR AGO…
I awoke to a pixie whisper in my ear. “Daddy!” my daughter hissed. “I fink da Easter Bunny came!”
“He did?” I yawned. “Well, I guess we’d better go wake up your brother and see what he left you. Do you want to?”
“Yes!” she hissed. “Yes, Daddy! I do!”
“Shh!” On the other side of the bed, my wife did a half-kick as she insisted, “Wait. I need five minutes. My stomach’s killing me.”
I plodded alongside my skipping daughter across our one-story rental house’s living room (past the two baskets expertly hidden by the Easter Bunny) and into my son’s room to begin the twenty-minute process of waking him from a sound sleep.
Aside from it being Easter Morning, 2014, this was pretty much business as usual–my daughter being the first one awake, my wife wanting “five more minutes,” and my son seconding his mother’s sentiments by demanding the remainder of the day to sleep, as he had already “telled me firty-seven times” to “stop talking to me. I don’t want to do nuffing!”
Sure, my world was pretty nuts, but things were also looking up. With the Twins in a school we’d grown quite fond of and my doctoral coursework in the bag, I had just taken a job I was fairly happy with–one requiring me to wear a tie and commute 45 minutes to downtown Phoenix. While I was not particularly a fan of the obscene amount of time I was spending ironing, attempting to color-coordinate shirt-tie-pants-socks-shoes combos, and coming to a complete stop on the freeway, I was very much a fan of the sudden influx of real, actual grown-ass man income I was earning after slumming it as a student worker for years.
This was also about the point when I had about 30 pages of my dissertation written, and was just starting to kick my own ass every frickin’ night once the Twins went to bed with ice-cream-and-beer-fueled “THIS!IS!SPARTA!” thesis-writing binges usually lasting until about two in the morning. Although the topic of my wife and me having more kids would occasionally come up from time to time, it was primarily as a ridiculously funny joke, as several medical professionals had deemed our reproductive organs to be barren wastelands of fossilized sperm with no tails and one of those egg cartons everyone leaves on the grocery store shelf because it got dropped by that guy who wasn’t paying attention while he was checking the expiration date because he was obnoxiously talking on his cell phone about his entire life story for everyone in the store to hear. These, of course, are highly technical medical terms.
But the infertility didn’t matter–we were happy. We had a three-year-old daughter and a three-year-old son who kept us plenty busy and (most days) were a joy to be around. I was focused on finishing my doctorate, and my wife and I were starting to daydream about not feeling like we were treading water all day, every day. Maybe once I graduated I could get a job as a university professor and we could afford actually owning a house like legitimate adults. The Twins were getting older and easier to travel with–maybe we’d take them to Europe. And with my degree out of the way, maybe I’d even have time to do Actual Human Things, like go to the movies in an actual movie theater, or actually accept invitations to social events without worrying about time I should be spending cussing out Microsoft Word.
Yes, as I corralled my family out of bed for the ceremonial spreading of the plastic green Easter grass to every single corner of the house, it truly felt like the next few months would be a much-needed wind-down for our family (spent finding said Easter grass in every single corner of the house).
Of course, in just a few short hours, all of that would be completely uprooted, as we found out the real reason my wife’s stomach was killing her…
I awoke to a pixie whisper in my ear. “Daddy!” my daughter giggled. “I think the Easter Bunny came and brought an Easter basket for me and Brother and Sister!”
“He did?” I yawned. “Did you go look yet?”
“No, I was waiting for you and Mommy and Brother and Sister because you said I had to wait until–”
“Shh! Your sister’s asleep!” my wife murmurred, a sleeping baby girl six inches from her face.
“When did she get there?” I asked. This was the first I’d heard of it. (I am a very sound sleeper.)
“She’s been here since 4am. I finally got her to sleep a half our ago. Now, Shh! I need five minutes.”
I put a hand on my daughter’s shoulder. “Okay,” I whispered. “You heard Mommy. Do you want to go wake up Brother?”
“Yes! Yes, Daddy, I do!”
30 SECONDS LATER…
“NOOOOOoooooOOOOoooOOOO! I’m tired! I already told you firty-seven times, I don’t want to do NUFFING!”
“But Buddy, the Easter Bunny came.”
A big smile broke through. “He did?”
“Yep. Should we go see what he brought?”
“Okay, but let me bring my blanket because it’s cold downstairs in the morning because it’s not warm yet because the sun is not all the way up yet because it’s just the beginning of the daytime…”
Yes, you heard him right. Stairs.
. . .
We descended the stairs of the two-story house we’d closed on about a month ago, passing my office on the way to the living room–the office I now spend 40 hours a week in as I work from home at a job I truly love. And more good news–the working-from-home gig has allowed me to replace my loathsome ironed-shirt-and-tie combo with whatever hip indie band t-shirt I feel will match my underwear, and my long-forgotten 45 minutes of inhaling fumes on the freeway has been minimized to a 45-second walk downstairs, the only traffic being the damn Matchbox cars I told my son to put away “firty-seven times.” Sitting in that office (still admittedly not hung on the wall yet) is my PhD diploma, as well as a professional, book-bound edition of my 229-page dissertation. It may even be collecting some dust at this point.
My bleary-eyed wife soon joined us downstairs, with the baby on her hip. As soon as the baby catches sight of me, she shoots me the most glowing, radiant f*cking smile in the world–essentially the only facial expression this kid has.
I corraled my family into the living room for the ceremonial unpacking of THREE Easter baskets…
“Daddy, where’s that green plastic grass that was in our Easter baskets last year?”
“Oh, I think the Easter Bunny must not want it all over Mommy and Daddy’s new house.”
“Oooh, the Easter Bunny is smart.”
“Yes. Yes, he is.”
My wife and I high-fived.
“Now remember, kids. Once we’re done with our Easter baskets, we need to go get ready for church.”
In a rare coincidence (or something more if you prefer), we were about to close a fascinating cosmic loop. On Easter Sunday 2014, a Pee Pee Prophecy foretold our youngest daughter’s existence, and now, a year later, we had convinced our church to let us baptize her on Easter Sunday 2015, since we had family in town. In just a few hours, our family and friends would converge on our new home to celebrate the occasion with us, but first things first…
As I watched my elated Twins dismantle their Avengers and Winnie the Pooh themed baskets and my youngest daughter smile dumbfoundedly at whatever the hell Mommy was pulling out of hers, it occurred to me how much can happen in a year–the surprises, the challenges, the victories I had no idea I’d be looking back on one year ago.
And yeah, I’ll admit this is the first time you’re hearing a lot of this news, O Loyal Reader.
Yes, I’ve been holding out on you. My bad.
To be frank (just for a minute–then I’ll be John again), all of the changes this past year have had me in what’s felt like both a daze and a dead sprint at the same time. I feel like I’m just now defragging my mind from graduating (my daughter was literally born the day I was supposed to don my cap and gown), packing/buying/moving to/unpacking our house, getting the Twins used to their new school (oh yeah, that’s new, too), getting into a post-baby groove with my job, and all the other crap us parents are expected to do on little to no hours of sleep. And if I’m being really honest, while all of that was happening, I haven’t really felt all that compelled to write.
But the itch is back. Call this a reboot of sorts if you like. If not, it can be just a boot. A comfy one you haven’t worn for a while. One you could totally pull off with that outfit, girl.
After all, new beginnings are what Easter is all about, Charlie Brown.
You may also enjoy:
If not, just wait until NEXT Easter!