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…
“Did you see that link I sent you today?” my wife inquired, placing a bottle of freshly-pumped breast milk in the fridge.
I looked up from the boob-funnels I was washing in the sink as bewildered as the seventh graders I’d stumped similarly all day, searching my exhausted mind for the answer. At four months old, the Twins were still rarely allowing us more than three hours of continuous slumber, making us bumbling idiots more often than not.
“I’m sorry, which link? Remind me.” Having vaguely drawn the line between today and other days in my sluggish mind, I could now narrow the possibilities to 3-4 links, as my wife sends me multitudes of information daily, ranging from infinitely fascinating to a notch above “waste of time,” but much more often the former.
“That stay-at-home dad article. From the newspaper.”
“Oh, right, that one. Yeah, I did.” Since our recent decision for me to quit teaching for stay-at-home fathering and Ph.D.-ing, my wife had taken to sending me SAHD resources during the workday, partly to show me there were lots of dads in my situation and partly (as I learned months later) because she was secretly terrified of me being in charge and was covertly boot-camping me up to snuff. This particular article was one of countless SAHD-penned rants about how when out in public during work hours, people don’t often understand why the kids are with their father, asking such intelligent questions as “Are you on vacation?”, “Where’s their mother?”, and even “Did you lose your job?”
“What’d you think?” my wife prodded.
“I don’t know. It was all right.” I gently adjusted the Baby Bjorn strap so as not to wake the napping son ornament on my chest. “I guess it was kind of funny, but not all that different from stuff already out there.”
“True,” she overemphasized, and fell silent.
Huh. That was weird. Where’s she going with this?
“You know,” she continued. “You could do better.”
Unbeknownst to us, our daughter seems to have started a new activist group–Daughters Against Mothers Drinking (DAMD).
Her reasons for this are a mystery to us, as my wife does not even remotely have a drinking problem. She does enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time, but so do a majority of adults over 21. In fact, since the pregnancy (when she didn’t drink and I did my best not to make her jealous), breastfeeding, and the unending sleep deprivation of having twin babies (which does not AT ALL jive with a hangover), both of us have become lightweights who feel superfine after two.
However, when my wife does decide she would fancy a drink, she is most certainly entitled, as she is our household’s primary breadwinner at an oftentimes intense job that spreads her thinly and leaves her toasted by the end of the day.
It was with this fervor that she asked for a glass of wine while at Nani and Abuelito’s (my wife’s mother and stepfather’s) house for dinner last night, and I was happy to oblige, pouring her the finest chardonnay Nani’s entire counter had to offer.
With Month-Marker Eight looming in the not-so-distant future, I find myself in futile daydreams of Steampunk time-pausing/travel inventions allowing me to (re)experience the unfathomably amazing moments of The First Year. Even though I’m with the Dynamic Duo more than anyone, it never feels like it’s enough because I know this babyhood thang is temporary.
I’d prefer not to tritely say “They grow up so fast” (even though it’s SO true), so I hereby submit a far greater phrase for nation-sweeping candidacy: “They grow up faster than a Red-Bull-guzzling cheetah in a Lamborghini on the Autobahn with his pregnant, twin-carrying cheetah wife going into labor.”
Go ahead, picture that for a minute. Man. Now that’s fast.
Coping with Age Velocity is common among parents, and I’ve found my personal remedy to be occupying as much hard drive space as possible with photos and HD video, immortalizing epic Twincidents on this fine publication, and simply being present. I’m as guilty as anyone of distracting myself with social media and my beloved television shows, but when I weigh reading Facebook statuses about going back to work again or pictures of meals people for some reason feel compelled to broadcast against snuggling my offspring or cracking them up to the point of hiccups with stupid human tricks, it’s a pretty easy decision.
Due to the recent addition of raptor-sharp teeth to Thing 1 and Thing 2’s mouths and their growing interest in non-cannibalistic foods, the Breastfeeding Buffet has officially closed up shop. It was a difficult journey for my wife, especially to feed twice the usual mouth quota with absolutely no experience, and I’m so unbelievably in awe of her resilience and desire to fill our Twinfants with the Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner of Champions. Now that it’s over, I know she feels like a layer of connection is missing between the munchkins and her, but it’s getting better as we’ve watched them exponentially blossom with the acquisition of new essential life skills such as playing toy pianos with one’s heel, biting one’s sibling’s toes, and escaping the clutches of a diaper-changing table at all costs.
So, as Cafe Mommy throws in the towel, pump, and Boppy, I’d like to commemorate its months of legendary customer service with a testimonial from our daughter.
But it’s not a verbal testimonial. It’s far greater.
Every night, just before bed, my daughter would get into her feeding groove, her eyes gradually closing as if losing herself in a shoegaze indie jam. And that’s when my wife and I knew it was coming.
The Pete Townshend Windmill.
That’s right. Believe it or not, with her mouth still firmly attached, our daughter would swing her arm just like the legendary guitarist of The Who. She’d do a few semi-circle warm-ups, and then rock out to the thumping of Mommy’s heartbeat.
How do I express to you, O Loyal Reader, the sheer awesomeness of this occurrence? My already-mind-blowingly-cute daughter…taking after my musical hero…PLUS BOOBIES!
Are you kidding me?
I will concede that her arm did not always travel as quickly as Pete’s. However, one particular adaptation of this iconic gesture is a dead-on representation of her breast-milk bliss–the future Wyld Stallyns fans in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
I may not have a time-traveling phone booth at my disposal, but I’ll still always be able to return to my daughter’s air-band performances in my mind’s eye, and, at least to me, Woodstock’s got nothing on them.
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If not, maybe you can invent a time machine and get that time back. If you do, let me know. I’m in the market for one.
There is a moment that every Daddy waits for.
Typically (or stereotypically, if you’d prefer), Mommy is the all-star. The intensity of the mother-spawn connection is undeniable. After spending nine months living inside of her plus the primal closeness of breastfeeding, dads often feel they are second string in many respects. While there are families with stay-at-home male superheroes like me, I would argue that even then, there is just something cosmically unique about the bond between mother and baby with which fathers just can’t compete.
However, every dad–whether a working dad, a stay-at-home dad, a combination of the two, or some other option I can’t think of–waits for one special, magical moment. A moment he can truly call his own. A moment when his loinfruit shines the spotlight solely on him, and it becomes completely okay for him to ham it up–even in front of Mommy. A moment he is verbally singled out by his offspring as The Man in Charge, the Go-To Guy, the Master of the Universe. Yes, that’s right, I’m talking about the first-ever time his baby identifies him aloud as “Dada.”
This landmark occurrence is mind-blowingly amazing in its own right–it signifies language acquisition and adds a new, verbal layer of connection between parent and child. But–at least in English-speaking households–it also gives Dad a little ego boost as it usually happens before “Mama.” Call it a purely phonetic phenomenon if you like, moms. We’re well aware that the “D” sound is easier to make than “M” and we don’t care, because when we hear that inaugural “Da” amidst the babble, we know the wait is almost over. We’re going to beat you in just this one thing. And that’s okay.
At the same time, this anticipation can get us a little carried away. For instance, some over-excited dads rule the initial, randomly-stumbled-upon, mid-babble “Dada” as The First. Never mind that the alleged “Dada” wasn’t even in the room and the kid was engrossed in turning an expensive board book into paper pudding before he can even fully grasp its content (money well spent). Yet, the first time they hear these two chance syllables in succession, some dads are on Facebook in seconds flat, telling the world that the “Dada” has dropped.
Settle down, Beavis. Sure, I’ve had these moments, too, but to me, this is an inauthentic “Dada.”
Since the Twins arrived, I’ve been telling myself I would not claim to be dubbed Dada prematurely, and was proud with my performance when we first heard my son say:
“Did you hear that?” my wife enthused. “He said Dada!”
“Yeah,” I replied, skeptical. “Not really, though.”
See, in my opinion, the Official Dada Ruling should be one in which the child actually seems to be addressing or identifying Dada, an intentional utterance instead of an accidental baby-babble snippet. This is when you know your child has joined Team Dada.
Which brings me to my most legendary announcement since The Unveiling of Twinfamy Logo 2.0:
On Monday, August 29, 2011, around 7:45 am, my son welcomed me into the Dada Ranks…I think. Maybe. I don’t know. Well, here’s what happened.
I had put my daughter down for the morning’s first nap and was now changing my son’s diaper before shipping him, too, off to Dreamland. The whole time, he stared up at me with an admiring half-smile. As I affixed the new diaper’s Velcro and pulled his pants back on, he looked me dead in the eye and said, “Dada.”
Chills. Butterflies. Skepticism. More chills. Imaginary Disney-movie animal sidekicks cheering.
Did he just say what I think he said?
He launched into a squinty-eyed giggle and I joined him, encouraging him on a job well done, and reinforcing, “That’s RIGHT, Buddy! I’m your Dada!”
As the festivities drew to a close, I rocked him to sleep to the tune of my magically delicious baritone crooning “Bohemian Rhapsody,” cribbed him in super slow-motion so as to not wake him, and plopped onto the couch.
Did he just say what I think he said?
He looked right at me.
They were his only two syllables during the entire diaper transaction.
I then noticed the t-shirt I was wearing:
Was it because of the shirt? Was he calling Chuck “Dada” instead of me? Or did the nine majestic Norrises inspire him to call me “Dada”?
I needed a second opinion.
I unsheathed my cell phone and ran to the other side of the house to call my wife at work. (After five years as a teacher, I have a slight volume problem–I tend to over-project my voice, even when unnecessary, so I’ve learned not to talk on the phone during naptime.)
“Babe. I think…our son…just called me ‘Dada.'”
She later told me my unintentional dramatic pauses had her in a panic that something terrible had transpired. My bad.
I proceeded to relate the event in question and asked her if she thought we should “count” it.
Her response was incredibly supportive: “Why is he saying ‘Dada’ first? I pushed him out of me. Does he not remember that?”
I was pretty convinced it was For Real, but I’ve been waiting for an encore performance and he hasn’t done it since.
So now I don’t know what to think. Was it an intentional moment of clarity, possibly inspired by nine images of Chuck Norris, or was it just a coincidence?
Since I’m on the fence (but not a pointy one, thankfully), I’m going to outsource my opinion to you, O Loyal Reader.
What do you think? What are your Authentic Dada Verbalization Criteria? When did you decide the first “Dada” had dropped, prompting you to chronicle it in the Sacred Texts (baby book)?
Go ahead. Get your “comment” on.
Here’s some Jeopardy-style Dada-themed thinking music for you:
This post was Freshly Pressed by WordPress on September 7, 2011. Yay!
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If not, remember that Chuck Norris is always watching. Nine of him.
Yeah, that’s what I thought.
Having ensured the vessel to be seaworthy for months, today we officially ventured into the uncharted waters of stay-at-home-dad-ness, or, if you will, The Voyage of the Water Treader. The School Year That Refused To End finally gave in after a heated thumb-wrestling match, and after the long Memorial Day Weekend, the Winds of Change solemnly whispered that today would be my first day reporting for duty as the new Captwin, while Her Royal Momness, who is commissioning this expedition, returned to work full-time. Just before setting sail, we gathered on the poop deck to bid her adieu, standing at attention in a line for her inspection. The affair was promptly interrupted by the necessity to swab said poop deck, for my son was commemorating the occasion with his own diaper-made fireworks.
Finally, it was time to say our goodbyes. “The hour has arrived,” I murmured to my two First Mates, their faces gleefully jubilant. Oh, to be so young and oblivious again, I thought. Have they any idea what’s to come? But let’s face it, neither do I.
Her Momness surveyed the craft one last time, glanced at the amber horizon, and drew in a deep breath. I shushed the crew. “Quiet, lads! Her Majesty wishes to speak!” I just knew she was preparing to impart a gilded nugget of wisdom, gained from four turbulent months at sea with this very crew.
She raised an eyebrow. “Lads?”
“Oh, was that out loud?”
“Stop being weird.”
“Sorry. What were you gonna say?”
“I turned on the Crock-Pot, so dinner should be ready by the time I get back.”
I grinned, now detecting the faint essence of spice in the salty sea air, which could only mean one thing—when we returned to port that evening, we would not have to settle for hardtack, but would instead feast on the glory that is Pulled Pork Night.
Just minutes ago, in the privacy of the Captwin’s Quarters, I had briefed my crew—both Twinfants and our canine defender/mascot—to look as mind-numbingly cute as possible, and as our Matriarch bade us each a farewell kiss (I think I got a little tongue…Yes, I’m quite certain), the children did me proud, cooing and smiling from ear to ear. Unfortunately, our canine kind of dropped the proverbial ball, promptly falling asleep under the ship’s wheel soon after inspection.
Her Momjesty stepped off port-side onto the pier, but lingered, taking in a final gaze. I waved dorkily. “We’ll be fine,” I assured her.
Putting her best foot forward, my wife bravely and suddenly declared, “I don’t wanna go!”
Eventually, after promising to document every millisecond of our journey in HD for her review and insisting we would be ready for a Skype or FaceTime call at the drop of a teething ring, we were off.
Rough waters rocked the craft in the early morning, triggering even rougher waters to emanate from my son’s mouth, necessitating a record three wardrobe changes on the day, but he wore it well, mirthfully logging hours on ship apparatus including the Jumping Station and a Wellness Inner Tube (known more commonly to lubbers as an Exersaucer). A chipper lad, that one.
Sometime around noon, one of my crew actually made some waves of her own. I did not expect this so early in our journey, but my spirited female First Mate seemed to be flirting with mutinous thoughts. She would not heed the Crew Naptime Schedule (CNS) as posted. (I never verbalized this, but suspected her loyalty was only to Her Momness, and not to this cheap imitation with no milk-bearing knockers.) Our debate over the issue was heated and even escalated to such a commotion on the main deck that her shipmate was awoken several times in his own quarters—the racket slicing like a cutlass through even the white noise of a stand-up fan and our (Miami?) Sound Machine. It seems that as of late, during daytime hours, she prefers to be vigilant for all that life has to offer rather than whiling daylight away unconsciously, something she and I actually have in common. Having realized this, we ultimately resolved the matter when she agreed to adhere to the CNS from our ship’s mechanical, swinging Crow’s Nest. That way, she would be able to keep watch at her leisure while the gentle rocking motion of the waves and the soothing calls of the plush electronic seagulls flying overhead assisted her into slumber.
As trying as the day was, I did manage to steer the ship clear of the alluring siren song of social networking, a feat of which I am particularly prideful.
Some hours later, emotions ran high as the entire crew was faced with braving our greatest challenge yet—the drab, five-note-only, on-hold music of the customer service line for our broken baby monitor, the malfunction of which has absolutely nothing to do with the sexual advances on my wife it has transmitted in weeks prior.
Having collected the day’s findings, we retired back to port with mouths agape and watering for the tender, tangy goodness that is pulled pork (or possibly from teething—hard to say). Upon arrival, we were reunited with Her Momness, who promptly asked me if I was still man enough to be Captwin.
I answered with a resounding “Aye!” and at that, a disguised band of nomadic minstrels flash-mobbed into stirring rendition of Men Without Hats’ “The Safety Dance” as the Festival of Pulled Pork Night began.
Which brings me to where I am now, recounting the day’s events before retiring to the Captwin’s Quarters, but tomorrow the voyage continues. All things considered, it was a successful first outing. We know not what lies before us in these waters, but in attempting to speculate what is to come, one must concede that only time will tell.