I had the opportunity to dive into a different life for 8 days. A parallel universe that included kids and a marriage. One day I was solo and running errands all over Boston and by that night, I was in NC with three kids, my sister, my brother-in-law, and my mom. There was one consistent thing though: the too small living space.
At first, the echoes of my old life crept in. I reached for the bowls to the right of the sink instead of behind it. I hand washed dishes instead of throwing them in the dishwasher. And yet, I grew accustomed to this new life. I woke up quickly because if I didn’t the kids would be bouncing on my head or screeching over who got to build the fort with the sofa cushions and, besides, they needed food. I could tell if Baby Mac had washed her hands post potty or just told me she had by listening to her footsteps down the hallway. I could convince Bubba Mac to eat if I could distract him. I studied the velvet wrinkles on Mac 3’s itty bitty thighs and oh how we celebrated when they increased (cause a newborn’s job is to gain weight and she took some time to get started).
When not chasing or scolding or laughing around/at/with the older two, I watched them, considered them, evaluated them. Oh how they loved to test boundaries – yours and their own – to see if they’d hold, to see how far they could go with their negotiations for more TV, more snacks, more toys. They’d also test our memories to see if they could get a different answer out of Mommy or Daddy or Mommy two minutes later.
Time galloped forward, blurred, and stalled out in chunks of waiting. Time stretched peacefully as I held a sleeping Mac 3, her body warm against mine. Her sweet breath on my cheek. The way her whole body breathed. Her navy eyes blinking awake, heavy with sleep, finally open and alert. Her hiccups and flailing arms. Baby and Bubba Mac tiptoeing closer wanting to see their new baby sister. The older two careening away, spinning with laughter, cackling with intent. Silence was scarce. Chaos was the norm. A full heart beat in my chest.
And then I was dumped back into my old life. 45 degrees + rain. Welcome home. With only the ghost of Mac 3’s strawberry clad bottom in the palm of my hand to keep me warm.