It’s 5:30 when my first alarm goes off, and I hurriedly turn it off and go back to sleep.
About 35 minutes later I wake again, stirred by the sound of Jeremy’s shower. at about 6:13 I get out of bed. I’ve already decided that I’m staying in pajamas today–the prerogative of a thirty-something-weeks-pregnant woman. I also leave the bed unmade because I’m planning on washing EVERYTHING today.
I put on my makeup–even a pajama day calls for makeup–spray some dry shampoo in my hair, and go downstairs to make coffee. I make Jeremy’s in his travel mug as I’m already too behind for us to sit down and drink it together. I make mine, along with some Cream of Wheat, which is my current pregnancy craving.
I sit down with breakfast, a Bible, and the journal I’m using to copy down the Psalms one by one. I’m doing it because I’m terrible at reading the Psalms. I don’t remember to do this everyday, either, but today I do.
I finish the copywork and my breakfast and some brainless internet surfing, then head upstairs. On a whim I decide to curl my hair; I dyed it the day before, and that always makes me want to actually do something to it. I curl it, then put on a blouse and a skirt, even though I’m going nowhere today and just planning on washing EVERYTHING. I wait for the boys to get up.
We’ve just put a timed light in their room so they can start getting up on their own. It’s a little globe lamp on a timer, which stays on as a night light all night. When it goes off in the morning, they can get up. Right now they wait to get up until we come and get them, and with the new baby coming I’m worried I’ll be stuck taking care of her and having to either yell across the house for them to get up or have them wait in there so long until someone pees in their bed. I’ve been really excited about this for them, but the excitement hasn’t quite translated into real life yet. Yesterday, the first day of the experiment, I had to get them up before the light went off because we had an early appointment. Today, I wait and wait for them to get up, only to finally go in and find the light off but the boys still in bed.
“Why didn’t you get up?” I ask them.
“We didn’t want to!” Ephraim tells me.
So the tone has changed from an excited you get to get up on your own! to when the light goes off, you MUST get up. Not quite what I was going for.
I send them to the potty and change Anselm’s diaper, then help them make beds and dress before we go downstairs to make and eat oatmeal. They eat oatmeal every morning, except for the weekends we end up with pancakes or donuts instead. I unwittingly started this tradition with Ephraim when he was barely one year old. I had no idea we’d still be eating oatmeal four years later.
I’ve gotten the boys their own melamine plates and bowls so they can begin to serve themselves. It’s part of my plan to streamline everything before Elvie Kate arrives. Like the wake-up light, this takes some getting used to. Usually I dish out oatmeal and bring it to where they’re waiting at the table. Now I ask them to go get their bowl, readily available on the little IKEA cart in the kitchen, bring it to the stove where I am making the oatmeal, and then carry their breakfast and a cup back to their place at the table themselves. There is a pitcher on the table with milk. It’s prettier than the plastic jug and means I don’t have to get up to give anyone refills.
Ephraim gets this right away. Clive is so excited that he keeps rushing back to his chair in between instructions. He’s a bit like a cat in situations like this, I reflect silently, and reassure myself that we will get the hang of it eventually. I bring Anselm’s oatmeal and milk to him, but help him carry them back to the kitchen and place them on the counter. He’s got to start learning sometime, and the sooner the better.
While they’re eating, I finish unloading the dishwasher. I set the silverware holder on the counter above the silverware drawer and tell the older boys that the first one to finish their oatmeal gets to put it away. They love to do this task, and I try to take full advantage of that fact.
Ephraim wins the race and goes to put the silverware away. After everyone’s done, the big boys go upstairs to watch the rest of Annie, which they started watching with me the night before. I don’t like starting the day off with TV, and I struggle for the next little bit with feeling incredibly guilty over it. But these days are not our normal days–although this is my fourth baby, I’m not always this close to giving birth, so I try to let it go. In the end I let it go so much that I let them watch a Thomas the Train after Annie is done.
I haul myself upstairs to start washing EVERYTHING like I planned. I strip the boys’ beds first, pausing a moment to look at Ephraim’s plain wooden bed and wishing I had the energy to paint it. Then take everything to the hallway to put it into the washer, including their special blankets. I hope I remember to put them in the dryer before nap time rolls around. I also wonder why I bothered to make their beds less than an hour ago.
Anselm couldn’t care less about Annie, so he mills around upstairs for a while. I can hear him running up and down the hallway, his feet slapping on the hardwood with a sharp pit-pat-pit-pat. He has taken to running in spurts everywhere–for the pure joy of it, I assume. From downstairs it sounds like he can’t make up his mind where he wants to go. Pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat. Silence. Pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat. Silence. Pit-pat-pit-pat. The unmistakeable clattering of a toy being thrown down the stairs. Anselm! He beats a hasty retreat from the staircase, as if that would somehow help him claim innocence. Pit-pat-pit-pat-pit-pat.
I am trying to write a little and trying to read a little and nursing several cups of ice in the process. Anselm has come downstairs and we share a peanut butter and honey sandwich. The boys’ bedding finishes washing and I go upstairs to strip our bed and wash it, too. Ephraim and Clive have finished their shows and come downstairs seeking other activities. Ephraim settles at the table with construction paper, scissors, crayons and a hole punch. Clive pulls out his very favorite Lightning McQueen giant floor puzzle. Anselm follows me upstairs and harasses me sweetly while I try to re-make our bed. It takes me a ridiculously long time to do it as I keep getting winded and sitting down. Not to mention I am called constantly back downstairs to see what the other boys are doing. Ephraim is making birthday cards. Clive has finally taken it on himself to try and put the puzzle together rather than asking me to do it for him, but he calls me to come look every time he gets a piece in the right spot. I take pictures and send them to grandparents and my husband because this is a big deal for my middle son. We are terrible at puzzles in our house, and independence is something we’ve been having to stress with everyone.
Ephraim comes upstairs and gapes at my newly-made bed (complete with a duvet cover I haven’t used in about two years.) “May I bounce on your bed?” He asks anxiously. No, sorry. He contents himself with jumping on the pillows piled on the floor instead. Anselm is flexing his climbing muscles and I pull out the step stool for him. He likes to stand on the top of it. I have decided to let him do this as it’s not very far to fall, and falling from the stepstool would be an important lesson for him, unlike falling from his junior chair down at the dining table, which is the other thing he’s always trying (and is NOT allowed to do.)
It’s time for lunch, and I ask Ephraim to pick up his toys that he left out and Anselm spent the morning scattering across the upper level of the house. He gathers them up and takes them to the nursery where the boxes are. I take Anselm downstairs and start making sandwiches for lunch. Upstairs, Ephraim is quiet. I holler at him to finish cleaning and come downstairs.
“Okay!” He hollers back.
“Yes Ma’am!” I correct.
“Yes ma’am!” There is a little bit of ruckus upstairs as he works to put things away.
I have almost finished three sandwiches and notice it has gone quiet upstairs again. Assuming he’s been sidetracked into playing, I remind him to hurry and come downstairs and that he does not want me to have to come upstairs and get him.
“Yes ma’am!” The clattering and scuffling starts up again.
I have all three sandwiches on the plates, ready for the boys to come get them. I decide to ditch the milk pitcher this time and just fill the cups up myself in the kitchen. Anselm and Clive are waiting patiently at the table and I have Clive come get his plate, then take Anselm’s to him. Ephraim has gone quiet again. What is he doing?
“Ok, I’m coming up there!” I warn, and start to head up the stairs. Ephraim meets me on the landing, saying please don’t be angry, he’s been cleaning up. I look at him skeptically and head into the nursery, fully expecting to see the same mess that was in there when I went downstairs to start lunch. Instead I’m met with a pristine room, and immediately I can see the source of the time spent and the silence–he’s been busy putting all of his building magnets exactly where they go in their tray, rather than shoving them into the box like I expected him to.
I sit down and tell him to come over to me, which he does hesitantly, still thinking he’s in trouble. Instead I look him in the eye and apologize for getting upset. That I thought he was not obeying and obviously he was. Would he forgive me? Oh yes, he would. He gives me a hug. Then he says, with wonder, “You were wrong!”
Yes, I was wrong.
“You were wrong, and I was right!”
Ok, I want to say. Don’t let it go to your head. We walk down the stairs together, they eat their lunch, and we split off to our respective rest times after the table is cleared–Anselm naps in Elvie Kate’s nursery; Clive plays quietly on his own in their shared room; Ephraim chooses a few toys to play with in the sitting room. It is 1 p.m.
During our rest, I lie down, read a little, write more, eat ice. It sums up my existence these days. I write out the events of the day so far, sighing a little when I look at the word count. I wonder if I’ll ever learn to be succinct in my writing.
Jeremy emails me at around 2 p.m. asking if I mind if he sees a movie with a friend tonight. I tell him it’s fine if he doesn’t mind me getting a pizza for the boys and I. He agrees to the terms, and it’s settled. I’m feeling pretty good today, so I don’t really mind. I take a video of Elvie Kate’s wild in-utero antics; she is the only one, apparently, who is not interested in resting.
The boys get up from their rests and naps at about 4 p.m. Anselm makes noise first: I hear him singing Mama, mama, mama, mama to himself in the crib. I’m not sure if he’s talking about me or his blankie, but it’s sweet, anyway. Clive has actually slept today, and well enough that he’s actually in a good mood when I go get him. Ephraim, bundled on the sofa in the sitting room, declares he does not want his rest to be over–at least, not until I suggest a trip to the park. It is a very warm day, so I get everyone pottied and shoed and we head for the park, stopping at Chick-fil-A so I can get a cup of ice.
At the park I follow Anselm around as there are tons of people present and he gets nervous when he can’t see me. A lady approaches me and asks me if I’m having a girl, and I tell her yes. I push the boys on the swings for a little bit, then make them get down as it’s making my belly hurt. Anselm goes down the slide for the first time–wheee! He spends the next several minutes trying to climb back up the slide and go down himself again, punctuating each attempt with another quiet whee! Ephraim runs around and makes a friend or two. Clive goes into his own little world–each time I spot him, he’s alone. He is enjoying himself, though.
Eventually the temperature drops and we head back to the car. We drive through Little Caesar’s for crazy bread and pizza. We listen to Carmina Burana on the way home. Then we eat our “breadsticks” and pizza (“Pee-Pah!” Anselm cries, delighted) before everyone heads upstairs for a bath.
While they play in the water, I clean up from dinner and straighten the entire downstairs. It’s actually a very quick job today–we have kept things more or less in order. I go upstairs and put the bedding back on everyone’s beds before going in to wash Anselm first, dry him, then put his pajamas on him. We cuddle for a little bit, then I put him in his crib with a toy while I take care of the older boys. If I don’t, he will pit-pat-pit-pat right down the hallway and back to the tub, where if he can’t throw himself back into the water, he will throw his blankie, and that would be tragic at this time of night.
I wash Clive first, then get him out and let him dry off while I wash Ephraim’s hair. Ephraim then helps me gather toys and put them away before pulling the plug on the water and getting out himself. Then it’s one last round of potties for everyone, then into the room for jammies and a story before bed. We read My Many Colored Days by Dr. Suess–my choice, because it’s short and I know we are pushing bedtime as it is.
We pray, and everyone climbs into bed, but not before Ephraim tries to sneak into Clive’s bed before he can get to it. He has been obsessed these past two days with sleeping in Clive’s bed instead of his own. The funny thing is that it used to be his bed before he decided he didn’t like it and wanted to switch. Now he wants to switch back–and Clive doesn’t. So I tell him no, again, and he starts to throw a fit before I remind him, under no uncertain terms, that there will be consequences if he chooses that route. The night before, Jeremy had been more patient and explained the situation. I am not going there again tonight.
Everyone settles down and I am asked for stories, which I oblige them with. Clive wants to hear a story “about Clivey”. Ephraim wants to hear a story about Percy and ghosts and boulders made out of wood that he chops up with an axe (and so we had to talk about what boulders are really made out of.) He worries that if a boulder smashes our house, we won’t have anyplace to live. I assure him that there are absolutely no boulders of that magnitude close enough to our house to threaten it in that manner. He is mollified.
I turn on the timed light–I hope it works in the morning. Turn on their fan, turn off the main light. Clive asks if we can do “Puzzle McQueen” tomorrow. I tell him yes. He asks if we’ll eat oatmeal in the morning. I tell him yes, again. I tell Anselm to lie down again. I tell them all that I love them, and goodnight. Close the door, head down to the kitchen for ice. It is 8:24, twenty-four minutes past bedtime, but oh well. Bring the ice upstairs, finish typing this up. almost 3000 words. Time for bed, myself–tomorrow is another day. And since I only made it two loads into washing EVERYTHING, I’ll have my work cut out for me.