Or night. And morning.
It all began after a game of Puerto Rico. Well, for my sister, Jenny, brother in law, Alby, and RJ. I was groggy and waking up from a nap. At 9PM. Don’t judge me.
Sister: “Oh yeah, also, I was telling Alby that I think I was having contractions during dinner. Want to play Takenoko?”
Wait, WHAT. Mind you, dinner was two to three hours earlier.
Me: “Uhh well, do you need to, like…go to the hospital or anything?”
Sister: “I don’t know. The doctor said to go if I thought I was in labor since I’m already dilated and I’ll probably deliver the baby really fast.”
Everyone else: “…….SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR.”
And then we played a game of Takenoko as we came up with a game plan for what to do in the event Jenny was indeed going into labor.
It’d always been part of Jenny’s ideal game plan for RJ and I to watch Evelyn in the event that she went into labor and Alby had to join her at the hospital. Why? Because “Baa Baa” and “Aah-yees” are the BEST and SUPER NUMBER ONE FUN TIMES while being moderately responsible and semi-decent at parenting.
THIS IS A BIG DEAL. If you remember from the first installment of “Parents For A Day,” Jenny has a very small circle of trust when it comes to her child. At that point in time, with our powers combined, Alby and I made up one whole person that Jenny could trust with her baby. Good news is that since last time, RJ has entered her circle of trust and Alby and I have proven ourselves to be more trustworthy than before, almost growing our combined trustworthiness level to 1.5 people! (Just kidding, she trusts Alby fully. Maybe RJ and I make up 1.5 people now.)
So I’m not sure if she willed her body to go into labor the one weekend we’d be in San Diego before her due date, or if it was just another delightful happenstance, but whatever the case, thus began “Parents For A Day, Part 2. Oh Yeah, And My Sister Made Another Baby.”
Jenny and Alby left for the hospital at about 10PM, which is when we officially began our role as Evelyn’s parents for the night and morning. And what better way to start us off than with another itinerary and set of detailed instructions?
Man. She’s either eased up a lot, details got lost in the “frenzy” of going into early labor (“frenzy” because my sister is the least frenzied person I’ve ever met. Labor is no exception!), or she’s started slacking in the parenting department. I’m inclined to believe the latter, most definitely not the second explanation. (Refer here to see her crazy list from last time)
Now not being parents ourselves, we made the n00b mistake of staying up until 2AM watching Downton Abbey in bed, and then I was so excited for the arrival of Baby #2 that I was texting Jenny until 3AM.
Of course, like clockwork, Evelyn woke up at 7AM because unlike Daisy, EVELYN DOESN’T CARE THAT WE STAYED UP LATE BECAUSE SHE DOES WHAT SHE WANTS. Daisy’s awesome. She’d totally sleep in with us until noon without fussing at all.
When I walked into her room to go get her, she got up on her knees and then just stared at me for a minute. I thought, “Oh crap, she’s going to cry because, I’m OBVS not mommy.” But then she flashed a huge grin and started jumping up and down and laughing. Whew, dodged a bullet there.
So I climbed into the bed and cuddled with her for a little while, while whispering a special pep talk about how she’s a big sister now and she’s such a big girl and that things might be a little different now but mommy and daddy still love her so much. Of course, she probably didn’t understand anything I was saying, but whatevs.
Then, we went downstairs and woke Baa Baa and “Zee Zee” (Daisy) up. It was their absolute favorite! Can’t you tell?
We all ventured into the kitchen for breakfast. Mine was a huge cup of coffee. Evelyn’s was a banana and ham, egg, and cheese sandwich, all of which my sister prepared beforehand and left in the fridge because RJ and I are definitely too dumb to make sandwiches. Of course, Baa Baa had to cut everything in little pieces for her, before she agreed to eat as little of it as possible.
As she ate breakfast, I braided her hair since she’s a big girl and big girls get big girl braids.
Afterwards, I got ready for the day while Baa Baa took over. While I was getting ready, I could hear Baa Baa chanting, “You got some egg! Unh! You got some cheese! Unh! You got a sandwich! Unh! And it’s for Evelyn!,” trying to make breakfast fascinating to Evelyn. He’s a natural.
Then we took our three dogs for a walk. If you remember from last time, RJ had an epic battle with the evil stroller. Well this time, we had a mini-battle with evil stroller’s evil twin before it finally succumbed to our combined strength and intellect. Take that, stroller!
We had our first almost-meltdown as we were preparing to leave to visit mommy and daddy. I think Evelyn knew something was different, because she was more clingy, and wanting to be held more than normal, but DON’T WORRY. I used my marriage and family 0-5 attachment therapy voodoo on her and it worked. Man, this parenting thing isn’t so hard.
I gathered together what I thought every good parent should have on an outing. Like…diapers? And snacks! And…wipes…right? You know, in case she poops. Maybe a book or two? Oh yeah, and don’t forget shoes this time. Especially since she’s walking now.
We stopped by the market to get mommy some flowers, Starbucks, and donuts, and so that Evelyn could pick up a present to give to baby brother. Right from the get go, we almost had another meltdown when Evelyn didn’t want to sit in the cart but wanted to be held by me. At first, RJ tried using therapy voodoo on Evelyn by offering her a choice between sitting in the front or sitting in the back of the cart, and she was like, “Screw you, your choices suck!” And so I gave in like a chump, because I think I freaked out on the spot and thought it’d just be a quick trip in and out anyways.
When I realized that it wasn’t going to be a quick trip and that girl is like 30 pounds, I was like, “Sorry lady, Auntie’s weak and Baa Baa’s not around and you’re going to have to get used to not being picked up,” and then set her in the cart, and then we hit Meltdown #1. And then I had to be that “parent” who was pushing around a screaming kid in a cart around the market. Okay, maybe my therapy voodoo isn’t so on point.
Jenny has this parenting book for parents of toddlers that I flipped through the day before, ironically before we knew we’d be caring for Evelyn. This book is mostly what I’ve been trained on in parenting, but rebranded and given different terminology so that it seems like this guy made up something new when he really didn’t. But he did have some tricks that I’d never learned before, one of them being “Toddler-ese,” that is, to speak as a toddler would speak. Exaggerating one’s delivery, simplifying sentences to a few words, and mirroring the toddler’s emotional state as a way to communicate that you see they are upset, before trying to explain anything to them or reason with them. I suppose it’s a way of showing empathy to toddlers in a way they’d understand and connect with in the same way you could verbally acknowledge and validate an adult’s emotional state.
So I decided to give it a go. I mean, why not? I’m not going to see these people again. So in the middle of the market with a screaming toddler in the cart, I start making my face look ridiculously sad, pretending to cry, and saying in an exaggeratedly sad voice, “EVELYN SAD. SAD EVELYN. EVELYN CRYING.” Like a caveman would.
At first, it didn’t do anything, but I kept on, and after a minute, she stopped crying and looked at me like, “You’re crazy, lady.” Whatever. She stopped crying, okay??
So together, we picked out a gift for baby brother, and by together, I mean I picked out a sock monkey and she clutched it. And then we hit the checkout lane. When it came time for the cashier to scan the sock monkey, we hit Meltdown #2. This time, I got flustered because someone was right there and there were people waiting behind me, and so I didn’t have the presence of mind to go back into full “Toddler-ese” so we just bailed as soon as girl could get her hands back on the sock monkey. I know, I know, it could have been a perfect opportunity to teach patience or sharing or something like that, but I was flustered!!
As RJ and I headed over to the hospital to meet baby Micah and to reunite Evelyn with her parents, I thought, “Holy crap, it’s only 9AM??”
Evelyn, of course, was super excited to see mommy and daddy, and super overwhelmed and emotional as well.
She stuck to mommy like glue the entire morning she was at the hospital. She was scared of baby brother at first, but later in the afternoon warmed up and even gave baby brother the gift “she” got for him.
Man, we were really only on parent duty for a night and for two waking hours in the morning, but it was TOUGH. I kept thinking, “How do stay at home parents do this all day? How do single parents do this all day long? And how do parents do this with more than one at a time? How do parents remember everything? What happens if parents stay up until 3AM and then their kid wakes up early anyways? And MAN, watching a toddler is WAY different from watching a baby!”
I mean, to never have a break. To have to coordinate everything with your spouse to make sure their needs are completely taken care of while ours are as well (I swear, I didn’t pee at all until we got to the hospital). To constantly set limits. To constantly consider whether it is more important to set limits or to just give in for the sake of efficiency. To balance loving and caring for each child. Watching the way my sister interacted with Evelyn during this difficult transition, by giving Evelyn her full attention and extra cuddles, hugs, and kisses, by assuring her through her actions that Evelyn was still every bit as valuable and loved was so beautiful to me. Evelyn is so blessed to have Jenny and Alby as parents.
All this to say, Mommies. Daddies. I have serious respect for you. You all have so much to juggle, so much to manage, so much to balance. Parenting is seriously the most difficult, the most constant, the most all-encompassing, and the most undervalued job in the world, truly. And your very presence, love, and care is more than enough, even when it doesn’t seem like it.
I can’t wait until the day when RJ and I are blessed to parent some children of our own. I think we’ll make a pretty good team.