Today we will discuss another malady affecting parents of young children everywhere. It is called "Mandatory Contact", and it affects 10 out of 10 parents. Mandatory Contact for mothers begins immediately after conception, and for fathers immediately after birth. It involves being in constant physical contact with your child for 10 months while they reside inside of you (it is surprisingly hard to put down a fetus), and being constantly available for contact after that (you can put down a newborn....for a few minutes...but it is usually more peaceful not too...). If there is lactating going on, contact is even more intense and paralyzing (See Lactation Paralysis entry). And if you have more than one child, the amount of minutes spent in Mandatory Contact with another person goes up exponentially.
It might not sound like a bad thing. In our suppressed society, physical contact is constantly craved. I remember being single and living on my own and really wanting someone around to cuddle with. Silly, silly me. I should have been sprawled out in my meticulously cleaned living room laughing at the amazing peaceful quiet. Little did I know...
I am one of those hippie descendants who grew up in a house where you could always crawl in with Mom and Dad when you had a bad dream. Therefore, my daily dose of Mandatory Contact starts around 1:00 am when Thing 2 starts waking up to eat. I pull her into bed to feed her. (I have become an expert at the nurse and doze...) About the time she is settling into a deep sleep, Thing 1 pops out of her bed with a spine chilling cry (have I mentioned that she has night terrors?), followed by the thump thump thump of tiny feet running to my side of the bed. I do an impressive scoop and roll so that Thing 2 is now on the other side of me and not getting crushed by her sister, who has crawled under my covers and jammed her head between my shoulder blades. Thing 2 is not a fan of these late night acrobatics, so back to nursing she goes, while Thing 1 attempts to dig a hole under my rib cage and wedge her head in it. I can't slide forward without shifting Thing 2, and I can't lean backward without suffocating Thing 1. I call this the mommy sandwich, and after 5 minutes of it my muscles start screaming while I stare at the ceiling in the dark listening to Tyrant Daddy snore and wonder if it would be very VERY mean if I accidentally kick him in the shins.
Once Thing 1 is finally asleep again, Tyrant Daddy tries to move her back to her bed. Which always wakes Thing 2 up, and we start all over again. Eventually morning comes, involving Thing 1 sitting up and saying "Time to WAKE UP! JUICE TIME!", and my breaking Mandatory Contact with Thing 2, only to be claimed by Thing 1's little hands pulling me to the kitchen. We get juice. We change diapers (perhaps the most unpleasant of all Mandatory Contacts.) Then we sit on the couch with Thing 1 pressed against my side (perhaps the most pleasant of all Mandatory Contacts) while I read a book or two.
Then Thing 2 wakes up. Which involves a great deal of contact for the rest of the morning as we change diapers, burp, eat, wipe vomit off of chins, balance on hip, put down, tickle, pick up, burp, face out, face in, bounce, put down, wipe vomit off of chin, cook egg for Thing 1, put down, wrestle Thing 1 into chair, change diaper, catch Thing 1 and put back in chair, pick up, eat, wash applesauce off of Thing 1's ears, pick up, bounce, etc.
Thing 2 has decided that nursing should be a full contact sport, involving pinching, pulling, punching, kicking, triple lutz and headstands. While I find her physical feats impressive, I often feel slightly bruised afterwards.
This goes on all day. My body is no longer even remotely mine, except for those few precious minutes a day when I lock myself in the bathroom. Although, even then, there is a 7 out of 10 chance that one of the babies is in the room with me, and an 8 out of 10 chance that if they aren't, they are screaming right outside the door. Nothing like a little motivation....
Finally the day is done.The little sticky people have been bathed. And we all lay down on the bed and read a book. With one girl in each armpit. Glued to my side. I get one to sleep and gently peal her away, and carry the second out of the room to bounce her to sleep. Then I finally lay her down on the couch and collapse onto the other one, free for the near future of any Mandatory Contact. No TOUCHING. Thank God.
Then Tyrant Daddy sits down next to me.
I eye him.
He doesn't make any sudden moves.
I tentatively rest my head on his shoulder.
So rare these days, but so very nice.