[psst... have you checked out my Postcards from Parenthood Blog Carnival yet?]
Border guard: What were you doing in the U.S.?
Border guard: What were you doing in the U.S.?
Tracy: visiting friends.
Border guard: How do you know these friends?
Border guard: How did you meet them?
Tracy: Ummm… online? I know, that sounds a bit sketchy.
Border guard: It’s more common than you’d think these days.
Mac whimpers, eyes still closed, and I glance over at the clock to see the time. It’s 6:50 AM. I lift my shirt and hope that some milk will quiet him down for a little while longer. It works for a minute or two and then he opens his eyes. His hands reach out on either side. His two moms are there. Warm-bodied and groggy as usual. But something is different. His head lifts. He strains to sit-up but can’t quite get his abdominal muscles to cooperate. My body flattens so that he can see over me. The smile on his face widens as he realizes his good fortune. There is a second bed in this room. And OMG Auntie Tata is here! She was here when I went to sleep. She is here when I am waking-up! Auntie Tata! Auntie Tata! He doesn’t yet have words so he shrieks to show his delight.
“Sorry Tam,” my wife mumbles as she roles over, wishing that babies came with a snooze button. Tammy just smiles.
“Good morning Macaroni,” she replies to his squeals. And any pretend chance of ten more minutes of sleep is gone. Mac is smiling and hollering and slapping the bed with excitement. I pick him up and place him on her bed. He looses his damn mind with glee.
Andy, Mac’s dad, is down the hall in a separate hotel room with his friend Luigi (Tio Luigi if you are Mac). He asked me to text when his son was awake. Not accustomed to the early wakings of a baby I assume that he is still snoring peacefully. I send the text anyway, expecting that it will sit, unread, on his phone for a while. Instead, there is a knock at the door a few minutes later. Sleep can wait. Happy baby morning squeals cannot.
It is safe to say that my child’s mind is sufficiently blown by this point. Two moms, one Auntie Tata, and one dad all before 8 AM. Hotel life is pretty spectacular for an 8 month old. The four of us lounge around. All pajama-ed and bedhead-ed. Nobody cares. We are all looking at the baby anyway.
Mac is the star of his one-baby show and it is getting rave reviews. He opens with a round of “mum, mum, mum, ba, ba, ba, me, me, me,” and the crowd is riveted. He slows things down with an interlude of thigh slapping and clicking noises but nobody seems to mind. And then finally, the big finale, “baby, baby, baaayyybbbeeee” followed by a very loud shriek. Applause breaks out and he stops momentarily, perhaps wondering why there is no standing ovation.
Eventually Andy decides that Luigi is missing far too much and goes to wake him from his slumber.
“Would you like to take the baby with you?” I ask.
“Can I?” He seems surprised.
We have enough time to shower and get ready without the distraction of a baby symphony of sounds and tricks to slow us down. And then Dad is at the door with his hungry son. He looks like any other dad, passing off a milk-hungry baby to his mother. Of course, he’s not like most dads but there is a comfort in this new normal we are creating. The familiarity of tradition mixed with the newness of our modern family. Mac is still yet unaware of his uniqueness.
I fill the baby’s belly and we fill our own. We lounge around and we chat. Weaving tales of our pasts and hopes for our futures together. Mac’s new song of “me, me, me, me” reminds Andy of a friend from college nicknamed MeMe. He begins with the explanation that it was before TV remotes and then tells the story of MeMe who would ask other people to turn the dial on the television for him. All I take away from this story is “you were in college before remotes?”
In the clichéd words of The Grateful Dead, scrawled on yearbooks far and wide, what a long strange trip it’s been. The paths that we have all taken to bring us here, to this point in time, to this perfectly plump baby with his magical smile. I ask the room what they were doing twenty years ago.
I was an 11 year-old girl in Sudbury Ontario with long dark hair and thick bangs. I was crushing out on boys and reading Christopher Pike books under the covers. Tracy and Tammy were 17 and 18 respectively in Pembroke Ontario, riding in cars with boys, sneaking into bars, and imagining the world ahead of them as they graduated from high school. Andy and Luigi were both 23 and hadn’t yet met. Andy was graduating from Ohio State and working at a call centre where he hired psychics and live chat operators to man the line for various 1-900 and 1-977 numbers. And Luigi was living in Howard Beach New York, studying Mechanical Engineering and working as a ticket agent for Iberia Airlines.
And now here we are. Twenty years later. Five different paths have twisted and contorted all to bring us here. To this Hilton GardenInn in Watertown NY. To this baby with his infectious giggles and chatty collection of sounds. To this:
Which is exactly where we are all supposed to be.
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