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The Twins, The Mess & Bernadette Peters
by
Mary Beth Coudal


I mean, come on, the cleaning tasks are sisypheisan (I confess I feel a certain thrill when I use that word as if, for a change, I’m talking to an adult and not a child).

A couple of weeks ago at the twins’ 6-month well baby visit, the doctor told me, "Let them play with their food. They like that. It gives them a good feeling."

But hardened banana mush does not give me a good feeling. Okay, I know, you shouldn’t let it harden. It’s just I don’t like the girls sitting in their own poop.

And I’ve found they usually do poop when they eat. You gotta know they’re pooping ‘cause they get that far-away look in their eyes. Catherine does anyway. And she makes that noise like a train in the distance coming ‘round a bend, lips closed, eyes squinched and a "mmmmm-mmmmmm woo woo" sound.

And I’m thinking, "Oh God, another two years ‘till they’re potty-trained." And even when they’re potty trained, you’re not in heaven yet, ‘cause you still have to wipe them. At least I still have to wipe Hayden, who’s three. Or at the very least, supervise his wiping which is no "Sunday in the Park with George" where everyone’s dressed in long skirts, twirling parasols and singing like Bernadette Peters -- who I happen to love, by the way.

See, Bernadette Peters is the first celeb who ever talked to Hayden. He was about two and half months old. (Gena Rowlands was our last celebrity sighting -- but that’s another story. Suffice it to say, she was enamored with him as he cut in front of her at a hot dog stand in front of the Museum of Natural History.)

Anyway, I introduced myself to Bernadette but she was focused on the baby.

She leaned down to Hayden in the stroller. In that baby-doll voice, she said, "You’re a winner. You know that? You’re a winner." That was a sweet thing to say. Most people called him a cutie-pie, a honey boy or maybe a chee-chee baby, but she was the first, and I’m pretty sure the last, to call him a winner. And he really is.

Not that he has to be a winner to earn my love. I don’t want to pressure him to be or do anything. Except maybe help me tidy up once in a while.

I asked him the other day, gesturing to the Legos everywhere, "Hayden, look at this. Who’s gonna clean up this mess?"

"You are," he said.

As soon as I build my own Legos tower and then put them away, Hayden empties the gigantic school bus puzzle on the floor. And the babies go "Waaa" or "mmmmm-mmmmm woo woo," ‘cause I’ve been ignoring them for a little while. So I pull out some brightly colored blocks for them to knock down. (Which I read in "What To Expect the First Year" they should be doing now that they’re six months old.)

But Catherine’s more interested in her favorite plaything â€" Charlotte’s toes. And Charlotte’s making a bee line for the TV clicker. She somehow manages to turn the TV on to MTV which I don’t think is appropriate for her age yet. So I re-direct her towards the blocks. Turn off the TV. She heads for The New York Times which I spread out on the floor.

See, I left it open. I try to read one article each time I breastfeed the girls. Incidentally, I breastfeed both babies at once by putting one on each breast in the football hold. (Why do they call it that? As if we nursing mothers think of our babies as footballs. (I actually do know how to run with a football but that’s another story)). The sight of me with my babies dangling off each bosom (‘cause let’s face it, they’re bosoms not breasts) like a long, human pasty makes everyone who’s ever seen me go gaa gaa.

But no, she detours and teethes on the puzzle pieces. Hayden’s getting red in the face. "Don’t do that. No. No. No," he commands.

I explain, "She’s only a baby." He looks at me like he thinks the twins get away with murder.

So I don’t clean up the toys now because she’s chewing so hard on the paper, she must be hungry. Time for more banana-carrot mush.

Later as I put them all to sleep, I’m gonna slip on the Teletubby, kick the coloring book and land on those brightly colored blocks. I’m gonna have to clean the kitchen again. I’m gonna have to find the remote control. Face it, I’m not ever gonna get back to the newspaper.

I’m gonna mumble to myself for the millionth time, "It’s sisyphesian."

But then, I’ll look at the three of them sleeping. I know it’s corny -- but I really do clasp my hands to the space between my ample breasts. I go, "They’re angels. They’re really angels."

I can live with the mess. That’s why I spoil my children. But Bernadette Peters got it only partly right. See, it’s not my children who are the winners -- it’s me.

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