Four is a Magic Number

Posted: June 19th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: California, Friends and Strangers, Husbandry, Miss Kate, My Body, My Temple, Other Mothers, Summer | 3 Comments »

Today I had to jump in a lake.

Because yesterday, the wretched gray-skied June gloom we’ve been enduring finally skedaddled. If only temporarily. And at last, it seems that summer has arrived.

So like some child slave from an episode of Law & Order, I positioned Kate on her stool at the kitchen counter to make PB&Js, while I threw towels, swim diapers, and sunscreen in a bag, and lamented Paige’s famous just-as-we’re-about-to-leave poop.

Lakeside, my friend, uh, Lulu and I wrangled the kids and attempted to catch up. The topic du jour at every barbeque this summer—at least for the men at the grill—seems to be The Big Snip. When they’re doing it to maximize sports viewing. What they heard about how bad it was from other guys. And jokes about snuggling up with a bag of frozen peas.

Lulu’s husband and mine are both game to get the job done. And, after years of having our bodies be the setting for baby growing, baby feeding, and the fending off of potential pregnancies, it does seem nice to have the lads take their turn.

Their willingness to step up for the snip is both noble and kinda cute.

But still, Lulu and I agreed. We’re just not ready.

“I tell Mark he’s got to think about his second wife,” I tell her, ankle-deep in the lake, and watching that the kids don’t go out too far or sneak off for ciggies. “I mean, she’s younger. She doesn’t have kids yet. What about her?!”

But seriously, Mark knows I’d kill anyone who he ever tried to leave me for, so that’s not much of an issue. What has been though, has been my lingering baby lust. My lack of conviction that I’m altogether done with the baby-makin’.

Though, driving home later it dawned on me that my hunger for another cherub seems to have subsided a bit. I mean, I saw a 6-week-old napping angelically in one of those beach tents today, and didn’t feel at all compelled to crawl in there with it. A few months back, Lulu would’ve been holding me back by my ponytail.

And other little things. Instead of waiting for them to rot and fall out, I decided to go all out and buy Paige her first toothbrush. She’s got six and a half teeth now, so it seems as good a time as any. So yesterday, while Kate and I brushed our morning breath away, Paige for the first time fervidly got in on the action.

And after prying the thing from Paige’s steely baby grip, I plopped the toothbrushes back in their little stand.

“Here’s Mommy’s, Daddy’s, Kate’s and Paige’s!” I singsonged, in a vain attempt to quell Paige’s give-that-damn-thing-back-to-me hysterics. And, ignoring her wailing screams, and Kate’s ensuing, “She’s TOO LOUD, Mommy!” laments, I went into my own little housewife daydream… Four places in the toothbrush holder. Four of us. Why…. it’s perfect!

Of course, not everything on the domestic family-of-four front has fit like a glove.

Sometimes I need a hit upside the head when change is required. And Mark recently pointed out that I have to start making more food for us. Usedta be that one kielbasa fed he and I perfectly, sometimes with a bit leftover. Well, turns out our little Polish princesses can hork down some serious sausage. Seems we’re no longer a one-link family. One pound of ground beef just wasn’t cutting it for our taco nights any more either.

But thankfully, I’m a fast learner.

Not enough food you say? Some intense Italian Need to Feed surged up through me like a tsunami, and the next night I’m setting out a dinner that’d put a midnight cruise ship buffet to shame. (Though sadly, I offered no melons carved as swans.)

And once again, order is restored. Two more eaters? Need more food. Check.

But what if we were to add a fifth? Eventually would two kielbasa links not be enough? Would the implausible two-and-a-half links be what we required? And what of pre-weighed pounds of ground beef? Boxed rice pilaf? Packaged chicken breasts? I mean, two two-breast packs are reasonable enough to purchase and prepare, but five breasts? There’s no situation in which five breasts ever make sense.

It’s not the cost of the food that concerns me, it’s the likelihood that we’d find ourselves in the OCD-unfriendly need for half of this, a third of that. Would we be trapped in the untidy position of always having too much or too little?

To say nothing of the toothbrush dilemma. Does one buy another holder then simply leave the three extra spaces vacant? And worse, do those three voids then loom, challenging you, your aging body, and mounting college tuition fees to produce even more children? How would I be able to face down those taunts twice a day—or even more if I’d eaten something garlicky?

On the walk back from the lake, we came to a dark patch on the sidewalk that was soft and gummy in the sun. We’d passed over it on the way in, and Lulu was smart enough to direct her kids to walk around it this time. Me? Kate and I just tramped through it again. Leaving, what I noticed later, was a thick coat of tar on the bottom of our flip flops. (Paige, the non-walker, smiled at us smug and clean from her stroller.)

At home, Kate stomped across our overpriced Crate and Barrel porch rug, leaving a trail of black shoe prints like those Arthur Murray dance class footsteps. I kicked off my flip flops just in time to not make the same mistake. And setting Princess Paigey on the living room floor, felt grateful that there wasn’t another little McClusky tearing through the house, leaving a mark of her own.

For us it seems, for now at least, four is a magic number.


3 Comments on “Four is a Magic Number”

  1. 1 Drea said at 4:27 am on June 20th, 2009:

    Bag of frozen peas. Melted and leaked through jeans of macho man who insisted on attending Little League game immediately following procedure. Priceless.

    For recreational use only? Beyond priceless!

  2. 2 Lulu said at 11:48 am on June 20th, 2009:

    You crack me up!! Lets jump in the lake again soon. BTW we had nice black shoe prints at our house as well ;-) Well worth it I say for a lovely morning at the “beach”.

  3. 3 Megan said at 10:05 pm on June 24th, 2009:

    Yes. Yes. And Yes. Fitting 5 into a 4 centered world is slightly maddening at times. There is always one toothbrush that lays across the holder and eventually falls back behind the toilet. The food thing still boggles the mind – it is amazing how much three small people can eat. I did solve the chicken problem though – I buy the organic chicken tenders at TJ’s – enough for everyone and then some. And don’t forget the car thing – with another child comes a bigger car. And now, I’ll leave you with – what if you had twins?

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