I do a complicated dance around the bath water puddles and other miscellany that is littered from one end of the floor to the other as I chase two shrieking and meowing little girls turned baby kittens towards their bedroom. I wrestle them into their sweet smelling pajamas, warm from the dryer while Hanna argues that baby kittens DO NOT WEAR JAMMIES, and Armenie chimes in with a grunt and nods with her whole upper body in agreement. I tell them both that tonight baby kittens HAVE to wear pajamas so their little paws don’t get cold.
It’s time to turn out the lights and we take our time to get comfortable, and find our space between the menagerie we are sharing the bed with; There’s lions and tigers and unicorns, oh my! Wedged between the animals and tiny warm bodies I have to scratch Hanna’s back softly and tell her a ‘Once Upon a Time’ story that’s better than Daddy’s or else she’ll cry, since she usually prefers him to me at bedtime. So I wait for her to lift up her purple Minnie Mouse top and ask me, “Mama, draw cats on my back.” So I do as I begin this evening’s tale, “Once upon a time there was a little pink dinosaur named Rosie who loved to eat green leaves…”
With my other arm I am cradling Armenie who is wrestling to get underneath my shirt. I try to dissuade her but she manages to wiggle her way against my bare skin and latches hard, dragging her teeth and I have no choice but concede, I don’t want to fight. Hanna’s breathing has slowed and deepened, she’s almost asleep now while on my other side Armenie tosses and rolls as my breasts are stretched to unimaginable proportions while she pinches the tender flesh on the under side of my arm tight between her tiny fingers.
I wait in the dark silently and still, mummified in fleece blankets, patchwork quilts and flannel sheets. I am afraid to move yet so I match my breath patterns to theirs, inhaling and exhaling with them as their chests rise and fall and for a moment there is nothing but peace. Just them and me.