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Remember the Seahorse


“It’s the stuff nightmares are made of,” I say, shoveling a piece of chicken into my mouth.

“It’s creepy, but effective,” Jack adds.

We have friends over for dinner, and they’re expecting their first baby. Jack and I have a special fondness in our hearts for pregnant women and new parents, so he cooked up pasta and chicken and vegetables and garlic bread. We carb-loaded as we listened to Kevin and Michelle weigh in on names and talk about baby registries. It’s been nine years since we had a baby registry, and baby registry years are like dog years. Everything we bought for our eldest is now out-of-date or recalled or condemned by the American Association of Pediatrics.

Thankfully, Remmy is a well-adjusted eight-year-old, despite pacifier usage and the fact that she never owned a pair of teeny leather moccasins.

“You don’t even need to register for the weird seahorse,” I continue. “They magically show up at every baby shower. You’ll want to chuck it in the give away pile, but don’t. In your most sleep-deprived hours, you’ll be willing to shell out $100 for one.”

Keep the seahorse, we insist, like self-proclaimed wise parenting sages.

We’re in a completely different stage now, crowdsourcing advice on summer camps (forget the cost of diapers; here’s the real money suck), debating whether or not to join Girl Scouts (I had zero experience with this), and talking about puberty (God bless books with illustrations).

These days, we get a solid seven hours of sleep and drag ourselves out of bed at 5a. Jack makes coffee, I make tea, and he packs school lunches while I sit at the kitchen counter and start my to-do list for the day. We have a solid two hours before the girls get up, and two hours and forty-five minutes before we have to usher the eldest two out the front door where a very nice man in a big yellow bus brings them to school.

Last year, I’d get my workouts in at 5:30a, but during my three-month hiatus, Jack decided he was going to start getting up at 5a to work out. Today, we are at an impasse.

“What if you work out at five instead of five-thirty?” he suggests.

“The class goes from five-thirty to six-thirty,” I say. “Can you work out when I come back?”

“That won’t give me enough time to shower and get Min to school. Can you work out at lunch time?”

“I work during the day.”

“Don’t you make your own hours?” Jack deadpans. I am self-employed, after all. He has a point, I suppose.

The plus side, we’re both in our thirties and realizing that fast metabolisms of yore are … of yore. So Jack runs and plays soccer and I lift weights with a bunch of women a few times a week. (Truly, if you’re finding that you’re giving up after four minutes of working out in your living room, there is something incredibly motivating about being surrounded by people who are sweating and suffering right along with you.)

Dear new parent, I promise you that in a few years  you’ll be sleeping glorious seven hour stretches and you and your spouse will be negotiating over who gets to leave the house when it’s still dark to voluntarily sweat. In the meantime, naps for new parents are like cigarettes in prison. Hoard them. Barter for them.

“What if we get a babysitter to come from 5a to 7a Monday through Friday?” I suggest.

Jack rightfully ignores me. We’ll sort it out.