They didn’t make any plans for Kent’s birthday this year.
He turns 50, which is quite a cause for celebration, but since they’re in the middle of surviving the first year as parents to twins, all ideas of celebration had fallen flat.
Clara had stressed out over it at first, wanting to go away with him for the weekend or give him some exciting dinner at a fancy place but then the days piled up and she didn’t have time to plan anything.
He doesn’t even seem to understand that this is an issue, keeps telling her that he’s got everything he needs right here and that watching telly after the kids go to sleep is a perfectly fine celebration as far as he’s concerned.
But Clara feels that stitch of before in her chest, that reminder of how things used to be. It’s a low-key cause of concern in her, a little drum at the back of her head telling her that she just isn’t trying hard enough. Everyone else manages to maintain their normal lives once they have children. Everyone else takes trips and makes plans.
She knows, intellectually, that this is not true. That a lot – possibly most – people who have children have to change a lot of things in their lives and that this is a good thing.
She also knows in her head that this, too, shall pass. In a few years she will barely remember all the nights she’s spent half-sleeping, half-nursing, every early morning and scream-filled afternoon. In a few years she will have the opportunity to be on her own once in a while, to recharge her batteries and rest her busy mind.
She tries to remind her heart of this as well, though emotions aren’t prone to listen very much to logic.
Most of the time, however, she really enjoys her life these days. The twins are happy, healthy little ones and she is constantly fascinated by how much time and effort she can invest in their well-being. And yet somehow there’s always room for more.
In the end they make a compromise about his birthday celebration. Clara invites some people over and they cook dinner. No more than that, but it’s a nice distraction from diapers and tummy aches.
Kent has known Sarah for years, ever since they lived in the same building and used to carpool to work and Clara has really begun to like her, as well. They don’t have a lot in common but Sarah always asks a lot of questions about Clara’s writing and about the kids and seems genuniely interested in listening to the answers. Her husband Michael is a bit difficult to get to know, but he’s certainly charming in his own way.
They talk about houses and rents and work and Sarah reveals that they’re looking for a bigger place than their current one bedroom flat.
Clara isn’t really the type to ask personal questions, but given the fact that they just got married she can’t help but wondering if they plan on having children.
Kent is more than happy with his birthday at the end of the day, and that makes her happy as well.
Of course he would have been satisfied with just about anything but she still wants them to make an effort, to wrap the daily grind in colorful paper and consider it a gift. At least some days. Special days.
Together, they watch the remains of his birthday fade into the night. As the stars appear, she thinks briefly that it’s like a movie scene, except a movie scene would have contained a falling star and a wish.
Well, maybe this one does, too, come to think of it. She’s been more serious about her writing since they moved out here to Kent’s house and he’s even set up her own writing studio. They’ve got it all planned out – in the future she’ll sit here and write, watching the kids play outside the window.
This is her dream. Right here.
And she manages to finish one of the projects she’s been working on – a young adult crime novel. Literary but with a nerve, at least that’s what her editor had claimed when they accepted it.
Unfortunately it’s not enough to become an instant success and it’s hardly a bestseller. In fact, it barely sells at all. She’d care more about it, perhaps, if it weren’t for the fact that the twins have synchronised illness at the time of the release. Oddly enough, the critics’ opinion of your writing doesn’t seem as important when you juggle two screaming, sick kids.
But Clara decides to discuss the matter with Kiera some time later, thinking that a librarian ought to know the market pretty well.
Kiera is happy to help and they spend a whole afternoon plotting and tossing ideas around so eventually it seems like if the publishers are willing to give Clara another chance, she might be on to something.
* Poor Clara keeps rolling knowledge related wants all the time, but her time is consumed by the twins that are out of sync with their sleeping, pooping and eating. Ah, the realism. 🙂 We’ll see if I let them have another child, I think they might be done with their set of twins, actually.