I was out to get some water from the river, on a very cold winter day. I was carrying Uyinkwenkwezi on my back, and had Uyingelosi tucked in, under warm blankets, a little far from the river. I was going to carry her in my arms, while I had the bucket of water on my head. I was around my thirties and clearly someone’s wife, but my babies were still newborns. While I was drawing water, humming a happy song, I heard Uyingelosi crying. I placed the bucket down and went to attend to her. When I got to where I left her, she wasn’t there, but I could still hear her cry. My heart started pounding faster, not knowing where my baby could be. I looked around, screaming and shouting her name. She was still crying, but I couldn’t see her. Tears were flowing down my cheeks as I ran around like a headless chicken, looking for my crying child.
Someone shook me, and my eyes shot open. Mommy was picking Uyinkwenkwezi up.
“Oh my goodness”
I said, sitting up.
“The baby was screaming his lungs out. I could hear him all the way from my room”
Uyinkwenkwezi was wailing at the top of his voice, while Mommy was gently rubbing his back so as to calm him down.
“Hold him, I’ll quickly fix his bottle”
She handed me the baby.
“Sssh, don’t cry baby. Don’t cry”
I gently rubbed his back, but he just wouldn’t stop crying. Mommy quickly fixed his bottle, and gave it to me to feed him. I took the bottle and fed him. Mommy sat next to me and watched me as I fed him.
“Mandiphumle, you can’t sleep like that when you have babies next to you”
I looked at her.
“Yes, you can’t sleep like you are dead while there are babies next to you. A mother should always be alert. You are not supposed to sleep before they sleep, you are not supposed to sleep more than they sleep, you are not even supposed to eat before they eat”
My eyes shot open.
“That’s motherhood. These babies are yours, you need to pull your socks up and not rely on me”
I nodded. She was talking like I have neglected my babies. Maybe I have, but it was just this once and I was tired, that’s why I didn’t hear him cry. When Uyinkwenkwezi was done feeding, he fell asleep in my arms. Mommy got up.
“Put him to bed. I am off to bed too now. Don’t forget, they have to burp after each meal”
“Thank you Mommy, and I am sorry for not hearing him cry”
She smiled and walked out. I got up and safely put him to bed. I switched off the lights and got into bed too. Just as I was dozing off, a baby cried.. I jumped out of bed and went to switch on the lights. It was Uyingelosi. I picked her up and fixed her bottle, holding her in my right arm. When I was done, I fed her and she remained silent while feeding. Uyinkwenkwezi started crying too. Uyinkwenkwezi was such a crier, and his voice was sharp. I couldn’t pick him up too, because I already had Uyingelosi in my arms. I got up and paced up and down on panic mode. Mommy rushed into my room. Without a word, she picked Uyinkwenkwezi up.
“He needs a nappy change”
She announced as she reached for their jumbo nappy pack, placed on the floor right next to my bed. She placed him on his back and changed him. I was still feeding Uyingelosi, but closely paying attention to what Mommy was doing, because it was all still new to me.
“I’m sorry for disturbing your sleep”
“Don’t worry. There! The big guy is clean and fresh now”
She kissed his cheek and put him to bed. I finished feeding Uyingelosi and put her to bed too.
“Mandiphumle, I told you that they have to burp after each meal. That means you didn’t do it to Uyinkwenkwezi earlier”
My mouth hung open. Motherhood seemed a little too complicated than I expected. She picked Uyingelosi up and held her close to her chest.
“See, gently rub her back while she is positioned like this”
She rubbed her back gently for a few seconds and she burped. Gosh!
“It’s that simple. Don’t put them to bed before they do that, okay?”
I nodded. She put her next to her brother and tucked her in.
“Get into bed, I will switch off the lights”
I did and she switched off the lights. Just as I was falling asleep, a baby cried. It felt like a joke. The twins have got to be freaken kidding me. When the hell am I supposed to sleep? I got up and went to switch on the lights. It was Uyingelosi, wailing. I checked her nappy, and she needed a nappy change. I quickly changed her nappy and put her back to bed, but she cried as I put her down. I held her and her cry faded in my arms. I held her for about 15 minutes and she dozed off. When I put her back to bed, she screamed again. What the..??So she wanted to sleep in my arms. My goodness. She slept in my arms. No matter how I tried to get her to settle in bed, she just wanted to sleep in my arms. My worst nightmare came to life, again, when Uyinkwenkwezi also started crying. I felt like crying too. What do people normally mean when they say “I slept like a baby”? because the babies that God blessed me with, were restless and irritable. I don’t know when they both finally fell into deep sleep, but I remember that it was probably already in the morning. They still woke up early, while I was still trying to rest. Mommy walked into my room. She wasn’t even knocking anymore.
“Good morning, how did you sleep?”
I moaned, stretching my arms. She laughed.
“Welcome to motherhood. You will get used to it”
“I doubt I will ever get used to this. These babies don’t sleep. Uyingelosi wanted to sleep in my arms”
She laughed some more. Thoko walked in too.
“My beautiful people, you’re up already”
“Thokozile, why are you not dressed yet? You know how sensitive your father is”
“Mommy, please. I have showered already, and Trevor is still asleep”
‘Trevor is still asleep? How?”
Thoko shrugged her shoulders.
“Don’t just stand there, go and wake Trevor up. You kids think this is a circus”
“You really need to chill though”
Mommy took off her slipper and threw it at her and she ran off, laughing her lungs out.
She exclaimed and I laughed. My phone rang, it was Sibusiso. I cleared my throat as I picked up.
I pulled the lowest of tones.
“How are you?”
I cleared my throat again.
“I’m good, thanks. And you?”
“I’m okay. Are you home?”
“Yes, I am”
“Okay, I am on my way”
He then hung up. I looked at Mommy.
“Sibusiso says he is on his way”
She looked down.
“Oh, uhm.. Okay. Let me go and tell Daddy”
She got up and rushed out, leaving me there, staring at my bundles of joy. A couple of minutes later, Mommy walked back into my room.
She announced. I looked at her.
I got up.
She softly called out. I looked at her again.
“Daddy and I will be here with you guys. Get dressed, I will call Sibusiso and Daddy in”
I nodded, rushing to the bathroom to take a quick shower.
“I’ll go and warm up some water for the bottles!”
She shouted and I heard her from afar as the sound of water running over my body made so much noise. A couple of minutes later, I stepped out of the shower and still wore my pyjamas. The babies were still fast asleep. Mommy walked in, as I was getting dressed into my pyjamas.
“Are you done?”
“yes, I’m done”
She placed the flask on my bedside.
“Can I call them in?”
She walked out. I sat on my bed and waited. Shortly, they all walked in, one after the other. Daddy greeted and I greeted back.
“They are asleep?”
Sibusiso whispered as he walked up to my bed and stood next to it, staring at them.
“They had a very hectic night last night. They kept their mother up almost the whole night”
“What were they doing?”
“They were crying. Babies cry”
I replied. Everyone looked at me.
I looked away.
“It’s a good thing that you arrived while I was still home”
Daddy said, and Sibusiso nodded.
“We talked about this, and I feel we need to talk about it again. You two cannot just arrange to meet, without involving us, and your wife. This is the last time I am hearing that you are on your way. The next time you decide to be on your way to my house, you will call me first. You will arrange your visits with me first”
“And what about taking them out? Do I have to run that past you as well?”
“Mandiphumle lives under my roof, under my care- everything that happens to her and the kids is my business. So yes, even if you want to take them out, you will run that past me”
Sibusiso looked at Mommy, obviously waiting for her to take his side, but she didn’t. Sibusiso got up.
“I am not a child, and I refuse to be treated as one. When you told me this for the first time, I didn’t think you will take it this far. Look, your wife is the one who offered to take Mandy away from our house, so you will not sit here and talk to me like I asked you take her in. I can take care of her and my kids, so if you want her to leave, just say the word and I will take them back home. You are not going to detect when and how I meet my kids and you are certainly not going to be a part of any arrangement. Thank you, that would be all”
He walked out, leaving me looking like I have just seen a ghost.