The day was going great for Tobin.
Christen had left mid-morning to work on some rɘ-inc business with Pinoe, who was visiting Los Angeles this weekend, and they had decided it was better if Tobin stayed with the kids. When Tobin and Christen only had Josh, they'd usually take him to meetings and photoshoots, but now with Sophie it was more complicated. It was way more difficult to entertain two little children during work hours than just one, as evidenced by the last rɘ-inc meeting, where Sophie had decided that the walls of the office were an excellent canvas. She was already into art like Tobin, that was for sure.
Tobin loved staying with her children. When surrounded by these little humans, who were only starting to discover the world, she felt like she could go back to a beautiful and pure state of innocence. She loved playing with them all the time and teaching them new things; it brought her back to her own childhood. Of course, Christen also loved spending a lot of time with their kids, and Josh and Sophie adored her, but in their family, the role of “the fun mom” had undoubtedly fallen on Tobin from day one. Some things just weren’t allowed with Mom but they were with Mommy, and Josh and Sophie knew it.
So today Tobin was totally in charge of their babies and she had the perfect plan to make the most of their Mommy-kids day until Christen came back home. Everything was going great so far and it would get even better, she was absolutely sure of it.
After Christen left for work, Tobin took Josh and Sophie to a nearby big park where they could just run around, climb trees, be in touch with nature, and release all their toddler energy. And this was the Heath-Press family, so of course they were going to play a bit of soccer. The soccer ball was already a permanent resident in the trunk of the family car, so it didn’t matter where they went, there was always a ball to play. Josh was getting better and better every day at this sport and always asked his moms to teach him new tricks or to just play with him. Little Sophie was only one year and a half, so her interest on playing with the soccer ball was much more limited for now, but it seemed like today she was really enjoying seeing her big brother and Mommy play.
“Do you wanna play, Soph?” asked Josh, after seeing how excited his sister was. The baby couldn’t stop moving on the stroller and she kept squealing in excitement every time they kicked the ball. “Can she, Mommy?”
“We can try, bud, but remember she’s little and still learning to walk, so we have to be careful, ok?” answered Tobin.
Tobin picked up the baby from the stroller and carefully put her on the ground, helping her a bit until she could find her balance and walk on her own. Sophie immediately ran with her short chubby legs towards her brother, who was waiting for her, smiling widely. He crouched down and Sophie ran straight into his open arms, knocking him down. The two siblings just lay on the grass laughing out loud, enjoying life, living in the present, being kids. That was all that Tobin and Christen wanted for Josh and Sophie right now: for them to enjoy their childhood to the fullest, to be free, to be happy.
Tobin almost melted at seeing her kids bonding so well. Sophie adored her brother and he was the center of her world, sometimes even more than her mommies; and Josh had the biggest love in his heart for his little sister. The two of them just got on so well it felt like a dream sometimes for Tobin. Seeing her children play together reminded Tobin that she had not spoken to her own siblings in a few days, and she made a mental note of calling Jeff later that night to catch up.
“Okay, buddies, who wants to score some goals on Mommy today?!”
The cheering from Josh and Sophie was all the answer she needed.
After Tobin had let Josh and Sophie score a dozen of goals on her, she decided to entertain them with some good old juggling. When her phone rang from inside one of her pockets, she took the device out and picked up the Facetime call at seeing it was from Christen.
"Hey, babe, what's up?"
"Hi, Tobes... What's that noise?" Christen asked, a bit confused.
"We're at the park. Just teaching the kids some juggling tricks!"
"While talking to me? OK, don’t answer, of course you’re juggling right now," laughed Christen, enjoying the sound of their kids giggling on the background.
“Hey, guys, say hi to Mom!” Tobin said, now leaving the ball aside and sitting on the ground. Christen smiled broadly at hearing and seeing her babies call her from the other side of the phone and greeted them back.
“Babe, Pinoe and I are not gonna make it to lunch today with you guys, we’re running late with meetings,” Christen apologized.
“Okay…” Tobin pouted a bit.
“But we’re gonna be back home at around 5 so we can all hang out and have dinner together, how does that sound?”
“Is Auntie Pinoe staying with us?” interrupted Josh, sitting next to Tobin and holding Sophie on his lap.
“Yes, baby, she’s staying the night and…” started saying Tobin, but Josh interrupted her excitedly.
“Are Auntie Sue and Olivia staying too?!”
Olivia was Megan and Sue’s daughter and one of Josh’s best friends “in the whole wide world,” according to him.
“No, baby, they’re still in Seattle but they’ll be visiting us next month,” Christen answered.
“When’s next month?” Josh frowned, but luckily for Tobin and Christen he quickly got distracted by Sophie, who was now up on her feet again and walking towards the soccer ball.
“Saved by the bell,” chuckled Tobin, looking at Christen but also watching the kids carefully. “OK, guys, so we’ll see you for dinner then?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry, Tobs, I didn’t expect this.”
“No worries,” smiled Tobin easily.
“Are you ok watching the kids on your own until later? If you need me, just call me and I’ll answer right away. My dad and Tyler can also help you out, just text them and…” started rambling Christen.
“Chris. I’m fine. We’re fine. I’ll call you if we need something, though, don’t worry,” Tobin calmed her. She could hear some guilt on Christen’s voice and she just needed it to go away.
“Okay. I miss you, guys, and I can’t wait to see you,” Christen smiled.
“We miss you too, babe. I love you and I’ll see you later,” Tobin smiled back, while signalling Josh and Sophie to come back to her. The children quickly got to where their Mommy was sitting on the grass and started climbing on her. “Say bye to Mom!”
“Bye, Mooooom!” shouted Josh, now leaning on Tobin’s back, his head resting on one of his Mommy’s shoulders.
“I love you, sweetheart,” Christen answered, laughing and all heart eyes from the other side of the screen. Sophie started babbling and tried to grab the phone to reach her Mom. “And I love you too, my sweet baby girl!”
After Tobin hung up, she lay down on the grass, arms extended and eyes closed for a few seconds, just enjoying the feeling of being in the open air with her two babies wrapped around her arms. She felt free. She felt happier than she’d ever been.
The day was going great for Tobin.
After a very successful morning at the park, they had an equally successful lunch together at home. Sophie had thrown pasta off her high chair only five times, and Josh had complained only twice about eating vegetables, so for Tobin this was a complete success right now, especially considering Christen was not around.
Tobin left the children playing in the living room while she put everything on the dishwasher and cleaned everything up (and boy, that bit of wall smeared with pumpkin pie was difficult to clean). She checked on them from time to time to make sure everything was fine, but they both seemed to be pretty chill, mainly because they were exhausted after so much activity during the morning.
Yes, everything was going great. Too bad things were going to change in… about 50 seconds.
Tobin was cleaning the counter when she heard screaming coming from the living room. She dropped everything she was doing and ran towards the noise, a tight knot suddenly forming on her throat.
Josh and Sophie were sitting on the carpeted floor in front of the TV, just where Tobin had left them, but now Sophie was on her feet pulling at Josh’s curls with her tiny fists and a frown on her little face. The boy was screaming in pain for her Mommy and grabbing the baby’s arms so that she would let him go. Tobin ran towards them but before she could reach the children and stop Sophie, Josh had managed to disentangle his sister’s hands from his hair and had shoved her away. The baby landed on her butt on the floor, completely unharmed but her feelings also completely hurt at seeing her big brother pushing her. Josh’s face was not much different from his sister: his green eyes, now filled with tears threatening to fall, looked at Sophie totally offended. He could not understand why his baby sister had hurt him all of a sudden.
Five seconds of tense and awkward silence passed. The calm before the storm. Tobin stilled, seemingly unable to move from where she was, eyes wide and uncertain at what was going on in front of her. Her children had never ever fought until right now.
And then, all hell broke loose, and Tobin decided that maybe her day was not going so great right now.
Both Josh and Sophie started to cry loudly at the same time while looking at each other, green and brown eyes full of hurt feelings. Tobin reached Sophie first and picked her up on her arms. The baby’s face was red and completely tear stained. Tobin sat down on the floor with the screaming baby, rocking her and trying to calm her down with soft, loving words. At the same time, she tried to reach for Josh, but the boy did not want to go near his sister right now, not while she was still throwing a tantrum. The kid shook his head no and moved away a bit, wrapping her arms around his legs and looking at his Mommy and sister, big tears still running down his cheeks.
“It’s alright, bud, she didn’t mean it, come here,” said Tobin, using her ‘calm Mommy’ voice, but actually feeling quite anxious at this unexpected situation.
“She hurt me! I was just giving her Mr. Monkey because she was tired and she hurt me!” answered Josh, his bottom lip trembling.
“I’m so sorry she did that, Joshy. Does your head still hurt?” asked Tobin, doing her best to talk and reason with Josh while still rocking Sophie and rubbing her hands comfortingly on the baby’s back.
“A bit,” mumbled Josh, with a big frown on his face that suddenly reminded Tobin of the times when Christen very occasionally got pissed at her. She shuddered.
“Okay… let’s count to 5 and when we finish it won’t hurt anymore, OK? I promise,” said Tobin, breathing more easily now that Sophie had finally stopped crying and was just sobbing softly on her shoulder.
Tobin and Josh counted slowly from one to five, and by the time they had finished, Josh was wiping his tears away with the back of his hands.
“Yes… but it still hurts,” sighed Josh, crawling to his Mommy’s side.
“Where? Your head?” asked Tobin, moving her hand over Josh’s back and then wrapping her arm around him to bring him closer to her.
“No… like… here”, answered the boy, putting one hand on his chest, right above his heart.
Tobin didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry. Probably both. Welcome to Motherhood 304, Tobes, she thought.
“I know how you feel, sweetie. Your feelings hurt, but…”
“Is this ‘feelings'?” Josh asked curiously, pointing at his chest. Gosh, this kid. Always inquisitive and smart, just like his Mom.
“Not exactly, sweetie,” Tobin answered, searching her mind to try to explain the concept of feelings to a kid who had not reached six years old yet. She touched Josh’s chest, just above his heart. “When someone does something bad to you, you feel really hurt and you feel it here, in your heart.”
“Yeah, I feel like when Mom bought me chocolate ice cream and I fell over and all the ice cream was on the ground," frowned Josh.
Tobin almost melted at the innocence in her son’s words.
“Mmm, yes, I bet that really hurt. But it was an accident and then Mom bought you another ice cream."
“It hurt, but it passed. And this hurt…" started saying Tobin, touching Josh’s chest again, “This hurt will also go away. You’re Sophie’s favorite person, Josh, she didn’t want to make you feel bad."
The baby turned her head from Tobin’s shoulder at the mention of her name. She was calm now, but she looked exhausted, her tiny face tear stained and her light-brown wavy hair wild.
“Do you see how she looks at you? She loves you so much, Joshy,” said Tobin softly, stroking her boy's cheeks. “I know she hurt you, but she’s still a baby. And babies sometimes don’t know what they’re doing, especially if they’re super tired like she is. Sophie’s still not big like you. We have to teach her that pulling people’s hair is bad."
Josh looked thoughtfully at his Mommy and his sister for a few moments. After a while, he moved a hand to Sophie’s cheek, who was still looking at him with sad and tired eyes. “Don’t pull my hair, Soph, OK? It hurts. And don’t pull Mommy’s hair. Or Mom's. Or Auntie Pinoe's, even if her hair is short.”
Tobin smiled, amused at the lecturing from the little boy and the confused look on the baby’s face. Sophie took Josh’s hand on her own, said her brother’s name and then started babbling to him. Apparently, that was enough for Josh, who smiled happily once again and moved on top of her Mommy’s lap to be cradled by her and also hug his little sister.
“I love you, Sophie," he said, kissing the baby’s cheek.
“And I love you, kiddos”, whispered Tobin. “And I think it’s time for all of us to take a nap.”
When Christen and Pinoe entered the Heath-Press home hours later, they were surprised at finding the place so silent. Christen had messaged Tobin to tell her they were on their way, but she had not gotten a reply. She did not worry, though, as it wasn’t that important, and Tobin probably had her hands full taking care of two children. However, the lack of sound in the house was starting to worry her now.
“Tobes? Josh?” Christen called, leaving her keys on the kitchen’s table.
No one answered.
“Maybe they all went to get dinner, which would be awesome because gosh I’m hungry,” commented Megan.
“Yeah, maybe," frowned Christen, not really convinced, and going up the stairs to check on the bedrooms.
She checked on Josh’s bedroom. No one was there. Sophie’s nursery. Nothing. Christen got her phone out and was about to call Tobin when Pinoe grabbed her arm and shook her head with a soft smile on her face. She led her to Christen and Tobin’s bedroom.
Tobin was sprawled out on the bed, fast asleep and snoring softly. On both her sides were Josh and Sophie, also in a deep sleep. The girl was resting her head on Tobin’s chest, and she held her Mommy’s t-shirt tightly. Mr. Monkey, Sophie’s favorite plush toy, was in between the two of them. Josh had his arms wrapped around Tobin’s lanky body and his face was partially hidden on his Mommy’s neck.
“You really hit the jackpot with this one, Pressy," teased Pinoe, smiling softly and knowingly at Christen, who could not take her eyes away from the scene in front of her. She was sure she had literal heart eyes on her face right now.
“Yes, yes, I did."