Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sticky Kids

Last week we went to a weeknight festival on the square - food trucks, live music, vendors, balloons, etc. The girls are always pretty worn out after school, but we braved the crowds and potential tantrums and headed up there anyway. The girls loved it of course. But as often tends to happen, I think Roger and I enjoy the idea of the event more than the actual event.

Part of why you move to a town like Roswell is for the family-friendly festivals and nightlife, but in reality, taking two two-year-olds anywhere is a bit of a nightmare. They have absolutely no regard for directions like "Stay close to Mommy and Daddy," or "Don't wander off too far," so we basically end up following our assigned child around until the inevitable meltdown occurs when we scoop them up to return to the spot where the friends we haven't spoken to all evening are hanging out. Good times. Still, I think a little change of pace is good for all of us, and even though it often seems like more trouble than it's worth, it usually doesn't seem nearly as bad in retrospect. Which is why I was kind of surprised when the morning after, Roger says to me, "I was a little unimpressed with our girls last night."

I laughed, "You think? When are they going to stop doing the exact opposite of whatever we tell them?"

Roger nodded in agreement but added, "It's not just that though. I kept seeing all these other little girls in their dresses and their hairbows and then I looked over at ours - Anna digging in the flowerbed and Julie wiping her nose with her shirt. I mean, what's that about?"

I laughed out loud again. "That, my darling husband, is what you signed up for when you married me, I'm afraid. I was most certainly a sticky kid."

"But I wasn't a sticky kid!" he protests. And he's right. His mom still talks about how he never liked to get his hands dirty. (I try not to read too much into that.)

"I guess they had a 50-50 chance either way," I say, trying to be sympathetic. "Is it at all comforting to know that I rarely dig in the dirt or wipe my nose on my shirt anymore? I mean, they'll probably never be all that prim and proper, but I'm pretty sure they will outgrow the 'stickiness' eventually."

"I guess," he sighs.

Better a sticky kid than a princess, if you ask me. But I am, after all, still a sticky kid at heart.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Single Mom

Recently, Roger went on a nine-day business trip to India, putting me through a nine-day test of mommy endurance. The good news - I passed! The bad news - my hair has gone grey. Just kidding. But I definitely spot a new wrinkle that I will forever refer to as the Indian crevice. Still, I learned a lot, and before I forget those lessons, I wanted to document them here.

1. There's no shame in asking for help - well, maybe a little bit, but there's more shame in checking yourself into the looney bin, so you do what you have to. It takes a village after all. (And my wonderful girlfriends make for the best village of all.)

2. Just as raising twins probably isn't twice as hard as raising a singleton, taking care of those twins on your own is not actually twice as hard as taking care of them with a partner. It's hard either way. Even when that partner is extremely helpful.

3. If I lived without Roger, I would rarely watch TV. I would, however, spend far more time staring blankly at a computer screen accomplishing nothing.

4. Children can eat peanut butter sandwiches for dinner several nights in a single week without showing signs of malnourishment. (Same is true for a 32 year-old woman.)

5. I can change a tire! (With a little help from one of those amazing girlfriends.)

6. When I finally got around to turning on the TV, I realized that I can in fact figure out how to work the remote control if yelling for Roger to fix it is not an option.

7. A large glass of wine at the end of a long day is wonderful in theory, but you have to be able to stay awake to drink it.

8. Not much escapes children. Overheard numerous times in the back seat: "Daddy go on trip. Mommy sad." Very cute, but a little embarrassing when one of the teachers at the daycare called mid-week to check on me.

9. "Mommy miss Daddy? Anna miss Daddy too" are quite possibly the sweetest words ever spoken.

10. I have the most helpful, supportive, and loving husband a woman could ask for. He makes my life better in a gazillion ways and the fact that he occasionally tells me to have a glass of wine while he bathes our children is just one of them. And you know what? After nine days on my own - I think I'll take him up on that offer more often.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Status Update

Chaos. If I had to pick one word to describe life right now, that would be it. It’s not that we’re particularly busy – when I stop and think about it, we don’t actually do a whole helluva lot. Sure, we both work, and yes, we have two almost two year olds running wild around the house (not to mention the two dogs), but when I think about everything we had going on last year – an ongoing stream of visitors, a trip around the world, etc. – well this year seems pretty tame in comparison. And yet somehow, I constantly feel like we’re on a roller coaster ride and it’s all I can do to keep everybody’s arms and legs inside the car.

I wonder if everyone feels this way. After all, being an adult is pretty demanding. There are jobs to go to and bills to pay. Not to mention all the little tasks like laundry, doctor appointments, grocery shopping, jury duty (yes, jury duty). Then of course there are the things that you'd like to do, but because of the amount of time you spend doing the things you have to do, these things end up feeling like an obligation - phone calls to friends, personal emails, sending a birthday card, writing a thank you note. And finally, there are the things you really want to do, but by the time you’ve done everything else you either never get around to planning them or you’re too tired to really enjoy them – vacations, date nights, girls nights out.

Being an adult is hard. Throw in a kid or two, and perhaps a few animals, and it’s even harder.  So, yeah, I’m pretty sure most people can relate to my roller coaster analogy.  

But as much as there is to do, and as challenging as it is to do it while juggling toddlers, I still get into bed every night (okay, most nights), and I feel really happy. And yet, moment to moment, I’m typically rotating between feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and failure. So lately, I'm working on feeling the happy in each moment instead of waiting for hindsight to see it.

And there is a lot of happiness. The girls are more and more fun every day. They sing songs and play pretend and do ring-around-the-rosies. They're talking enough to tell me what they want/need when they want/need it (a nice relief from the constant guesswork that came with parenting infants). They say "please" and "thank you" (with prompting, usually) and "good morning!" and best of all, "I love you." They certainly throw their fair share of tantrums, but for the most part,the giggles outnumber the screams.

Twenty years from now, I'm not sure what I'll remember when I look back at this part of my life - the feelings of inadequacy and exhaustion? Or the moments of pride and joy? I suppose this post is just meant to document the fact there have been equal parts of both!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Screaming

The screaming is starting to get to me. Well, not just the screaming, the crying too, and the whining I guess. But I’ll be honest, the sound all kind of blurs together at some point. At least once a week Roger and I look at each other during the pre-dinnertime chaos and one of us (usually me) wonders aloud whether other toddlers scream as much as ours do. Because they scream quite a lot, I think. Not that I have much to compare it to. Maybe this is a completely normal amount of screaming for two 20 month olds to produce. How would I know?

I mentioned the screaming to a group of moms the other day, and while they were dutifully sympathetic, I sensed that they weren’t quite there with me, confirming my fear that this is not a normal amount of screaming. Or maybe it's the fact that even when they're not screaming, the echoes of their screams in my head just make it seem like it's worse than it really is.

But then I started thinking, it would obviously make sense for mine to collectively scream twice as much as your average toddler. But really, the average toddler doesn’t constantly have another toddler taking her stuffed animal or swatting at his arm or mashing his fingers with her foot. But mine do. So now, the extra screaming starts to make sense, right?

“Double Trouble” is true for most things related to twins, but when it comes to the noise level, well, I’m pretty sure it’s quadrupled.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rough Week

This mothering stuff is not for the fainthearted. Every day seems to bring a new challenge. Some of them logistical (How can I safely transport two toddlers from car to classroom without resorting to leashes?); some of them humorous (How can I get Julie to stop taking off her diaper?); some of them impossibly frustrating (How can I force them to stop feeding their vegetables to the dogs?), and others are more manageable (How can I organize their clothes so it doesn’t take me half an hour to get them dressed each morning?). But no challenge has been quite as terrifying as the one that we came up against last week, when I answered a call from the day care to hear: “We’ve called an ambulance for Anna.”

It took 1 ambulance ride, 1 ER visit, another 911 call, a 6 a.m. visit from the paramedics, 3 trips to the pediatrician, and one more trip down to Children’s, but I’m relieved to say that Anna is fine. Really, she’s okay. It was a mean, mysterious virus that kept causing her fever to spike, and unfortunately, she has inherited her father’s childhood tendency to have a seizure when her temperature rises too quickly. But now that the virus has passed, she seems to be fine. Of course, I’m terrified of the next time she picks up a virus that causes her temperature to rise without warning, but at least I’ll be a little more prepared. In theory anyway. I’m still not sure I’ll be able to sit and watch her seize for the five minutes my doctor advised before I call 911, but in theory, I’m ready.

It was a rough week; I won’t lie. Scary as hell. But now that it’s over, it makes me realize how lucky I am. Lucky that this is the biggest scare we’ve had up to this point. That by some miracle Roger and I brought two tiny creatures into this world that, other than the odd seizure (!), are perfectly healthy. Despite a really scary week, I realize now more than ever how blessed I am that the hospital is so unfamiliar to us. We have no idea what our insurance will bill us for an ER visit or an ambulance ride – and that’s a good thing! (I’ll have to remind myself of that when the bill arrives.) In the past I’ve complained that I’m at the pediatrician’s office every other week, but if it’s only for an ear infection or an extended cold, well, I should consider myself lucky.

And I am lucky. So lucky. But damn, this mothering stuff is hard.

Monday, March 5, 2012


The girls are finally feeling better. Knock on wood. But just when I thought we might go a full week without visiting the pediatrician, I realized I had scheduled their 18-month well visit for last Friday. Great.

After their 12-month visit, I swore I would never again go by myself to an appointment involving immunizations. Taking two toddlers to the doctor (or anywhere, really) is hard enough as it is, but when the visit ends with both of those toddlers screaming bloody murder (for a pretty legitimate reason, mind you – have you seen the size of those needles?) – well, I’m sorry, but I need back up for that. The M-I-L came to the 15-month visit with me, and Roger took the afternoon off to attend last Friday’s affair.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, we’ve been to the doctor a lot as of late, and thankfully none of those appointments have ended with shots. The girls aren’t big fans of the stethoscope, the tongue depressor, or the ear thinga-ma-jig either, but with each visit, they seem to be coping a little bit better. Still, as we stood in the exam room answering Dr. Libby’s questions about the girls’ development, Julie was growing antsy in Roger’s arms so we foolishly decided to trade toddlers. This of course resulted in Anna bursting into tears, and when I tried to then give Julie back to Roger, Julie burst into tears. Frustrated, I just told Roger I’d hold them both, but lately, having to share mommy only seems to make them angrier than if they didn’t have mommy at all! So I’m sitting in the chair with both of them climbing all over me, poking each other at every opportunity when Dr. Libby asks, “And how’s everything else going? Any, uh, discipline problems?”

I look up at her and laugh. “What do you think?”

She gave me the name of a book or two and talked a little about how she used “time outs” with her daughter. I nodded along, genuinely happy to get her advice but not really learning anything new. I do plan on getting the book she mentioned, 1-2-3 Magic (mostly because another friend recommended it too), but it’s not really the “time out” type issues that are driving me insane. It’s the constant battle for “Mama” that’s going to be the end of me. It’s nice to be loved of course, but I feel like I’m constantly letting one of them down.

Now I know that whether you have 1 baby, 2 babies, or 10 babies, there are going to be times when they want to be held and you just can’t hold them. More importantly, there are times when you really shouldn’t hold them. They have to learn to cope right? But there are also times when avoiding a meltdown is more important than teaching a lesson. Sometimes it’s more important because you’re in a public place that you’d like to return to one day. Other times it’s more important because you know that if you hear your children screaming/whining for one more second your head might explode into a million tiny little pieces that scatter all over the room, swirling around your darling children as the shattered piece of your lips come together to say, “See, now there’s a bit of mommy for everyone!”

But sure, teaching a lesson is important too.

So, if you hear of a book called 1-2-3 Magical Ways to Keep Your Head from Exploding, well, do let me know.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mama's Girl

I’m a mama’s girl. I know that doesn’t make me particularly cool, but it’s 100% true. We could speculate about why I'm such a mama's girl, but that’s what the psychiatrist’s couch is for, right? Regardless of the many reasons, I’m extremely close to my mom. I’d do anything for her, and she for me. So what’s the problem? Well, I wouldn’t say there’s a problem exactly; it’s just a weakness or a dependency that I feel the need to acknowledge.

Long past my 18th birthday, I’ve depended on my mom for love and support, but since becoming a mother myself, I’ve taken this dependency to a whole new level. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been this dependent on her since I was a child, unable to cook or drive or earn money for myself! And this goes against the natural order of things, right? Parents give unconditionally to their children as they grow, but then as adults, the children are supposed to give back. Only I don’t think I’m giving back. Before I had babies, maybe I was, a little bit anyway, but now I just take and take and take. It’s a little embarrassing, shameful even, but there it is.

Now I’m sure my mom would say the two little blonde “angels” that I have brought into her life are more than enough “repayment” for her, but that hardly seems fair. I mean, I know she loves my girls and enjoys taking care of them, but I also know that the time spent on her own with them is not exactly easy on her. But despite the physical challenges my wee ones present, my mom eagerly comes over almost every weekend to serve as babysitter and provide an extra pair of hands. And those hands never come empty. Whether it’s clothes for the girls (or me!), soup or meatloaf for weeknight dinners, filters for my air purifier, or some gadget she’s found to help us with the tasks of daily living - there are no limits to her generosity.

And I apparently have no limits to how much I can accept. In other circumstances, I think of myself as pretty self-reliant, but when it comes to being a mom – well, I’d be completely lost without mine.

But I think I’m okay with that. I mean, as long as she is of course. And I can only pray that one day my girls feel about me the way I feel about my mom. Of course, I’m terrified of the road we’ll have to travel to get there, but I hope we do. I’d love a couple of mama’s girls of my own.