Sunday, October 24, 2010

Helen of Troy

We had one of those neighbors once, who would brag about brandishing a shotgun at cars that would drive too fast through our neighborhood.

His geriatric dog would poop in our yard and he would feign innocence.

There was an everpresent light in his garage, and I tried not to dwell on the possibilities.

He came off as a bit of a chauvanist, but I never felt disrespected by him. On the contrary, he always had a kind word for me - usually regarding my looks - but kind nonetheless.

We discovered he could see inside our living room after he commented on an empty beer can pyramid building activity during an evening with friends - which he did not attend. So, we bought blinds. And I made sure to be fully dressed wandering around my house.

Despite his oddities, I felt safe with him protecting the neighborhood, as he was a stay at home dad to his two sweet daughters, his career wife commuting to Microsoft everyday.

I saw his true colors during an interaction with him while I was pregnant. His question was benign enough, 'How are you?' For some reason, all my walls came down, and tears unexpectedly rained from my eyes.

I told him how very scared I was - scared that my babies would be premature, scared of the birth, scared of being a mom, and petrified that there would be two babies to care for.

He said something to me that I will never forget.

He said that men believe they can move the moon and the stars, but women create life in their womb, and that is more precious than any physical strength.

How can you argue with that?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Memory - The Game Of Survival?

In my house, I am forced to play a perpetual game of Memory. I can't say that I played the game all that much as a child, which was probably due to the fact that I don't think I was very good at it.

But I've become an expert. When two three-year olds are having an acrimonious debate over a toy, you learn fast. I've tried techniques telling them to "share with your sister" or "count to ten and then we'll switch". My husband has even gone with the realistic approach; "that's what having a sister is all about; live with it".

Indeed, my girls are distinguished sharers, but I tend to forget that they are together 24/7 and it's a lot to ask of a 3-year old to constantly share. Everything.

Just as you might suspect, we have two of almost everything as it relates to the girls. Usually in different colors to help distinguish which one belongs to which child. In the beginning, anything green/blue/purple generally belonged to Jaeda. Anything pink/yellow/orange was Tristyn's. But then they got smart on me. "I want the [insert color] one!" So, we keep Sharpie markers handy to quickly brand a toy or an article of clothing. Anything not marked is cemented in their brains as to which one is theirs.

Most of the time, I can defer to them and ask, "is the pink princess wand yours, or your sister's?" But recently, I've noticed to propensity to lie in order to convince mama that the one in question is indeed theirs, even if it's not.

It would appear that I've honed my Memory skills through the preservation of peace in my house, because on any given day, I usually know exactly where the second set of purple Barbie sunglasses are.

The other day, I surprised myself: while driving, one twin dramatically realized she didn't have her Mardi Gras bead necklace. No big deal right? Ha! Her sister had one and started taunting her with it. Without blinking, I reached back into the bin that I keep in between the seats and felt around for those blessed beads. How I knew they were there, I don't know, but there they were and within an instant, taunting-twin was put in her place by dramatic-twin showing her the newly found necklace.

*sigh* Disaster (aka tantrum) averted. I fully recognize that providing them with a duplicate item simply placates them, and I miss out on a potential teachable moment, but most times, I just don't have the energy.

Modern parents are reluctant to admit the tenuous truth that so much about raising children is appeasing these pint-sized monsters.

Were our parents the same way? Is it a twin thing, or do all (similar age) siblings demand toy equality? Am I creating an unhealthy dynamic between them? So many questions, but my brain space is devoted to trying to remember where I saw that other damned Zhu zhu pet...

Sharing Daddy's lap

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Gone Baby Gone

Photos of teeny, barely four-pound preemies flash across my computer screen in an endless screensaver slideshow.

What strikes me about these pictures are that I know the two forms are my daughters, but they are not the same. All the parts and pieces have morphed into something different, and I strain my eyes to see a recognizable trait - a dimple in a cheek, or a look in their eyes. Sometimes, only briefly, I can catch one.

Are you lookin' at meh?
In adulthood, we certainly change over the years, but remnants of our prior selves remain. I will sometimes see a person across a room or on the street and recall a familiar face from my past, despite the passing of years, and maturing of our bodies.  

Preemies may have a lot of catching up to do, but my girls didn't waste any time. By 3 months old, they had tripled their birth weight to a sturdy 12 pounds each!

And now, at three and a half, they tower at 42 inches tall. They could easily pass for kindergartners and even I can forget they are only three.

You would never know they came into the world wrinkled, deflated preemies struggling for each breath, shocked and perhaps angry to be outside their warm, watery sanctuary.

Still preferring the security of the enclosed area of their cribs to the open space of toddler beds, they have remained in their cribs. When I gaze down at their slumbering forms, I see that my babies have been swallowed up by these long-limbed little girls.

*sigh* I will miss the whimsy of 3 year old girls when teenagers take possession of them. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Childhood Enthusiasm

I reclaimed my childhood enthusiasm when I had children.

As the years roll by, seriousness seeps into our souls and sillyness slips away.

You can't help but feel the childlike wonder when their eager minds discover things adults take for granted: airplanes, ocean waves, carousels...everything is new and curious.

We took the girls to the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk and what a feast for their senses! My mom couldn't get over the look in Tristyn's eyes when we stood facing the grand wooden Looff Carousel, music blaring from the pipe organ, the brightly colored, meticulously carved horses making me dizzy.

What was superficial and boring to me as a teenager now felt filled with possibility. Each sight was an opportunity to share with them.

It's as if my eyes have readjusted to the wonderland of children.

While driving up the California coast over the weekend, we spied pumpkin patches galore, with the pumpkins displayed in all sorts of creative ways, and each farm elicited a fresh exclamation of joy.

I remember an email I wrote to a friend while pregnant, in an attempt to dissuade my fears and convince myself that my life needed children, telling her I had had an epiphany - what I needed was Disney princesses, Winnie the Pooh, baby dolls and brightly colored tutus.

Lots of tutus. 

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