Sunday, February 27, 2011

All Nighter

I'm continually amazed at the parental tasks that are thrown at me so unexpectedly, threatening to drown me in muck, only to observe my instincts bubbling up from somewhere deep inside to throw me a life raft.

Friday evening, 10:30. I don't hear her coming down the stairs. She rounds the corner into the living room looking like a drowned rat, her hair oddly heavy on her head, as if she has had a bucket poured over her head. She leads into her explanation starting out calm, then hysterical, dramatically sobbing that she got sick in her bed... Within an instant, I scoop her up and carry her up the stairs to my bathroom. I don't yet realize that, not only is she covered in throw up, it is the reason her hair is matted and wet. I change her pajamas and notice there is more to be done, so I deposit her in the tub, turn on the shower and climb in, resigning myself to a late night shower... My husband has changed her bed, and I tuck her in, with a metal bowl positioned next to her pillow.

A few hour hours later, we are awoken by the same scenario; different child.

Rinse and repeat. Eight times.

Once in the night, I find myself in the familiar twin conundrum, wishing I could be in two places at once, when I'm rubbing Tristyn's back while attempting to ensure she makes the target of the bowl, as I hear Jaeda calling for me while her body heaves in response to her twin.

They are up at first light, chirping like amnesiac birds, while my husband and I sluggishly lumber into the daytime, traumatized by lack of sleep.

Each new report of throwing up rallies us into action, as we toss aside all other tasks or undertakings to come to the aid of a child.

It is, possibly, the thing I love best about being a mom. Being the caretaker, the hero, the comforter. Finding latent strength within myself. It's like I'm filling my own personal reservoir of pride and self-worth by the sacrifices I make for my children.

They are my everything, you know.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Double Life

The exhaustive debate rages on about working vs. stay at home moms. I can only speak from my own experience.

Working moms live a double life, constantly switching roles. Personally, I love having my "work hat" on half the time, conversing intelligently with clients and co-workers, and then enjoying the contrast of child-centric  activities (like playing Barbies on the living room floor).

In theory, it would allow me to appreciate each activity that much more. But finding the balance of it can be exhausting.

The roles blur and overlap on a regular basis; a sick child cuts into work time, or a work phone call requires my attention at the height of an involved child activity.

When I was in massage school, we discussed the importance of transitions. But that's a luxury that most moms don't have. For me, I'm lucky (yes, lucky) enough to have a commute that allows for "me" time, listening to books on tape, listening to music, chatting on the phone, or just thinking.

And, I have found there are certain similarities between work and kids that eluded me until recently. Both are more efficient on a schedule, but require flexibility to solve an unexpected situation. Prioritizing comes into play quite often. Problem solving... Conflict resolution... You get the idea.

If only I had figured that out when I had two infants. Or two toddlers, for that matter.

We all need balance in our lives. Seriousness and silliness. Snow and sun. Laughter and tears. It's how we are wired, the intricate web of inputs and outputs, AC and DC, USB and ethernet, that make us human.  

The final word in this debate is that most of us don't have a choice; and those of us that do opt for the lifestyle that works for our family.

Seeking their own type of balance

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In Your Eyes

Imagine living life through someone else's eyes. Your identical twin to be exact. I am not one, so I can't imagine it, but I have the honor of observing my daughters do just that.

They are almost four and still cannot distinguish their own image in a photo. Common sense tells me this is perfectly normal - they are looking at each other all day long (and not in a mirror!) and are told so often that they look alike, its no wonder.

For the record, my husband and I almost never confuse them. (It does happen, like this past weekend in the middle of the night when Jaeda came downstairs crying because she couldn't find the bathroom - we were in a rented condo with friends - and my husband asked her in a moment of confusion, "Is this Jaeda or Tristyn?")

Do you remember this post, when I fretted that Tristyn's first cognizant memory would be her hernia surgery, and Jaeda's would be the forced separation?

Fast forward almost one year later. On the short drive from our house to daycare/pre-school, I hear them in the backseat recalling to each other every detail of that day, alternating turns until the unaccounted parts of the day had been filled in. They recall details that I cannot; the unfamiliar Elmo diaper from the hospital, the pink blanket that Tristyn threw up on from the after-effects of the anesthesia.

We are attempting to separate them more than just the occasional trip to the store (which usually ends in tears while one feels slighted or left behind), but it's another twin conundrum.

They need independence, yet crave constant togetherness.

My first realization of this was a (what I thought would be) simple walk to the mail box. They must have been 14 or 15 months old, so it was a small but significant stray from the normal surrounding of the house, the car or the stroller. I was relishing the freedom that would come with their newly formed bipedal skills, rather than having to lug them everywhere. But this was diminished as independent will took form - one wanted to go to the mail box, the other did not. I encouraged the former to accompany me while her sister stayed put. No. She wanted her sister to come with her. The latter wanted her sister to stay in the house. A classic impasse without a solution.

I often find myself standing over them unable to provide an acceptable suggestion.

Now that they are 3 1/2, and spend hours flittering around the house like ballerinas, I suggested ballet class. Jaeda held her hands over her head ballerina-style and enthusiastically agreed. Tristyn, on the other, adamantly said no, she did not want to take ballet class. A flash of opportunity took hold in my mind, and I offered other activities to her: ice skating? swim class? gymnastics? Yes! Gymnastics!

It was perfect. I would take Jaeda to ballet class and daddy would take Tristyn to gymnastics. All would be right in our world. Twindependence would prevail!

But, ballet requires those cute little pink or white ballet slippers, and while shoe shopping, Tristyn insisted she also wanted a pair because she too was going to take ballet.... *sigh*

As they get older, they do waiver occasionally in their desire for constant togetherness, but at the urging of the other, the thought usually dies before it can come to fruition.

In our house, the word "separate" has become a threat of punishment. It was unintended - sometimes they just need their own space, but when I suggest, they protest with vigor. Of the handful of times that I have followed through with it, hysteria has resulted, rather than my intended result of calm.

*Shrug* I can't blame them - it is all they have ever known...

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