Jack calls my name many times, in a row, “Mama”. I am sitting on the floor with Fiona cutting out scotty dogs from birthday bags. I am so engrossed in Fiona and her project I ignore Jack several times. Also, I am annoyed by Jack yelling for me from one floor to the next. “Mama wipe my butt”, he’s not a baby anymore. I hear Jack saying he got poop smeared everywhere. I walk down the steps, see a little piece of brown, “Jack, is that poop on the stair?” I ask. “Yes” he says. I get the cleaner and a cloth. I walk into the bathroom and poops all over the toilet seat, floor, Jacks legs and butt, smudged with poop. The strange thing is I was at the park the other day waiting to use the bathroom. There was a boy in there, a year older than Jack. He took forever. When I went in to pee there was poop smeared all over the toilet seat. I thought the mom should’ve cleaned it. It must be a stage. I can’t believe how much cleaning of poop there is involved in the profession of parenting.
What is it about Mondays? Every week lately, when I wake up Monday morning there’s a catastrophic event. Today, the Fires, burn hot, red sun, Smokey skies. Depression, fear, general sickness sets in. I panic. What will I do, kids wanna play outside. They are finally starting to relax indoors now after we spent the day at the mall. Stay away from the ash. People gather together indoors. A group of us meet to take the kids to the new My Little Pony Movie. After the popcorn, sour apple candies, and the seven-up; about fifteen minutes into the movie; Fiona crawled onto my lap; all the sudden My Little Pony had green eyed monsters running around. It got scary. Next Jack got scared, then Fiona’s two friends. Pretty soon we were all back out in the mall. I told the ticket lady the movie was too scary for three-year old’s, how do you make My Little Pony scary? And Why? She gave me a refund. We walked around the mall parenting. I was tired, from the shock and sadness over todays tragic event. I told the babies how lucky we were, to be safe from the fire.
Yesterday we went to the city, we hung out around Stockton and Grant. We ate Chinese food, walked through an ally where a man practiced Kung Fu, saw a mini Chinese parade with a paper dragon and giant drum, a loud Motorcycle parade rumbled by, Italians in Maserati’s, and the Blue Angels roared overhead. On Saturday we went to Pt Reyes, sat in the sun, wind, looking out into the great sea. Now I am back at home, it is a mess here. I can’t do anything to clean it, no energy, possibly a few loads of laundry, possibly the dishes. I feel so overwhelmed and short fused. My daughter is sitting right next to me, I tell her to give me space and she smooshes into me closer and closer. She keeps talking to me and I can’t help but laugh. She asks me why I’m laughing. I tell her she’s making me laugh, she gives me a hug. She has popsicle all over her face. Jack keeps asking me for a snack. I’m going crazy, but feel anchored , grounded by Jack and Fiona’s nudging.
A beautiful late June morning. Blue sky, cool breeze, I see a small bird on top of a tall tree, it just flew down, probably catching a bug. The chimes blow softly, I hear a chain saw off in the distance. My dog lays patiently on the floor waiting to be fed breakfast. My children are at preschool, my husband at work. In one hour, everything will change. Jack and Fiona will be home from school, the quiet will turn to laughing, playing, crying. A house of activity. Two paper plate turkeys still hang on the wall from last fall, Jacks is missing a gobbley eye. A few paintings they made last year hang next to the Turkeys, I can’t believe how long they’ve lasted with just scotch tape. Paintings that were created with little hands in a tiny moment in time. A moment behind us, never to come back. A moment of little babies making marks and eating paint. A moment so precious that we can never get back. The paintings now made by these young beings are becoming more conscious. They are not purely a chance to make a mess and explore the surprise of paint spilling and covering their little bodies, splattering and tasting. Sometimes now they even ask me to wipe their hands clean during a painting project. There’s still the occasional body painting.
I am a parent of children now, no longer babies; kids now who still need my full attention and love. When Fiona sat on my lap at the audiologist the other day, asking the doctor big girl questions about her hearing aid molds that were being made I was taken aback. She no longer sat there and just let the doctor squirt the mold making goo in her ears, Fiona wanted to know why and how. Her legs folded long over mine, her head right in front of mine. She wasn’t a baby I cradled in my arms trying to distract, nor a toddler I had to comfort, she was a big girl, still only three and a half years old, but aware of what was going on. I got a freight, I’m their parent, I thought. I have two kids. Having babies is one thing but kids? Strong, independent, smart, loving, kids. They are developing their own tastes and interests now. I balance between letting them explore and learn and grow and teaching them how not to behave without squashing their individuality or shaming them for doing things inappropriate in our society. It’s a difficult balance for me, I sometimes wonder if I would be considered a permissive parent. I hope I’m strict enough, I don’t want spoiled brats or entitled kids. It’s difficult to find the balance. At least I know they are loving and kind kids.
Layers of skin and organs and blood and pain. Layers of joy and pleasure and softness. Layers of hardness and calluses and sun spots and crusty toe nails. Layers of stress and relaxation. Of noticing, of ignoring. Of panicking, of accepting. I hate myself. I love myself. I hate him, her, them, us, our world. I love him. I love her. I love our world. I love my dog. I hate my dog. I love my chair. I hate my chair. Fuck, I hit the corner of my toe again on this chair. Fuck I hit my shin again on this stroller. Yesterday, I’m watching a couple, drinking forty ounces of Miller high life outside the Big Rock Deli. I pull up, think Yum, wish that was me. I’m with Jack, ready to pick up Fiona. Just gotta pick up some lunch. The couple looks at his phone. All of the sudden they jump up in a hurry, get in the SUV with forties half gone in their laps and take off. What are they doing? Where are they going? I feel cool with only one kid right now, but he starts pushing, he starts climbing, he starts trying on sunglasses, touching everything. I feel helpless. I follow him saying no. I follow my children saying no. I have best intentions. I am open and happy. The more I give the more they take. “You’re never satisfied” I say. It’s always something. They take and take. I give and give. I make time to love myself. I make time to take hot baths and put on facial masks and take care of my feet and take yoga classes and do spin workouts and eat right. My stomach still always hurts. My best intentions can’t remove my frailty. My age. My premenopausal symptoms. My disconnection with my body. My painful, swollen, annoying body. I love you body. Thank you body. You are a good body. But I hate you. But I love you. I’m trying. I lay down now. I leave the dishes, I leave the picking up to lay down. I put a pillow under my knees. I rest. I feel guilty. I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t say shouldn’t. I paint. I draw. I feel. I get excited, then exhausted. I get honked at as I’m driving and Jacks saying “I want to go home over and over again” and Fiona’s saying “I want tiny” over and over again. I’m sorry other driver. I’m sorry, maybe I cut you off on accident. I’m sorry. He drives behind me and when I make my left had turn he honks at me one last time to make sure I know how mad I made him. “It’s always the woman drivers” I hear my husband saying in my mind. We try. We try our best. We try to see you. We try to be good drivers with screaming kids in the car. O-Well. I take comfort in the fact that I never honk at people. I give them the benefit of the doubt. I am kind.
I’m getting so mad. 4:44, I put the babies down for their nap at 3:00. They’ve been whining the whole time. This is one of the hardest situation, the times I really need a break and the babies really need a nap, but it doesn’t happen. We went to a new park today. It was a good one, it even had a big tree giving some shade. There were two nannies, one with a ten month old baby. The other, a young nanny watching two kids. Theo, a three year old who I coaxed into saying scared over and over because it sounded so cute and his five year old sister, Nia who was the most mature out of all of us. There was one mom of three, her son Jackson is around the same age as Jack and Fiona. She was really cool, but I felt insecure again. She looked so put together and way younger than me. I don’t know why I have that hang up. It’s weird. I just feel so tattered. Immediately aware of my red face from allergies, my wrinkles, and my undone hair. My clothes covered in food and paint. The nannies once again talked to each other in Spanish the whole time. Theo and Nia seemed desperate to talk and have interaction with me, Jack, and Fiona. I guess the nannies job is just to supervise, make sure no one gets hurt or hurts another child. To feed and take care of all the basic needs. I haven’t seen nannies playing with the kids they watch so far. I’ve seen a lot talking on phones. As I yell “You be careful now” from behind my laptop. Fiona and Jack are playing on the sofa. I’m a firm believer they need to play together without me, of course. Maybe the nannies get crappy pay and feel they do enough work for what they get. I guess it just seems like they aren’t very engaged with the kids they watch. Do they love kids? Do they love their profession? Or is it just a job? And why do I even care?
The picture above shows a funny story. I give jack and Fiona water in their regular cups. Jack drinks out of it, getting most of the water in his mouth. Fiona is usually able to as well. I’m cleaning up from dinner and Fiona starts Bawling! (Oh I realized I’ve spelt bawling wrong in every other post!! I spelt it Balling!) Her face is super red and she even has tears. I give it a minute because I can’t understand why she’s so upset. I see her top is wet, she spilt her water, but big deal. She doesn’t stop crying, so I go over and pick her up. I realize she’s scared. (The way Theo says scared pops in my head) I think the water spilling frightened her and Jack started laughing.
I’m not sure what’s happening with my dad. I felt so emotionally drained yesterday, so drained I wonder if it’s worth it. Danny is going to send my dad money for the plane tickets. We’ve decided if he squanders the money and doesn’t come then that’s it. We’re done. Clean and simple. If he makes some effort for once in his life we’ll keep him in our lives. My mom would say, “Don’t hold your breath you guys.”
Since it getting close to my birthday I’ve decided to write my Advice list for new moms with twins. This is being written one year into raising twins.
*This list is for entertainment purposes ONLY
#1. When you first bring the babies home you need help. Choose wisely, avoid letting anyone come live with you that drives you crazy.
#2. Lower your expectations about getting anything done.
#3. One day you’ll feel like you’ve given up everything. Like you’ve stopped doing everything you did before. You’ll wonder who you are. Are you just a milk machine? A maid? Don’t worry, this too shall pass.
#4. When you remember who you are again and some of the things you enjoyed doing become clear again, it’s still too soon to do them, you’ll be too damn tired.
#5. Everyone’s going to want to come see the babies. If you don’t want company just say NO! They’ll get over it. They are your babies and it’s your life.
#6. Don’t stop going to therapy.
#7. If you feel you are really depressed talk to your doctor. Don’t be ashamed to get on Zolof.
#8. If you need sunshine get some. #9. Do yoga and walk as much as you can, ideally every day.
#10. Take hot baths with mineral salts.
#11. Stay Calm.
#12. Your relationship with your partner will be strained. Try to have a date night as often as you can.
#13. Find another new mom of twins to hang out with. Preferably one who’s super cool, down to earth, likes to go on walks, and is down to share a bottle of wine with you even if it’s before noon.
#14. Try to eat healthy food and drink lots of water.
#15. Get the babies on the same schedule as much as possible.
#16. Get them on their tummies, they will crawl sooner this way. The more they can do to entertain themselves the more time you’ll have to drink coffee and write advice lists.
#17. Don’t feel guilty if you don’t feel sexual, that’s just the way it is, your partner will have to understand. In time you guys will reconnect and enjoy a sex life again.
#18. Take care of your body. Use lots of lotion and try to get a pedicure, maybe even a massage.
#19. Don’t take any moment for granted.
#20. Learn meditation.
#21. You’ll say you want to learn to play the guitar so you can play songs and sing to the babies. It’s not gonna happen. Accept it.
#22. Don’t get offended if some of your best friends don’t come see the babies. They still love you.
#23. Get outside with the babies every day.
#24. Remember every moment will pass.
#25. Emotions aren’t reality, they are temporary.
#26. You’ll lose yourself but you will be found.
#27. You’ll be inundated with stuff, purge as often as you can.
#28. Don’t forget they are only babies for a short time.
#29. Try to get at least one day to yourself. Tell your partner your life depends on it. If you can’t think of anything to do, go to the mall, get a coffee, pedicure, and some lunch. Try to meet a friend.
#30. Stock up on pain pills for the first few months, you’ll have neck and back pain like you’ve never know before. You’ll get stronger though, don’t worry.
#31. Don’t worry about the babies crying, babies cry, it’s in their nature. You can’t always stop them. If it starts to really bother you wear headphones and listen to music.
#32. Don’t focus too much on division of labor between you and your partner. You’ll do this at first and it takes up too much energy. Just accept it’s never going to be equal.
#33. Read as much advice about raising twins as you want but always follow your own heart.
I am so tired. Faces covered in yogurt, crumbs from cornbread pizza, goat cheese, and pears. Filthy High Chairs, floor dirty, yawn, yawn. Yesterday was a one nap day. We met our friends, Bettina, Willa, and Eliza at the Corte Madera Play area. I was already tired from the day before. Bettina and I try to have coffee and salad while the babies are loose. I feel bad, I am that distracted mom now. Jack goes one direction, Fiona goes another. I try to eat my salad, I walk around taking bites, screw it, throw it away. I’m not that hungry anyhow, the babies wouldn’t eat their cream of wheat with blueberries so I ate it for them earlier. There’s no gate on this play area. Jack keeps running out into the concrete, the janitors with their orange and yellow paraphernalia are most intriguing. I need eyes in the back of my head. I’m afraid someone’s gonna snatch one. Other kids and moms filter in and out, all older than Jack, Fiona, Willa, and Eliza. The older kids push Jack and Fiona in the face, Jack and Fiona push Willa and Eliza in the face. I wonder if the other moms think I’m letting my babies be too free. I can’t be by both of them at one time. I see other moms with much older children staying right near, monitoring their activities. The other half of the moms sit and look at their iPhone. Two one year olds just learning to walk, going in all directions, oh, and putting everything in their mouth is totally exhausting. Jack was eating something, I went over expecting it to be a leaf, and it was an old wet cracker. YUCK! This morning I turned on a cartoon. They were intrigued for 5 seconds. They are good babies, as they stand there and look at me shaking the super yard fence. I need to go now.