Oh my Coryna! Double blessing to her and her spouse. I have advice aplenty. First piece to give her, even though she has as spouse (I assume) make sure someone else is in the house with them for the next six weeks – that extra person’s job: feed and care for mama and papa – they will need it. Second is have a friend set up a meal train – it’s really easy for friends to deliver handmade food or have food delivered (thank you Prime Now, GrubHub and UberEats) for the new family. And finally, third and most important: don’t miss a minute of it. Be present. Breathe in. Breath out. It goes soooo fast. They will never know that’s it’s twice as hard as raising a singleton and it won’t matter because it’ll be so awesome all along the way, even when it’s very very hard. Plus have a twin pregnancy is so high risk that you just get used to going with the flow and hanging out in zen mode knowing you have not control – it’s great practice for when they are walking around outside your body.
I followed an India traditional post-partum ritual and lined up six amazing woman in my life and each had one week to stay in the guest room and do all the things Cassie talked about her parents doing - clean, coordinator and meal train, laundry - and because I had twins the also helped me diaper and swaddle one while I nursed the other. It was a real blessing. My sister who also has twins took the first week, my dear friend and her husband who are nurses took the second week which was great because I was still monitoring post-op blood pressure and my best friend was third week, my mom came back for week four then Portland "mom" then acupuncturist dead friend. The last week of six was awkward because by then I wanted to be alone with my babies. Anyway. If you can make it happen to have six weeks with help of any form you'll be great.
(email to Phoebe Ebright's friend who just gave birth to twin girls on January 25)
I will tell you this because I tried the three-day-boot-camp, removed diapers except for nap and night time and encouraged our daycare to play along. I even traveled a thousand miles with 26-month old toddlers, brand new to potty training and every thirty minutes, my youngest (by three minutes) would say, "I need to go potty." And for all of that, for all of that, I still get an email last week telling me that the boys will need to start wearing pull-ups at school. OMG! I shit you not. Pun intended. I am so angry I had to call my mother, who assured me that this was normal and that her other twin grandchildren wore pull-ups to daycare for months. It didn't make me feel any better.
So lessons for today:
Potty training is for those who don't mind sitting for hours on end, watching their child sit on the toilet, then get up, because they are ah-done to find shit on the floor where the child has squatted in front of the bookshelf, while trying to pull out "Elmo's Potty Book." You know the irony is not lost on me.
I am shamed. I am tired. I am reading other people's blogs on potty training. I'm trying to figure out what I can possibly be doing wrong that my sons, who decidedly wanted to go on this potty training journey, could so easily mutiny without a care.
"Let them lead," the very awesome pediatrician told me, so I did. And still they lead. And still we are here.
Last week, a women I've only met a few times, in passing, always in professional settings, stood witness to our family. It was beautiful to hear her story. It was reaffirming to have her experience mirror my own. She left me with an observation about creating and holding space for our children - be a parent they will always choose to come home to visit.
I say, Thank YOU to her! Truer words have not been spoken, in regards to building a foundation of love, admiration, respect and friendship with our children so they choose family even when they no longer need family. That is something I will hold in my heart and mind on these frustrating days with my willful little men. And, of course, this image of them, wearing boxer briefs, shoes with no socks and puffy winter coats, expectantly waiting to take out the garbage - concoast and motorcycling.
She was our witness this week. As a single parent, once herself, she knew one of the little gifts is being seen, even for just a moment. It is the witnessing that co-parenting brings that we single parents often miss. It is the witness. So I thank her for being a witness this week.
Today, I was reminded of three important things about toddlers:
Yet, knowing this and working every possible structure and ritual to make sure these three things are always true, in any given moment, they still have a mind of their own. They can, and will, suddenly declare a hunger strike against their favorite food; they can and will decide that no matter how tired they are, they would rather sing to themselves for two hours than take a nap. And the clincher, they can, and will, scream in your face when they are not getting an escalated response to their escalation, which they feel they richly deserve for all their theatrics.
I chose to have days like today. I chose to have a two year old, barely three feet tall, little person, scream in my face when he didn't like the answer he was getting about why the puter couldn't go in the bathtub with him. Arguably, it is probably the very same argument he will have with a future spouse, who wonders why he needs to take his smart phone into the bathroom with him and sit for hours on end, for what appears, from the other side of the door, to be for no good reason. I chose to come into the nursery, after the aforementioned karaoke nap, to find my oldest (by three minutes) excitedly showing his little brother that he had taken off his poop-diaper, somewhat successfully, given that very little poop was on him and a very lot of poop was on the sheets. I chose this. I chose to leave a man, with whom, admittedly, all was not always rosy, especially toward the end. I chose to leave that man, that romantic love, so that I could have the privilege of walking into this daily match of wills. All by myself.
However. And you were waiting for this, right? The neat little tie-it-up-with-a-bow-conclusion to this post: yes, there is great satisfaction in putting the last toy away at the end of a day like today. There is much love, so much I cannot explain, when I peek around the corner from the kitchen to see twin brothers, identical from the back, heads down over their puters taking a break from their own internal madness, driven by their constant playful inquiry to discover and rediscover every square inch of their world.
There are their tiny arms wrapping around my neck for the big hug and last time lull-bye mommy, a special version of the classic I've been singing to them since I brought them home from the hospital, to help them fall back asleep between feedings. There is the tiniest of nostalgia, now, in this song and their calling for it, that reminds me that ritual is a gem; that structure is something to push against; that love provides a place to rest when we've all become too tired from our clashing of wills. That home is always where we return.
I'm Kimberly. Single mother by choice. Now also wife. Holder of space. Maker of place. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mitch. These are my thoughts, reflections, ideas and random observations about raising twin sons.
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