The 2017 Holiday Letter
mThe boys are asleep. It's the last hours of what will go down in this family history book as the year of the most change. The little boys going to sleep tonight couldn't be more different than the little babies going to sleep this time last year. The difference between fifteen months and 2 years and 3 months is so profound it is hard to grasp, making it hard to describe in writing. Because they couldn't be more themselves. That is the funny and beautiful part of it all - tonight, this moment, they are more themselves than they've ever been.
Kenton so staunchly stubbornly right - No Mommy. No Mommy! I said No Mommy! Madison narrating his feelings, his actions, his movements - I need to cry. I want to go potty. I need to go look at the Christmas lights. So sure they are of who they are and what they need and how to get it. It's beautiful to experience.
It's also difficult to parent. I'll be honest. I rocked parenting when they were babies. My overly-scheduled, overly- structured life took well to parenting infant twins, when it was all about getting them from one station to another, from one activity to another - we sleep, we poop, we change diapers, we eat, we bathe, repeat. Don't digress from the schedule and all is fine. Don't let them out of their stations and all is good. Mommy is the only one with language. Babies are good at communicating their needs non-verbally. All is right with the household.
Enter month twenty-two. The boys start speaking words. They start pointing fingers and shaking heads. They start being potty curious. All hell breaks loose. They start knowing where the food comes from, so that dinner time becomes a pointing at the refrigerator game, while yelling "moh" because they also have realized that the louder they are the more likely someone will answer them, even if it is to say, "Inside voice, please."
But before that was walking - Madison at thirteen months (November 2016). Kenton a few months later at the beginning of this year. This meant that getting from station to station became a life and death situation. It meant that my heart literally flipped over if I couldn't psychically contain them or feel them touching me in public places. It meant that I felt mom-shamed on many occasions when other well-meaning people, tried to help me wrangle my children. The Portland Rose Garden on Father's Day was case in point. I know the women meant well when she asked, "Can I help you?" but all I heard was, "that mother is out of control, and her children are going to grow up to be criminals," so I said, shortly, "No thank you. They need to learn." They need to learn, what exactly, I think now. I still do not know.
Then the talking started. Both start using words around March (17 months): Ghat. Bah Bye. Ruck. Ah Die. Ah roh. Ah rite. They haven't stopped talking since. All is right with their world. They now can communicate so many things, tell so many stories, share so much about what is crossing their mind at any given moment. It is perfect. It is trying my patience. I love them.
The boys flew three times this year. They were great on aah-plane when we flew with Cassie (our great former nanny, now member of our village) to Southern California, in June, to commemorate the five year anniversary of Daddy's passing. They flew again, in August, when we flew to Ohio, with Jon Betlinski (Uncle Jon), to visit Madison's god-parents and my godson and his brother. After that, all aah-planes up in sky go to Uh-High-Oh or Eye-dah-hoe which is where I flew for my third trip this year, without them, in October.
For many reasons, this year has reminded me to be present, in every moment, because every moment is gone in the blink of an eye. It's reminded me that I am a much happier person when I get seven hours of sleep. It's reminded me that creativity is the means by which we make sense of the chaos of life; without it we are lost to the randomness, without means to see the patterns or put the seemingly disconnected pieces together. It's reminded me that we are who we are when we are born and it is our parent's job to hold space so we may cultivate the skills, develop the tools, find ourselves, when we become aware enough to recognize who we are is separate from and, yet, always is in relation to our family, our tribe, our community, our country, our world.
So as this year draws to a close, we, the Howards, want to wish you a great and happy new year! We want to say thank you for standing witness to our family. We want to say, "Be here now," a quote from Cheryl Strayed, that resonated with me tonight and for a lot of nights this year. Be here now. Don't be anywhere else in your head or heart, because this moment you don't get back. No matter how much technology has given us by way of documenting our lives, nothing can replace, the real moment when your child runs across the room half-naked, narrating his feelings, I need to go potty. I need to go see the Christmas Lights. I'm tired. I need to go nigh nigh. Where the miss-el-tow go? while the other one yells from the bathroom, I went pooh-pooh. I went pooh-pooh. I went pooh-pooh, waiting for his potty-dance to commence thereby affirming he's done the right thing!
Be here now. And we'll be with you.
May the year we've just had pave the road for the year to come. May the new year bringing unexpected joys and everyday pleasures. Happy New Year!
2017 at a glance:
Tonight is the night I finally bit the bullet and finalized the blog name. In my mind the perfect name was "Tiny Tables for Little Humans" and then the boys went and became toddlers and the title was outdated before it had even begun. Then, just like all good things that happen suddenly, with little fanfare, and much surprise, I started thinking about Michael Chabon's Pultizer Prize winning, The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay, because my book club is reading his newest book Moonglow. And because I just saw Justice League and was geeking-out about comic book characters with our vice president of public policy, which started me thinking: what about The Amazing Adventures of Madison and Kenton? This would be a title still relevant in 2034 when they graduate from high school. Then the back and forth with domain names and thinking about catchy memorable phrases that make for perfect blog titles, made me realize the blog should be called, Mad Kent Adventures. Both a play on words and a truth that will follow these two little humans well into their twenties and beyond.
So A Mad Kent Adventure begins. A way to write the annual holiday epistle in little digestible snippets throughout the year. A way to document these amazing human beings and the beautiful, roller coaster ride I've chosen to be on, all by myself. A way to share the beauty of our village and tribe, who only make me think that this kind of choice is one that everyone should choose, parenting in this way - with a village, a tribe, a group of adults standing witness and guard over your children, right beside you; sometimes behind you, holding you up, sometimes beside you, sharing the chaos, sometimes in front of you, leading the way.
I guess that is the true definition of partnering. So while I am not partnered up in the traditional-married-with-children-sense, while I do not have a co-parent that lives in our house and shares ultimate responsibility, I still have partners in this creative, brilliant mess that is our household and family.
So the recap of 2017 (and 2016, I discovered upon re-reading) is here in these blog posts. Some I've stolen from my Facebook posts. Some I've borrowed from my Instagram. Most I've written and then re-written in an attempt to be witty or clever, rather than true. But then the year ended, and I realized it was either publish and commit to the work of it in 2018, or let it sit here in Weebly draft form with nothing to show for itself, even as the photos grow outdated and the words nostalgic even before they are uttered.
These are the holidays. And for no other reason than many of you are expecting a the holiday letter, this is the twelfth blog post, as it were, of the year. This is the twelfth month and it is seven days until Christmas, so it seemed appropriate for me to launch the blog , this night. In all it's messiness, and disarray. It lacks logical formatting. It lacks a truly cohesive theme. It lacks a seriousness about editing. However, these are the truest expressions of this Mad Kent Adventure that I can utter, on this night the 19th night of Christmas, counting down the days before the new year, and wondering what this Howard Household will get ourselves up to in the new year.
I'm Kimberly. Single mother by choice. Soon to be 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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