When the boys were five months old I remember sort of stumbling into morning rounds a couple minutes late and the Attending looking annoyed as he continued through the patient list. I mentally replayed my morning up to that moment at 8:35 AM.
I was up from midnight to 2 AM nursing both boys. Then I was up at 4 AM. For good. Nursing them. My ex left the house at 6 AM and there I was. Trying to get ready for work, making myself look human, while also getting two babies dressed, fed, and out the door. I remember it started raining just as I opened one of the back passenger doors in the daycare parking lot. I carried the two car seats with two five month olds, and stood in the rain as I buzzed the daycare door to let me in.
Those were some damn hard days and nights. But in some ways they were easier than the parenting I do now a days with two seven year olds.
These boys, man. On the way to basketball on Saturday. We had already had a morning. Because there was a lot of not listening that occurred so I was heightened in terms of my ability to tolerate any further nonsense from them. There I am. Driving on a main road and the seatbelt light flashes and I yell the offending child’s name. “Dude, seatbelt!” “But I dropped my Nintendo Switch!” “Well grab it and put your seatbelt on” … seconds go by. The car starts doing that obnoxious ‘You don’t have your seatbelt on’ beep and I’m like “What is taking so long?!” And then I hear some talking back in the form of under the breath muttering and he’s thinking he’s slick, and I’m just done.
I pulled over to the side of the road. It’s a narrow main road with not much of a shoulder. So I basically took up half the road. I stopped. Put my flashers on, and dared any drivers behind me to come mess with me. I turned around to face my children and waited in silence as he finally got his seatbelt on. I put my hand out for the stupid Switch and then tossed it on the seat next to me. Waited for the cars to pass and then pulled out to resume our journey.
He leans over to watch his brother on his brother’s Switch. I hear the critique start. Because brother without the Switch feels he knows how to play better than brother with the Switch. There is some bickering and then brother without the switch and the seatbelt offender says, “What the fuck?!” He did use it appropriately in context as he questioned his brother’s move which did lead to his brother’s death in the Switch game.
I pulled over again. Turned around and talked about appropriate language, and he was apologizing, and then we are on the road again. I’m not sure he was actually sorry, I think he just wanted me to start driving again.
We make it to basket-ball miraculously all in one piece. Basketball is a ten minute drive from my house. This was ten minutes of my life with twin seven year old boys.
Today I spent the morning trying to decipher the $8.25 charge on one of the boys accounts at school. The boys bring their lunches and eat breakfast at home. There should be a .75 cent charge for the ONE chocolate milk I was asked if he could purchase last week. I look closely and discover not one chocolate milk charge but 11. The boy had chocolate milk eleven of the last twelve school days.
When I talk to him in the afternoon he looks exhausted before we even start, and I ask what’s wrong and he says he had a hard day because a girl made fun of him, and called him a name “lots of times” and he asked her to stop and she wouldn’t. Then he’s crying. So we process another kid being mean, and then I still need to talk to him about lying about the chocolate milk. Which I do. He feels bad. He feels worse when he realizes he’s going to be paying the $8.25 for all the chocolate milks. He feels even worse when I tell him that on top of paying he is going to be doing firewood runs with me every morning this week.
I’m not trying to kick him when he’s down, but he still has to own the lying about the chocolate milk. There was no yelling. It was a calm discussion with hugs. But damn that was a rough fifteen minutes of my parenting day.
So that’s what I mean when I think back to when they were 5 months and my worst problem was carrying two babies, nursing two babies, and trying to stay awake for work…because now adays I have these two people. Two people who say things like What the fuck?! Two people who lie. Two people who hit each other and pick their noses. Two people who feel such big feelings and who look to me to contain them, hold them, and love them.
This Saturday at basket-ball, there was the whole countdown at the end of the game and the crowd joined in and my What the Fuck son got the ball and dribbled down toward his basket, and we were at the “THREE TWO…” and he threw that ball up there and nailed the shot right at ONE. The crowd went wild and his teammates, including his brother were grinning ear to ear and slapping his hand and back, and he shoved his hands in his pockets, turned and walked away from his basket like he was just going for a stroll, and he tilted his little head over toward me and made eye contact and I smiled and clapped and he did a little smile and kept walking.
It’s those moments that I live for. When my kid looks for me because he wants me to be watching. For all the parents missing those moments- you’re missing out. Because even in the worst and hardest moments of parenting, it’s those moments when you know they want you to be here, by a little side eye and a smile, and if you’re absent you’re missing it. And I wouldn’t miss the What the Fucks?! Just like I wouldn’t miss the heroic buzzer shot. I want to be there for it all.
And I want my kids to want me there. Because that’s one of those warm gooey feelings that lacks definition. As a parent you want your kids to want you around and those moments when you can see that they do…are few and precious and keep me going through those horrific ten minute car rides.