Cutting Down the Christmas Tree and Twinning. 2018.

We survived without feeling like anyone hated us for being lesbians. So that’s a step up from last year. ¬†We contemplated going outside our town, even though there are five tree farms in our small little town. But I convinced my wife we could just try another tree farm. The guys working there were incredibly friendly and no one cared we were gay. Thank freaking God. Because we had enough to deal with.

My wife said we have two threenagers. I disagree. We have two three year old boys with my gene pool. It was bound to happen. They both are as stubborn as I am, Declan is as empathic as I am, and Jackson is as manipulative. Because yes, I know how to read people and I don’t use my powers for bad in terms of being manipulative, but at age three, who knows, I probably did. They are impatient as every three year old is, but it’s also worse because patience may not be part of my personality at all. Ever.

My Jackson knows how to melt me. Declan knows he just doesn’t milk it quite like his brother.

So there we are at the tree farm. Now I’m picturing finding the perfect tree, having the boys stand and watch in awe as we cut it down. Then enjoying hot cider in the barn afterward. Yeah I don’t know how I thought that vision would be reality. Sometimes I feel incredibly naive as a Mama of twins.

After a long and cold walk my wife and I found the tree. I called the boys over who were crawling on the ground, chasing each other around, and showing off for two little girls who were there with their parents. They come stumbling over, laughing, and I tell them proudly, “Here’s our tree!” They look at it. Declan proceeds to dive into it like he’s diving into home base, then he cracks himself up and stands up and starts trying to climb it. I’m yelling at Declan to stop climbing the tree as the branches start to bend under his weight and Jackson has completely lost interest and has his back turned and is staring at the girls.

We cut it down (by we I mean my wife) and I had to literally drag Jackson back with us as he decided to throw a tantrum. It was cold. We were all hungry. We had a big tree and a big saw that we had to carry back and herd two hangry boys.

What I’m constantly reminding myself with strong willed twin boys is nothing will be how I picture it and/or how I want it and I need to be okay with that.

At Thanksgiving they barely sat for five minutes at the table and the one group picture I’m literally holding Declan down to the chair. Getting the tree we are not going to have a family moment where we sing Oh Christmas Tree as we cut it down. It’s going to be a mess. It’s going to be running after them, herding them like cats, some one crying, some one hitting, some one climbing, and then just when I think I’m ready to toss them across the freaking tree farm Jackson will come up to me, pull me down to eye level, hold my face in both his hands and say, “Mama, I wanna donut.” Then kiss me and wait for me to say “Of course baby.”

So many people I talk to daily have ideas of how life and moments “should be” and what I’m finding is if I focus on the should’s, it makes me upset at the here and now, and I’m missing it. I’m missing the crazy. Because that’s what it is having twin boys. A whole lot of crazy intermingled with those moment of hands cradling my face asking for donuts.

It’s exhausting. I feel tired all the time since I’ve had them. And I’m sick of people saying innocent things like, “Oh you are getting your tree this weekend? That will be fun with the boys!” or “Christmas will be so fun this year!” or “The boys must have loved Thanksgiving.” I just smile and nod. But in my head I hear this evil maniacal laugh and I’m thinking ‘You want fun? You think it will be fun? Fuck you.’ Because it’s fun but it’s also work. It’s an incredible amount of energy. All the time. And sometimes all that work and energy only gets us a temper tantrum. Which literally makes me want to cry.

There are moments as a Mom when I want to just fall to my knees and say, “You win,” to them. I want to crawl under my covers and go to sleep for a week.

But we trudge onward. Because that’s apparently what parents do.

We get the tree. We put it up. (Well first we hose it down and my wife and I were snippy with each other after the exhausting tree farm experience, so I’m spraying it and it starts to slide down the house and I’m saying ‘grab it, grab it,’ and she’s yelling at me, ‘stop spraying the water!’ which I don’t. So it falls. Then we are yelling at each other as she’s picking it up, and I’m still trying to spray it, the boys are running around with their doughnuts, and then we are cracking up because we realize we are ridiculous)

We appreciate the absolute shit-show it is hanging up the ornaments. I laugh as I pick an ornament off the bottom of the tree, the branch bent to the floor, by not one but a chain of three ornaments one of them made and hung. I made little pizzas thinking they would love them. They of course did not touch them and wanted a year old candy cane they found in the ornament bin.

As I lamented the individual pizzas I came across an ornament that listed all of our names, and I called them over and I said “Look babies, look, it says Declan, Jackson, Mama, and Mommy, it’s all of us.” And they did actually look, and Jackson snatched it out of my hand, and walked around carrying it for the next hour and he and Declan would intermittently hold it up and say, “My famwee” “My famwee” (family). And it was that moment. That moment where I stopped caring that they didn’t stand nicely in front of our tree at the farm, that I had to drag them across the freaking farm screaming while holding a saw, and that they didn’t eat the pizza and I was just content. Content to have my famwee with all its imperfections.

 

Four Days with Twin Toddlers: Puke, Bees, Emergency Department, and Thunderstorms…

It’s literally only Wednesday.

Let’s start on Sunday.

“Boys we are going to a big store, and you can’t jump on the couches, we have to be good boys in the store.” They looked at me and nodded. Then came the furniture store. They ran around like maniacs. I finally rounded them up in front of me, “Guys, what’s going on?” My Declan, “Mama say no jump. We run.” Perfect. Played by my two year olds.

Followed by a trip to the diner where my Declan started acting sick. He nestled in on my chest, and started to look pale. I’m thinking shit. We have got to go. The week before his brother had acted the same way about a half hour before he puked. So I take him into the car. We sit and wait for my wife and his brother. He just lays on me like when he was a baby. It was actually a beautiful sweet moment. Followed by us trying to fly home, but not beating the puke. He threw up in my brand new car. Not a little bit. A LOT. We pulled over and stripped him down. It was in his hair, on my shirt, my legs, his legs, his shirt. My car. All over my car.

We made it home and survived Sunday. And tried to clean the car.

Monday: Declan was feeling much better. They are home with me on Mondays. I brought them to the town beach where we were going to meet my mom. I stopped and got them doughnuts. We pull up to the beach and I get them out and we go to the playground. There are a few yellow jackets flying around. Then my mom arrives and I give them each a half doughnut. We are swarmed. 4-5 yellow jackets dive bombing each individual. To the point we are all running, then I take the doughnuts, throw them toward the water. The boys are screaming, the seagulls go nuts, we get to the car. The boys are yelling, “Mama not nice!”

I’m not kidding. This is actual reality. The seagulls screaming. We were screaming. Then I finally get in the car, doors closed, and there’s a damn bee buzzing around. Boys start yelling, “Bee NOT NICE” and I’m opening the doors and windows trying to swat it outside. I can’t tell you how relieved I was to leave, car shut tight, faint vomit smell still lingering…bee free.

Tuesday: Thunderstorms after bedtime but right at that sweet spot when they weren’t sound asleep yet. Yeah. That was horrendous. Me sitting by the crib and them falling asleep but magically waking up every time I try and leave the room. SO much thunder.

Wednesday: This takes the cake. I get up, shower, dress. Get the boys up. They go in and pee pee on the potty…yes we are doing that now most of the time…but still wearing pull-ups. I walked with Declan to his room, changing his pull-up, I look up (less than 60 seconds have passed), there’s Jackson on the counter that he’s never been able to reach with the childproof cap in one hand, the bottle of Benadryl in the other, gulping it down.

I’m pretty sure I screamed. Then I was next to him grabbing the bottle, I almost flung it, but realized that was totally irrational and needed to take a picture of it. I took a pic, I think I was still yelling because both boys were crying, then I’m sticking my finger down his throat, he gags, refuses to puke. Of course now he’s really sobbing, then I’m screaming at my wife on the phone because she doesn’t remember the volume that was in the Benadryl bottle from, I don’t know, 8 months ago whenever we used it last.

This is when knowing too much as a former pediatric emergency department nurse sucks ass. I think I should call 911, then I think, they will take me to the nearest hospital which doesn’t have a pediatric specialty. Nearest pediatric hospital is 25 minutes away. And if I call 911 what do I do with Declan? I’m there alone with two kids. The ambulance won’t let us all ride with them.

I quickly made up my mind. Onset of liquid Benadryl will be about 35 minutes. I threw some diapers in a bag grabbed some cereal bars and threw the boys in the car and drove. Didn’t count on rush hour traffic. Took a solid 35 minutes. His lids were heavy by the time I pulled in.

Now I can tell you that drive, that 35 minutes was pure torture. I couldn’t cry, because they were already upset and I was trying to calm them down. I gave them their bars, and literally called myself the worst mom in the universe in my head a million different ways a million different times. I was picturing every kid who overdosed I ever took care of…yeah those weren’t pretty images. I kept asking my son if he was okay, he kept getting more and more cranky and tired looking.

We pulled up, my wife met us there, and I walked in to see the smiling face of a nurse I used to work with in the other children’s hospital. “Hi! It’s okay. It happens.” My eyes welled up, and I was so relieved. Relieved I made it there, relieved to see a friendly and familiar face, and that my baby was in the right place if he was going to have any type of reaction.

It was actually an easy Emergency Department visit. We watched a movie and they monitored his heart rate. He took a nap curled on my chest, and walked around like a drunken sailor when he woke up. It was kind of funny but also made me cry to see him walking drunk. Worst Mom ever award. I’m a freaking nurse. And my kid got into medication. I can’t even process that right now. I can say the healthcare providers we saw were great, and never made me feel like a bad Mom. They provided constant reassurance that these things happen, and twins, but seeing him so tired and out of it. That broke me a little.

We came home. He recovered. Acted fine by dinner time. And then Declan says, “No drink medicine,” I say, “Yes baby, that’s right, no drink medicine,” Declan says, “Unless it’s in a cup.” Facepalm.

I am dreading Thursday. But really what else could possibly go wrong…

Lost Boys

Before I became I mom I could watch Peter Pan and Newsies with no issue. I even found them enjoyable. But since I had the boys, I find that I can’t get past the lost boys. In Peter Pan there are these little dudes dressed in animal costumes and they all are yearning for a Mother. Newsies…children working so they don’t starve. Most are homeless and orphans.

Those movies literally break me a little bit inside. I can’t stop looking at my sons and touching them and hugging them and kissing their heads, telling them I love them. Then sometimes my eyes well up, and Declan looks at me like I’m nuts. Jackson likes to ignore anything going on around him. Then I have to walk away.

If you aren’t familiar with Newsies it’s about boys who sell newspapers who go on strike. There are great songs, and in one they chant “Strike, Strike, Strike,” so now my two year olds run around pumping their fists saying “Stike stike stiiiiiikkkke”. It’s funny because I grew up watching Newsies and was totally obsessed with it also. But it’s not funny because then I just picture my sons alone and starving and fighting to survive.

I know it still happens today because I see it in my work. I talk with kids who have been beaten and who maybe still will be going home to face being beaten. I talk with kids who make a choice between being homeless, going into the system, or going home to be abused. I talk to adults who have survived a childhood of abuse and/or homelessness and neglect. These are our neighbors and our friends who maintain a careful facade to avoid interaction with authorities. Then when I do call authorities they often either refuse to investigate or investigate and do nothing preaching family unity and maintenance.

Some people survive being lost and eventually find themselves and becomes these amazingly resilient individuals who do amazing things with their lives. Or even just ordinary things. These are people you see at Christmas parties or perhaps are your kid’s teacher or coach. We are all surrounded by survivors. I know because I have the privilege of hearing their stories. So often I find myself saying, “Look at how far you’ve come. You are epic.”

But there are those who are lost who remain lost, who perhaps get into drugs and live and die on the street.

The family of two lesbian mom’s and their adopted children who drove off a cliff. Their history is that of failures by the system to come to the rescue of their children. Could you not see the fear and anguish in that viral photo of their son clutching a police officer? So close to help, but so far.

For now, my sons will continue to watch Newsies but I’m taking a break from Peter Pan. The skunk costume gets me. I hug them every chance I get, and I pray they will never be lost.

Mornings with two 2 year old’s.

Every week day morning I am home with the boys. Just as every evening my wife is home with them. I like to complain that mornings are worse because we are on a time crunch to get out the door. But really any time with twin two year olds is a total shit show.

So just snippets from this morning. From the hours of 7 AM when they wake up through 9 AM when we walk out the door.

Me- holding 4 shirts- Jackson needs options. Declan is already dressed standing next to me. Jackson is about five feet away having a meltdown because I took off his pajama shirt and he doesn’t want to put on a new shirt. Me- “This one?” holding up each shirt individually, Jackson with tears, “No!” “No!” Declan- grabs a shirt “Jacky dis one, Jacky dis one,” Proceeds to run after Jackson with a shirt in his hand. Jackson cries and screams and runs away from Declan. I’m still holding up the other three shirts telling Declan to stop chasing Jackson. “Declan, baby, thank-you, Mama’s got this,” I might as well be talking to air, because they are still screaming running in circles with Declan holding up the damn shirt. Then they stop running and screaming both end up in my lap. Then Jackson is pulling at Declan’s shirt, and Declan babbles at him, and they somehow communicate to me that Jackson needs Declan’s shirt and Declan needs the shirt in his hand. I don’t know how honestly, because they don’t speak in sentences. It’s like some weird twin language that I understand sometimes. So I unbutton and take off Declan’s shirt. Put it on Jackson. Put the other shirt on Declan.

This is all after we have established that “Mommy work” (I’m Mama) “Mommy work.” Instead of “Hi Mama,” Every morning it’s “Good morning babies,” “Mommy work?” “Yes Mommy’s at work.” Then one of them might cry or we might be okay and move onto getting dressed.

At the table for breakfast- “Wa wa Mama” “You want water?” “yes.” “please?” “pwees”. I get their two little cups, fill them up, give them each a cup, the look at the cups (they are exactly the same), then they have this whole conversation between each other, sounds like “Jacky,” “Decy, wa wa,” “Jacky, wa wa, No, Mama, pwees.” Then they hand each other their cups to switch them. Then they sit back and sip them. Apparently I gave them the wrong cups. But like seriously. Exactly the same.

Still at the table- “Ca” “Ca” “Rara Rara No!” “Ca Ca”. “Damnit, Rajha get down, guys the black one is Maddy the white one is Raja, not Cat and Rajha.” They scream “Ca” at Maddy, and “Rara” at Rajha every time one of the cats jumps on the table where they aren’t supposed to be. Every morning. Damn cats.

While we eat breakfast I always turn on some music. I have a playlist mixed of my music and kids music. Finally a Mama song comes on. “Mama no, Moana, Moana,” “Yeah but guys this is Pink, Pink is like one of the best artists…” “Mama Moana, Moana, pwees.” Me muttering under my breath that I can’t even listen to one damn Pink song with my coffee as I fast forward to a Moana song.

Inevitably at some point…Jackson screams, “PEE PEE” “PEE PEE” “PEE PEE” and wherever he is has a total shit fit and runs into the family room and lays on the ground to change his diaper. Yes. He knows when he pees, he holds his pee, and no he won’t get on the damn toilet. We are trying. So he goes and lays down, and he waits for me to come change him. And I gotta be honest. Sometimes I forget. So I’m cleaning up the kitchen, packing their diaper bag, brushing my teeth (I literally have toothbrushes, toothpaste, and deodorant in the bathrooms upstairs and downstairs and the kitchen), then I realize I haven’t seen the blonde one for awhile…”Jack-man?” “Mama pee pee.” Fuck. Right. Then I’m like how long has he been laying there? And feeling like the worst mother ever run over to change him and I find him patiently laying on the floor playing with some toy or something with a full diaper.

Getting out the door.

Herding cats. Well herding the boys and yelling at the cats as they try and sneak out the door. Then the boys start yelling at the cats and we have the same discussion. The black cat is Maddy not Cat.

Yesterday I was putting Declan’s coat on, we had already done his shoes and socks, and Jackson who always runs away, actually got within grabbing distance of me. So I grabbed him, pinned him under my legs, finished zipping up Declan’s coat with a writhing screaming Jackson trying to escape. Then I had to lay on him to get his socks and shoes on, while I’m laying on him Declan’s bring Jackson’s coat over and laying it on Jackson’s face saying “Coooooat Jack-y, coooooooat Jack-y”. I get the shoes on. I grab the coat off the even more pissed Jackson, thank Declan, and then while wrestling Jackson into his coat the car alarm goes off. I look up and Declan’s holding my keys looking guilty, clearly having pushed the panic alarm. I pin Jackson down again, Declan comes and gives me the keys, and when I finally get the coat on the car alarm off and stand up, those two cups of coffee hit me, and I’m like if I pee I lose all momentum and we never get out the door, if I don’t pee….well it may come out anyway thank you twin pregnancy.

I rush them out the door, into the garage, one in each car seat. Each with their own car toys. God forbid it’s the wrong car toy. Each with a snack. And then I thank God for remote control car starters as I open the garage, start the car, lock it, run back inside and pee before we head out for the day.

So yeah. To all my co-workers. This is why I’m freaking beat before work even starts.

Yes I love them and thank God they are cute and they give me amazing hugs. And tonight Jackson banged heads with me accidentally, and he rubbed my head with his little hand and said “I sorry Mama, boo boo,” and he kissed my head. It’s those moments that make me forget just this morning I had him pinned between my legs to get his socks on…to bed now only to wake for another adventure…