Houston the Poop Has Landed…Watching my Twins Grow.

As any one who has potty trained knows pooping in the potty is the ultimate goal. The peeing seems to come easy. The pooping is a chore. Well today one of my sons pooped in the potty three times and it was amazing.

He was incredibly proud and though we will still be wiping his butt for many months to come, if we can move toward underwear and away from diapers that will be the start of a new era.

Twins are hard. At least mine are. These monumental occasions are exactly that. Monumental.

I was walking up our stairs recently and I realized we never put the baby gates back up after a furniture delivery a couple weeks earlier. Monumental. No more baby gates in our household. Soon no diapers.

I never truly understood the word bittersweet until I had kids. Every monumental step forward also means we are leaving behind a time and a place with them. They want to put on their own socks now and they are leaving behind toddlerhood looking more and more like little boys.

We are not having more kids for a variety of reasons including but not limited to my ob-gyn telling me I’d be risking my life if I got pregnant again. Not worth it. So while I am relieved to see them growing and learning and becoming I mourn that I did not have those precious baby moments with just one at a time. That while Declan was smiling happy and we could have had a day out together when he was just ten weeks, Jackson was screaming with colic all day.

I feel cheated at times. Logically I know that I am actually blessed but resentful that we were exhausted and didn’t get to enjoy our newborn days like a singleton can. I remember standing in line going on three days no sleep and my c–section scar was still sore, and there I was at BabiesRUs I don’t even remember why. I was surrounded in line by young moms with one baby strapped to their chests. It was literally three or four of them.

I remember wanting to cry because my boys were home, as I could not get them out of the house due to colic and there being two of them. I couldn’t lift the car seats alone still. I wanted to scream. I have twins. F*&$ you all with your one kid at a time life.

I love seeing them grow but I hate feeling like I’m just surviving for much of their infancy and toddler years instead of enjoying every precious moment.

But I don’t like feeling regretful and I don’t regret them. I just at times yearn for a singleton experience while knowing I’ll never know that.

Today I will relish in the small victory of poop in the potty. And the victory of making it to Quincy Market in downtown Boston with my cousins. We don’t dare go to a city unless we are 4:2 adult to children. We all survived and we all got to eat and walk around Quincy Market.

There will be more victories to come and with each step forward we say good-bye to their dependence on us. Parenting and therapy. It’s the only two jobs where we want our clients to leave us. How incredibly painful to let them go.

Declan put on his socks and shoes and zipped up his sweatshirt. I almost cried. I asked Jackson to put on his socks, and he staunchly shook his head and said, “Mama do.” Now, he can do it. Probably faster than Declan. But that little man is 1- resistant to change of any kind 2- incredibly empathic. I think he knew I was having trouble watching them grow up in that moment so he ordered me to still put his socks on.

I mean. It helped. I stopped tearing up and as he swung his feet around avoiding the socks I started muttering under my breath about when will he learn to put his own damn socks on. Parenting is a conundrum. All these feelings all the time. When I see parents who are struggling emotionally I always say, How could you expect to not lose your mind at some point in this journey?

I relish in the moment of bedtime when Jackson rubs my cheeks with his hands and sniffs my arms and gives me butterfly kisses and tells me all his secrets. Declan asks me to snuggle him and I always do. I hang onto these moments; knowing that soon we will leave these days behind…as we should.

Twin Mom Problems.

They are three now. I have two three year old boys. Generally when I say that I get two reactions.

Reaction one is from parents- they say either, “Holy shit” or “God bless” or something where they convey that they get it. They get the twin thing must be freaking crazy. And it is. Reaction two is from people/kids/young adults who don’t have kids- “Aww I want twins!” and those are the people I want to smack. I don’t though.

So tonight we were baking Valentine’s day cookies for their friends. The boys were actually really sweet and into it, and we then had to do Valentine’s for friends (daycare friends). So I start signing them jointly…and then stop and realize the boys might want to do their own and that the other kids are going to get them individual ones and I should probably do them from each boy individually.

Five valentine’s from Jackson and five from Declan. Declan wanted to decorate his and write on his, and Jackson showed zero interest in his and only applied glittery heart stickers because I handed them to him/shoved them into his hands…and made him apply them to the valentine’s.

These are twin mom probs.

We are potty training, and in the mornings they know that that we won’t turn on the television for any cartoons until they both pee pee in the potty. Now riddle me this…one pee pees and the other one has a hissy fit and refuses. The kid that pees is expecting and is deserving of his Pete the Cat cartoon. The kid that did not pee needs to have the limit set. So what to do?! Twin Mom Probs. For real.

My solution to the pee problem….the boys are old enough now that they can understand and talk to each other. So whoever the pee-er is usually asks me to turn on the cartoon and I say, “Well your brother hasn’t peed.” It plants the seed. Then the pee-er goes to his brother and says, “Go pee!! I wanna watch!!” far more effectively than I ever could say it.

They then follow each other around discussing the pee and tv watching situation and eventually the non-pee-er goes and pees.

There are no rulebooks for these moments, no twin guide, and do I ever feel guilty about putting one boy on task to get his brother to pee?! Maybe a little. But seriously. Offer me a better solution!

We got them two balloons this past weekend. There were many adventures with the balloons. First they both got stuck up high in our cathedral ceiling foyer and I could only reach one with a long pole. They apparently knew that it was Jackson’s that I reached and Declan could see I couldn’t reach his, and looked at me, eyes welled up, and started crying. It was very sad.

We eventually got the second one. Day two- one popped. As predicted. Now Jackson takes the one that’s left and runs around the house laughing maniacally as Declan chases him screaming, “My ba-lloon” (he says the ba part like the word bad).

There are so many twin moments where I’m like what the F is this reality right now? And it is. It always is. My reality.

I come across a lot of twins in my work and in my personal life. It’s like once we found out we were having twins there is a beacon and all twin families eventually find me somehow. Twins tend to have this quiet confidence about them when they are together, and it always seems that you don’t really know one twin fully until you see them with their twin sibling because they become some one else when they are together.

For my son’s at age three we rarely have them separated and when they are separated they constantly ask about the other one which makes it not so enjoyable for us to have them apart. It’s funny to think about what would Jackson be like without Declan and vice versa. It’s weird. Because it’s like they complete each other.

And even when I’m cursing their twin-ness and my complete lack of ability to know how to parent them at times…I know I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because they wouldn’t be who they are without the other one and that’s kinda cool.

Most Memorable Moment in the Emergency Department Part 4/5…

The blood and the guts don’t actually matter in this story. There were four moments that mattered that night.

1: We were in radiology with the patient in the CT scan machine. Massive head trauma. Adolescent. I was in the CT room as the heart rate was unstable. I already pushed epinephrine once. We were waiting to pounce on the patient to start CPR. The Mom stood just outside in the hallway with the patient’s teenage siblings. Dad hadn’t made it yet. He would. I knew the neurosurgeon was on the phone with the emergency department fellow. I was watching her. Everyone who knew what was going on was watching her. It was one of those moments. Those Grey’s Anatomy moments where there should have been a camera. She was standing up tall on the wall phone. Perfect posture and fit. She turned to face the wall. Away from the nurse’s and the respiratory therapists’ knowing eyes. We couldn’t hear a thing. But we saw her lean her forehead against the wall, lift up her left arm bunch it in a fist and pound the wall.

We collectively exhaled and some of us had tears welling in our eyes. None of us needed to be told. She came into the CT room from the reading area and had quickly regained her composure. “Let’s get him to the PICU.”

2: We dropped him in the PICU thankful he was still alive. Thankful we didn’t have to be the ones to call it. But the nurse who was there for the end. She was one of ours. Some one who floated between units. She came down to see us all later. She told us that as she was trying to mop up the fluids coming out of his nose and both and ears so that the Mom and Dad could see him as their child and not a trauma…she felt a hand on her shoulder. The mom’s voice cut through the room, “You don’t have to do that,” she said quietly, “I’ll never forget how beautiful my baby was.” 

3: Two siblings who worked in the emergency department sobbing in the medication room. It was the only space where you could sort of have maybe some privacy. They had watched our patient’s sibling watch our patient dying. It was heavy. Makes shit real when the family gets there. Every time. Until the family gets there it’s just an anonymous person. The family gives them a name, an identity, a history, and what should have been a future.

4: The friends. There were about five friends who showed up just after he died. They didn’t know yet. They were so young, so hopeful. After several checks with the PICU staff and family we walked them up to the room where the family was. I still remember the looks on each of their faces as they realized they were going into a conference room and not a patient room. I had to leave because I just couldn’t take in any more pain that night.

This was a particularly horrible trauma. For a lot of reasons. The family was so composed and so gracious and they made me want to do better for their child. But I couldn’t. None of us could. The injury was too massive.

Yesterday we lost power due to an ice storm. I had a fire going in the fireplace and the boys napped on the floor in front of it in their sleeping bags while I dozed on the couch above them. They both fell asleep and with the crackling fire and the even sounds of their breathing I felt content. I felt like this was a moment I wish I could freeze.

Working in a pediatric ED changes people. Because we don’t live in a bubble. We live having faced a harsh and stark reality. It can either make us go a little crazy or it can make us focused on the present with an uncanny ability to filter out what the future may bring. Or perhaps both.

It changed me for sure. It made me realize I could never work there after having my own children. It made me appreciate every moment I have with my sons. It made my eyes well up with the sheer joy of hearing their breaths in and out in front of a crackling fire while the world ground to a halt outside in the ice and snow.

Conversations With A Three Year Old. About Fathers. When He Has Two Moms.

I’ve been watching “Tidying Up” on Netflix. I like her style. I took her method to my son’s closet and dresser. I took all the clothes out. Packed up two massive garbage bags for goodwill and one plastic container for Summer stuff that will still fit them. Then refolded all their shirts, Tidy style, and I was feeling very proud of myself putting all the shirts neatly folded into their dresser. Declan was in the room with me, chatting with me and playing intermittently.

He took a toy and pretended it was a phone, he was whispering, “Hi, is Mama there?” he wasn’t looking at me. I was chuckling to myself still putting clothes away, “Okay, bye,”. The one sided dialogue was cute, and I turned to look at him when it was over, “Who were you calling baby?” I asked. Thinking I already knew the answer. Me. Mama.

His answer floored me.

“My Father,” (But it sounded like My Fawder because he’s three and talks funny).

Me (trying to act very casual and not freak out): “Who?”

Declan: “My Fawder,” he smiled.

Me: “Oh, uh, who’s your Father baby?”

Declan (takes a moment to ponder this question): “Uhhh, Mommy!”

Mommy is my wife. Who was not home at the moment. Declan was all smiles, glad he figured out who his Father is and resumed playing.

I sorta sat there for a minute with my perfectly folded shirts and wondered how or if I should pursue this line of thinking. Then I thought. Fuck it. At least he knows I’m not his Father. I mean sheesh. I’m Mama. My wife has short hair and no boobs hence I’m sure the confusion. Three year old’s don’t get gender and he probably just thinks she’s the male-ish figure.

I know other lesbian couples where the kids call one partner (generally a more butch-y partner) Daddy and they just let it ride. So that’s what I do.

I told my wife when she got home. She thought it was hilarious. She asked Dec who his Father was, and he smiled shyly and said, “Mommy,” and she smiled and gave him a hug.

Declan is wicked smart. I’m not just saying that because I’m his Mom. I’m brutally honest. Trust me I would say if my kid wasn’t smart. His brother, Jackson, also wicked smart, but lazy. He can do as much and say as much as Declan he just chooses not to unless or until it benefits him. Potty training. Didn’t do it for M&M’s or chocolate chips. Wasn’t the right motivator.

He did it when we started not allowing him to watch any movies until he went on the potty.

Jackson is a cuddle bug. That boy will cuddle with me at any time of day or night that I sit down. He’s attached to me. Declan will snuggle occasionally. And it’s not because he doesn’t like to snuggle. It’s because he’s so damn busy. He’s always taking toys apart and putting them back together. The other day I went into the other room and he had half of a jumbo 24 piece puzzle together. It was hard. It was the jungle. It all looks the same. The kid did it by himself. I’ve never even shown him how to do a puzzle and he wasn’t looking at the picture on the box to guide him.

But I digress.

My point is that he figured out kids have Moms and Dads. Mothers and Fathers. Then he tried to fit his family into that social construct. Mama is a girl obviously. I have long hair and I breastfed him for a year. I wear necklaces and he’s always touching my hair telling me he loves it.

But Mommy, that’s debatable in his eyes. Short hair. Dresses like she works at a paint store (because she does) and wears work boots and no jewelry.

So there you go. She fit the Father mold a little better than Mama (which is fine but for real I’m the one that uses the power tools). Then he assimilated that into a fact in his head and bingo bango a Father is born.

My wife doesn’t care. In fact we’ve talked about utilizing Father’s Day as her day and Mother’s Day as my day so we have separate days to celebrate one another. My kids sure don’t care. But there’s something niggling at me (yes that’s a word).

Why are society’s constructs so rigid that a three year old gets them better than he does his own family composition?

Sometimes people get mad when I reference heterosexual privilege. But I’m going to do it. Because hetero’s have privilege. EVERY movie in existence that is mainstream and three year old appropriate has hetero families and love interests. The boys love Disney movies. Guess what. All male/female. Everywhere. And when, God forbid Disney had Lafou dance with a man, there was moral outrage from every homophobic twat in existence. It was a dance. Not even a long dance. I wouldn’t even have recognized it as a gay moment if I hadn’t been looking for it.

Our society makes a two mom family seem less than, unequal by not giving my sons the same opportunities to see two mom families as hetero families in everything from the media to books to magazines to movies to filling out forms for freaking vaccinations. It’s always Mother/Father. What about Parent/Parent?

My three year old shouldn’t think he’s supposed to have a Father. But he does.

He’s just also smart enough to realize he has two parents who love him, and one of them obviously would fill the Father role better than the other one. Touche Dec-man.

(The picture is Dec reading to all of his doggies. I heard chairs scraping and came into the foyer to find the dogs lined up and him reading. He is defying gender stereotypes by reading from the Disney Princess Encyclopedia)

When My Family is Described as a “Sh&tShow” by a Stranger. Mom-Shame and Restaurants.

It all began at a restaurant. As my sister pointed out, “It’s a FAMILY restaurant.” It’s actually the restaurant I bussed tables at when I was sixteen in my hometown. I have to be honest, I would never have imagined myself almost twenty years later in that restaurant for dinner with my three year old twin boys, my wife, my sister, her wife, my five year old niece, my cousin from New Jersey and two of her kids, and my Mom.

It was a weird feeling to look around at the tables I used to clean and remember waiting to get off my shift to go to my boyfriend’s house on a Friday night.

So I was feeling slightly nostalgic, but also annoyed because three year old’s in a restaurant is never a good thing. It was definitely time to go when we left. My wife was wrangling one of them, he was singing “Jingle Bell Rock” very loudly and running away from my wife.

The other one was attached to my leg and my niece was singing “Let it go, let it go” from Frozen, and my mom was trying to say good-bye to my Jersey cousin. My mom is hard of hearing so everyone was talking loudly anyway.

So yes. To the older woman trying to walk through our party as we were trying to exit…we are a walking shitshow. But did you really need to say that loudly in front of our children at a family restaurant?

“What a shitshow!” you said with a sneer of disgust as you tried to run me over with your cane.

The great part about this is that I don’t think she was homophobic. I think she was just grumpy and annoyed that we were blocking the little hallway to the dining room. We made room. She got by. But yeah. Total shitshow. It was kind of a win-lose. Not homophobic, just mean.

We don’t bring our kids out much. Because three year olds just don’t do well in restaurants. Once every few months we might bring them to a diner for pancakes or to this restaurant in my hometown because it is family-friendly and the owner is always lovely to us because he’s known us for years and at one time was my boss.

My point to this is that there are a lot of opinions about kids in restaurants. Here’s mine.

We bring them well before bedtime- usually between 5-6 p.m. My wife and I only bring them to a restaurant for dinner when it’s a family function. Meaning we also feel it’s torture and choose to never bring them unless we have extended family who want to meet us out for a meal.

Diners are different- food comes fast, it’s loud, it’s expected they will be loud, and there are always crayons. So we are more likely to go for breakfast or brunch.

However, if you are at a family restaurant between the hours of 9 AM and 7 PM expect loud children to potentially be there.

If it says “Family restaurant” on the sign or menu…then it’s a family restaurant which generally means kids are welcome.

If you don’t like kids or the noise and chaos that ensue with them…go later at night or choose a non-family restaurant- one that caters more to adults. I know my wife and I do just that when we get one of our rare nights out alone.

We as parents do our best to keep our kids contained. If they are bothersome to you because they are in your space, then I agree we have a problem. If they are bothersome to you because you’re grumpy- that’s a you problem not a them problem.

Please don’t swear at anyone’s children. It’s extremely disrespectful and mean-spirited.

There is a lot of mom-shame that happens everywhere. Eating out is a big one. If you see a mom or dad struggling with their little one in a restaurant. Don’t make it worse with assumptions and judgement. Maybe offer to lend a hand or just a smile that says, “I’m with you.” Encouragement and kindness are what is needed for parents in those moments.

Trust me we are already judging the shit out of our own shit-show. We don’t need to have it pointed out to us.

The Day After Sandy Hook and Growing up Without a Santa Claus

In case any of my readers forgot December 14, 2018 marked the anniversary of Sandy Hook. The deaths of 28 individuals including twenty children under the age of eight. I remember that day clearly. Every one who lives in Connecticut does. Because it finally hit our home. The violence we heard about in Aurora and Columbine and Little Rock came to our home. To our babies. To our neighbors.

The saddest memory I have is talking to emergency department staff at local hospitals and them being alerted that there was a mass shooting, and they waited for victims. But there weren’t any. They all died on scene. I have since in varying capacities encountered individuals affected that day. While the rest of the country may have moved on, may have put that memory away, it’s still living and breathing here in Connecticut.

There are still siblings of those who died, parents, there are still teachers, first responders who have never recovered from the gruesome scene, and students who hid in closets, sheltered by teachers, hearing gunshots and the screams of their classmates dying. Yes that’s a thing. There was a classroom on either side of the one that was targeted. Full of children who heard their classmates die.

I couldn’t write this yesterday. I could barely acknowledge the day. Because my sons are three. And nothing has changed. Connecticut says we have passed “tough gun laws”. Well speaking from the mental health side of things, they are not tough gun laws because they keep guns out of the hands of people who sign in voluntarily for a psychiatric admission. NOT the people who are committed against their will. And if a child or young adult is admitted voluntarily and they don’t have guns registered to them (Ah hem Lanza’s were all registered to his Mom) and the patient and the family do not disclose there are guns, then guess what, the guns stay in the freaking home.

The laws that came out of Sandy Hook in Connecticut actually would not have prevented Sandy Hook at all. And that’s fact. All they did was create barriers to inpatient psychiatric treatment for law enforcement who will never sign in voluntarily as they will lose their gun and their livelihood.

I pointed this out to a state senator at a town hall when he made the statement, “The gun laws in Connecticut are very effective.”

I stood up, and said, “Effective for what? Because they won’t prevent a mass shooting if perpetrated in the way Sandy Hook was, and they create barriers to care for law enforcement officers who have higher rates of depression, suicide, substance abuse, and domestic violence.”

He looked at me dumbfounded. And I just shook my head and said sadly, “That’s what I thought.”

Until the very states that have been victims to mass shootings (Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Connecticut, Alaska, Arkansas, Texas, California, Pennsylvania…yeah it’s a long list and this is not all of them) stand together and create actual legislation to decrease accessibility of guns and ammunition and until mental health laws make sense and create a preventative culture not a reactive culture, then sadly, there will be more mass shootings. More of our babies will die. Because we are too corrupt and too stubborn to stand for the dead.

My wife grew up in a right wing orthodox religious household where they did celebrate Christmas but not with Santa. Very religious focused. Not something I like, but one of their parenting decisions I don’t actually disagree with. Do Christmas any way you want. I respect others religious and lifestyle decisions unless it brings harm to some one else.

The only harm not having Santa Claus around for my wife was that I have to teach her how to do the Santa thing with our sons. We don’t fill up the stockings until after bedtime…yes I had to say that. We don’t buy Santa’s wrapping paper with the boys there, because now they have seen it and chatted about it, and can put together that it came from our house not Santa’s workshop. Little things.

I feel strongly about creating the magic of Santa for our kids. Because December 14, 2012 20 children were killed. I’ve looked into buying backpacks that are bulletproof. My sons will not believe in magic for very long. The cold realities of our world enter our children’s lives younger and younger. So to watch them believe in magic and to foster that for even a short time. It feels important to me.

Every one says things happen for a reason. Children dying never happens for a reason. It never creates anything positive, it leaves deep scars. And their lives have created no change in terms of legislation at this point which I personally find disgusting as I made clear to my state representative.

There is so much ugliness, that helping them believe in a jolly man who fosters kindness and love and miracles. I’m down with that. Because I want them to know only kindness and love and miracles, but I face the cold reality of our time and know they will know so much more.

Every generation says things changed too much and makes excuses for why they didn’t do better. The baby boomers say technology evolved so quickly, when in reality it did, and guns evolved quickly and the members of all of our legislative bodies are complicit in watching them evolve and doing nothing to halt their accessibility. And we as people are complicit for accepting this as our norm.

The day I stood up in that town hall with a Republican state senator, and about forty democrat constituents. When he made his statement that our gun legislation was top notch, they all just nodded their heads. No one actually knew how inadequate it is. Because unless you work in mental health you don’t know unless you make it your business to know.

Every citizen of America is responsible for all the gun deaths that occur every day. I hold you and myself accountable. And I hope that our children will too. That the survivors of Sandy Hook and Parkland and Virginia Tech will shape laws to protect our children. Because our current generation of lawmakers are not doing it.

Fuck your thoughts and prayers. The blood of our children requires more.

 

 

 

The Moment Your 3 Year Old Figures Out Mommy’s Family is Missing.

That moment happened. The one we’ve been dreading since I got pregnant. My sons and my wife were watching The Good Dinosaur. A horrible trippy Disney movie that for some reason made it past Disney editors. My sons are obsessed with it.

There’s a part when Arlo, the dinosaur, is explaining to a human critter what and who his family is. My sons learned awhile ago that their family is Mommy, Mama, Declan, and Jackson (and Rajah and Maddy the cats but they fight over who can have Maddy because she’s more friendly to them).

They are watching that scene, and they are holding pictures of my Aunt and Uncle and cousins, and my parents- Poppy and Ba (Gramma), because they tend to walk around with those pictures and chatter about their family.

Declan looks at his pictures, then he looks at my wife and says, “My famwe Mama, Mommy, Chackson, and Decky, Rara, and Maddy.” My wife says, “Yes, good job.” He wasn’t done though. He looked perplexed and held up his pictures and said, “Who your famwe?” That little three year old brain had put it together. All of these extended relatives were Mamas famwe. So where the heck are Mommy’s people?

My wife responded perfectly and said, “You’re my family. You and Jackson, and Mama.” Declan is too smart for his age. He looked at her, and at the pictures, like he knew that couldn’t be right. So he asked again. And again. And again. Because he’s three and he’s my son. I’ve been told I’m like a dog going after a bone. I won’t stop until I get my answer. Apple doesn’t fall far apparently.

So eventually my wife said, “Well I don’t really talk to my family baby.” He responded, “No talk to your famwe?” and she nodded. Then he became engrossed in the movie and seemed to accept this as an answer.

My wife told me as soon as I got home that night. We were both a little surprised and caught off guard. He’s too young for us to explain this. He’s too…innocent. We don’t want him to know that her family cut her off, left her homeless, has never met them because she’s a lesbian. But he’s also too damn smart and nosey. He’s going to know sooner than we would have liked.

His brother likes to live in happy oblivion. HIs brother accepts reality as it is and doesn’t question it. But he will know too, because if Declan’s talking about it Jackson’s going to be listening.

So here we are. Three years and two weeks into their little lives. That’s how long they lasted without knowing or asking.

It feels weird. Kind of a relief. Kind of terrifying. Sad. The way they will be introduced to discrimination is through the grandparents they will never meet. Not how we would have liked it or planned it. But that’s our reality.

It all feels so stupid. Such an easy fix. Yet so impossible at the same time.

There’s no guidebook for this whole parenting thing. There’s also no guidebook for the whole lesbian mom disowned by her parents thing. It’s a lot of stumbling through. Waiting for the questions to be asked and wishing we had different answers when they are.

When My Dad Threw Bunkles at My Head.

When I was maybe six or seven we went and stayed at a hotel in Sturbridge Village. It ended up being an absolutely horrific trip for a multitude of reasons. But my most vivid memory from that trip was Saturday night. Looking back I realize it had been a disaster of a day.

But at the time I was in my happy little kid land that everything was fine because my parents did a pretty good job at covering up how bad my Mom’s tooth situation was and how stressed my Dad was because she had spent the day in the emergency department dealing with severe tooth pain and he had spent the day with us. Also, the hotel was hosting a dog show. They had neglected to tell us this ahead of time. So it smelled like dog. Everywhere. So we are all in the room, it’s probably around 9:00 pm and we are about to go to sleep and I can’t find my bunny. His name was Bunkles. 

I looked and looked, and could not find him. I told my parents. Neither of whom wanted to deal with this problem. They also didn’t believe he actually wasn’t in the room. But I cried. So they looked. Couldn’t find him. My dad wanted to wait until morning and go and ask the hotel staff. I cried more. My mom mumbled something through a swollen mouth and my Dad eventually stormed out of the room. 

To this day I don’t know what happened. But he came back into the room about an hour later and chucked Bunkles at my head. Apparently the bunny got tangled in the sheets and was taken by housekeeping with the sheets. The hotel staff had tracked it down; I’m sure with my Dad being super irritable with them in the process. 

I remember being highly insulted at my Dad for throwing Bunkles at my head. I wisely kept quiet though and just turned my light off and went to sleep. It’s a night that’s always stuck with me. Because I remember feeling it was unfair that my Dad was angry at me for something out of my control. I didn’t know they actually took the sheets off the bed at the hotel every day. I mean I actually didn’t know that. We didn’t go to hotels much, and we certainly didn’t have our sheets changed at home daily. My Dad was pissed because he was tired and wanted to go to bed not track down a damn stuffed animal in hotel laundry. 

Now that I’m a parent with two three year olds though, I get it. Because I’ve wanted to chuck stuff at their heads a lot. 

And looking back through adult eyes- the dogs, the tooth, being out of state, dealing with two kids all day, just wanting to go to bed, and having to go track down a white bunny that got lost in a sea of white sheets. Yeah I’d be pissed too. 

Kids have this innate ability to drive us to the edge. Since the time change my sons have been absolutely horrific at night for bedtime. To the degree that we actually had to stop reading books at night because reading nighttime books was adding to the nightly horror. So now I feel like a horrible mom because we don’t read to them at night anymore. 

I also feel horrible because I feel like we should be able to contain them at night. We should be able to wind them down and calmly get them into bed with hugs and kisses and smiles and I love you’s. Instead it’s more like crying, screaming, craziness. Sometimes I’ve been to the point of tears, and they are always to the point of tears. In the midst of this we are trying to potty train them. So occasionally while they are screaming and we are holding them down into their beds they suddenly have to pee pee on the potty and we all get a timeout. But it just delays the inevitable. 

I’m pretty sure I have actually thrown stuff at nighttime in the last few weeks. Because it’s been so freaking miserable. But usually I leave the room, walk to my room, and throw something and yell and punch a pillow. Then my wife goes in. 

Something I always thought was rude was people telling me “Three will be worse than two.” Because two wasn’t so bad for us. It was hard, like every age with twins is, but not horrible. But if the first few weeks of three and bedtime are any indication, I mean those people were not wrong. But did they really need to say that? I will never say it to another parent.

Because to just make that blanket statement is horrible. We are in survival mode and to think it could get worse? That blows.

To the all the three year old mom’s out there. You got this. And if you have to throw something, throw a stuffed animal. They are soft and they bounce. And throw it out the door, not at the kid. Because they will remember if you throw it at their head. And likely write a blog about it in about twenty-five years. 

It’s taken me awhile to write this because it’s not fun. It’s not fun talking about the painful routine that has become life for us in the past few weeks. My wife and I are exhausted and we literally dread nighttime. It’s been bad. A bad few weeks. But for tonight, they went down with minimal fuss, probably because they didn’t nap, so yeah that was awesome. And I’m signing off and going to bed because like I said, we are beat. 

 

Mom Shame and Twin Talk

A few months ago the owner of our daycare approached us and mentioned she felt the boys are behind in language compared with the other two year old’s in their class.

Couple preface statements- We LOVE the daycare. We adore the owner. It’s a wonderful daycare where my two white boys are the minority among kids and teachers which is just amazing. The owner has been in this business for many years and knows her stuff.

Regardless of our warm and fuzzies toward the daycare and the owner it’s like this vicious claw in your gut when some one tells you something’s wrong with your kids. My wife was all type of offended and then she came home and told me and I was instantly on the defense and we both agreed that there is nothing wrong with our kids. That they are perfectly wonderful toddlers.

But it set something in my head. I couldn’t get it out. Still can’t. And to tell the truth, I knew she was right. Why when I’m in healthcare, worked in pediatrics, and am fully aware of child development was I burying my head in the sand?

It’s befuddled me for a few months. But I think I can put a name to it. I felt shame as a parent that something could be wrong or delayed with my kids. I felt like I’m not a good enough Mom because they haven’t developed language at pace with their peers.

There is so much shame put on parents for so much that is out of our control.

Then when we need shaming for not setting limits and not fixing things within our control people are too scared to confront it. I mean I’m not. Obviously. I confront it within myself and within my clients. I said to a client just today, “Look, I’m honest. I disagree with you. I have clinical expertise in this area. We are not going to agree. And that’s okay. But I’m not going to sugarcoat your diagnosis or your prognosis because that would be doing you a major disservice.”

Then I was thinking, yeah, so the daycare owner wasn’t sugarcoating and she wasn’t doing it to shame us as parents. She was doing it as a service for our kids so we can get support if needed to help them develop language.

So here’s the thing about twin boys. Boys develop language slower in general. Then add in they were a month early. Add in the twin thing. And I’m not surprised they are behind. I can tell you they understand EVERYTHING. It’s scary. Jackson is completely Amotivated to speak English because Declan understands everything he mumbles off. So if I don’t get what Jackson is saying, Declan translates. Declan is more developed than Jackson in language because he’s more alpha, and literally they talk to each other and understand everything each other says. Then really they only need to communicate with us and their daycare teacher and we’ve all adapted to their twin language.

The twin talk is totally bizarre. It’s not something I can even describe and I didn’t realize how weird it is until I started to really take notice and listen to them and watch them. They have their own language. It is not English. They have full dialogues about God knows what. Then Declan translates to us for Jackson when needed.

So we’ve started engaging Jackson more, not letting Declan translate. I’ve started making him parrot me whenever I say something to him. It’s helping slowly.

They turn 3 next Monday. I can tell you that it’s been a wild freaking ride. That the whole parenting situation pushes and pulls at me in ways I never quite imagine or expect. I still remember looking at these two little bundles on the futon between my legs when they were four days old thinking, “Holy crap there are two of them,” never comprehending then how life would be today.

I’ve learned about Mom-shaming in the worst ways. I’ve learned about the defensiveness we feel as parents and the ugly side to it as well as the beautiful intense love that only a mom can feel for her son.

When a kid in their class recently asked why there were talking “baby-talk” I had to restrain myself from slapping him. I didn’t respond. But I wanted to say it’s not baby-talk it’s twin talk. And they are speaking it because they’ve been together since conception and they want to talk to each other and I’m going to let them.

It’s this hard balance we have to strike of being parents who allow our kids to develop in their own time at their own pace while also not wanting them to fall too far behind their peers. At the end of the day I decided I wasn’t going to worry about it until they turn three. Which is Monday. Then I decided I’m not going to worry about it until we see their pediatrician in a few weeks.

Then I was thinking how parents come in to see me very defensive sometimes and I think I get it now. It’s hard to hear that there is something wrong with your kid. To be told your child is depressed or anxious or suicidal can make a parent feel shame and fear and defensive.

But if our society was more friendly, more supportive, and more engaging with one another I don’t know that it would feel like an attack. Or perhaps we are trained to take it as an attack on us. I don’t know.

I do know that Jackson figured out where we hid the Halloween candy, I told him it was time to go, he disappeared and came back with both bags and said, “Time to go Mama.” And I thought, that kid just somehow managed to monkey his way to the very back of our counter where he can’t reach from the floor, get the bags with the candy that I hid, and try and bring them to daycare. I’m thinking his brain is working just fine and his language will catch up.

 

Humiliating Mom Moment #1001…

The boys have started figuring out who are boys and who are girls. About 50% of the time they get it right. They’ve essentially got it that Mama and Mommy and girls, and that they are boys.

So we are at the playground today. Just the three of us, my two little white toddlers and I. It’s attached to a soccer field. A car pulls up and an African American gentleman gets out and starts to do laps around the soccer field. He has headphones in, and we waved at each other when he got there, as we are in a small town, and it seemed polite to do.

My boys started playing on the bleachers, and as he rounded the field again they started waving and saying “Hi Boy!” “Hi Boy!” They were thrilled that they recognized that he was a boy.

Major freaking facepalm and my jaw literally fell open.

My Uncle had been over the previous weekend and we had gendered him and my Aunt as boys and girls. I never even thought to then educate about the appropriateness or not of referring to people as boys and girls. Because it just never entered my head to prepare for that particular situation.

He had headphones in, and as I was running frantically toward the boys on the bleachers to say we don’t say “hi boy” we say “hi sir,” he just waved and smiled good-naturedly, I’m not sure/I pray that he did not hear the “hi Boy”. Because holy shit it was like my worst nightmare came true. I was raising two racist white boys.

So then I had to explain to two two-year olds why we don’t say Hi Boy. Without saying, we specifically don’t say Hi Boy to a Black man because of the degrading and racist connotation that it carries.

“Baby, we say Hi Sir, okay? No Hi Boy.” Declan- “but he’s boy” Me- “Yes I know he’s a boy, but he’s a grown-up, so we say Hi Sir,  Hi boy is not nice.” Dec- “Hi Boy not nice?!” he looked totally incredulous. I at this point am getting sweaty and my heart is racing and I realize I’m getting nervous explaining this. This Mom-ming thing is hard. “That’s right, Hi Boy not nice. Hi Sir is what we say.” He stares at me. Jackson has already lost interest and is back to banging on the bleachers.

The man rounds the field again, and I’m like good God could the boys just go on the damn slides way over there? Why do they want to clonk around on the bleachers? He runs by and the boys look up and say “Hi Guy,” “Hi Guy,” they both look at me for approval. I just shake my head and thank God he has headphones in. “Guy” was never part of the conversation. We will be practicing “Hi Sir,” a lot.

These are the moments that define us as Moms. It’s not how big the birthday party is or how many presents they get on Christmas. It’s handling a total shit moment with grace and explaining and being honest without being mean. It’s not their fault they didn’t know you can’t say Hi Boy. It was mine. It’s something that you just know right? No. Actually some one had to teach it to you at some point. It’s making a human instinctively show others respect and know their history and it’s hard…and downright humiliating at times.