Archive for the ‘Mark’ Category
I swear, any time the phrase, “Wow, we’ve all been sleeping through the night for a while here lately,” stumbles through my brain, a tiny little ESP signal flashes into the brains of my children, triggering a great nighttime revolt.
The morning of Easter Sunday was glorious. My first child didn’t wake up until 7am, and then, being the studious oldest that she is, she merely crawled into bed with us to snuggle until the others woke up close to 8am. I was feeling so thrilled, so happy and rather pleased with everything.
But oh dear sense of self-contentment, what a fleeting stranger you are.
We played hard on Easter. We went to Mark’s family’s farm and the kids ran around outside in the sunshine all day long. “Oh,” I thought, “They are going to sleep SO GOOD tonight,” as I fantasized about laying in bed until possibly even 7:30am!
But… I didn’t even think about all the Easter chocolate, cookies, cupcakes and red dye 40 they were shoving in their faces all day. They did go to sleep rather easily, but at 4am, the sugar monsters came to life in the form of… nightmares. Sarah had a terrible one. One that was so terrifying that she wouldn’t even tell me what it was about, instead yanking her terrified, shaking little body into my bed. She pressed up against me, heart pounding. I soothed her and let her stay there (which is rare in our house – we are firmly of the “no kids in our bed” kind of people). Well that lasted about 20 minutes. She kept kicking me every time I’d start to doze. I moved her back to her bed, yet some version of “my throats hurts,” “there’s a ghost outside my window,” “it’s just impossible to go to sleep” re-awoke me every time I started to doze off again. Finally at 6am I caved and let her watch TV so I could sleep for 30 minutes. My husband somehow managed to sleep through all of this, I might add.
Monday, I thought, would be much better, despite chugging along on only a few hours of sleep. We played hard Monday – visiting friends, playing in water outside, and I put them all to bed early. “I did everything right!” I thought, “Good night, stinkers!”
Cue this 4am gem: “Maaaaammmmmmaaaaa! My bed is soaking wet!” Norah, this time. She pointed to her soaking wet panties on the floor. I felt her bed – it was drenched. Let me pause to say that since Norah decided she was ready to potty train, she has never once wet the bed. However, she has started lying to us out of spite? Contrariness? I don’t know. But she insisted to me that she had gone to the potty before going to bed that night, and that, it turns out was a GIANT LIE. So, off went the sheets, the mattress cover, her blanket. I re-made the bed. I finally got her all settled and went back to bed, only to have my mind start making a huge deal out of not-huge-deal-things because it was 4am. Also my husband was snoring. I finally dozed off, only to be re-awoken.
Norah: “MOM! There’s a FLY in my room!”
Me: “What is going on?! A fly?! Are you kidding me?! BACK TO BED!”
She angrily stomped back to bed. Of course when my alarm went off that morning, I was the only one who could pull my exhausted self out of bed. I went to wake the girls and discovered the following: a sippy cup, a half eaten pile of graham crackers and chocolate wrappers. It seems that in order to pass the time from 4 to 5am, Miss Norah prepared herself some delicious snacks in the wee hours of the morning while I slept. But of course when it was time for school, she could not be persuaded to budge from under her cover cave of wonders, which resulted in anguished crying on both our parts.
As we finally got them all into bed last night, I looked at Mark and said, “If ANY of them wake up in the middle of the night, I’m kicking you until you get up and take care of it.”
So, of course, that night everyone slept like soundless baby angels.
Someone pour me up another cup of coffee, please. Or, better yet, I’ll take a glass of wine (or three).
Sometimes, even now that you are both two-years-old, Mark and I look at each other and say with a touch of disbelief, “We have TWO babies.” Though I guess you’re not truly babies anymore.
As I was making your birthday video (below), I realized that at this time a year ago, neither one of you were walking. And now? Not only are the two of you tearing through our house at top speed, but you dance, hop like bunnies and climb anything and everything.
Having twins is so fascinating. You are each your own separate and truly beautiful and unique person, but there is a part of each of you that belongs to the other. If one of you wakes up before the other, the first thing you do is inquire where the other is. And if I don’t immediately go to your room when you first wake up, when I do finally wander in, I discover the two of you hopping like little rabbits, laughing at all the pillows and blankets you’ve thrown across the room at one another.
At two, Vera, you have an amazing command of language. I’m constantly shocked by your ability to speak in full and (usually) understandable sentences, and your responses to things make me laugh. I asked you what you wanted for Easter, and without missing a beat you declared, “a chocolate bunny!”
Meanwhile Luke is completely fascinated by anything and everything with wheels. The first word you really grasped after “mama” and “dada” was a loud and resounding version of “CAR!” You have since come to fully appreciate trucks, vans, planes and trains, zooming all of them over the floor, the couch and your sisters.
I love to watch the two of you interact. If someone falls or gets hurt, the other runs over and says, “You ok?” while offering a kiss or pat on the back. In the tub, both of you delight in dumping water on the other’s head. Vera, you love to play with your sisters, dress up and color alongside Sarah, while Luke would much rather snuggle up on the couch with daddy and watch the most dull videos imaginable on everything from remote control 18-wheelers to squirrel hunting.
I laugh all the time when I look up and see the three girls delighting in some game, while Luke is halfway across the room in his own world playing with cars. Though, Luke and Norah do so love to beat up on each other.
Both of you love to dance, sing and play outside. Vera is ever my little social butterfly, going to anyone and everyone and rambling on about everything from “bo bo’s” to “bumble bee bites” and “lady bugs.” Luke, on the other hand, would much rather stick to mommy and daddy like glue and hide his head.
Luke is such a Daddy’s boy, constantly hanging on his legs and going to him for comfort. I laugh a little and tell Daddy that he finally gets to see what it’s like to be the one who has to stop everything to take care of one tiny tyrant. Vera usually prefers Mommy and especially loves poking me in the eyes, ears, etc, while confidently identifying all said body parts.
This past year has been one of so much growth, one of watching the two of you become your own person. It makes me both sad and proud to see you putting on your own shoes, pushing my hands out the way because “I do it.”
People still tell me all the time that they don’t know how we do it. But you guys are the best and such wonderful little two-year-olds. Having a built in buddy, even with the occasional fight over a toy, makes all the difference. Yes, we have TWO babies, two toddlers. And while I still marvel at it, I am so glad I get to experience having both of you as my children and watching how you both find yourselves and help one another.
Happy Second Birthday my little loves!
Here’s a video of their past year!
When Mark and I got engaged 10 years ago, it was at a very transitional point in our lives. He had recently quit his job and started his own business, complete with its financial burdens and uncertainty. I was working part time and trying to plan a wedding on a super tight budget. I remember saying to Mark, if we can survive starting a business and planning a wedding in the same year, then we can survive anything.
I think God must have laughed to Himself then, and said, “Ah, but this is just the groundwork.”
That year of planning and start-up was difficult, as were the two to three years following it. Committing your life to someone and living with them, sharing your time, your space, your life, can be challenging. We learned to communicate and learned some very hard lessons about money and budgeting. We grew up and we grew together.
So, of course, when we finally started coming out of financial hardship, we decided it was time to move out of the townhouse, invest in a real home and grow our family. That, in itself, came with its own set of fears and anxieties. Not only the financial concerns and the usual fears that come along with being responsible for a tiny person, but because I had a long history of women’s health issues that, I was told, would make conceiving a child “a challenge.”
Before we were married, I remember after a difficult appointment at the OB’s where I was told I would likely “need assistance conceiving,” that I sat on the ground next to my bookshelf and bawled my eyes out. I had always wanted many children, and I worried my future husband wouldn’t be happy if children weren’t an option. Mark sat beside me, wrapped his arms around me, looked at me in the eyes and said, “I want YOU. If we can have children, great. If we can’t, I’m ok with that. It’s not going to change me wanting to marry you.”
And through it all, even when things have been tough between the two of us, or difficult in our lives, we have always kept that same mentality, that same love in our marriage.
Of course we did go on to miraculously conceive our first child, fought through my post partum depression and his depression simultaneously (oy), and came out of it stronger, more aware of the other person. We experienced secondary infertility and I’m pretty sure my insanity and obsession during that time nearly drove him out the door (or at the very least into hiding in the garage, tinkering with tools). And then when our second child was finally conceived and born, we were tested with colic and sleep deprivation beyond what any new parent should have to endure. We established a support system that involved “tapping out” and a lot of tears on my part.
Then, once again, when our lives finally seemed to be smoothing out, when we were blessed with two beautiful girls beyond all hope and through abundant grace, the good Lord laughed again and said, “I know you fought through all that fear and infertility and now you think your body won’t give you any more children, so, SURPRISE! Here’s TWO babies for you even though you’re still nursing that second one you prayed so ardently for.”
That was a test of enduring real and honest shock – of scrambling to figure out how in the world we would financially and mentally survive. There was bed rest and a shift in household responsibilities. There was a re-commitment to our faith and trust in God and in one another. And then, of course, when the twins arrived, we had to learn to reshape our lives once again.
This morning one of the twins’ teachers told me they have no idea how we all get out the door so early in the morning and even manage to eat breakfast. I told her that Mark and I do it together, we’re a team. We have it down to a point now where everyone has their own tasks they have to complete in the morning. We’re a machine. But now the struggle can be moving out of that “machine” mentality.
It can be so difficult to find time for just the two of us. It’s almost impossible to find a babysitter to keep all four children. I feel like we burn our families out by asking for help during the work week when sitters fall through, and every good sitter we know has either moved or recently had a baby. When people tell us to “make sure we get a date night,” we look at each other and shake our heads. But the thing is, we both know. We both know what it takes to keep things going, to support one another, to love one another when so many other people are constantly demanding our love and attention.
Mark and I joke that we never do things the easy way, but maybe there’s a reason for that. We have endured trials and tests, but the end result of each of them has been greater sacrifice and, as a result, greater love. Mark always says that the first time he saw me, God told him that I was the one. And it didn’t take much longer for me to figure out the same thing. Life is not perfect or even remotely easy, but we stand by one another, we love one another and even when things get stressful, or tough, or frustrating, we will always be the other’s rock, cheerleader and best friend.
I love you Mark, and I’m so grateful that we found and have one another.
Happy 9th anniversary.
P.S. This is the anniversary card he gave me. Perfection.
This weekend was ROUGH. I mean, by the time it was over I was begging for Monday, dreaming of sitting at my desk in the peace and quiet for a few hours. I realize that probably makes me sound like a terrible mother, but, well, we all need a break sometimes.
This cold I’ve managed to get has snuggled itself down into my chest and refuses to leave. I sound like a hacking, wheezing old woman most of the time and it hurts to raise my voice. And because the six of us are in such tight quarters, I was not surprised when everyone was snotty and hacking by Sunday.
Let me back up. Friday night and Saturday were actually quite wonderful. The big girls stayed with their grandparents, Mark and I ordered Chinese food, without having to worry that no one else would eat it, and then the twins and I had a whole day together with just the three of us on Saturday.
Vera was unusually fussy, but upon investigation, I saw that in addition to the two front teeth I knew were coming in, she was also actively dealing with four giant molars pushing their way through. I was shocked. She’s been physically behind her twin brother on everything, including teeth, and then she somehow leapfrogged him on this particular milestone.
But then it was time for the big girls to come home and you know what happens after 24 hours with the grandparents. That’s right, blowback.
It turns out they had a rough night of sleep with their grandparents and then Norah barely squeaked a nap in. So Sunday, on top of exhaustion, everyone had colds and we had to cancel all of our fun plans for the day, including a play date with one of Sarah’s best friends that left her in tears.
With guilt riding heavy on my shoulders, I still attempted to make the day fun. We made Norah’s favorite muffins (pumpkin chocolate chip), and both the girls were very helpful with the baking. (Seriously! And I had predicted total disaster). But Norah, well that was probably her only good moment of the day.
The girl refused to nap, and instead spent nearly two hours alternately running out of her room, or laying in her bed screaming at the top of her lungs, which also resulted in the babies being woken up early from their naps.
And the throwing things and flushing them down the toilet compulsion has gotten out of hand. So much so, that Mark is now the proud owner of one of those plumbing snakes that he had to use at least three times over the weekend. (But hey, it does actually work to get things out!)
Norah also felt compelled to dump all the toys we own onto the floor to make a “swimming pool.” Though at least that entertained her for a while and was easy for her to later clean up.
Here’s a sample of a real conversation Mark and I had Sunday morning:
Me: “Where are the Kleenex?”
Him: “In the bathroom.”
Me: “Why are they in the bathroom?”
Him: “Because I needed somewhere to put them really quick and your coffee and toast were on the window ledge already.”
Me: “That’s because I had to find a place to put them really quick where the babies couldn’t grab them because I caught Norah buck naked, covered in Boudreaux’s Butt Paste.
Him: “Right and I went to the bathroom to make sure you didn’t kill her and took the Kleenex so the babies wouldn’t empty them out.”
And oh the screaming. There was so much angry screaming on Sunday that Mark and I made the executive decision to have the twins in their beds at 6:45pm and the big girls in bed by 7:15pm. After they were down, I sprinted out of the house and to the grocery store, just to have some alone time for 45 minutes while I bought the week’s essentials. And you better believe I stopped by our stress eating outlet of choice on the way home: TCBY. I’ll take a giant Oreo filled frozen yogurt (so I don’t feel guilty, but really it’s ok because I forgot to eat lunch anyway) thing, thankyouverymuch.
Moms all know that even if we are gasping for air through one barely opened nostril and glowing with fever, that we aren’t really allowed to “be sick.” So when I started having cold symptoms about five days ago, I did what any mother would do, and ignored them in favor of caring for the kids and powering through a press deadline. Even as I felt my throat getting sore and my chest began to ache, I insisted on getting up and getting it done. So it’s no surprise that by Wednesday evening I was hanging by a thread.
Even Mark took one look at me and told me to go lay down while he cared for the kids and got them to bed that night. Grateful for the reprieve, I fell into bed and buried my face in a pile of Kleenex. I decided that my body was toast and agreed to take the next day off of work. Despite that, I still got up at the crack of dawn the next morning to get the girls ready for school, knowing that as soon as they left, I could crawl into bed and hibernate.
But alas, as soon as Mark left with the girls, the babies started to fuss. I decided to let them fuss for a bit before I got up to get them, but that’s when the shrieking started. So I stumbled into their room and found Luke sitting astride the crib rail, leg caught between the crib and the wall, riding the dang thing like a pony. Our boy has figured out how to climb out of the crib at 16 months old. UGH. And I am SO not mentally prepared to move him to a big bed yet.
I dragged the twins into the living room, put up the pressure gate and laid on the couch with them until Mark got home and then stumbled into bed and crashed, relieved to finally get a break.
But, as things always go, my plans for a desperately needed “break” quickly got dashed. Mark was out picking up lunch when I got a phone call from school that Sarah was sick. Mark, when he got home, dropped the food and left to go get her. When he picked Sarah up, they asked him if he wanted to check Norah out too, to which he quickly replied, “No,” and took Sarah home. Together she and I cuddled on the couch and watched Netflix in misery.
Oh, but it gets more fun. You see at some point Wednesday evening, we noticed that all the kids’ toothbrushes were missing. After some interrogation, Norah told us that she had flushed them down the toilet. How? I have no idea. But the toilet was absolutely, 100% not working. So on Thursday, as Sarah and I were laying around feeling bad, we were also down a toilet and I had no inkling or energy to call a plumber.
I completely missed Back to School Night for the twins, though perhaps for the best because it was raining cats and dogs. When the kids were finally all in bed that night, I took a shot of Nyquil and passed out.
So of course this morning, Norah comes waltzing into our room bright and early. And for some reason, she’s started speaking about herself in third person. So she comes into our room and loudly proclaims, “Mama! Norah made a mess. She got it EVERYWHERE. She got it all over my jammies, all over my bed, all over the floor. ”
“No, no Norah!” she told herself, “Mama told you not to make a mess.”
I just groaned and rasped out, “What is it? What did you do?” Mark rolled out of bed to discover an ice cream sandwich lining, well, all the things she had named.
I resolved to pull myself back together today though, and everything else mostly followed. The rain finally stopped. Mark and his dad managed to physically reach their hands down into the bowls of the toilet and extract all four toothbrushes, saving us a huge plumbing bill and getting the toilets working again. And, perhaps best of all, Mark asked his parents to keep the big kids tonight. So when the twins went to bed at 7:15, we did a (somewhat muted from the sickness) dance of relief.
But now, of course, Mark is getting sick.
And I think I’ll go indulge myself with an 8:00 bed time.
Man, I’m old.
Any time we make a big change or upset the schedule in our house, we experience a period of what my husband and I have dubbed as “blowback.” Spend the night at grandma’s? The break is nice, but then there will, without fail, be a day of fallout afterwards that includes, but is not limited to, epic periods of screaming and crying, protests over dinner, refusals to go to bed on time and unprecedented messes.
Enter school. Now, not only are we all having to get up early, but the kids are back on structured days and having to spend time learning instead of painting themselves in mud in the backyard or coloring the walls. And the blowback has begun.
Blowback Round 1:
Last week, I was rejoicing because Norah finally went to school and didn’t throw a tantrum. I rode that high all day, thrilled that we were making progress. Then, I got home from work. At first, I didn’t notice anything was amiss. I jumped into taking care of kids and Sarah was snuggled up on the couch with a blanket, watching TV. Then I turned my attention to her to ask her a question and gasped, “Sarah, did you CUT YOUR HAIR?!” A half smile spread across her face as she nodded in affirmation.
“Mama,” she said, “I was tired of my unicorn mane bangs, so I cut them off.”
“Where are the scissors and WHERE IS THE HAIR?!”
At first she tried to pretend like she had done this days ago and had no idea where the contraband items were. But after seeing my rising ire, she quickly complied, ran into her closet and produced the small pair of scissors and the giant chunk of missing hair.
I was upset. Mark chocked it up to, “it’s hair, it will grow again,” but all I could see was that my girl now had some sort of mullet/ Maria-from-The-Sound-of-Music hybrid haircut. And this was on the heels of us finally halting her anxiety-induced behavior of years of yanking out her own hair. Finally, finally my little girl was starting to get thick hair that almost looked like a bob and now it was all gone.
But while I was upset, Sarah embraced her new do, telling me that she liked that her hair is out of her eyes. Maybe I shouldn’t be so vain. So, after I had a solid glass of wine, we dug around, found some headbands and started trying to figure out how to make the mullet work.
Blowback Round 2:
In protest to having to go to school and do things she didn’t want to, Norah staunchly refused to nap on Saturday. Finally, to my great relief, I thought she had fallen asleep. I got up to use the bathroom and walked in the room to find a toilet full of toys, wipes, cups, bowls and two empty bottles of Burt’s Baby Bee wash, each emptied into the toilet and bathtub respectfully, but not before being slathered all over the toilet seat and bathroom floor. Worse still, I didn’t realize it was on the toilet seat until I later sat on said seat, and when I went to stand up, well the seat tried to come with me.
Blowback Round 3:
Norah has now started sneaking into the kitchen when she thinks we are occupied to secure any and every kind of food for herself. Sunday morning, Mark and I were recovering from the week’s events and were particularly lazy about getting out of bed. We had already gotten the twins out of their cribs and had them in bed with us, but they quickly scampered out and ran into the living room with their sisters. It took us a few minutes to get out of bed, but no one was screaming so we weren’t too worried. Then I walked into the living room, grabbed a baby and my hand came away sticky from the back of his pajamas.
One sniff told me it was maple syrup. Further exploration lead us to find that Norah had half emptied a bottle of maple syrup on to the floor, on to about seven paper plates, which she had then distributed and laid on top of random items around the kitchen and living room, and on the backs and heads of her twin siblings.
It was not pretty. While I stripped and scrubbed babies, Mark took control of the Norah situation. When I came back in the kitchen, Norah had a full mop bucket and a washcloth and was scrubbing the floors while Mark stood guard. Our normally defiant child was dutifully scrubbing every inch of the floor where that syrup had landed.
And there have been other incidents: while I tried to shower, Norah grabbed my mascara and painted the door with it because I wouldn’t let her in there with me. Last night, over the course of two hours, I kept having to go into Norah’s room to remove cliff bars and popsicles that she was sneaking into her room at 9 and 10’oclock at night.
So it seemed like some sort of divine justice that Sunday morning, when we were late to Mass, we got seated on the very front row. All I could think was that Norah was either going to kick and scream and have to be carried out in front of everyone, or that she was going to run onto the altar and take part in the liturgy or knock over the communion wine. But, to the great surprise of all, that girl shined her halo, held our hands and stood, sat and kneeled when she was asked to. I thought her good behavior was because she was nervous in front of the priest and deacon, but Mark thinks she was just so darn pleased to be in a spot where she was getting plenty of attention from everyone.
Either way, at least we are capable of putting on our good faces for Jesus.
My twins, by babies, are one today.
When I’ve mentioned their upcoming birthday to people, they stare at me in shock, “Noooo! There is no way! That went by so fast – well fast for me, it probably wasn’t fast for you.”
But in truth, it was the fastest year of my life.
I admit, when we first brought the twins home from the hospital, after the initial joyful rush of meeting my two new little people, the fear set in. Our first night home, Mark and I, seasoned parents, only got 45 minutes of sleep. “What has happened to us?” we wondered dismally. Enter the blur.
I have a hard time remembering the first 4-6 months of their lives. There was trouble with nursing, supplements, trying to figure out how to manage two babies at once at night and somehow get them both back to sleep at the same time so we had a chance of rest. There were so many nights where I just stayed up with them, earbuds in, tearing through one audiobook after another, or watching shows on NatGeo about hermits living in remote places, listening to Scott Brick narrate Jurassic Park and Lost World.
We struggled with both babies gaining enough weight in the beginning. I cried when I had to supplement them for the first time as I dealt with tough emotions of “not being enough” for them. They were small and Vera was behind on her milestones. We were adjusting from being parents of two to being parents of four.
“Why?!” Mark and I often wondered. “Why were these two little souls entrusted to us?”
And then something amazing started happening around the time they turned six months old. For one, they started sleeping stretches at night. Real, honest to goodness sleep. I tell you, if I have sleep, I can conquer the world! And I began to sleep as well. Instead of life being, “How in the world do I take care of them both at once?” It became, with a sense of awe, “Oh my goodness, I get to take care of two babies at once.”
They began to notice one another, interact with each other, their sisters, us. They were happy, smiling, laughing. They developed fascinations with things and especially with one another. “What a blessing,” I thought, “to get to experience having twins.”
Luke and Vera have such wonderful little personalities. They daycare teachers always tell us that even when everyone else is upset and crying, they remain happy (though I attribute that to them having to learn to self soothe very early on in life because there were only two of us and four of them).
Luke has always been our physical child. The first to roll, sit, crawl, eat, pull up. Vera is our introspective child, always taking in the world around her, and she’s much more verbal. She says a host of syllables and clicks her tongue and lets out the short little “he he’s” when she laughs. Luke is our chuckler, who lets out great big belly laughs. Where Vera daintily eats her food and hardly makes a mess, Luke dives in fists first and shovels everything in his mouth at once, making sure to cover his face, hair and ears in the process. Where Vera is our blue eyed blondie, Luke is our olive skinned boy with dark hair and dark eyes. His hands and feet are twice the size of hers.
Watching them together is one of my greatest joys. They are so funny together. Just the other day they were holding onto a chair next to me. Luke was trying to get my attention, when Vera reached over and pulled his hair. He turned and swatted her, screeched at her and then turned back to me. Vera promptly let out her “he he” and did it again.
Life with twins is certainly no joke… or maybe it is and the joke’s on us. Luke and Vera were such unexpected, surprise additions to our lives, but they have brought with them so much heart, so much laughter and so much joy.
They are great little people and somehow, together, we’ve all managed to survive the first year.
Happy First Birthday Vera. Happy First Birthday Luke.
We did it.
P.S. We also finally got the hang of tandem nursing after the first 6 weeks and we were able to stop supplementing then, too. This mama has now successfully nursed twins for a whole year. And I think it’s ok to be a little proud of that. <3
Our lives are super crazy. Of course they are – you can’t manage four children four and under without some chaos. And in the 10+months Mark and I have been juggling it all, things have gotten better and, in some ways, easier.
I have very sweet people tell me all the time that I “make it look easy,” but most of the time it’s really not.
I also have so many very sweet and well meaning friends and family who want me to occasionally “do things” outside the house – to get away or be present for some event. And while the intention is always good, I find myself clenching internally at the prospect. How do I explain to them why this is a big deal without sounding whiny?
Most kids have a “witching hour,” that time in the evening where they sort or lose their minds in some form or fashion and it makes everything a little more difficult. That time usually falls around dinner/bath/bed, at least in our home. Everyone starts to get hungry and reacts in different ways. At our house, the babies start getting fussy. They scream, crawl to wherever I am, pull up on my legs and scream some more. Norah makes trouble. She steals toys, dumps out bags of pretzels on the floor, dumps dog food into the water bowl, colors all over herself with markers, etc. Sarah, for the most part is pretty good. But when she’s really tired and hungry, she will start crying over things like, “I don’t ever want to move out of this house,” or “Mama, you said four days ago that I could wear my pink jacket and you didn’t let me.”
And then there are the physical mechanics of getting everyone to use the bathroom, changing diapers, washing hands, cooking dinner, cutting it up, serving it up, getting drinks, bibs, spoons, baby food and everyone into their seats and eating. It’s tough with one kid, but with four it’s a juggling act. At least the babies can’t crawl out of their high chairs yet, right?
Anyway, then there is the feeding of babies while we try to scarf down our food between screaming and ordering the big girls not to leave their seats or that they need at least TRY what they’ve been served. Then, when it’s all over, there’s the dishes and putting up of things and getting pajamas out and towels, wash cloths, diapers, etc. while four very mobile children continue to be very tired and run amok. There is bathing (we’ve finally figured out to get them on alternating schedules so only two are bathed any given night), the dressing, the teeth brushing, the nursing, the book reading, and the “DO NOT GET OUT OF THAT BED AGAIN” routine that starts.
When all that is finally over sometime around 8:15, we move onto finishing the dishes, prepping bottles, stuffing diapers, signing folders and trying to get extra work done before we crash into bed and end up staying up until 11pm to cram in some much needed self and couple time.
What I’m saying is, that evenings at our house are very much a two-person job. Mark and I have a pact not to leave the other alone during that time of the day without recruiting an extra set of helping hands. Now I know some parents have to do this alone all the time and they have my UTMOST respect, but there is a reason we have a pact on this, and it’s mostly so that if one of us crumbles under the pressure, the other person can pick up the pieces and keep everyone moving. Or, someone can tame the babies while they scream and the other gets bed things out. Or, someone can clean up whatever mess Norah has made while the other keeps everyone “out of it, get out!”
And so one of us just leaving the house between 5-8 is not possible without help. It’s just not. I know that we have to take care of ourselves (no lecture needed there), but that usually happens between 9pm and 11pm. I would love to throw my hands up some nights and say, “Sorry! Not tonight! Mommy is taking her wine to the back porch,” but Mark would cut me with the daggers he threw from his eyes, and honestly I would do the same to him if he tried such a move.
All this to say, I’m sorry, really I am, that I can’t hang out in the evenings right now (or really do anything until after 8:30p.m., including talk on the phone). And unless I can bring at least two kids with me, even daytime breakaways are tough. Eventually things will get better as everyone grows up and becomes more self-reliant, but right now we all need each other most of the time, especially in the evenings. The babies are still nursing and Norah and Sarah need that extra little bit of mom and dad time after they go to bed. I love my family and I’ve learned to embrace the chaos in a way my mostly-introverted self never thought possible. I’m so grateful for their sweet faces and nighttime hugs and kisses, but there is always a whirlwind of chaos and Mark and I are in together. So really, it’s not you, it’s me. It’s us. And I’m ok with that.
I haven’t felt much like writing lately… or maybe it’s just that there is no time.
Our kids have been falling to illness like dominoes: one gets sick, starts to mend and the next falls victim to the illness, until at least three of them are sick at any given time. Yes, I knew this was coming, but it still doesn’t make it easier to bear. We go to the pediatrician’s once a week when we’re lucky, 2-3 times a week when we’re not. We’ve battled raging high fevers, puffy, goopy eyes and coughs that keep the whole house up at night.
Nearly every day, Mark and I look at each other and say, “Do you think it’s their ears or just teeth?” Because we certainly couldn’t just be sick without 3 of our 4 also getting new teeth.
And Norah (of course it’s Norah, it’s always Norah) has had it the worst of all. After nearly two months straight of ear infections, fever, coughing, middle of the night screaming, and now our fifth antibiotic, our pediatrician sent her to the ENT. He took one look inside her ears, cringed, pointed to the second to worst picture on the ear infection chart and said the word I knew was coming: “tubes.”
That, in and of itself, really isn’t so bad. I had prepared myself, know lots of moms who have had to get tubes in their kids’ ears and I know that this will bring welcome relief for her. But it didn’t stop there.
You see, our poor girl also has a snoring problem and it turns out her adenoids are pushing in on her ear tubes, her nose, eyes and even her teeth, so those have to come out too. Her case is bad enough and she’s suffered so much that the doctor wants to do the procedure as soon as possible. He first mentioned the Wednesday before Christmas, but then amended it to the Monday after to let the newest round of tough antibiotics have time to attempt to clear things out.
I know, logically, that this is a very common, quick and easy surgery, but a little edge of panic still creeps in when I think about her having to go under.
I am so thankful that I was already off work for the surgery and recovery time – a little silver lining. Trying to balance working full time and being a mother is something I constantly struggle with. There’s so much guilt when I’m at work away from my sick kids, but then there’s guilt when I’m home and missing so much work. “What must people think?” I often wonder. But I have to put that behind me and do the best that one person can do (or really two, Mark stays home with the kids when they are sick as much, if not more than I do).
And so, as Christmas comes and we get ready to celebrate, please keep our Norah Bean and her very anxious momma in your prayers. Here’s to hoping everyone’s teeth all come through, the fevers stop and everyone gets a little bit of rest.
Next to, “You have your hands full!” And “Are they twins?”, “How do you do it?” is probably the most common thing people say to me. And my most common response is, “I don’t know!”
And I feel like that often, especially on mornings like today when we’ve been battling back-to-back illnesses with the kids, repeated 4a.m. wake ups, coughs, kid nightmares and my own lingering congestion I can’t quite kick because I can never get enough rest.
But, the truth is that we do manage to “do it” most days, thanks in large part to the following:
- Coffee. I mean a lot of coffee. One morning I made coffee and Mark actually said to me without joking, “Why did you only make six cups?!” The struggle is real.
- Consistent early bed times. I have finally learned that Norah needs to go to bed early so she has enough time to settle and go to sleep before Sarah joins her in the room for bed. That means bed time routine starts at 7p.m. And I’m strict about it. We can hedge a little on the weekends, but if we get off by too much, everyone has a melt down at the same time, including me.
- Preparation. After everyone goes to bed at night, I set about getting ready for the next day. Bottles are made, folders are signed, snacks and pump bottles are loaded into the car, diapers are stuffed and folded. I learned the hard way that trying to do this while all the little people are awake takes roughly three times as long and adds an hour to our morning routine.
- Learn to let some things go. My house is a disaster. I felt terrible about this for a really long time and I still try to fight it from time to time. Here’s what we manage to accomplish most days: dishes, trash, some laundry and picking up one area of the house. Here’s what we fail at: keeping the bedrooms picked up, SOCKS, wiping down things, organized closets, cluttered vehicles and dog hair in general. This past weekend I spent time cleaning our hallways, laundry room and living room. Norah and Sarah destroyed most of my work in under 10 minutes.
- The village. People ask me all the time, “Who helps you?” Mark and I do a lot ourselves – we have perfected the two person juggling act it takes to keep things rolling along. But, we also have our families in town who help with watching the kids, and an amazing nanny who helps on afternoons and Fridays while Mark and I work, and a long list of amazing mom friends I text and call on a regular basis for moral support.
- Patience and understanding from other people. I work for an amazing place – a place that has been flexible with my schedule with my children and has always allowed me to be where I need to be for them. I know this isn’t always easy, but I am thankful for it every single day. I don’t sleep much and forget things all the time. When I dropped the kids off at school this morning, I had forgotten a number of things and the teachers quickly reassured me not to worry, they would make it work. Bless you people!
- The grace of God. I pray for patience and strength and to be a good mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker and person every day. I fail a lot, but I keep on trying.
- A strong marriage. Mark and I have been handed a lot. Our children are amazing blessings, but they demand a lot from us. It’s so easy to lash out at one another – and it happens, especially when we’re exhausted and frustrated. But being able to realize that it is just the frustration and exhaustion talking helps us overcome these things quickly, and we remind one another that “united we stand, divided we fall.” I really could not do this without him.
Despite all these things, we still have a lot of pitfalls. Just this morning we couldn’t find anyone’s shoes; Sarah’s uniform sweatshirt disappeared into some dark corner of our house and has yet to resurface; Norah put up a great and mighty protest against wearing pants and hurled a plastic shoe at my head that found its mark; I forgot the diapers and had to turn around once we left the house; I discovered that several ounces of my preciously pumped milk had spilled when we got to school; I realized that I forgot wet bags for the diapers when we got to school; we forgot to get juice when it was our turn to bring snacks for school; oh, and I’ve been awake since 4am with a little boy who is adjusting to his new crib and room and a 4 year old who accidentally saw part of daddy’s zombie show last night and had nightmares and panicked the rest of the morning until we talked about snow angels and unicorns.
Life is crazy. I feel like every day I must look like someone dragged me behind their car. But, despite all of this, I am really and truly happy. I love my kids. I love my husband and we all manage to make it work.
This past Friday the director of our kids’ school said another parent came up to her and asked who that mom is who pushes the twins in the stroller and carries a toddler on her back every day (ha!) She told her who I was and the mom said that my kids are always happy and I always have a smile on my face and I inspire her every day. Wow! Talk about humbling. That was exactly what I needed to hear. We ARE happy and, really, that’s the crux of how we’re “making it.”
- Things That Go Bump in the Night
- Two Two-Year-Olds
- Today, You’re Six
- The Aftermath
- My Sick Bonnie Girl
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