The fabulous fours

As I sit planning my girls’ fifth birthday party I have been reflecting over the last year and age four. I can’t believe that in just a few short weeks we will have survived five years of being twin parents, and age four certainly was an interesting stage.

If you had asked me six months ago what I thought of age four, I would have had something very different to say. I would have said it’s tough, it’s hectic, it’s exhausting and the f*#^#ing fours are very real…

fabulousfour.jpgBUT, over the last few months life has become so much easier as a parent and so much more fun. I can honestly say that, so far, I think I’m enjoying the fours the most. My girls have really come into their own little personalities, they are so inquisitive about life, they are talkative and intelligent, and have the most amazing imagination and thirst for knowledge. Some of the questions they have about our planet, the universe, God, our bodies and how things work astounds me. Along with this, they are the best of friends and their bond is so special.

There is no doubt that we still have our difficult days, but as they get older they are finally learning to chill out a bit – the tantrums are few and far between and when things do get a bit out of hand, I’m more able, or perhaps now more equipped, to deal with it in a calm, loving manner. I guess it’s not only the girls who have chilled out a bit, but us as parents as well. This probably also has to do with the fact that both girls are finally sleeping through the whole night and our entire household is finally getting a full and decent night’s sleep, so we’re all in a much better mood these days. We’ve also seen how our hard work is starting to pay off when it comes to reinforcing good manners and respect, and I’m proud of their increasingly caring and courteous behavior.

Age four is loud, but it’s also fun and entertaining. Somehow my girls just don’t understand that they can get their point across without having to shout it. My ear is right there and it’s okay to speak, not shout. They’ll have a conversation with each other, but it gets very animated, and they can easily get carried away with their story. That’s one thing that AG is very good at – telling stories. She loves to tell fantastical tales, and even at bed time after I’ve read a book to her, she’ll then take the book and page through it and pretend to be reading the story herself. On the other hand, HJ loves to make us laugh – she’s our little clown and comedian. She loves to pull faces and act silly to get a reaction, and she especially loves to make her sister laugh. They both love putting on shows for us, whether it’s a puppet show or a ballet concert, they love the limelight and it’s very sweet to watch them plan the show and then act it out together.

One of AG and HJ’s favourite things to do is play with their Barbies and baby dolls. It’s been so sweet to watch and hear them play and let their imagination run wild. They’ve got all my old Barbies and, as you can imagine the poor dolls’ clothes were 30 years out of fashion, so recently I bought Barbie some new clothes and this was a huge hit – it was expensive but so worth every cent. They role play with Barbie going shopping, Barbie cooking, Barbie having a picnic and going to the beach, Barbie the doctor, Barbie the mommy, Barbie the teacher, and it’s lots of fun to play along with them – bringing back many fond memories for me of playing with these dolls, I can sit there for ages and act along with them. More recently, their cousin also passed on all her old hatchimal and pet pal collections and this has also been a huge hit, with the two of them sitting for hours on the carpet with these toys with their imagination running wild – I just love to listen to the chatter as they play – it’s too adorable!

The bond that has developed between my girls is the most precious thing to experience. They are always concerned about each other, always chatting to each other and never far apart from each other. They certainly do have their moments of friction, especially when they both want the same toy, but more often than not they’ll negotiate a settlement, or sometimes mommy or daddy will have to intervene, and then they get on with their game.

Every stage of parenting has its challenges, and age four certainly didn’t start out so great, but I can honestly say that the fours, overall, have been fabulous, and I can’t wait to see what the fives have in store for us.

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Get into the photos, mommy!

Looking back at my photos from the last few years, I’ve realized how rare it is to find one with me and both my girls together in one shot, or even any of me in general. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of the girls, either on their own or together, but there are so few of us together, and even less of the girls with both IP and I as a family of four.

mommyandmeWhy are we always hiding, mommies? Is it deliberate that we don’t want to be seen in the picture? Are we shielding ourselves from the lens and we don’t want to be seen? Or, is it that we are so focused on our kids that we forget about ourselves? Are we not a part of their fun? Are we not involved in what they’re doing? Are we a participant or merely an observer in their lives?

Regardless of the reasons, this needs to change. I’ve decided that it’s time I got in front of the camera and stopped hiding behind it. My goal for this year is to get into more of the photos. It’s time to be a part of the fun, be involved and create more memories so the girls can see us together as a family.

Come on mommies, join me in this quest. Let’s show our children that we were right there living life with them, not behind the scenes. Don’t hide behind the camera, show yourself off! Be there, sit and pose right along with them. Dress up and be silly too. Put that bathing costume on and jump in the pool. Run around like a crazy person – laugh, love and live, and take the photos to prove it! Stop being an observer, and start being a participant! Make memories and give them something to look back on and remember you by.

That special twin bond

While chatting to my twins’ teacher last night at a school event, she told me that my girls are quite inseparable in class. When they’re sitting on the carpet together, they don’t stop talking to each other, often to the exclusion of any of the other kids. The teachers have had to separate them sometimes to get them to keep quiet, but inevitably, they will find their way back to each other by creeping slowly back along the carpet to be together again.

twinbondI just loved hearing this. Their little twin bond is so strong and their relationship is so amazing, and it’s one of my favourite things about being their parent – watching these two little girls and how they love and care for each other. It makes my mommy heart so happy. They are best friends, sisters and soul mates.

Don’t get me wrong, they have plenty of arguments and drive each other crazy sometimes, but then who wouldn’t after spending every waking moment with someone. This is certainly a challenge when it comes to twins and having two children the exact same age, as they go through life together, experiencing the same things at the same time, and inevitably, they are together ALL the time. I’m sure it will change as they grow older and eventually pursue their own interests, but we have really tried to give them some space from each other as they’re growing older. IP and I try to have individual dates with each of them at least once a month or so where we will each take one out to go do something fun, where they can each have our full attention and have proper quality one-on-one time. They really have enjoyed this, and when we get home, it’s always so sweet to see how excited they are to see each other again and share what they did and saw on their outing. When they’re reunited, they’ll go off and chat, chat, chat about what they got up to.

Our girls aren’t identical and they are such polar opposites when it comes to their looks, personality, behavior and likes and dislikes. I imagine this is one of the main reasons that they get along so well as they are not competing with each other and they largely balance each other out. They have the most amazing imagination and love to play in their room together for ages – how lucky they are to basically have their best friend over every single day for a play date.

What a privilege it is to see these two in action. It really is so wonderful and I feel so blessed to be a part of it!

Welcome to the threenage years!

So it’s been ages since I wrote a blog post. I guess life has been rather busy with two three-year olds in the house.

I think busy is not the only word I’d use to describe it – chaotic, hectic, exhausting, crazy also come to mind. But on the other hand, I can also say that it’s been fun, entertaining and a joy.

HJ and AG have really come into their own personalities and it’s been such a pleasure to watch them grow up, change and become the amazing little girls that they are. I can honestly say that I am a very proud mamma.

Here are a few things I’ve learnt so far about having a threenager in the house:

messYour house will never be tidy – ever!

Your wash basket with never be empty – no matter how many loads of washing you do, it’s just a never-ending cycle of stinkyness.

Your bathroom will always be stinky, sticky and just plain gross.

You’ll constantly find random crayon and pen marks on your walls, furniture and cupboards and really wonder how on earth they got there without your noticing.

You may find yourself exasperated more often than not and completely overwhelmed by the task of raising this little being, knowing that from now on they will have memories of life with you.  Whatever you do or say may be remembered and leave a permanent mark on how they think and feel about themselves and the world around them. It’s a huge responsibility!

There will be bits of sand and stones carted through your house on a regular basis and no matter how much you sweep or vacuum it will keep appearing.

Every single toy will be taken – or thrown – out of the toy box on an almost daily basis.

Random bits of play-doh will appear on, under and in your couch, bed, carpet, clothes, cupboards and even your hair – yup – everywhere!

You’ll find weird and wonderful pictures on your phone of tiny feet and the ceiling and the tops of little heads and be amazed that not only do your kids know how to access the camera on your phone, even though it’s locked, they’ve now figured out how to take photos.

You’ll find yourself constantly negotiating with a one-foot dictator over just about everything that needs to be done, from getting dressed, to eating to brushing teeth and getting in the bath. Sometimes you’ll win the argument, and other times you’ll retreat in exhaustion and defeat, realizing some arguments are just not worth the energy.

There’s going to be a lot of noise, and quite a bit of shouting. Most of it theirs, but often your own too. You’ll feel terrible after and vow to try keep your cool from now on, but there will be almost daily situations that will test the limits of your temper. It will be exhausting.

You’ll end up answering the same questions over and over again, and marvel at how many why’s one kid can think of. You’ll certainly get creative in your answers, and as tiring as it can be at the time, you’ll enjoy the back and forth banter.

You’ll be told the most fantastical stories of what happened at play school every day and be amazed at your little one’s imagination and ability to retain information.

It will always take you longer than you expected to get the bags and car packed and everyone strapped in to go anywhere, and by the time you’re in the car, you’ll be so exhausted and grumpy that you don’t feel like going anymore.

You’ll find yourself reading the same story book every single night on repeat until you want to burn it. But then your little one will hold the book and start telling the story to you, turning the pages as if they’re reading. It will completely melt your heart, and you’ll look at your spouse with the goofiest smile and a little twinkle of a tear in your eye, and share a moment of such pride that you no longer mind hearing about the lion and the jackal for the thousandth time.

There is no doubt about it – raising a threenager is a tough gig. But through all the craziness, there will also be lots of special moments to savour.

There will be loads of cuddles, giggles, hugs and big loves.

There will be lots of moments of joy and fun. Opportunities to unleash your inner child and hidden creativity.

You’ll look at your child and be overwhelmed by their beauty and innocence and humbled by the fact that God chose you especially for them, and them for you.

There will be plenty of special memories made, interesting conversations and moments of laughter and tears, and sharing of special family memories.

These are the moments to treasure – the moments that will get you through it all.

Being an introverted mom: I love my kids, but I also need my space

Introvert-QuotesI’m an introvert. Something I’m not embarrassed to admit. This can sometimes be misinterpreted as being unfriendly or aloof, or as someone alluded to the other day, that apparently I am not a people-person. No, that’s not true, as that would imply that I don’t like people. Of course I like people, but that doesn’t mean I want them around me ALL the time. I’m happy in my own company, I prefer more one-on-one interactions with people, I don’t really like crowds and I particularly like my own space.

Space…this is something that us mommies get to have very little of, because having little children means that someone is in your space almost constantly. So having children can certainly add a whole other dynamic to life as an introvert.

My twins are now two and a half and are at a particularly clingy phase of their life, where separation anxiety has reached a little peak. HJ is particularly attached to me and follows me around the house all day. AG is a bit more independent at home and is happy to sit and do her own thing for a while without worrying about where mommy is constantly, but HJ is my little shadow, asking “What you doing, mommy?” at least every 20 minutes.

But it’s not only the following me around and the 20 questions, it’s the constant touching me, grimy little fingers messing my clothes, climbing on me, pulling my hair band out, trying to remove my glasses from my face, and wanting to be picked up all the time that go along with it too.

If you’re someone who generally likes their space, you’ll understand that this can be draining. Especially if you are not getting any chance in the day to just take a break, even to go pee in peace. Over the past couple of weeks the girls have been resisting their day naps as well, and it’s been a desperate struggle for me to get them to have that little sleep in the day. I’m desperate for that time so that I too can have a little bit of down time, some time with my own thoughts, some time for a cup of tea in peace – if they don’t sleep, then I don’t have a break all day, essentially being on the go from 6am when we all wake up to when I collapse on the couch or bed, when the girls are finally snoring in their beds and the house is clean, at about 9pm.

It’s especially hard when IP is overseas for work and I have no back up. It is super hectic being one mommy versus two monkeys. He at least gets to have a break from it all. Yes, yes, I know he is there for work, and he is working hard, but he is getting a time out from the struggles of toddler-dom. And I have to admit, I do envy him sometimes, especially in those weeks where he has been in a romantic city like Barcelona or Madrid, sipping on sangria and eating paella, and I have had to deal with a sick child, copious amounts of vomit, washing, juggling work and kids and NO sleep.

When he is home, IP is getting better at giving me a bit more alone time, but it has been a battle sometimes to get it right. Even if I try to escape unnoticed to the next room for 20 minutes while he is playing with them, inevitably, I’ll hear the pitter patter of little feet coming into the room within a few minutes, and a little voice saying, “What you doing, mommy?”. Admittedly, it is rather cute that they care so much about me and what I’m doing, I feel honoured! But, oh my word, this mommy still needs some time out too.

In the very early days my introvert nature took particular strain with the challenge of being out in public with the girls. As most twin moms know, pushing around a double pram gets plenty of attention and people know no boundaries when it comes to personal space and asking a million personal questions. Going to a shop for a quick bag of groceries became a serious lesson in patience, and I became a master of not making eye contact with anyone for fear they would approach me or try strike up a conversation. I would always try be polite when people approached me, but there were times when my sarcasm reached a peak and I no longer tried to hide my annoyance at the interruption to my time and energy. I mean, seriously, navigating that pram around store corners is hard enough as it is without being stopped every few minutes by people who don’t know how to mind their own business.

But being an introverted mom is not only about wanting space and not wanting to be around people. On the flip side, motherhood as an introvert can be an extremely lonely journey, especially if you’re a stay-at-home or, in my case, a work-from-home mom. There are days when you crave the company of others, and are desperate for some adult conversation that doesn’t involve talking about children. But at the end of the day, you’re just too exhausted to make any real effort to connect with people, and it’s just too hectic going out with the kids, so you stay at home, living the same cycle over and over.

Many moms join mothers’ groups for the chance to meet other moms in the same boat and these are a wonderful means of making new friends and getting out the house when you feel like the walls are going to cave in on you. But for an introvert, these groups  can be terrifying. And for an introverted mom with twins, well, this presents a whole other pile of difficulties. An introvert is not naturally going to strike up random conversations with random strangers at these gatherings, and then when you’re trying to run after two toddlers at the same time it’s virtually impossible to actually do any socialising at a mom’s group. So by the time you leave you’re absolutely exhausted, and you realise you didn’t even talk to another mom and never even had a chance to have a cup of tea, so you end up not going back the next week because you wonder what the point was in the first place.

But I also realise that this phase too shall pass. I know there will come a time when my children will no longer want to sit on my lap, won’t come running for cuddles, will no longer ask me what I’m doing fifty times a day. Soon they probably won’t want to know me, will be embarrassed by me, won’t care what I’m doing. And then I’ll probably be writing a new blog post lamenting how my kids don’t want to spend time with me anymore, and I’ll be longing for the old days when they were my little shadows.

I know they will eventually become self-sufficient enough that I’m not constantly running after them, making sure they’re not about to tumble down the steep stairs or fall off the jungle gym because they want to climb the monkey bars. I know eventually there will come a time when I can sit with a cup of tea and relax, have a normal conversation and finally get some “me time”.

So as hard as this current phase is, I know I need to enjoy these small moments while I’m still the most important person in their lives. I’m their hero, I’m their everything, I am their mommy, and I love these munchkins to bits. Although I need space and my own time sometimes, and it’s a constant struggle for me to keep my cool when all I want to do it sit for five minutes uninterrupted, or have an adult conversation, I know it’s more important to give my time to these children.

One day, they won’t look back at all the things I gave them, and thank me. No, one day they will look back and remember the TIME I gave them, the memories I made with them, the experiences I shared with them, and they will know that I was there for them, always.

When your toddler…

We’ve all seen that live interview gone wrong when the toddler walked in on daddy’s big moment. I absolutely love that video and have watched it over and over. Shame, the poor guy must have been so embarrassed – and the way the mom came crashing in to get the kids out of there is just hilarious. I really think they handled it so well, and not many of us could have done any better in such an awkward situation.

It’s just one of those things that I think all parents can relate to in some way or another – that moment when your kid does something funny or totally embarrassing. You really can only laugh about it later, and it’s got me thinking of some of the funny and silly things that my own toddlers have done recently. I’ve been meaning to write some of them down in a little book, so that we don’t forget, as it’s always fun to look back and have a chuckle at some of these months and years down the line.

So here are a few of our recent “when your toddler…” moments that have made us smile (or cringe):

When you’re taking your toddler out of the car at school and she says loudly “Mommy poeped!” as another parent is taking their kid out of the car right next to yours. (Mommy did not poep, by the way!).

When you go to the garage to fetch something and turn around to find the door to the house locked and your toddler on the other side unable (or unwilling) to turn the key back again. (Fortunately mommy was able to pull a MacGyver maneuver to get back inside the house…).

When you’re at the grocery store check-out and your toddler asks the lady behind the counter “What you doing MAN?”

When your husband is overseas and you phone him to have a chat on FaceTime and your toddler walks in and tells you to switch daddy off.

When your toddler catches you sneaking a chocolate behind the pantry cupboard door. “What u eating mommy? U eating chockit! I also want chockit!” Mommy was so busted!

When looking through your phone’s pics and you realise one of your toddlers has figured out how to take photos…and hundreds of them, mostly of random family member’s toes.

I’ll add a few more along the way, and I’d love to hear some of your silly toddler moments, so please do share!