You are determined
You are beautiful
Your light is bright
Your heart is big
You are my joy
You are my sorrow
It’ll all be better tomorrow
You are determined
You are beautiful
Your light is bright
Your heart is big
You are my joy
You are my sorrow
It’ll all be better tomorrow
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.
Why 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.
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.
I 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!
We are finally getting to a point where we can say that yes, it DOES get easier.
Our girls recently started resisting their day naps, and initially I thought it was a complete disaster and I fought back, trying to force them to nap. I was dreading not having that little break in the day – I thought it was going to be the end of my sanity for sure. But honestly, our lives have suddenly turned around as we’ve said good bye to the day nap.
One thing we’ve always been strict on since the twins were born is routine, routine, routine. If it wasn’t for this I think I may have lost my sanity a long time ago. But isn’t it funny how we get so stuck on doing something and it’s terrifying to change it – we’re so scared to rock the boat or mess with a good thing – as they say, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But this hasn’t been the case with our girls’ sleeping. It has been broken for a long time. Every day and night it’s been a struggle – from getting them down to nap in the afternoons to getting them to bed at night, and then getting them to sleep through the night. The day nap hasn’t been that bad – they’re usually so exhausted when they get back from school that they happily fall asleep, but then they don’t want to wake up. If they hadn’t already woken up by 3pm then I would wake them up, but this alone could take half an hour as AG really doesn’t like to wake up and they would both be so grumpy if woken from a nap. But if I didn’t wake them by 3pm then the evening would be chaos and it would take forever to get them to sleep, which would leave both IP and I extremely grumpy. But lately they were resisting their day nap, and I lost the energy to try fight it, rather leaving them in their room for a bit of quiet time.
I was so terrified to drop the day nap. I’d been dreading it for months, when that moment came that I didn’t have that little break in the day – my lunch break where I could just sit and have some quiet time or catch up on what I needed to do around the house. So when they started giving me hassles to sleep in the day, I started getting very grumpy.
I can safely say that all my fears were for nothing – I’ve decided to embrace it, and just go with the flow – something that for those who know me, especially IP, is a huge challenge.
The girls are now in bed and fast asleep by 7pm and are finally starting to sleep through the whole night. IP and I are finally getting to have some quality time together in the evenings and a full nights sleep. There is enough time in the night to sit down and catch up on our lives, have a quiet meal together, watch a movie or read a book, and just be. We no longer fall into bed in a bad mood and fast asleep the minute the girls are finally asleep, which was often only happening at 9pm. We’ve even been able to get a baby sitter and enjoy a couple of date nights, which has been wonderful!
I’ve been forced to make a more concerted effort to do activities with the girls during the day to fill that gap when they were usually sleeping, and thankfully it’s been a bit cooler so we can get out to the park and meet up with friends, and then there is always the twins’ most favourite thing to do, and that’s go swim at granny and grampa’s house. Otherwise, we read books, do puzzles and art and they love cooking me dinner in their pretend kitchen or shopping with all their toy groceries – they also love real grocery shopping with me sometimes, so if we feel like getting out, we’ll often head to the shops for a little outing. They even play so nicely together without me – happily getting along in their room, which has allowed me to still enjoy that quiet cup of tea.
I’ve really been enjoying our quality time together, and despite all my fears for the moment we’d drop the day nap, I can honestly say it’s been the biggest blessing ever. It’s essential that they still at least have some rest in the day when they get back from school, so I usually make them some tea and they’ll chill on the couch with their tea for a little bit, or relax on their bed or play quietly in their room – that unwinding time after a busy morning at play school is so important, and then gives them that boost they need to get through the rest of the afternoon.
All I can say to other parents in a similar situation is don’t be afraid to make changes, to alter the routine, to do something new, step out of that comfort zone – you may just be really surprised at the amazing results!
A guest post by IP.
The long weekend has just come to an end, and I must admit I am looking forward to going back to work. At work I am in charge, I call the shots, I control what is going on, and I enjoy empowering my staff to be their best. When at home, well that level of authority and influence seems to have little or no meaning. My twins don’t seem to understand that daddy is the boss, and the level of influence used at work has little or no effect on 2.5-year-old twins. I have come to understand that your children will not obey and respect you just because by default you are their parent. This is something that I am wrestling with. Growing up for me was completely different. We respected and almost feared figures of authority. I remember having an overwhelming respect and fear for the police. We were taught that the police took care of bad people, and somehow that involved bad children too.
My memory takes me back to when I threw a tantrum just after moving into my parent’s new home. I was about three. I didn’t want to go to sleep and stamped my fists hard against the wall. I then proceeded to throw myself on the floor and did that well known kicking regime we as parents dread. I also remember my dad coming into the room and swiftly giving me a good hiding. Neither I nor my parents have any recollection of any tantrums thereafter. So why does this not work in my home? I ask.
When it comes to our twins’ personality, one is more pliable and obedient, willing to engage in reason and negotiation, and the other kicks against any form of authority. She is very strong willed, determined to complete what her mind has set out to do and nothing will stop her. This is quite a challenge for any parent when emotion and lack of reason dominates the mind of a 2.5-year-old.
Just this weekend the scene of the battle of wills played out in many ways, which left me feeling rather defeated and threadbare.
For instance, a simple outing to the shops can become a complex web of emotions devoid of any logic. While loading the pair into the car, the stronger willed twin goes ballistic because she is not in the correct seat. I was unaware that there was a seating arrangement in my car! In such cases I am largely detached from my emotions, and I silently whisper my disgruntlement under my breath. Take 2, I calmly, while very irritated, unclip each twin and proceed to put them in their correct seat. The strong-willed twin scuffs her pants on my car rim in the process, soiling her pants. This is proving to be too much, and she does that thing I love to hate by throwing herself on my dirty and dusty garage floor. By now I am really worked up. Back in the house I run, baby wipes in hand to clean dirty clothes and mentally trying to keep cool. The twins are finally buckled up and I am ready to go. The other twin decides she wants her stuffed toy lying behind the driver’s seat from the day before. The other twin is now screaming because that has now suddenly become her stuffed toy and she wants it back. You can picture steam starting to emerge from my ears. I run back inside and get what I believe will be a toy that will calm her down. It works, but now I don’t want to go to the shops anymore. I am beyond angry, and I hate everyone.
On the way to the shop, willful twin decides to climb out of her car seat straps. I bellow for her to put her straps back on. She listens, but three minutes later, the game starts all over again. We finally arrive at the pet shop. We look at the rabbits, we look at the snakes, we look at the birds and we look at the fish. Then, both twins decide to run in different directions and I am left running around a large shop looking for two very fast twin girls. I see one, I run, but this is now a game, and she runs faster. I catch up managing to grab her by the arm and hurl her up to my shoulder line and tell her not to do that again. I now proceed to run with willful twin on my shoulders who is doing her utmost best to do another escape while I am running around frantically looking for twin B. This naturally creates quite a commotion as daddy is running around with a twin that has moved from shoulder to daddy’s ankles while trying to look for her sister. Most patrons stop and stare. Most people say, “Ag shame man, you seem to have your hands full.” Other patrons look at me in disgust looking on very judgingly while I try contain the situation. I finally find twin B. She was hiding under the skinny guinea pig display. Why did I not look there first? I thought.
We proceed to buy cat food, but unfortunately, we had to walk past the dog and cat toys. Willful twin insists I need to buy her a ball. I explain that this is not a ball for children, but for dogs. I can’t explain the amount of whining that proceeded. Now twin B sees a gap and makes another break. Damn it man, and some other words are mumbled as I make another dart to bring order to the situation.
I am now truly convinced it cannot get any worse, when willful twin decides to take her clothes off in the middle of the pet shop with nappy in hand, shouting at the top of her voice, “I need to poo daddy!” What the hell man, I run with a willful naked twin under my arm, willing twin B to follow suite. Cat and bird food dumped as is as I make a run for it. We get to the disabled loo as it seemed most appropriate at the time, while I position willful twin on the toilet. She executes what she told everyone she wanted to do minutes earlier. High fives abound. Twin B sees this as a competition and does not want to be left out. I position her on the toilet. High fives abound. I pick up willful twin to wash her hands. Twin B washes her hands, but willful twin is now super upset because there is no towel to dry her hands. This causes much commotion as she throws herself on the dirty toilet floor. The germaphobe in me is disgusted. Wash hands and repeat….
We leave the pet shop. I proceed to hold both girls’ hands as we cross the car park. Willful twin refuses to hold my hand. I now have one twin holding my hand, another being dragged across the car park as I insist this is for her safety and a balancing act ensues whilst trying to keep my cat and bird food from dislodging from my armpits.
Off to Builders Warehouse. I am now asking what I did not learn from the pet shop experience?! This will be much easier. They have trolleys I say to myself. I can put both in the trolley and push them at pace through the shop’s aisles which will entertain them and minimize damage to all parties. After all, it worked before right!? Out the car, and off to the trolleys we go. Both twins safely loaded into one trolley. Twin B decides that she wants to sit in the trolley seat. Willful twin is now throwing a tantrum in the trolley because she too wants to sit in the seat. She is insisting she has her own trolley. Picture it, two trollies being pushed by one weary dad through Builders Warehouse…I was going to have none of it.
Back home and bed time finally approaches. Mommy and daddy are sensing the anticipation of sitting down with a glass of wine, but not before a struggle through supper trying to keep dirty feet off the chairs and constantly reassuring that one’s bum is meant to be on the chair and not dirty little feet. Twin A tells willful twin that her bum is full of poo. My wife and I laugh. This happens all amid a very important disciplinary lesson, but we cannot contain ourselves any longer and we laugh. The situation is now ruined and a riot starts as one twin starts to chase the other with a piece of meat in hand. This unfortunately leads to a lot of running and chewing at the same time and twin B starts coughing which leads to three strikes of projectile vomit all over the floor, and all over my wife and the clean washing she just brought in from the washing line. Wash and repeat…
The house is in a mess, and smells like vomit. I proceed to clean up while my wife baths the twins. I hear shrieks of laughter while naked bodies dance around the house. Story time and an easy bed time brings on a quiet sense of relief as we strap ourselves into our beds feeling rather weary from a very challenging and comical long weekend.
So where does this leave us? Well, I shamefully admit that my strict disciplinary approach works only 50 percent of the time. It has left me rather confused.
Secondly, two children, same disciplinary approach, two different results. This leads me to a crucial point. Human beings are super complex. One size does not fit all.
Parenting takes work and lots of it. I find myself becoming lazy as I am just so tired of repeating myself. I mean, how many “say thank you” and how many “say please” and “take your feet off the chair” must a parent utter in his children’s lifetime?!
Thirdly, I think one must be constant, and unchanging no matter how gatvol you are. We must follow through.
Lastly, I am encouraged to read an informative book I read some time back called, “The Five Love Languages for Children” by Gary Chapman. The book explains how each person has a different love language and to get the most out of a child, or adult for that matter, one needs to communicate in that person’s love language. I think discipline cannot be a blanket approach. Much understanding and thought needs to go into it.
As parents, we unfortunately do not receive a manual when our children arrive. We are like a deer in the headlights. We lean on our own experiences and upbringing as a point of reference and when that does not work then we become disillusioned. Raising children is complex and our approach to raising well-mannered, well rounded responsible children takes commitment, effort and lots of blood, sweat and tears. I don’t profess to know it all. I write this knowing full well that I have a lot to learn.
Tenaciously I will attempt to do a better job tomorrow, as I venture into the unknown and do it all again.
I’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.
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!