We kept them alive for a whole year! That’s right – despite their efforts to starve themselves, throw themselves down flights of stairs, and engage in severe, self-induced sleep deprivation rivaling that of any torture victim – the twins turned one this last weekend.
And phew – just in time, I managed to get over my distaste for children’s birthday parties – and my even greater distaste for pictures of babies covered in food. There are more photos of R & D smeared with birthday cake than there are photos of them as newborns.
D, however, decided he’d take one more kick at making me look like a terrible mom – this time, with 30-odd people around to witness it. I put his little birthday cake, crafted with care and love, down in front of him, and launched into my usual off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.” His first move? No hesitation – he extinguished the flame on the single candle with his thumb and index finger. Great pincer grasp, honey! Sorry for putting an open flame within your reach. Really sorry your terrified tears are on video. (He’s fine.)
The party was actually great. I’ll post pictures of my craftiness on Pinterest for those who are interested, but I won’t bore you here with details of my cute little cupcake toppers (husband: “Why are you putting paper on cake?”) or my brilliant, homemade treat bags, or my fabulous decorating job. Am I patting myself on the back for throwing a kick-ass birthday party my kids will never remember? You bet. Am I going to do it next year? Not a chance.
When all the craziness subsided, I found myself thinking about more serious things. There was a lot of, “this time last year…” and cheering about the fact that I’m 82 pounds lighter than I was that day (I know, that’s far more than you’re supposed to gain with a pregnancy, even a twin pregnancy…I know. I did it anyway and I’d do it again.)
Chatting with my friend Stacey earlier in the week, she mentioned she wished that when we first became parents, we’d had the skills and perspective that we have by the time our babies are a year old. And I agree. I know my kids’ birthday is about celebrating them, but – at least this first year – I have spent just as much time reflecting on how far I have come as a parent. In no particular order here’s a list.
- Patience. A lack of patience is easily one of my top five major flaws. But I have much, much more of it now than I ever did before kids. Because I have to. Having two little humans whose needs must be met immediately forces you to put your own needs and wants on the backburner, at least temporarily – so I have learned to wait for things, like the opportunity to brush my teeth.
- Giving up control. My friends and family would attest to my control freak tendencies and tell you I have a long way to go when it comes to giving up control, but I’m telling you, life with twin boys has taught me nothing if not the fact that there’s actually shockingly little that I can control about my day, or my life. Things happen, plans change, and you just have to roll with it (which, if I’m honest, is unbearably frustrating. I just want to change into pants that don’t have an elastic waistband and get to playgroup ON TIME. Is that so much to ask?!?) I’m working on it.
- How I define “gross.” I change 12-16 diapers a day and am in the middle of teaching two toddlers how to eat like gentlemen, so there’s not much that can disgust me anymore. Except soggy Cheerios – I won’t touch those. Ugh.
- Confidence. I know it was partly the post-partum hormones talking, but I remember having delirious, sleep-deprived conversations with my husband in the first month of parenthood where I’d tell him – dead serious – that I was totally unfit to be the boys’ mother and they’d be better off with someone else. I was sure I had no “instincts” and that nothing would come to me naturally. But somehow, over the last year, I’ve acquired the knowledge that I do in fact know what’s best for my kids – and I can do this, and do it reasonably well. And it’s a good thing, because I’ve noticed that when the boys are having a meltdown, any hesitation on my part – the slightest hint that I don’t know what I’m doing – will cause them to launch into a full-on mutiny. Nope, the only thing that gets the situation under control is an assertive tone and decisive action. Even if that action is to placate them with Baby Mum-Mums and cartoons until the tantrum passes.
- What passes for “clean” in my house. No surprise, like most control freaks, I’m also a bit of a neat freak. I’ve had to relax my standards somewhat (this is an understatement). Someday I’ll write a blog post about the weekly chore chart I designed for myself, which I have never, not once, been able to follow. And you can all laugh at me for having such lofty ideals and thinking it’s possible, or necessary, to clean my bathrooms twice a week.
- My choice in vehicles. We bought a minivan on the weekend. The mom transformation is thus complete. At the time of our last vehicle purchase, my non-negotiables were “sunroof,” “sporty aesthetic,” and “body-coloured door handles.” HAHAHAHA. All I want now is space, space, space. I’d have driven a rusted out cargo van if I could have strapped carseats into it.
- Crazy, unanticipated heart-enlargement. If you are a parent, you know – the way you love your kids is not something anyone prepares you for. Your heart just gets bigger. I was one of the lucky ones: I fell in love with my boys the moment I laid eyes on them, but over the course of the past year that love has evolved. In the beginning I’d say it was primarily characterized as a frighteningly strong attachment and overwhelming fear that something would happen to them. These days, the fear of something happening to them is still there, of course, but it’s overshadowed by my appreciation and love of who they are as little human beings – their unique personalities and talents and ways of looking at the world. And I feel really lucky to be their mom.
Year one is in the books! I’m aiming high for year two and hoping to get over my aversion to soggy Cheerios. I’ll let you know how that goes.