Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Traveling Entourage.

One of the very fun things about having twins is that whenever you go out, wherever you may go, you are accompanied by more than one child. (Surprising, I know). I prefer to think of them as my groupies. They go where I go. Follow where I lead. Jump when I say jump. Power trip! Well, maybe not all of the time. Rather, probably not most of the time.
In fact, venturing out of the house with my traveling entourage has had it's special moments. When they were younger, I'd toss them into the Twin Duo-Glide (the limo of strollers), give them a few toys, and I could peruse most stores at my leisure. Until someone filled a diaper. Or someone got hungry. Or the back kid pulled the front kid's hair. Or a toy was dropped on the floor. Hmmm, guess it was trickier than I thought.
But as they got older, it started to look silly putting them in the stroller. Sure, seeing their knees bent up to their chins was funny at first, but it didn't look in the slightest bit comfortable and I never did like the looks I was getting. So next came "The Leashes". I am forever grateful to the company that has dedicated itself to creating child leashes that look semi-humane. Is my child on a leash or is she being hugged by a dog while I hold its tail? And who doesn't love an opportunity to say, "Geez kid, look at that monkey on your back" every once in a while? The leashes were fabulous things. I still got looks from passerby, and in truth, it must have been amusing at times to see a hurried mom being pulled through the mall by her kids, running ahead of her on their leashes, darting back and forth and getting the leads all tangled up. "Don't mind me! I'm just walkin' the kids. Such a nice day out and all."
But over time all our gear has dwindled down to the two legs God gave them each. Wherever we go, they walk. Or gallop, it depends on their mood, I guess. And despite what I'd always feared about this stage of no-apparatus, they do an exceptionally good job, no matter how many places we visit. Mercifully, they discovered quickly that their own two legs could take them a great many places, and that they are more likely to get to go to the things they want to see if they are willing to transport themselves there. They've cavorted all around Cedar Point, zig-zagged around the zoo, pranced around Port Clinton, and hiked up the hills. All on their own.
It pains me a little to see the progress we've made, going from stroller to feet. It has its perks, of course, not hauling the Limo around in the van, or worrying about carrying them around. But as with all stages we pass through, there is that part of me that lingers in the past, missing the dependency that's been given up, even while rejoicing in the Independence gained. I realize that Ashlyn and Caedance are marching through childhood, holding hands, and heads held high, ready to take on anything. Each step ahead is one step further away from the past that I'll always feel even though they'll little remember it. I find that odd, that I'll be a walking catalog of their childhood, the re-teller of a past that they'll only know through my own recollections. But I guess that's how it is for us all, and I think it's part of the privilege of parenthood.
As always, even though I'm surrounded by the memories of yesterdays, (like the folded Duo-Glider in the garage), I do my best to say firmly footed in their present. My every day is filled with the memories of tomorrow, and it's my prerogative to make them all count. To make them all precious. And they are.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Taking A Look Back.

The girls are 5 now, and at this point, we've gotten a pretty nice routine down pat here at home. The cadence (ha! no pun intended) of our day is strong and predictable. I cherish it. But it wasn't always this way. For whatever reason, it took us several years to feel out our new routine--a constant sparring of sorts, breaking down walls and moving policies. These little battles lead to some very rough days and some sleepless nights. I recently found this TwinTale, written when the girls were
3 1/2. We've come a long way since then, thankfully. But it's fun to relive it just the same.

This evening, a most momentous occasion has occurred. In fact, so amazing and profound was this event that it has taken me, a woman to whom words come easily, several hours to digest it properly so that I may relay it to you.
Tonight at approximately 9:00 pm, the child known as "The Ashlyn" crept out of her bed and began to scream. She screamed loud and she screamed long. And she screamed for..."Daddy". That's right folks, you read that right. She did not scream for Mommy. Didn't even want mommy, truth be told. At the sound of her cries, I naturally ran up there only to be met with an angry, reddened child in the hallway bellowing, "NOT Mommy! No Mommy. Just Daddy! Where's Daddy? Only Daddy!".
Perhaps you may be asking what a woman in my position might do when faced with this blatant rejection. After all, is it not I who cares for them all day, every day---day after day after day? Has it not been me who has put aside my career aspirations for today in order to raise my little offsprings to become the glorious and powerful women of tomorrow? When confronted with such a verbal slap in the face, what was I to do? My friends, I stepped aside and said, "Darling, he's in the basement. Go get him". Still wailing, she gladly took off in search of her hero, whilst I was left to languish in the first moment that I can remember in over three years when it has not been me. When the screams did not somehow have my name attached. It was like they figured out Dad could come too. It was a refreshing moment, my friends. Truly refreshing.
Now don't get me wrong. Sure, I love my various roles: The Comforter, The Negotiator, The Doctor, The Entertainer, The Judge, The Buddy, The Chair, The Pillow, The Carrier, The Seeker-of-Lost Things, the Cook, The Cleaner, The Fixer, The Storyteller, and my personal favorite The-Traveling-Potty-Seat-When-Out-In-Public-And-We-Have-Forgotten-The-Real-Potty-Seat-And-So-I-Get-To-Sit-On-The-Potty-With-Her-In-Front-Of-Me-So-She-Doesn't-Fall-In. (Whew! That's a really long title. I won't be making a nameplate of that one!) I love all these roles. I cherish them. But please, let me take my moment to revel in this glory that is Dan putting on The Comforter hat. It was a little like being allowed to sleep in on Saturday morning, or eat from my own plate without little hands snatching things from it, or (and this would be the real dream) going one full day without putting a Baby Einstein in the DVD player. It's the little things, you know?
In the end, it turned out that the upset was caused when The Caedance apparently "growled" at Ash, leading to the distress. The girls have found it very fun to growl at each other. Whoever is being growled at will always cry and say, "NO! No twin growl! NO!", while the other runs around her taunting, and yes, growling more. This routine happens every day, and they are constantly exchanging roles. Growler. Victim. On this night, Cae was the offender and Ash was indeed offended. And it was only Daddy who could fix it. After a hug and another story, all was well. Children in bed. Mommy downstairs, un-needed for the moment and enjoying it. Priceless.

As I said, it's always nice to look back at the moments that led us through those first few years, wherein everything was hard. It's nice to read that we did have little victories now and again. Oh, and we now make it trhough the day without a single Baby Einstein. So, I guess I'm livin' the dream.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Good Night

One of the first "lessons" we learned as Parents Of Multiples was the Sacred Routine. You live by the routine. And if you ebb one iota away from it, you'll find yourself going down in a fire of crying, screaming, and wailing torture from which you will never fully recover. Exaggeration? Those who scoff have clearly not spent entire winter days shut in with two squalling infants. Suffice it to say, you develop a routine that works for you and the babies and you stick with it, often kicking and screaming when new stages come and the routine must be altered and adjusted, only to acclimate to the new routine and then watch in fear as a new stage approaches and..........Oh, but I'm getting off track here.

Every night we have the same wonderful routine. After the girls are ready and in their pajamas, there's a mad dash for the bedroom. They have "assigned bunks", but they still feel the need to proclaim their station proudly, staking their claim and looking for parental reassurance that some dastardly deed has not undone the previous night's arrangements. Ashlyn is still on the bottom bunk. Caedance is still on the top bunk. Fear not, little ones. Your sleeping preferences are well known and in good hands.

After the necessary proclamations have been uttered, there is an unruly clatter as Caedance bolts quickly up the later, (perhaps ever afraid the decision could be retracted), and dives under her covers. I scoot up and sit on her bed for a few minutes, spending some time with my first born. There's the hug. The peck on the cheek. Then the soberly uttered, "Mommy, I'll be Caedance at school, but Tyrone at home". Every night for the last week she's informed me of this. Rather than argue the points for keeping her real name and the difficulty she may encounter as the only female Tyrone in her Kindergarten class, I smile and say, "Sounds like a plan, cher". She smiles her quirky smile and drops back onto the pillow, usually picking up her book to look at as she grows tired. Caedance is our "Book Sleeper". While others cuddle soft animals and dolls, Cae has usually opted for bakeware and books. One more kiss and it's down to visit "The Twin", (as Caedance is known to call Ashlyn).

Upon alighting on her bed, Ashlyn quickly discards any miscellaneous blankets that might be there. She's a purist, by nature. A sheet in the summer, add a blanket for winter. That's it. No others need apply. Her ever changing nightly retinue of friends are always in place when I come to kiss her goodnight. Snuggled around her like a crowd of adoring subjects, present and accounted for whenever she should need them, whichever way she may turn. Before I have time to speak, she goes over her idea for how this "Good Night" should be: "Mommy? Can you hug me, then kiss my cheek, then tickle me to the count of 11, then hug me tight like I'm stuck, and then I'll kiss you on the cheek?". Grateful for the chance to let someone else direct the show, I accept with a "I can do that, cher", and we proceed. And it goes smashingly too, if I might add. Every night.

One more look at the faces of these two who were once my tiny, premature babies, and I quietly leave the room. And sigh. Another day has passed. Filled with the moments of life. Ever changing and unsure, but always filled with love. Each cycle of the sun brings me closer to the day when they'll be heading off to school and a new chapter will open for me in my life as a Mom. Right now, I'm not sure I'm welcoming those days with eagerly open arms, but I still know they're coming. I'm adjusting to it. Little by little. But for now I take refuge in the surrounds of the familiar: our routine. It's changed over time, from Twinfancy to toddler-hood, to preschoolers, (and I know it will undergo yet another make over with the tolling of a school bell), but for now I relish it for what it is and love it. It's the signal to quietly and lovingly end one day's worth of experiences, while eagerly anticipating what new surprises await over the horizon, lifting with the sun.

Good night, everyone.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dr. Doody

In the midst of a long stretch of potty training horror, through much trial and error...and more errors, it occurred to me that there are people out there who will pay others to come and potty train their pets. They do this so that THEY (the pet owners) do not have to deal with the mess and fuss of that most unpleasant task. And it then occurred to me, one flame alighting another, that a person could make beau coup money offering a similar service for potty training toddlers. It would look something like this.....

An hour long spot for yet another Ronco product will have just ended and the scene will open on a very tired and frustrated looking housewife. She's sitting on the couch, facing the camera. Looking none too pleased. She has very coiffed hair, is wearing an outdated, high collared pin- stripe oxford shirt, with a pair of even higher waisted pleated chinos. The ensemble is completed with penny loafers.

A voice over says, "Diaper problems got YOU down?"

Unfazed by the disembodied voice, she nods glumly while the camera pans the room, showing views of diapers all over the floor, an over-flowing diaper pail, and a kid who looks to be about 6 romping around in a pair of too-tight Pampers. In the corner stands a grouping of judgemental friends, shaking their heads sadly and turning her away from a play area with a sign that reads, "Must Be Potty Trained".

The mom on the couch sighs and her shoulders sag. The voice over proclaims, "Well help is here!"

Suddenly, a knock on the door. Mom jumps up just as a man in a bright yellow suit leaps through the door. He is carrying a baby bobble-head doll and wearing a toilet for a hat.

The voice over continues. "It's Dr. Doody and his amazing 1 week potty training program to the rescue!" Mom nearly faints with fake relief and gratitude.

"Now YOU can potty train your child in just one week. Be the envy of your friends, not the butt of their jokes."

Visions continue of the ease of the program and how Dr. Doody can turn even YOUR diaper-bound child into a potty loving kid in just 7 short days by following the easy to read instructions. Suddenly, the once weary mom is rejuvenated and happy again! The program has succeeded and her child is now fully trained.

"Thank you, Dr. Doody!" she exclaims while shaking his hand and smiling. Dr. Doody smiles back, faces the camera and gushes, "No problem! Try my program out for yourself and see the difference one week can make. Dr. Doody's Easy To Follow Program For Potty Training Your Child In One Week....because you DESERVE a potty trained child."

That scene fades out and voice over man begins listing key points of the program, starting with a scene of the mom opening the door and accepting the brightly colored, toilet-decorated box from a smiling UPS man.

"But WAIT! Order now and receive Dr. Doody's Potty Training Poncho! Never be peed on by your Potty Training Toddler again!" The scene will quickly switch to show the poncho-clad mom getting blasted by some stream of liquid, but then rather than look disgusted, she'll smile at the camera with a knowing nod and an enthusiastic thumb's up.

"But WAIT!!!!" voice over man continues, "order in the next 10 seconds and we'll upgrade your package and send you Dr. Doody's Easy To Follow Program For Potty Training Your Child In 3 Days! That's RIGHT..why spend one week training when you can do it in just 3 short days! Have a big party to go to on Saturday and need your child trained? No problem! Start Dr. Doody's program on Wednesday and be amazed by Saturday. Don't delay. Order NOW. Dr. Doody....because you DESERVE a potty trained child!"...........

Camera fades out to a collage of many happy, smiling parents, all giving a thumb's up sign after flushing the toilet their child just vacated.

There might just be some money in that idea......

Looking Back At Days of Yore. Part 1

It seems like eons ago that my twins, Ashlyn & Caedance were in diapers. Maybe it is just a mental form of self preservation, maybe it is sheer exhaustion, or maybe it's just an unwillingness on my part to remember any of that particular unpleasant-ness. But, alas, I can't seem to recall my two toddling toddlers waddling about in full diapers.

But it DID happen.

I have proof. (No, I don't mean the stains on the carpet. We still have a don't ask, don't tell policy here, which will come in a later story). I digress.

Deep in the thick of what we've affectionately termed Potty Training Horrors, I wrote off several bits of fantasy. Perhaps as a means of escape. Perhaps as a way to cope. I'll never know now. What I do know and can say for sure is that now it's funny to me. And since I am now able to laugh at a great many of my follies from those earlier days of parenting, I'll record them here for others to enjoy too.

Who knows? Maybe they'll help some other extremely tired and weary mommy or daddy through their own torrid toilet battles.