I think she’s out to lunch, guys. Or maybe she went to check out that new swanky bar downtown for an afternoon cocktail (okay, it was 10am, but close enough)? No? Well, then she went to the mall to update her lame-ass wardrobe of lounge pants, jeans, ratty t-shirts and crocs? Or how about she went for a day at the spa filled with a massage, mani-pedi, facial AND haircut?
Oh, wait…there she is! She’s coming around the corner right now. See! See! She just went to the bathroom for the Guinness Book of World Record’s shortest pee. That’s all, no need to cry.
You’d think I was some crazy, selfish, negligent mother the way my boys act when I leave the room, or god forbid, step foot out of the house without them. Actually, it’s just one of them. The other one could care less, but when he sees his brother putting on such an act, he can’t resist joining in. I used to have such content little guys, but ever since they hit one year, the cling factor has ratcheted up to unimaginable proportions. It’s one of the less-than-attractive realities of having twins, really. Two whining, crying babies clamoring to get into your arms, clawing at your pants trying to climb up your legs, digging into your shoulders with their sharp little nails for fear that you’ll, god forbid, put them down ON THE FLOOR!
Don’t they know that it’s physically very difficult for me to carry them around at the same time? That they have mastered walking (and crawling, for cripes sake!) for a reason? Yah, guys, god put those two legs on you so you can get to your highchair on your own. Come on guys! If you’re so upset that I am going into the kitchen to get your milk, just walk on in there with me. I’ll even let you play in the open refrigerator. It doesn’t get much better than that! Oh, you say that you’re so upset that you can’t move? As soon as you see me stand up you have to turn into a limp fish and sob face down on the hardwood floor? …And so it goes…
It’s times like these that I get really frustrated. Frustrated that I have two babies – and not one – to soothe and comfort and distract and pick up and hold and cuddle. Because I realize at one year these guys are still new to this world and that separation anxiety is a very real developmental issue. And I want to be there for them and help them through this time. But it’s hard! Not as hard as when they are both sick as dogs, but still nonetheless hard. I’ve felt myself start to lose it and really get angry in these situations. I’ve even found myself just shutting down and not saying anything to them for fear of what would come out.
So over the past few weeks I decided to make a change…in me. Because that’s the only thing I really can change at this point. And you know what? It actually works! When the boys start to cling, I hug them and kiss them and hold them all the more. And I stay calm and happy and try a quick scenery change – we go outside on the patio or for a walk or into their room or even our bathroom with all the mirrors. Nine times out of ten it does the trick. If it gets really bad and I don’t have the energy, I calmly carry them into their room and put them in one crib with a few books, their blankets and binkies and tell them I need to take a few minutes for myself. Oh, and I’ve resigned myself to just hanging with them for the time being. I used to have the luxury of being on the computer, reading a book, cooking, cleaning, etc. while they happily played. So I’ve decided to really enjoy the time I have to play with them instead of feeling resentment that I can’t cross off the things “on my list,” or do free-time type activities. Because really, what is better than playing, reading and totally romping around with two of your most favorite people in the universe?!
The funny thing is, things have gotten significantly better with my attitude adjustment. They just don’t seem as clingy. And we’re working on, in a very positive, encouraging way, getting them to follow me from room to room (and I’ve resigned myself to allowing them play in the bathroom while I, um, do my business. They love it. Hopefully this pays off in the potty training department). Better yet, this whole situation has made me realize that I need to make me a priority in this relationship. I joined a gym over five months ago that has a fantastic child care center and decided it was time, amidst the cling-factor, for us all to get a little exercise. So last week I brought them there just to hang out and play, with me present, for 15-20 minutes. They dug it in a serious way. So many cool new toys! This week it was time for me to leave them there on their own. Monday I left for 10 minutes. Oz was totally cool with it, of course. Abie not so much. Tuesday I left for 30 minutes. The boys actually did great most of the time, but a staff change at the 25 minute mark was too much for Abie. Yesterday I left them for 45 minutes. Let me say that again. 45 minutes of pure me time! I felt like I was really pushing it, but when I went to get them they were happy as clams. So happy, in fact, that Abie had no interest in leaving. He took one look at me, smiled, waved, and turned away to play with his new friends. Love it!
I was reluctant to even try the child care thing because I thought it would be too traumatic for the guys given the phase that they’re in. But I’m so glad I did. And I’m so glad I eased them (and continue to ease them) in to it. Because it’s a big deal to these little people. I’ve been so fortunate that I can be with them all day, every day. But that also means that being away from me, even when I leave the room, is huge. I can respect that. And they can also learn to respect that in order for mom to be at her best, she needs some time herself.
And so I continue to walk this road one step, one room, and one day at a time. And the great thing about it is that I can, for the time being, always count on there being four little feet treading really, really close by.