The Machine Age

The weather has been lovely here, and the children have had spring break. My boys know how to pump on a swing, but still beg for a “starting push” to provide a bit of momentum. As I pushed my 3-year-old and provided intermittent starting pushes for the boys, I realized this will probably be the summer they master the swing set, once and for all. By fall, I don’t imagine they’ll need my help with this.

It wasn’t long ago that pushing the boys on the swing set was my art form. The slow effort to get into cadence. The satisfaction in eventually gaining momentum, getting them going just right, the three of us in an intricate repetition like a train engine — me the coupling rod between the driving wheels moving in rhythm. But we’ve gotten smaller, my boys and I. We’re no longer the overbearing locomotive with our quad- or double stroller. They skim along on small red bikes with training wheels, which will probably come off this summer as well. And I follow behind, with my one unobtrusive toddler on her undersized plastic trike.

When my kids were babies, I felt like moms of older twin boys were somehow very different from me. It wasn’t only that their children were older, their lives easier — or less immediate. At the time I couldn’t identify what the difference was. But on a quiet afternoon, standing in the warm spot just outside the shadow of the swing set, I quickly understood how they differed from me:

They were harder.

I think I mean that in every sense of the word. They were the kind of moms who intimidated me. Loud, athletic, tough, seemingly self-assured, unafraid.

And now I understand that quite possibly their twin boys made them that way.

It was easy to hide behind my gigantic strollers and live in the immediacy of twin toddlers. But now my boys aren’t adorable mischievous babies. They are gangly 5-year-olds who will use any stick, crayon, or tube of chapstick as a gun or sword, and when they chase each other their laughing sounds like a pack of hooting monkeys. It is hard for me to be still and allow the behavior I have decided to allow, if that makes any sense. I find myself wanting to admonish them to sit down, be quiet, sit still, stop saying that, etc. But at the same time, I love their energy and exuberance, and if they can’t laugh and chase and hoot like wild monkeys when we’re at a park, then what has the world come to?

So, I raise my voice in public. I chase them down if I have to. I pretend none of it bothers me – that in fact my plan for the day included precisely this. 7:15 – Yell for chasing to remain within certain boundaries. 7:24 – Stop mulch fight. 7:27 – Physically restrain two children. 7:30 – Casually pack up following soccer practice and head to the minivan. Yes, all according to plan.

They’ve toughened me up. I’m still uncomfortable with the stares, but I pretend I don’t notice them as I wrangle my kids. It doesn’t feel like a well oiled machine, but I’m hoping we look the part.

Jen is a work-from-home mom of twins + 2. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine.

7 thoughts on “The Machine Age

  1. I love the imagery in your post; well written IMHO. I totally get the “I pretend none of it bothers me – that in fact my plan for the day included precisely this.” front. I have playdates with singletons and this is the face that I always put on when things go sour. One of them peed in their pants? I know just how to deal with it, just like I planned. One of them hit the other? I know how to deal with it too, it was just an learning/teaching exercise for them that I had planned. LOL.

  2. When people tell me how saintly I am, how super well behaved my children are, or what a ‘natural’ I am…I try hard to keep a straight face and murmur some thanks. “Fake It,” is my message tone, and fake it I do. Sometimes well enough to warrant praise.
    .-= Viv´s last blog ..G.W.A. =-.

  3. I’m sure all those people who are staring at you are thinking, “I could never do what she does.” Even though my twins are only a year, I get comments like that all the time. It’s not that I am doing anything special. It’s the mere fact that somehow we MoMs and our children survive of it all. I think people look at multiples with a lot of curiosity and, if they are normal, a sense of relief that it is not them.
    .-= Samantha´s last blog ..Measuring Success =-.

  4. I can relate! When I am out with my boys we sometimes make a big, loud, messy spectacle of ourselves and I herd them back to the minivan amid many stares. Its like wrangling wild things- raising boys- I have 3 boys (twins almost age 3, and older son age 8)- they HAVE made me tough. I do everything quickly, and I’m always prepared for a mess. We get dirty, we get loud, and on most normal days I count the minutes until bedtime. But their hugs and smiles make it more than worth it. Us moms of boys are a special breed.

  5. And to bring home the point, I was out with my boys a couple months ago. They were acting crazy, running around, I could barely contain them in their antics (as usual).
    Meanwhile a dad was out with his twin girls, same age as my boys (about 2 1/2). Those girls were dressed so cute and nice and they sat (SAT!!) next to their dad on the bench watching the action. When it was time to go they got up calmly, each held his hand and walked off. WTF?!??

  6. So true…my boys are also 5 and I sometimes wonder what my neighbors think of me yelling out the door at them. “Get in here and get your clothes back on!” “Stop hitting the dog!” “Stop hitting each other!” “Stop throwing things at each other!” “Stop breaking things!” I can hardly wait until their little brother is big enough to join them :)
    .-= Rachel´s last blog ..Finding Contentment in a Facebook World =-.

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