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.