It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time

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My dad always jokes about writing a book entitled “It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time” Consider this topic the material for chapter 10.

Our twins are a little over three and half years old. And they are identical girls.

For the last two years we have discussed and promised and sworn that we would commit and do the unthinkable… take away their pacifiers. We knew the day had to come, and my husband and I were dreading it.  Over Christmas I was laughing with my mate about our new years resolutions and he says this: “I’m done with resolutions but I think C & C should resolve to give up those dang paci’s!”  I agree with him and we go on with our holiday lives, terrified but committed about the coming weeks.

So the day arrived and we did the whole Paci fairy, dramatic note (see pic below, the wrapped package is the pacifier ready for a new baby). My older twin was pretty much ready, she totally bought the story… “we’re giving them to the babies!” and my younger twin was skeptical and not too happy. But, in a moment of 3 year old courage, she also handed it over. I cried, she was so brave!

This is where our happy life ends.

Now, readers, seriously… our kids are easy, we loved parenting, we were so happy that we were  even in… “yay! let’s have a third kid!” mode. We have our days and moments but they are sweet, compliant, fun kids, I promise!

So, when I tell you that they were ticked off without those little pieces of plastic love, consider it an understatement of the century.

So far the mutiny has looked like this:

  1. No more naps. They napped for 2 hours a day, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. of their lives. Typically, happy as larks to crawl into their sweet beds…now gone.
  2. Tantrums all day long. I have never used time-out so much. No joke, I did a time out at 3:45am two nights ago.
  3. Angry, whiny, sad, crying, rag doll I–will-not-walk tantrums in public.
  4. Refusal to go to bed with unending stall tactics.
  5. The reintroduction of the pack and play as a nighttime, time-out containment system. Lets not forget that they are almost 4 years old.
  6. Variety of hitting, pushing, biting, each other… totally new behaviors.
  7. Waking up all night long like they are infants.

So here is what I know now. We are all tired. So very tired. Emotionally and physically. My husband was ranting about driving to Target at 10pm last night and buying new paci’s. I suggested he have a drink and simmer down. He obliged.

I have been reflecting on why this has been so hard and whether it was the right choice. I have regret that I let it go on so long. They have real opinions and voices as they have grown and developed. Why did I do that to them? Would it have been easier if they were only 1?

I do know that the pacifier was my friend as a twin parent. I couldn’t always soothe two simultaneously, so the pacifier was my wingman. I used that thing, and it worked. They were attached to it. I am glad that it did its job, but it has been such a battle to force them to find new ways to self soothe. They are clearly still adjusting, and I must remind myself to be patient and teach them how to respond to stress in healthy ways. As a twin mom, in the early days my focus was to keep them happy, fed, clean. Now a new focus is to teach them how to use their emotions.  I didn’t realize that my *seemingly harmless* methods had some real longterm consequences. Let this be a life long parenting lesson to me!

I know that we will move from this and look back and laugh and say… “hey babe, remember the time that we got rid of the Paci’s and we both had nervous breakdowns and the kids cried for weeks?!?! Yeah! Hahaha, that was crazy hard!” just like I look back and remember all the other hard things we have endured with the intensity of raising two humans in the same moment. From where I stand now, it’s really hard still. I am still working on incorporating a nap every few days, maintaining bedtime, and encouraging kind sisterly behaviors and staying patient. I and so grateful that I have a great spouse who supports and co-parents with me, friends that listen and say “yeah.. that is terrible!” and a God who gives me new mercies every morning.

Of course, we still have our happy life and I need to remind myself that this is temporary. The next twin adventure is probably just around the corner.

Do you have any parenting choices that you would have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

 

Lisa is from Hampton Roads, Virginia. She is a mom to three and a half year old identical girls. She is a psychologist (also known as the “feelings doctor” by her kids) and has an independent practice where she works three days a week. Her days are filled with the constant pursuit of balance, while enjoying “the good stuff” of life.  

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The GOOD ENOUGH Mother

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Hello blogworld! I’m very excited to join the ranks of the HDYDI bloggers. I want to take a second to introduce myself. My name is Lisa. I am married to Dan, and we have identical twins daughters who are currently 2 years old. I’m a psychologist who works in private practice in Hampton Roads, Virginia. I blog about all things psychological at www.theclinicaltruth.blogspot.com. I play mommy two and a half days a week and answer calls for apple juice and sidewalk chalk. The rest of the week I play Dr. Lisa and am a psychotherapist who does individual, marital and family therapy. I will be writing posts about parenting multiples with the added component of my favorite topic- psychology!  I love feedback, so be sure to leave lots of comments- and don’t be shy about suggesting topics that you may want to hear more about!

The GOOD ENOUGH Mother

Parenting is not for sissies. It’s HARD. Like, really hard. I don’t know about you, but when we brought our twins (born at 35 weeks) home from the hospital, I distinctly remember looking at my husband and our two tiny swaddled baby burritos and thinking…um, now what?  Do you remember that bewildering moment of the first newborn days?

So as time passed I started to really wonder if I fit the bill for this big job. Was I going to be able to meet their needs simultaneously? Would I know how to decipher their toddler mumblings? What about the awkward years, God forbid I mess this whole thing up and land them in therapy!

So, as I came out of my nursing Prolactin fog I started to remember something I learned back in the good ol days of graduate school that made me feel SO much better….

How do we figure out how to parent our kids? Do we exit the birth canal understanding the ins and outs of discipline and chore charts? No… of course not. We learn to parent by observing other people. Specifically, we learned what to expect in the world based on our experiences with our parents. For some of you readers, this may be good news, for others, maybe not so much.  Regardless of whether you had freakin’ fantastic parents or the I’d like to trade you in for a different model parents, you collected data about life and the world around you.

We all want to get on the freakin fantastic parents list, but HOW do we get there?

No one has your exact answer to this question, but here is an idea you may find encouraging:

You are a good enough mother.

There is a psychological concept actually called “The Good Enough Mother.” This was developed from Donald Winnicott, a British physician later turned psychiatrist whose prime was in the days of psychoanalysis (Think Freud, the lie on the couch and tell me all your dreams guy).

Winnicott wrote that the good enough mother adapts and responds to the child’s needs, thus teaching the child that he/she has some sense of control over their caregiver, which eventually builds comfort and trust of the mother.

He also noted that the interactions between parent and child really do matter, because they teach us how to respond and what to expect of the world around us.

It turns out that if you actually are perfect that you might be modeling irrational and impossible behaviors that could confuse kids into thinking that their imperfections make them not good enough, or even unlovable.  Oh, Hello, my old friend shame….

In other words, your failure to perfectly meet and adapt to every single need of your child actually builds a realistic expectations in your child’s mind. His or her acceptance of and adaptation to the reality that the world is a harsh place that isn’t always perfect, convenient or fair is REALLY important to successful adulthood.   Put even more simply, some amounts of Mom Failure = Good.

A good enough mother meets her child’s needs but BALANCES her response to the child (in age appropriate ways of course!). She does not run herself ragged trying to perform well enough for love and acceptance from her kids or spouse. She makes mistakes, she apologizes. She has emotions, she works hard. She is real.  So when the going gets tough and you wonder if you are good enough. Give yourself a break. You are.

Teaching our kids that we are real and not just apron wearing robots is what is really important because after all, we’re not raising kids, we’re actually raising adults.

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