Bringing Sexy Back

Ok, so I imagine that most people don’t walk into the gym already sweating. Then again, I am continually reminded that my life is not that of most people! But I was determined.

So the triplets are walking, sometimes running now. There are battles over toys, sippy cups & affection from mommy. There are regular attempts at escaping their corral every day. There are minor injuries, whining and a sudden increase in the most foul-smelling of diapers. (??) There is teething and hair pulling and the flailing of food in every corner of the kitchen. And PS – we’re moving. So there are boxes everywhere (though it looks like I’ve barely made any progress at all). Oh, and our 7 year old now has to be at football practice…four nights a week. And guess who’s helping out with coaching those four nights a week? You’ve got it…my darling hubby! Add that to his one late work night a week & that’s FIVE nights a week I don’t have my tag-team partner enter the house until after 8pm.

Need I say more? I was desperate for a break. I was tired of being tired. I was tired of the tension headaches & the fatigue. I was tired of not seeing the scale move, despite the rare chance I have these days to sit down to a meal. I was tired of STILL not being able to fit into my pre-multiple-pregnancy jeans. I was tired of feeling trapped in our house. So I was determined, single-minded, unwavering – I was going to the gym & all four kids were comin’ with me!

Now I had to be quite strategic about this venture. The child care center at the gym is only open for certain hours of the day and those hours could not conflict with meal or nap time. (We don’t mess with naptime.) It would have to be immediately after breakfast – admittedly the easiest meal of the day – no problem.

Time was ticking. All four kids are fed without any fuss. One by one, the triplets are deposited into the corral to play, whilst mommy cleans up the kitchen. (please take a moment to imagine just what that entails…) Ok, so our eldest is self sufficient & after repeating myself only three times, he eventually follows directions & gets his teeth brushed & himself dressed. I’m already dressed (it’s easy when you go to the gym in the same shorts & t-shirt you wore to bed the previous night – hypothetically speaking, of course). So it’s just a matter of changing & dressing the triplets, packing their diaper bag & loading everyone into the car. ‘I just might pull this off’, I’m thinking. I get everyone changed & dressed & as I run into the kitchen to grab sippy cups, I remember – SHOES! Oh, how I hate shoes. I swear, part of the reason I stay home with them sometimes is to avoid having to put shoes on those six fat, uncooperative little feet. But I can’t let them go the gym barefoot – so I run up to sort through the shoe crate in the nursery, praying for matching pairs & perfect fits. Two out of three go well & after going through two pairs on the ‘eldest triplet’, everyone’s shoed up!

At this point we’re only 10 minutes behind schedule. I grab my iPod, my water bottle & the diaper bag, bark at my eldest to go to the bathroom, go myself & head into the family room to grab the first baby to strap into her carseat. Truly, those three were left alone in there for mere minutes, yet I returned to find that one had taken her shoes off, one had taken the elastic out of her hair & the other had decided he would choose that as the perfect time to, well – dirty his diaper…again! I was this close to throwing in the towel. But then I thought about how good it’d feel to be on that elliptical, iPod blasting in my ears, working off this triplet bod…I was resolute! I deserved this, damnit & I wasn’t giving up! I sighed heavily, prayed for patience & did what I had to do.

20 minutes behind schedule & everyone’s in the car. The gym is just around the corner from us, and as I approached it, I wondered just how I would get everyone inside. I’d left the triple stroller at home, deciding that it probably wouldn’t fit through the gym doors anyway. So I manage to nab the parking spot closest to the door & quickly advise my eldest of the game plan: he would walk his brother in, firmly holding his hand and not leaving my side – I would carry the girls & the diaper bag.

As I said, most people don’t walk into the gym sweating, but I sure as heck did that day! What a sight we must have been. Name tags were distributed, brief instructions were given & within minutes, I was warming up. I couldn’t believe it! Sure, I kept an eye on the doorway from the elliptical machine, expecting one of the child care providers to drag me away for one reason or another, but no. I got in nearly an hour before I went back to claim my kids. It was a success and I felt great!  And you can be sure I included that pre-gym prep time in total calories burned that day! 

Discipline

Ok, let’s state the obvious – life with one child vs. multiples is, well – completely different.  I have to say though that as a parent, I’d always felt pretty confident in the area of discipline.  I have a general approach or style of parenting about which I have great conviction – a happy medium that falls somewhere between ‘because I said so’ & merely treating my kids as peers & allowing them to run the show.  It’s a delicate balance and takes work & commitment, but ultimately, we’re quite pleased with how our eldest is turning out!  And then, there are the triplets…

Part of me feels silly for using the word ‘discipline’ when referring to 14 month olds, but I must confess that I’ve been feeling a little anxiety about the whole thing.  It’s not to say that my first didn’t give me any trouble at all but man, I really don’t remember it all being so draining!  Again, keeping in mind that we are just entering the toddler stage here, I completely accept that most of what we’re dealing with here is ‘typical’ for their age.  It’s just that with our eldest, I never felt that I was dealing with so much redirection & repetition so soon.

‘No, don’t touch that!’ ‘No! No pulling hair.’ ‘No – no throwing.’ ‘Do nice.’  Are the triplets just simply not as well behaved as their big brother?  No, I know that’s probably not true.  So (for my sake) let’s put it in perspective…

The fact is, I AM repeating & redirecting a lot more – after all, three is more than one!  For that matter, there wasn’t a pint sized playmate for our eldest – someone whose hair was begging to be pulled, someone who would fight you for a toy, someone with whom you had to share mommy & daddy’s attention.  And so with multiples, there is more, shall we say, antagonism for them to deal with.  Ok, got it.

It was very validating to discover that there’s even a name, a very formal name for one aspect of this – it’s called TES or Twin Escalation Syndrome.  Can you guess what it is??  That’s right – it’s “the tendency of multiples to intensify & expand their behaviors in reaction to each other”.  We’ve all been there.  Little Susie starts banging her cup on the highchair & so Little Bobby bangs his…only louder!  Little Joey throws a toy into the coffee table & Little Annie throws hers too – until all of the toys have been emptied out of the play area.  The list goes on & on…

Then there’s the whole concept of having a captive audience.  Why pay attention to mommy’s reprimands through gritted teeth when my little buddies over here are laughing at me???  I’m funny!  And hey, mommy’s giving me her undivided attention!

So it really is a unique dynamic…one that is challenging & potentially quite stressful.  I’ve been disappointed so far at the lack of information available ‘out there’ that addresses this issue for parents of multiples. Although these articles were somewhat helpful:

http://www.twinsuk.co.uk/resources_tips.php?cat_id=16&id=9934011

http://multiples.about.com/cs/familyissues/a/twinescalation.htm

http://multiples.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=multiples&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.twinshelp.com%2Farticles%2Fdiscipline.html

In the meantime, simply reminding ourselves that it is a challenge & that it will get easier can begin to take the edge off.  (It has already for me!) Perhaps this falls into the category of so many other things related to life with multiples – things that we have to keep in perspective & take in stride.  They are learning & so are we. 

I’ll be attending my first twins/triplets club toddler meeting later next month, where the topic will be discipline.  I’d be happy to share any other pearls of wisdom we discover there.

So what works for you?  Are there any resources specific to multiples that you’d recommend?

The HER Within the Mot'her'

Phew! Just got back from our 8 day vacation down the shore…hence, the late post.

Anyway, this was our first ‘real’ vacation as a family of six. And, OMG – we not only survived, but we really SO enjoyed ourselves & actually relaxed! I was even able to read AN ENTIRE BOOK, people!!  As I sit here back at home, bags yet to be unpacked, I am full of gratitude for those few days. I knew that we needed to get away, but it wasn’t until vacation day 3 that I realized just how necessary that time was.

First, the setting:
- the guest house on my grandparents property at the Jersey shore…a small, yet cozy little cottage (hey – less to clean!); an immaculately maintained in ground pool outside our door; a patio overlooking the river, complete with a hammock, garden & grill; our choice of boating, kayaking or crabbing off of the dock; seafood restaurant/bar AND Dunkin’ Donuts within walking distance; the beach/boardwalk within a 5 minute car ride. Top that with a little nostalgia for all of the childhood memories I have there and well, as my husband said, ‘it’s a little piece of heaven’!

Ok, so day 3…the weather was perfect and I had woken up early. The triplets had slept in (meaning past 6am) and I practically bounced down the stairs. I was invigorated by the day, our new surroundings and the fact that my husband was going to be around for a full week to not only help with the kids, but to enjoy them with me. I grabbed my sneakers & my iPod, informing my husband that I would be walking to Dunkin’ Donuts for our morning coffee.

I don’t remember what song I was listening to at the time, but I had only been walking for about ¼ of a mile when it occurred to me…I was walking by mySelf, listening to my music and walking to someplace I really wanted to go. It happened rather suddenly & filled me up completely. Yes, I’d realized that I could use a break – a change of pace, a more relaxed environment, my hubby around for an entire week to co-parent with me…but on that walk, in the quiet sunshine I was able to hear my own voice again! It was like re-connecting with an old friend – someone you feel completely comfortable with, someone you really like. This, I thought, this makes me happy. I really like this song. I love being outside, I love to walk & I love my morning coffee. So big deal, right?

Very big deal! You see, in my former life, I was a Life Coach. My practice focused primarily on mothers – supporting them in re-connecting with themSelves, helping them to see themselves beyond the role of mother. So many of my coaching sessions, so many talks I’ve given centered around trying to convince mothers that filling themSelves up first was the only way to give to their children. A simple concept, a complex commitment. I thought that I had been doing a pretty good job of it, but what I had become good at was ignoring my own needs, or at least at putting them last.

It was easy to preach self-care with only one child at the time! The universe needed to put me in the thick of it to really understand. As MoMs, the challenge of staying connected with the HER within the mot’her’ is, well…multiplied! Pre-vacation I was done, taxed, stressed, tired – I remember telling my husband that I felt like a well that had gone dry. That simple little shore vacation – taking those morning walks & giving myself permission to read a WHOLE book – allowed me to breath a little deeper. It gave me the space I needed to find my center again – to be present. And I assure you, I was a more pleasant wife & mother for it! I haven’t enjoyed just being with my family like that in awhile. I realized that I’d been carrying some BS belief that vacation was an indulgence – a guilty pleasure. Where’d THAT come from?? Vacation, especially now, will be a matter of course in our home, a commitment.

So now that we’re home, I’d like to come up with ways to stay in ‘that place’. So how do you do it? (No pun intended!!) What commitments do you keep to yourSelf?

No Pictures, Please.

Ok, so I have to start with a disclaimer…I am writing right now with a bit of a ‘bad taste in my mouth’.  May as well put it out there – I’m in ‘a mood’ because I made the error in judgment to turn on ‘E!’ whilst tidying up the tornado the triplets left behind in our family room today.  Anyway, ‘E!’ was featuring a special – ‘Jon & Kate – Separate Lives’.  I know, I know…but again, mindless background chatter to decompress to after a long weekend. 

 

Bottom line – I was appalled.  (And that is not a word often found in my vocabulary!)  The show was obviously focused around the couple’s recent marital troubles, including suspicions of infidelity on Jon Gosselin’s part.  Now, regardless of what your opinion is of:

A)    the show itself

B)    Kate & her personality

C)    their decision to expose their children to a reality show

D)    Kate’s hairstyle or WHATEVER!

…they are human beings.  They are parents with the task & responsibility of raising EIGHT human beings.  As I do not find myself in that particular situation, I choose to reserve judgment.  The media (and many others) however, apparently feel quite justified not only in chasing these people down, but quite harshly & presumptuously judging their lives, their choices, and their audacity to “overwhelm” the employees of a jewelry store by bringing their “entourage” in so that the kids could make their own jewelry!  The nerve!  Next time, Kate, keep your “entourage” at home, behind closed doors.  Don’t you know that you have no right to lead a normal family life??

 

I know – maybe you’re rolling your eyes & talking aloud to your screens right now, reminding me that they signed up for this – the celebrity, the spotlight.  Trust me, I’m not saying that their choices align with mine either, but do they have to?

 

This is the thing.  It’s somewhat raw for me because it’s all just a little too close to home; especially this weekend.  No, not the mansion on fifty acres or whatever it is, not the book tours and box seats to Phillies games.  It’s the attention and the assumptions.  It’s the judgment and the lack of consideration when people choose to speak – to speak about a situation about which they have no clue. 

 

Now that the triplets are no longer diggin’ spending their days surrounded by toys in their corral, we try to get them out fairly regularly.  (Admittedly sometimes more for my sanity than theirs.)  may-june-2009-160

 

This weekend we were on the move more than usual.  The itinerary included a local carnival, our son’s seventh b’day party (seven is both his age and the number of parties I think he had this year…) and a Father’s Day outing to IHOP and the park. 

 

Now, I get it – triplets are not ‘common’, and triplets ‘plus one’ is, well – even more!  But seriously, I just don’t think we’re the side show everyone makes us out to be.  There was the usual:

“So do triplets run in the family?”  (aka – Did you do IVF?)

“Boy do you have your hands full!” (Yes, do you have any to spare?  Because one of my kids is getting away as I take the time to acknowledge the biggest understatement of the century.)

“Wow – you must be busy!” (Yes, yes I am. Appreciate the insight.)

But what irked me this weekend were the less frequent, more insidious ones like:

“We only have two; I’d kill myself if I were you.” 

“Wow – I feel really sorry for you.”

And “You come out (to the carnival, to IHOP, etc) with ALL of them?”

 

Believe it or not, that last one really got me. It’s not as often as we’d like and it takes much longer to get out the door than we’d hope, but yes, we do go out!  It takes more work, more patience, more prep time and more equipment, but what’s the alternative?  Our family may not be typical, but we are ‘normal’ in terms of needing to get out, experience new things and enjoy living life together.  So what is it about seeing a family with multiples that suddenly robs others of social graces & good judgment? 

 

Alright, so maybe I’m projecting a bit on J&K+8.  Maybe they don’t mind the attention and scrutiny quite as much as I do.  Maybe it’s just growing pains on my part as a MoM.  Maybe all of the attention and the comments just start to fade into the background with each passing outing?  Well, here’s to hoping!  (Us MoMs are good at that!)