About Sadia

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Multiples of America Convention: First Full Day

I’m a first-time attendee at the annual Multiples of America (formerly National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs – NOMOTC) Convention. This year it was just down the highway from my house, in Austin. My kids were at their Dad’s for the summer. It seemed like it was meant to be, so I registered, wondering if I was nuts for taking a week off work to talk twin motherhood all day every day.

I didn’t know a soul. Well, I’d seen two of the participants at an Austin Mothers of Multiples meeting once, but that was it. I volunteered to help with registration, thinking I might as well make the most of being local. It took approximately seconds after my arrival to feel welcome and at home.

That’s the really great thing about the multiples parents community. Once you’re a member of this club, just by virtue of being a parent of multiples, there’s an immediate kinship and sense of belonging. I hear my singleton moms complain about the judgment they encounter. I’ve gotten my share of condemning comments from other moms and from non-parents, but never from another mother of multiples.

Perhaps it’s because I’m out there as a Mom of Twins. After all, I do write for a blog about parenting multiples. I am the weirdo who had to be yanked out of a restaurant bathroom recently by a friend because I was making us late. I’d fallen into conversation with another mother of identical girl twins and lost track of time. Perhaps my overwhelmingly positive experience is unique.

I don’t think so, though.

My kids are at an odd age now for parenting clubs. When I attended my first AMOM meeting last month, I was the parent with the oldest multiples, by far. In a room filled with expectant parents, moms of infants, and moms of toddlers, my 8-year-olds were positively geriatric.

Among the early arrivals at the Convention, I’m on the young side. The first people who took me under their wings had multiples in their 30s and 40s. One lovely woman I spoke to attended her first Convention in 1972. Another has come every year, without fail, since 1995.

We haven’t yet talked all that much about parenting. The Convention proper doesn’t get underway until Wednesday. Of course we exchanged notes on our kids and looked at each other’s family photos. But mostly, we just had fun. We visited President Johnson’s ranch, known as the Texas White House.

We went wine tasting.

After dinner, we’re going swimming.

And that’s just my first day.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school and also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.


How do you do it? Parenting Link Up #33

Skip to this week’s links | Skip to featured posts | Skip to linkup rules

Welcome to the How Do You Do It? parenting link up party. Here, you have an opportunity to share your posts with other parent bloggers and the followers of How Do You Do It? and What’s up Fagans?.

How Do You Do It? is a community of mothers of multiples that believes in supporting each other, in sharing our experiences and questions, in friendship, and in encouragement. The link up is open to all of our readers, whether you have multiples or not. It’s a place for you to share your wisdom, your favorite posts, your insights, with our online community here at HDYDI.

Each week, we pick some of our favorite posts and feature them the following week on our site! Plus, we pin them on Pinterest, tweet them on Twitter, and share them on Google+ and Facebook! Get some more exposure for your great content, and don’t forget to check out the featured posts from last week’s link up!

Plus, ldskatelyn of What’s up Fagans? co-hosts the party on her blog as well. One party on two blogs means double the exposure and community.

Each HDYDI parenting link up party accepts new links from Monday morning through Friday at noon.

So tell us: How do you handle conception, pregnancy, prematurity, birth, and postpartum recovery? How do you handle tantrums, diapering bills, stress, and potty training? How do you handle education and special needs? How do you balance the needs of several children with a marriage? How do you manage being a stay-at-home mom, a working mom, or a single parent? And how do you find time for yourself?

How do you do it?!

This week’s featured posts:

Thanks to all our linkers, whether you’re a regular or an occasional link up participant!

This week’s most clicked post was from Kathie of Fruitful Families. She wrote about 6 reasons mom lose their joy. Narrowing the list to 6 parts of your life that you can re-examine makes recapturing joy in your life a manageable project. Thank you, Kathie, for sharing your insights.

Reexamine these parts of your life if you're a mom who needs to find her way back to joy. From Fruitful Families

Link up host Katelyn of What’s Up Fagans wrote a thought-provoking post on a similar topic. She wrote about Mommy Me Time, acknowledging that it’s important, but challenging us to think about what we’re trying to get out of that time.

Mommy Me Time matters, but be deliberate about what you're getting out of it.

Herchel of Scruggbug Corner provided some very practical interview tips for SAHMs looking to reenter the workforce. Her advice rang very true to me, with 8 years of working motherhood under my belt. The two pieces of advice that really stood out were to never apologize for choosing to stay home with your children, and to hold yourself to the same standards as other interviewees who have been in the workforce more recently than you have.

On point tips for SAHMs interviewing for jobs.

If you’re looking for an inspired activity for your little ones, check out this Arctic Small World post from My Big Fat Happy Life‘s Paris. She put together some ice blocks, water, and arctic-themed small toys as encouragement for creative play.

Arctic Small World Play, from My Big Fat Happy Life

If you were featured above make sure to grab our featured button and display it proudly on your blog! How Do You Do It? Featured Post

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Parenting Link Up PartyRules for the How Do You Do It? Parenting Link Up Party:

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  4. Link up to 3 great parenting posts below! Please, no recipes posts! Of course, link directly to a post, not your main page. Also, under “name” put the title of your post.
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The Twin Dynamic (Spoiler: There Isn’t Just One)

My daughters were only one of four sets of twins in their grade in the school’s dual language program. Forty-nine kids. Eight twins. This meant that their teachers got some really great insights into the variation that exists in twin relationships.

We got to talking about this the other night over dinner, and I found Mrs. H’s observations to be fascinating.

The Twin Dynamic

First, some background.

Both my 8-year-olds, M and J, are excellent at math. However, M is extremely public and loud about being good at math. When she has nothing else to do, she walks around multiplying 2 and 3 digit numbers in her head and announcing her results to everyone within earshot. J just does the math she needs to do to get through her day and make her teachers proud. She’d rather read.

In a recent math/problem-solving competition, it was J who placed nationally. M did extremely well, earning a spot on the honour roll thanks to her 90th percentile score, but J got the really big deal award.

Their teacher, Mrs. H, who is also their best friend’s mother, is very sensitive to all her students’ confidence and emotional needs. So, before announcing J’s accomplishment to the class, she asked M if it would be okay to acknowledge her exceptional performance on this test. She reminded M that she was fully aware that she was the Class Mathematician and that she really does have stupendous numerical and logical abilities.

M didn’t hesitate for a moment. Of course she wanted J acknowledged. She was proud of her sister. She was prouder of her sister being one of 89 students out of 25,000 nationwide to earn a perfect score than she would have been had she achieved it herself. In fact, it was M who bragged to me (and every stranger we encountered) about her sister’s performance, not realizing I’d already heard from the teacher. I was the one point out how well M had done, and she poopooed my enthusiasm in light of J’s win.

Mrs. H observed to me that my daughters’ pride in each other, protectiveness of each other, and lack of competitiveness in academics was unique among the twin pairs under her tutelage. J and M can bicker with the best of them, but when there’s an accomplishment to be noted, there’s never any resentment. They have no sense that one sister performing better diminishes the other in any way.

Neither of them can stand to lose at board games, though. The tears that have been shed in our house over Candyland, Monopoly and Yahtzee could fill a small lake. I banned playing for points the day I introduced Scrabble.

The other girl twins, Mrs. H told me when I asked, are rather more likely to measure their academic performance against each other. They’re more likely to take differences to heart. They, too, are extremely high performers at school. Mrs. H joked that when other teachers make comments about how smart “her twins” are, it takes quite a bit of digging to figure out which pair is under discussion. All four girls have straight black hair, are half-Mexican, dress differently from their sisters, and are sweet, well-mannered, and popular on the playground. The two sets of boys were in the class at different times, so they’re a little easier to distinguish. The boys, too, are rather more competitive than my daughters.

I think it’s important to remember that multiples, as sets, are as unique as they are as individuals. My twins’ relationship doesn’t look like your twins’ relationship, and that’s good and normal. I wish more educators were like Mrs. H, recognizing that being a twin doesn’t dictate how a child interacts with the world. At least in my experience, the twin relationship enriches the individual child, rather than dictating her behaviour or limiting her options.

Stay tuned for a post next week containing our advice to a mother who is fighting for her sons’ right to be in the same classroom. I so wish they had Mrs. H as their teacher. She gets it.

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

An Exersaucer Just for Twins? Yes, Please!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably walked through the baby section of the store or seen a handy baby gadget at a friend’s house, and thought, “I wish they made that for multiples. It would just need a [insert brilliant recommendation here].”

And if you’re anything like me, you probably moved right on with your day.

Allow me to introduce you to Karan. She had an idea for a twin improvement, and has actually done something about it!

Meet Karan, twin mom and inventor of the Twin Funsaucer.

Karan, twin mom and inventor of the Twin Funsaucer.

Karan’s a MoM, just like us. Her mono/mono identical boys, Nolan and Gabriel, turned a year old in May. Karan saw how much her little guys enjoyed their one exersaucer and bought a second one, but wished she could have just one that they could share and interact in.

Identical twin brothers.Karan drew up an idea for a two-baby interactive exersaucer. A Twin Funsaucer, if you will. There’s a spot for one baby in the center, and the other baby has a spot around the outside of the exersaucer, like a snuggly wriggly solar system of joy. You can see a diagram at Quirky, where inventors can submit their ideas, and the best ideas can get turned into reality.

If you want to help get the Twin Funsaucer to market, or just help another MoM out, please visit Karan’s invention on Quirky and give it a nice big thumbs up. You do need to register to vote, but you can connect your Facebook account or create a Quirky-only account with your email address. I did the latter, and it took less than a minute to sign up and vote. I imagine that Facebook is even faster.

I asked Karan how inspiration struck, and here’s what she had to say:

The inspiration for my idea was essentially that our boys always want to play with the same toy at the same time, but with exersaucers and jumperoos, it wasn’t possible.

karan water

[Gabriel and Nolan] like interacting, but there also needed to be enough space between them that they couldn’t grab or hit one another. We have exersaucers, and this other Bright Starts toy that has an activity table with a seat attached that allows freedom of movement around the table – like a walker.

I thought, if you could combine those things, then two children could play at once. Then I thought, why couldn’t you sell an another seat for triplets? And for that matter, possibly even create a way to turn the seats into walkers when they are not attached?

I am an ideas person, but I never had something I felt so filled a niche. My mother-in-law helped me come up with a couple of possible design concepts and that was that!

More About Karan

karan umbilical knotAbout her sons, Karan says, “They are so smart and funny. We feel incredibly blessed that they have done so well – especially when their umbilical cords were so knotted.” Karan had to return to work only a week after the boys came home from the NICU. Her husband had been laid off from his bank manager job and stayed with them for nearly 8 months. Now that he’s back at work, they consider themselves very lucky to have found a daycare they trust with their sweet boys.

Karan and her husband met later in life. His 11-year-old daughter lives with them during the school year. You can see what a great big sister she is, and how she is adored in the photo below!

Big sister with twin brothers!Karan started trying to conceive at age 38 and lost a pregnancy. She and her husband tried again a few months later and Gabriel and Nolan joined the family. Karan is a sonographer by day, so she discovered that she was expecting monoamniotic twins on her own! She went into inpatient care at 24 weeks at the University of CT Health Center and delivered via scheduled C-section at 32 weeks. The boys were 4 lbs 1 oz each and spent 40 and 42 days in the NICU/step down unit respectively.

Karan, expecting twin boys!Karan loves everything about motherhood much more than she thought she would. The biggest challenge she faces being a twin mom is not being able to help them both at the same time. The boys are still too little to understand that she only has two arms and doesn’t have the power to make all their hurts go away.

Look at that proud Daddy!

Karan confesses that having twinfants is also stressful on a couple. She calls her husband a patient, forgiving person, admitting that she can be hotheaded. I think a lot of us can relate to that!

You can reach Karen by email… and don’t forget to give her Twin Funsaucer your vote of confidence!

What’s your brilliant idea, just waiting to be produced?

Twinsburg Movie in the Works

Twin celebration season is right around the corner.

Next week, the Multiples of America (formerly NOMOTC) will be holding their annual convention right here in Austin. Will I see any of you there?

Twins Days in Twinsburg Ohio is at the beginning of next month. Jen B has taken her kids in the past. Jen W’s family are regulars. Have you ever been?

This year, twin brothers are even filming a movie there, a movie about twinhood, interdependence and independence. “TWINSBURG is a dramatic comedy about identical brothers reconnecting at the world’s largest gathering of twins.

We recently received an email from Jessica Kelly telling us about the movie Twinsburg.

I’m part of a small crew of folks from the San Francisco Bay Area who are making a short film about two twins who grow apart and find themselves reconnecting at the Twins Days festival in Ohio. Since I got to read all of your twins-love, I thought we could share some of ours!

We’d love to hear your thoughts and gain some support as well. Let us know what you think!

Identical twin Joe Garrity and fellow Bay Area multiples need your help making a short film this summer at the Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio! We’re crowd-funding our production budget and asking friends and families of twins to help make this independent project about twins, by twins, a reality. Check out the Kickstarter page, pledge your donations, and help spread the word!

You can also follow the movie on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram: @twinsburgmovie

VoiceBoks’ Best 2014 Multiple Parenting Blogs

One of the great things about parenting multiples is the wonderful community of supportive parents we’re automatically part of. These are the parents who get it, who realize that having babies 18 months apart is not “just like twins.” These are the parents who will put their own stroller aside to hold the door for ours. These are the parents who offer to come over in the middle of the night to help you feed your brood… and mean it.

For many of us, it’s easiest to find that community online. There are some great sites out there, like About.com Twins & Multiples and Twiniversity. Some very active Facebook groups are also a great destination for MoMs and DoMs.

Here at How Do You Do It? we’re partial to blogs, for obvious reasons. If you’re looking to connect with MoMs you may not have met before, VoiceBoks has come up with a shortlist of 50 multiple parenting blogs in the running for their Wall of Fame. We’re flattered to be on there, along with several HDYDI MoMs’ personal blogs.

Please check out some new blogs, revisit old friends, and maybe throw in a vote for How Do You Do It? We’re 21st on the alphabetical list!

Toddler Thursday: Diapers Are Easier – A Confession

I see parents of toddlers grow misty-eyed, imagining the day that they’ll be done with diapers. They don’t look forward to potty training, of course, but they look forward to having children who are potty trained.

I have a confession to make.

Having my toddlers in diapers was far easier than having potty-goers.

This mom found diapers much easier to deal with than potty-trained toddlers. How about you?

Now my children are 8 years old and fully capable of going to the bathroom alone and cleaning up after themselves. I love their independence in this department. I know that going through potty-training (a story for another day) and toddler bathroom visits was necessary to get here.

We used disposable diapers exclusively, mostly because I went back to work when my daughters, J and M, were 11 weeks old and their daycare centre wasn’t about to deal with cloth diapers. We were able to increase our retirement contributions once we stopped having to budget for diapers. I liked not having to pay for them.

I just really disliked having bathroom-going toddlers. Diaper-related peace of mind was worth the money.

Picture this.

In the Days of Diapers, my daughters would wiggle into my lap, one on each knee. I’d hold a book in front of them while they took turns pointing out animals or colours or shapes. Every now and again, I’d feel a great warmth on my knee and know that someone was going to need a diaper change. M might even tell me what was up. “My go pee-pee!” I would let her know that I was aware of her situation. We’d finish the book, I’d reach to the nearest diaper station, place a blanket on the floor, wipe and change, head to the trash and wash my hands.

Then the potty switch happened. M and J would sit in my lap. We’d start looking at a book, when suddenly, “My go potty!” So we’d push the book aside and rush to the bathroom. I’d installed a toilet seat with a child insert, so we didn’t need to mess with the seat too much. J would pee, I would wipe, M would whine. I’d flush, and M would cry because it was loud. We’d all wash our hands because M had probably touched something she shouldn’t have while I focused on J. I’d pull J’s panties and pants back up and ask M if she needed to go potty. She would decline, so we’d head back to our book, at which time, the girls would bicker over whose turn it was. We’d have just settled back down when it started again. “My go potty,” M would tell me.

Rinse and repeat.

In the Days of Diapers, we could get through the grocery store in about 45 minutes to one hour, even with strangers stopping us to ask about The Great Mystery of Twins. I’d seat M and J side by side in the child area of the cart, confer with my list, and play a game of “Find the Shape” or “Where’s that Letter” as I worked my way through the aisles. If the girls were wet, they were wet. I could change them at home or, in a pinch, on the passenger seat of the car.

Once we were in the Period of Potty Trained, grocery store visits doubled in length. We’d always need to stop at least twice, abandoning our cart to visit the bathroom, sometimes exiting to discover that a hardworking store worker had put all our supplies back on the shelves. My daughters being so tiny, there was a very real chance of them falling into the store toilets, so each little girl would wrap her little arms around my neck to hold herself up while she emptied her bladder or bowel under my nose. More often than not, they had to go at the same time and it was The End of the World. When you’re 3, everything is The End of the World.

Then there was the time that J threw herself on a bowling alley bathroom floor in a fit of rage. I really missed diapers then.

Every drive, no matter how short, now took 30 minutes longer than it used to. I took to storing a spare potty, plastic bags, and a towel for privacy in the trunk. I still needed the diaper bag for the extra clothes needed for bathroom accidents. Yes, I needed clothes for me too. There’s nothing like showing up to work smelling like pee.

I got to know the variety of public bathrooms that exist in the USA. Porta Potties win the prize for least maneuverable with twins. M was convinced that she would fall in and drown, so add to the stench and small space a screaming 3-year-old trying to decide if she was more concerned about her own impending death or her sister’s.

In the Days of Diapers, I’d been the mother who showed up to everything with her kids, always prepared and always ready to participate in whatever was going on around town. With newly potty-trained J and M, our social sphere narrowed, every outing being planned around the least gross available bathrooms.

Like every other painful part of parenting, it was just a phase. One day, out for dinner, J waved me off when I rose to go with her to the restaurant bathroom. She knew where it was and what to do. She was far too old to need parental supervision to go to the bathroom.

I stopped missing diapers… and realized I missed having toddlers.

How do you feel about diapering?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Twinfant Tuesday: Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave (Part IV)

8 tips for making the return to work successful, from an IT professional and mother of twins.

Tips for Making a Return to Work Easier

Here are a few things that I think kept me from throwing up my hands and quitting my job in the first week back.

  1. A supportive co-parent. I trusted my husband completely with the babies. He had been present for them in their NICU-bound first days in ways I couldn’t after a C-section. Although he didn’t see the need for it, he agreed to stay home from work my first two days back, just in case the babies refused to feed from a bottle or I just couldn’t make the breast pump work for me.
  2. Research. I read up on the psychology of children raised by working mothers. I can’t find the articles I read back in 2006 now, but the ones that gave me the most comfort fell into two categories. There were the findings that showed that children of working mothers got just as much quality time from them as from stay-at-home moms, which countered my concerns that my children would be or feel neglected. There were also articles that argued that working moms were generally happier than stay-at-home moms. Having been diagnosed with clinical depression myself and having been raised by a mother with untreated mental illness, I knew how important it was to take care of myself so that I could be the best mother possible.
  3. A job I love. There would have been no point in returning to work if I didn’t enjoy what I did. I loved (and still love) the challenges, the pace, and above all my wonderfully smart, funny, supportive co-workers (including RachelG). I enjoyed my job so much that I went back to it even though my take home pay after daycare costs was about $100/month. Fortunately, I was awarded a promotion not long afterward, but I enjoyed work enough that it wasn’t about the money. If I were just working to make ends meet, I can imagine being deeply unhappy.
  4. A great boss. My team lead, Gordana, was breastfeeding her own infant when I came back to work. She was both a professional and a mothering mentor. She made sure that I had a place to pump and made me feel at ease making my breastfeeding needs known and respected. When J went on nursing strike, it was Gordana who recommended that I take some time off work to spend full days skin-to-skin with J to coax her back to the breast.
  5. Trusted caregivers. My daughters’ infant teacher, Suzanne, has become family. From the moment she met them, she loved my daughters as her own. She always told me what was going on with them, worked as a partner to address her concerns and mine, and gave insightful recommendations from her experience with infants. Every day, I was given a sheet of paper for each child documenting every meal, nap, diaper, activity, and event of the day. I trusted her, and still trust her, completely. She was actually the one who recommended the elementary school my daughters now attend, from which her own daughter is about to move onto middle school. When my girls (along with their friend Shaw) graduated from pre-K at their daycare centre, Suzanne cried as hard as I did.
  6. Established breastfeeding. The 8 weeks my girls and I had together 24/7 showed me that we could make breastfeeding work. I didn’t mind supplementing their diets with formula, but I was committed to getting them as many of the benefits of breastmilk as possible. Had we not been going strong with breastfeeding already, I’m not sure I could have made it through each workday without my babies at my side.
  7. Confidence. I had to be certain that I was doing the right thing. There were going to be naysayers feeding into my own doubts. I told myself that my working was the right choice for my family, and no one else could possibly decide for us how our family should be structured. I’ve never been one to follow the expected path, so that part came easily.
  8. Lowered standards. The fact is that an adult who spends 12 hours in their home can get less done with regards to housekeeping and cooking than one who is home 22-24 hours a day. Laundry didn’t get folded. It just didn’t. I used cleaning robots (Roomba and Scooba) to clean my floors because I couldn’t do it. We hired a lawn maintenance company because even if I were home during daylight hours, there was no way I was doing yard work. And I didn’t sit. I was in constant motion that first year. The first time I sat down outside of work and breastfeeding was when the babies were 6 months old and we went to Washington and were surrounded by doting grandparents, great grandmothers and great uncles and great aunts. I sat down and had a glass of wine with my mother-in-law while Grampy fed the babies. It was amazing.

Proud Grandpa displaying his grandtwins at the fire station

What are/were your concerns about returning to work?

Read more:

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Twinfant Tuesday: Going Back to Work After Maternity Leave (Part III)

Why Returning to Work After Maternity Leave is Hard

I don’t want to give you the impression that returning to work was easy for me. Despite all the positives, it was hard. I was consumed by guilt. I kept wishing that my career-building years weren’t my reproductive years. Every time I found myself enjoying work, I wondered if it made me a bad mother, if my pleasure at being away from them would somehow ruin their lives forever.

The end of maternity leave is hard, but returning to work can be well worth it. The younger the child, the easier it may be.

I missed the babies viscerally. My full, sore breasts were a constant reminder that my girls were 15 miles away, being cared for by people who were then strangers, although they’re now more family than my “real” family. My arms ached to hold J and M. I missed their smell. I worried that we would no longer be bonded and that our relationship would become as non-existent as my relationships with my own parents.

The breast pump and I didn’t respond well to each other. My milk production plummeted. I was only pumping twice a day during the 10+ hours I was away from my babies, 15 minutes at a time, down from 90 minutes of nursing every 3 hours. No amount of fenugreek could make up the difference in time or the way that my babies’ mouths triggered letdown. After the trauma of the girls’ premature birth by C-section, breastfeeding felt like a way I could make up to them the weeks in my womb my body had denied them, and now I was failing them again as their mother.

It didn’t help that no one other than my boss, my husband and my in-laws believed that I could balance it all. I know that everything who said to me, “I don’t know how you do it,” meant it as a compliment, but I couldn’t help hearing an undertone of “You’ll never be able to do it.” And then there were the other army wives (other than Sara), who actually came out and told me that I was a bad mother and shameful army wife for wanting a career. “A real army wife,” one sneered at me, “stays home and takes care of her soldier and children.”

Read more:

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

Parenting Meltdown: Know When to Seek Help

It was the corn dog that did me in.

The morning hadn’t started on the best note. When I woke J for school last week, I asked her if she was excited about her teacher’s plans for a day of puzzles and bubbles. She snapped at me, thinking I was asking whether it was puzzle and bubble day: “Do you even know where the paper I gave you is? If you did, you’d know!”

Parents are human too, and sometimes we need help.

I was annoyed, but didn’t rise to the bait. The children bickered all morning as we got ready for our day. I asked the girls to grab their backpacks, and we all piled into the car. I was backing out when M squealed, “My backpack!”

I pulled back into the driveway, unlocked the door and let her in. “It’s all J’s fault,” she grumbled as I opened the car door for her on her return.

Then I saw it. The 6-day-old corn dog lying on the back seat, next to M’s car seat.

“How long have I been telling you to put that disgusting corn dog on the trash?” I screamed.

Both kids began to cry and M leapt to dispose of the nasty leftovers. And I just kept yelling, all my frustration over their inability or refusal to take care of their things boiling over. I tried to drive to school, but I was so angry I had to pull over. The children were in tears as we arrived at school, and I felt horrible.

As soon as arrived home, I emailed the school counselor:


I hope that you’re well and looking forward to the summer.

I’m sure your hands are full this time of year, and M and J are generally doing fine. However, if you have a free moment to check in on them … or if one or both come to talk to you, I just wanted to let you know what was going on.

I lost my temper with them this morning. I realize that that’s a relatively small thing in the grand scheme, but it’s very much out of the norm for us. I haven’t been taking good enough care of myself (sleep, food, etc.) and I let myself lose control. I know that it scared both the girls.

M, in particular, has been really struggling with the end of the school year. As you probably know, she doesn’t cope well with transitions. She’s been short-tempered, easily overwhelmed, and self-pitying. I’ve been patient with her, but this morning things came to a head and I yelled at both her and J. The girls are not used to me yelling. Ever.

M’s negativity, both girls’ whining, and my struggles to get them to clean up after themselves just pushed me over the edge. (The final straw was a corn dog M left in the car that I’ve been asking her to put in the trash twice a day for 6 days, plus J being uncharacteristically combative first thing this morning.)

Thanks for all you do for all the kiddos.

I am not proud of losing my cool. Not even close. I am glad, though, that the other adults in my children’s lives provide stability and reason when I do not. I am glad that I took the time to get to know not only the children’s teachers, but the office staff, counselors and school nurse.

The counselor wrote back to me within 90 minutes:

Of course I can check on the girls! Thanks for the heads up and I hope things improve. I can also talk with them about their roles at home and things that they can do to help out, etc.

When I picked the children up that afternoon, the first thing they said was that they were sorry.

“But mom,” J said, concerned, after we had all apologized to each other, “do you really think we’re filthy?”

“Well, honey, leaving dirty socks on the floor is really gross. Plus leaving dirty dishes all over. So, yes, I do think that at times you both make filthy choices. I also need to work on being neater.”

And I need to continue to ask for help, because parents have limits too.

What pushes you over the edge? Who do you turn to?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the single mother of 8-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full time as a business analyst. She retired her personal blog, Double the Fun, but now also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.