Toddler Thursday: Sharing a Bedroom

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Categories Attitude, Development, Different Gender, Independence, Individuality, Joy, Lifestyle, Love, Mommy Issues, Multiple Types, Napping, Overnight, Parenting, Perspective, Preschoolers, Sleep, Toddlers4 Comments

After obsessively searching for about two years, my husband finally found us a new house. It isn’t too far from our current house, conveniently closer to our chosen dual-language elementary school, and in a nice quiet neighborhood of the foothills. It is a little larger than our current house (which is good because we’re bursting at the seams here), but still only three bedrooms. For a family of 5 with almost-3yo b/g twins, I was really hoping our next house would have four bedrooms, so that all the kids could have their own. With the cost of remodeling prior to move-in (gutting both bathrooms, building a laundry room, moving the water heater, updating electrical, refinish floors, new paint, etc), we are left with not much of a budget for what I really wanted: a bigger kitchen and another bed/bath. Those will have to wait until we can get plans drawn and a permit for the additions.

I was very disappointed that this was how it all worked out. In my mind, the whole point of moving was so my kids wouldn’t have to share bedrooms. All the labor of packing and managing a renovation just didn’t seem worth it if I couldn’t get what I really wanted. It’s true that remodeling this home instead of buying a move-in ready one makes it feel more our “own,” there’s been a lot of stress involved with money spent and making decisions, choosing finishes. Thankfully that’s all now starting to come to a close. I just decided on a floor stain today, after having chosen paint colors last week.

And I feel like I’m also starting to turn the corner on being disappointed on the lack of a fourth bedroom. At this point, I believe the only one who really wants to make sure all the kids get their own rooms is me. For sure the twins don’t care. They’ve literally been together all their lives, even before they were born.

There are times I certainly wish they wouldn’t keep each other awake during naptime, or wake each other in the middle of the night during an illness, but most often what I see is that the presence of their twin comforts them. They are always put to bed together, and always woken up (or left in) together. On the rare occasion that one sleeps longer/shorter than the other, and they become separated, they always look for and ask the whereabouts of the other. Every day I hear their conversations before they fall asleep and when they wake up.  There is talking and giggling, singing and dancing, squeals and jumping. If a strict can’t-get-out-of-bed-during-sleep-time wasn’t imposed (I just transitioned them into toddler cribs), they’d probably be in each other’s beds. I’m not sure they would be able to verbalize their closeness right now, but I know their separation would definitely cause them anxiety, especially during such a vulnerable time as sleeping. It would be too scary. Perhaps they need a few more years together for that security and comfort.

Also, so many big changes are taking place in our lives right now with the move coming up, Big Sis starting kindergarten, and little ones beginning preschool that I’m wary about giving them any more to deal with. I now think that even if we did have a fourth bedroom, I would not be separating the twins just yet. I think it will be a while before they will ask for their own privacy and space. It may be many years before we move them into their own bedrooms. I’ve come to see that this is the connection between twins, and that it doesn’t diminish their independence nor hamper their development in any way. And it’s actually a pretty amazing thing to have in our family.

lunchldyd is sad her days have been filled with contractors instead of fun with her kids (and posting on hdydi).

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Twinfant Tuesday: A year in photos (minus the photos)

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Categories Birthdays, Celebrations, Fear, Joy, Love, Parenting, Twinfant TuesdayLeave a comment

Next week, my little monkeys will be ONE!  That one saying is so true.  What is it again?  The days go slowly, but the weeks and months fly by, or something like that?  The other night my husband and I were watching photos float by on a slideshow from the past year.  While it’s impossible to adequately describe the first year with twins, a few of these moments help summarize the roller coaster.

Exhaustion

Photo: both 8-week-old babies are in just a diaper, passed out on my husband, who is also asleep.  My son’s arm is draped over the face of my daughter, whose mouth is wide open.  Everyone looks exhausted.  I recall this night in particular, because it was taken at the end of the first night we decided to “try” one of us going out for a few hours during the “witching hour.”  This witching hour was so very real in our house between about 5 weeks-13 weeks or so.  This particular night they started crying about 10 minutes after my husband left the house (of course), and they seemed to ratchet each other higher and higher on the scale of hysteria for the next 45 minutes until I called him, beckoning him home.  I still have no idea what got them so upset, but it was one of those nights where I needed to put them each in their crib and walk away for a good 3-5 minutes because I truly did not know how to calm them.  Eventually they stop crying for just as mysterious of reasons as why they started.  I still feel shell shocked by those first few months with two infants.  I can almost still feel the anxiety, counting the time until I’d need to go pump or breastfeed two babies again, or feel the burn in my sleep-deprived eyes.

Joy

Photo: taken after a bath, and the babies were laying side by side, and my son reached out and was touching my daughter on the arm.  She smiled back at him.  They were about 5 months old and it was taken on our first trip (see also: only) with the kids.  (We really took on the challenge of a first vacation with infant twins: Cold weather.  Over Christmas.  Staying at high altitude.  Attempting to take turns to go skiing.)  It wasn’t likely the first time they connected like that, but I do think it was the first one we caught on camera.  It captures the hope that I have for a close relationship between them and the warmth I feel in my heart when I see the connection between them.

Fear

My heart aches and is filled with gratitude simultaneously when I see the photo of my son smiling, holding a small box of cheerios in a hospital gown, the morning after our first night (and, hopefully, only for a very long time) in the hospital a few weeks ago after he took a bad fall and sustained a head injury.  We spent the night saying prayers that all would be okay, while we realized the vicarious pain one can feel for their child, as a parent.  Seeing this photo, even just a few weeks after, makes me so grateful that he is okay.  I’m almost equally as fearful of other accidents and illnesses that no doubt lie down the road for us as a family.  I was warned about how you experience pain when your children hurt, but it is truly something you cannot understand until going through it.

Fascination

Photo: my daughter standing, holding onto the collar of our 8-year-old pitbull-boxer mix makes me giggle.  I remember coming around the corner and catching her standing there with our dog, who patiently sat and let our daughter examine her “necklace.”  Mind you, she cannot walk yet, so this means she crawled over and pulled herself up on our dog’s collar.  Her fascination with jewelry has begun early, as has her love of feeding this doggy all her vegetables.  This photo captures the delight and fascination I feel as I watch these kids discover their world and learn new skills every day.  It’s incredible to watch them stand for the first time, or make a new sound and see their faces light up with pride.

And, that has been the emotional cycle of the past 12 months: Exhaustion, Joy, Fear, Fascination, or some derivative of these feelings.  I truly wish I could stop time for a day or at least an hour to really reflect on the ways life has changed and motherhood has changed me in the last year.  But, for now, a post like this will have to do.

Katie has b/g twins that will be one next week.  She lives in Chicago and balances full-time work, being a mom and training for a sprint triathlon for which she regrets signing up.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Loving My Babies Differently

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Categories Guilt, Love, Parenting Twins, Twinfant Tuesday5 Comments
Quality time with my son.
Quality time with my son.

Before I had kids, it was hard for me to understand how or why parents would play favorites with their kids. My relationship with my future hypothetical kids was going to be one of mutual respect and lots of unconditional love. It’s worth noting, perhaps, that my future hypothetical kids were good-natured, agreeable, and their thought processes aligned with mine remarkably well.

When my actual babies were born, I was dismayed to find out that they weren’t altogether agreeable, and that, especially with two babies, bonding wasn’t an immediate, natural thing.

This is part of twin parenting that I don’t see mentioned often; I don’t think it’s unique to my experience. Parents of one baby have time to really get to know that baby, feel comfortable to varying extents with spending time alone with that baby, and are, I think, able to bond more quickly with that single baby thanks to that individual focus. With twins, I found myself constantly having to give each baby just enough so that I could meet the needs of both. It was harder for us to spend the quality time it took get to know one another and build our relationships with one another.

Early on, I felt a very strong bond with my daughter, spunky and independent and favoring her mama in the looks department, but I had to work on my bond with my son. I had always envisioned having a daughter someday, and I felt like I knew what to do with girls. I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with a boy. My son was needier in the early days; he really wanted to spend all his time with me, snuggled up to me or nursing, while my daughter was willing to be held and fed by someone else, and to an extent, I resented the time that I couldn’t spend with my smiling, inquisitive daughter while I soothed my fussy, needy son.

I worried a lot that my daughter would feel less loved or wouldn’t bond as well with me because I spent more time with her brother. Likewise, I worried that my son wouldn’t socialize as well because he was bonding only to his mama. I worried for his relationship with his father, that they’d never really become attached, that the way we were dividing most baby duties, assigning one parent to one baby, wasn’t normal. Obviously, I’m a worrier – and post-partum hormones certainly accentuated that trait.

Over time, I reconciled myself to the idea that the time I was spending with my son was time that he really needed, and that the idea of “equal time” was something that would have to work itself out in the long run. And all that time spent one-on-one with my son really did help me to bond with him over the first few months. My needy newborn son turned into a generally laid-back, chill little guy who loves his mama fiercely, and I feel a lot more secure in my role as his parent as we navigate the waters of toddlerhood.

My daughter wound up being the baby who struggled more when they started daycare. I was surprised by that at the time; she was so much more social in home settings. But ultimately, she’s an intense little thing who requires more time to adapt to new situations than my breezy little boy does. She builds stronger relationships with people, but it takes her longer to do it. And thanks to several mama-centric phases in her later infancy and toddlerhood, I’m fairly sure that the “time spent” scale is much more balanced between the two these days.

Over time, I’ve come to find that bonding with my babies is a lot like falling in love. It doesn’t always happen at first sight – though it can happen that way. Sometimes chemistry kicks in quickly, but sometimes, love starts with a friendship and blooms over time. I’m still surprised every day at how different our relationships are, and at how they change constantly.

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Motherhood is a Romance

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Categories Holidays, LoveTags 2 Comments

Motherhood is a romance: This single mom sees Valentine's Day as a celebration of love: her love for her children. I was having lunch the other day with a dear friend. He recently came out of a 5 year relationship and was talking about the awkwardness of being back on the dating scene.

“There’s thing whole thing,” he said, “about what to on Valentine’s Day. Or even whether I’m supposed to be wondering what to do on Valentine’s Day.”

I realized that I hadn’t thought about Valentine’s Day in those terms at all. At this point in my journey of single motherhood, a romantic relationship is not on my radar. I’ve been amped up about Valentine’s Day. I’ve been having a grand time plotting with my girls to help them make or buy a gift for Sister with her twin knowing what it is. I’ve been staying up far too late at night making heart shaped sweet treats for my daughters’ Girl Scout troop and classmates.

wpid-Photo-Feb-12-2014-710-AM.jpg

The love I celebrate on Valentine’s Day and every other day is my love for my children, their love for me, their love for each other.

I’m not saying that my friend doesn’t feel as strongly about his sons as I do about my daughters. He was a single dad for many years, and not the I’ll-call-my-kids-once-in-a-while kind of single dad either. He was the custodial parent, the one getting phone calls from the school, the one coaching soccer games and kissing boo-boos. But his boys are older now and likely uninterested in spending Valentine’s Day with their father.

I felt a little odd thinking these thoughts, that this day devoted to romance is to me another Mothers’ Day. I felt like perhaps I was disrespectful of those of you who have rich romantic lives with your partners.

Then Liggy posted this amazing gift on my Facebook wall and I felt like it was okay… Well, first I cried. At my desk at work. Once I was done crying, I felt like it was okay for my daughters to be the loves of my life.

Because motherhood is a romance.

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Silly Old Grandpa

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Categories Celebrations, Family, Holidays, Love, Parenting, RelationshipsLeave a comment

Grandparents. Ah, grandparents. Is there a more peculiar set of people out there? These last few days have really illustrated to me how amazing, spectacular, bizarre, hilarious grandparents sometimes are, especially grandfathers.

It’s been a whirlwind of Chinese New Year celebrations around here. My dad, who is only here a couple months a year, came from Taiwan a few days ago, just in time to host a big CNY party at my parents’ home. My children, who he hasn’t seen in person since a year ago, were featured prominently in this gathering of their longtime friends.

From the time we arrived, my dad gave his entire attention to my children. This man, who I’ve always known as an extremely strict and stoic father, was completely transformed when his grandchildren were placed in front of him. I mean, a completely-unrecognizable-to-me different person. It’s unexplainable, really, where this weird smiling stranger came from. Whereas to us, his grown children, there is no great outpouring of affection, never a big show of feeling, something came over him while in the presence of this next generation. It was a very odd, yet not unwelcome, sensation to watch him study my children with adoration and pride. He couldn’t control his joy when they went to him, dropped anything else to play with them… I even saw his eyes get watery when my firstborn told him she remembered a game he played with her the last time he was here.

The kids’ other grandfather is certainly not immune to their charms either. We found out that a guest at my parents’ party is coincidentally also a tennis-playing friend of my father-in-law’s. Hilariously, he recognized my children because my FIL never misses any opportunity to whip out their picture to show everyone his beautiful grandchildren. We were entertained for some time listening to stories of him talking about his grandchildren every chance he gets, to whoever was still willing to listen.

Such endearing, unexpected behaviors, especially when we are so used to the very stern and reticent fathers they used to be. Is this just crazy weird or what?

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Kids Say “I Love You”

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Categories Love, Preschoolers3 Comments

Kids say "I love you." So sweet!Two major characteristics of the transition from toddlerhood to preschoolerdom are a child’s improved communication and her awareness of other people. A preschooler is beginning to understand that Mommy is a distinct person, and has yet to develop any shame in expressing his love for her. These kids say, “I love you.” And it melts my heart. Every. Time.

When my daughters were 4.5 years old, I wrote the following post:

This morning, J woke before M and Daddy. She climbed into my lap on the couch, where I was folding laundry. She curled up, buried her head in her blankie, and let me hold her.

J: I love you.
Me: Oh, honey, I love you too. I love you so much that sometimes my heart fills up all the way and my chest hurts.
J: My heart fills up with love too. We must have the same heart.

Later, M walked nonchalantly into the my room as I got dressed for my day.

Me: I love you, M.
M: I love you, Mommy.
Me: I love you a whole lot.
M: I know how much you love me.
Me: You do!?
M: You love me … I love you one hundred … one hundred twenty miles away!

Those of you with younger kids, you can look forward to this.

What do your children do to melt your heart?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-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.

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Special Needs in the NICU

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Categories Anger, Congenital Anomaly, Emotion, Fear, Feeling Overwhelmed, Grief, Health, Love, Medical, Mommy Issues, NICU, Parenting, Special Needs, Theme Week, Unique needsTags , , , , , 2 Comments

Prematurity Awareness Week 2013: How Do You Do It?

World Prematurity Day November 17In the United States, 1 in 9 babies is born prematurely, 1 in 10 in Canada. Worldwide, over 15 million babies are born too soon each year. While not all multiples are born prematurely, a multiple birth increases the probability of an early delivery. Babies born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, are at a higher risk for health complications in infancy, some of which can have long-term effects. Full-term infants are not all free from their own health complications, of course.

In honor of November’s Prematurity Awareness Month, led by the March of Dimes, How Do You Do It? is focusing this week’s posts on The Moms’ experiences with premature deliveries, NICU stays, health complications, special needs, and how we’ve dealt with these complex issues.


Throughout my pregnancy, I knew premature delivery was possible, perhaps even likely. I read up on prematurity and the NICU. I was on bed rest for 12 weeks, and had access to the internet, after all. I thought I knew, more or less, what to expect from a NICU stay, especially as my pregnancy stretched into that “they’ll probably be just fine” stage after the magical 28th week.

I did not know, did not even suspect, what was in store for us. It took me a very long time to grasp it. In fact, I still may not fully comprehend things.

There is a whole other side to the NICU. Not just premature babies go there. Other babies, who may have been full term, end up there for various reasons. Whether by coincidence or by design (I never quite asked), our children’s hospital had an entire room (at least one) full of these babies, and that was where my Mr. A was transferred on his 15th day of life.

On his first day, and all the days leading up to it, I had no clue. He was measuring small, but doing fine. His anatomy scan was perfect. Our first trimester screenings—while not fully reliable for twins—were perfect. What they did not detect was undetectable: a cleft soft palate, dysgenesis of the corpus callosum, malrotated intestines, tracheomalacia, and other issues that, for his privacy, will remain undiscussed. At the root, a so-tiny and yet so-significant missing chunk of DNA. We did not find all this out on the first day, first week, or even first month. And we are not alone in this.

With a typical premature baby, of course there is no set path, and no guarantee. But with a special needs baby, especially one with a rare diagnoses, there’s even less. Every exam might have another pitfall. And when your baby is early and/or very small, as our Mr. A was, that’s all there is. The bad news just keeps coming, and they can’t do anything to fix it until he is bigger, if at all.

It is frightening. It is lonely. It is so very lonely. When you converse with parents of typical preemies, they cannot understand why your baby is doing so poorly. Conversations with parents of other medically complex babies are equally challenging: you are all new to this. “Oh, your baby’s heart is a mess? My son’s is just fine, but they want to give him a tracheostomy. What do you think I should do?”

specialneedsnicu

Conversations with doctors and nurses can be equally frustrating. Most of them, I have found, do not want to hurt your feelings. They might find refuge in medical terminology, they might be evasive, they might conceal information about your child’s health because they don’t want to overwhelm you. Worst of all, they may write you off completely, believing that your child is not worthy of their time and energy. All of these happened to us during our NICU stay.

When A was born, he did not have a gag reflex. I asked the neonatologist what that might mean for him, aside from the obvious. Her reply? “Oh, some sort of midline nervous issue,” and she walked away.

The doctor who gave us A’s diagnoses refused to answer any questions, saying, “But really, who can predict. My own son has learning disabilities. You never know.” We were not asking what his grades would be in 3rd grade, we were asking “But what does all this missing DNA mean?” The information pamphlet he handed to us (upside down, slid across the counter, like some sort of dirty secret) was printed entirely out of order and contained information on every known issue with deletions on the long arm of Chromosome 2, meaning not all of it applied to our son and much of it was conflicting. There were no page numbers and the printing cut off photos and such, so we were unable to piece it together and finally found it on the internet after we’d gone home. I don’t think the printing was intentional, but I do think he did not even glance at it and did not want to tell us anything it said.

A doctor, two weeks following A’s major abdominal surgery, told me he didn’t think A would ever be on full feeds, “because of his syndrome.” When I said he had been on full feeds (by tube) prior to the operation, the doctor at first refused to believe me, and then said, “Well, sometimes kids with syndromes just get worse.” My rage following that conversation ensured that that doctor never treated my son again.

Our underlying question, that I was only ever able to voice once, was: “Is all this worth it? Am I torturing my son for no reason? Should we just let him go? What will his quality of life be? Will he ever be happy?” The doctor I asked this to simply said, “Well, will your other son ever be happy?” To have asked the question that tormented my soul and to receive such a side-step of a response silenced me. I decided right then that, unless anyone flat-out told me that A was going to die, he would not die. He would be happy and just fine, thank you. (While it turns out that this is more or less the case, I was extremely angry to discover, by reading his medical records and asking more pointed questions of some of his doctors and therapists, now that I am in a more stable place myself, that very few people expected A to live to see his first birthday. The fact that no one, not a single person, prepared me for this is something I cannot forgive, even though it did not come to pass.)

This post is rambling. I have attempted to fix it numerous times. I simply can’t. The reality of having a child with complex medical needs in the NICU is overwhelming and, frankly, incomprehensible to live, and it appears that writing about it is the same.

The second piece of this all is the second baby. I was dealing with this and another newborn. At first, I could not distinguish things in my mind. That doctors seemed so fearful and pessimistic about A led me to feel that both my boys were at risk. No one ever called D a “feeder/grower”, no one ever said, “This little man will be just fine.” I was not well-versed enough in preemie-land to understand. Neither could eat, neither could maintain their temperatures, neither was awake for more than a few minutes at a time. I was as nervous making my post-pump midnight, 3, and 5 am calls to the NICU when asking about D as I was about A. Eventually it became clear to me that D was doing well and would be coming home soon. I did not realize how long of a road A had ahead of him (as their birth hospital, despite having a Level III NICU, could not do the imaging tests we needed, much less the surgeries). I’m glad of that. It allowed me to feel joy at D’s gains as well as A’s much smaller ones. I did feel a fundamental sense of wrongness when we took D home, leaving A there by himself…but I’d felt the same way upon my own discharge, leaving both my boys behind.

A was transferred the day after D came home. They’d kept him there as a kindness to us, but also because, really, nothing was so urgent that anyone would risk doing anything to such a small and fragile baby. He would have been doing the same things—trying to get bigger and stronger in order to face the upcoming challenges—at the children’s hospital, so there was no need to move him. But with one baby at home and one baby in a further (though still relatively close) NICU, life became even more complicated. D could not visit A. No baby can ever go back to the NICU (at least at our hospital) once they’ve left, because the risk of their “outside germs” infecting the delicate babies in the NICU is simply too great. I understand that. But it meant that, not only were my heart, body, and milk-containing breasts torn into two locations, I had to find babysitters. My husband needed to save his FML time for surgeries, scary times, and A’s homecoming. (We did not save nearly enough, but we did not know.) I had to leave D with my mother or grandmother, and A with his nurses. It was awful. It was exhausting. Pumping every 3 hours for A, who could not eat, and trying to establish breastfeeding with D (which I could not fully do until A came home), etc.

D came home when they were 14 days old. A came home on April Fool’s Day, after several false starts that made us unable to believe he was coming home until we were in the car. That was their 62nd day of life. 48 days apart. 48 days of driving from one place to another, always missing one baby, always feeling like I was failing both. I was so glad to close the door on that.

Of course, the other thing about a child like A is, that door never closes (until it is slammed shut for good, which is too horrifying to think about). I did not know it at the time, but ten days later, A would be back in intensive care. But it would be the PICU, then and again and again and again. Our NICU journey, at least, was behind us.

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Breaking with Tradition: Can You Be a Better Parent than Your Own?

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Blood Pressure Analogy

My parents both suffer from high blood pressure. They were diagnosed in their late 30s/early 40s. All four of my grandparents also took blood pressure medication. You might imagine that I’d be heading in that direction right about now, at age 34.

Every time I see a doctor, I’m told what a remarkably healthy blood pressure measurement I have (think 90/50)… even before anyone looks at my family history and sees the contrast. I try to be healthy, but I confess that my diet has been comparatively poor of late, since the kids started eating all their weekday meals outside the home. Without them to cook for, I get lazy and forget to eat protein. I only exercise vigourously once a week and walk a couple of miles 4 times a week. Any more than that would take time away from my kids that I’m not willing to sacrifice.

Over the years, through trial and error, I’ve learned that my blood pressure is extremely sensitive to my salt intake. One serving of Sonic chili cheese tots, delicious though it may be, sends my blood pressure measurements into less happy territory. I read nutrition labels and steer clear of products high in sodium. I salt my own cooking within reason. I’m no salt Nazi, but I try to be aware of my sodium intake.

Perhaps in a decade, I’ll be telling you that I was all wrong and genetics won out after all on the blood pressure front. Perhaps not. Perhaps what looked like a genetic certainty was actually a lifestyle choice, a tradition of high sodium from which I broke free.

I’ve broken free of harmful behaviours before. I’ve brought an end to family traits that seemed inevitable.

Parenting Traditions

A decade ago, when my ex-husband first proposed to me, I responded with, “Only if you don’t want kids.”

That’s right. I, Ms Lives-Breathes-and-Eats-Parenting, Ms Thinks-Raising-Children-is-Her-Calling, Ms Coordinates-a-Parenting-Blog, Ms Can’t-Stop-Talking-about-Her-Kids, didn’t want to be a mother.

He wanted to be a dad, but married me anyway. He said he’d be willing to sacrifice the chance of parenthood to build a life together.

I explained to him that it wasn’t that I didn’t like children so much as that I didn’t think I’d be any good for children. My own childhood hadn’t given me a model from which to parent. My parents provided for me very well. I went to the best schools, traveled all over the world and could read at age 2.

What was lacking, though, was parenting.

There was no moral guidance, little consistency, and no thought to what skills and tools I would need to be successful as an adult. There was constant and intense emotional abuse. Had it not been for my maternal grandmother and amazing teachers at those excellent schools, I don’t know what would have become of me. My sister, who wasn’t as good in school as I was and never had teachers who sought to mentor her, who lost our grandmother at age 8, is currently living in a homeless shelter.

A year into our marriage, my now ex told me that he thought I was wrong. He told me that he didn’t see the traits in me that I described my parents of having. He thought I was built to be a nurturer. I knew better. I knew that research and anecdotes showed over and over again that people fall into the patterns in which they were raised. The alcoholic’s daughter grows to be an alcoholic. The sexual predator’s victim becomes a predator himself. The abused daughter becomes an abusive mother.

I made an appointment with a therapist. I needed a professional to communicate to my husband why having children was out of the question. I explained to her my concerns. She asked me to come back and talk in more detail for a few more sessions before she gave my husband her professional opinion.

After a year of therapy, I had laid my demons to rest. I had identified all the aspects of my childhood that were abusive and harmful. I had worked through them. I had built and refined my own parenting philosophy. I was ready to be a mother. Our twin girls were born 8 months later.

Breaking with Tradition: Can You Be a Better Parent Than Your Own? from http://hdydi.com

Making a Clean Break

My parents were not critical thinkers when it came to parenting. I resolved to constantly analyze what worked and what didn’t in raising my own children.

My parents were inconsistent in their discipline and expectations. My husband and I agreed that consistency formed the core of a successful co-parenting relationship.

My parents believed that within the family, social mores of behaviour didn’t apply and that external relationships threatened the family unit. I resolved to live my live transparently, participating fully in my community and inviting community members into my children’s lives.

My parents reserved politeness for strangers; it was merely a social nicety. From their perspective, the family was the appropriate place to show the ugly side of one’s personality, the “true” self. I committed to considering the impact of my words and actions on my family members above all else. I vowed to improve myself, my “true” self, not just the veneer I exposed to others. I would not make excuses for my failings; I would seek to eliminate or minimize them.

I would admit when I was wrong.

I would love unconditionally.

I Am Hope

For some moms, "me time" is spent WITH the kids.

So far, it has worked. I haven’t even felt the urge to say to my children the sorts of things my mother said to me. Even my ex-husband, who has every divorcé’s rancor towards an ex-spouse, has never called me a bad or abusive mother. In fact, he has been consistent in letting me know, in word and deed, that he respects and trusts my parenting of our children. [Edit 2016: Custody issues have since gotten ugly.]

Yesterday morning, M and J got into an argument. J was giving what she considered to be suggestions on M’s wardrobe and M asked her to stop being bossy. J took great offense to being called “bossy”. She sought my opinion and I told her that telling her sister precisely how to fold her sleeves was rather bossy.

J flew off the handle. She screamed and thrashed and stomped. I tried to reason with her. When that only escalated things, I reminded her to take deep breaths, to snuggle with Blankie, to come and get a hug. She ranted and raved for a good 20 minutes. I left her to it and got dressed.

When she was done, she began to sob. She was obviously ready for a hug. I picked her up and held her. I reminded her that I loved her, no matter what, even if I did sometimes get disappointed by her choices.

She tried to push herself away from me. “I don’t deserve a mommy who forgives me. I was terrible and I don’t deserve a mommy like you.”

“Every child deserves to be loved and forgiven by their mommy. No matter what they do, every person needs parents who love them no matter what.” As I said those words, I knew it to be true. No matter how horrible a person might be, they deserve a mother’s unconditional love.

“You don’t have to forgive yourself right away,” I told J. “But I forgive you. And I love you. And I think you need to apologize to your sister.”

“Okay, mommy,” sniffled by big little girl. “I love you. I love you for my mommy. You’re a great mommy. I’m going to wash my face now, okay?”

Can you be a better parent than your own?

Yes. I’m living proof. It just takes will, awareness and work. Bonus: it helps keep your blood pressure down.

How have you broken with negative family traditions?

Sadia (rhymes with Nadia) has been coordinating How Do You Do It? since late 2012. She is the divorced mother of 7-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.

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Monday MoM Blog Picks

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Categories Infants, Love, Monday MoM Blog Picks, Parenting, Perspective2 Comments

I’ve only got one for you this week, because I really, really, really want you to read it.

The Matt Walsh Blog: An Uncensored True Tale of Parenting

Matt is a dad of twinfants. He’s also a talk radio host* and a blogger, but what we really care about here is that he’s a DoM. In this post, he responds to a request from a father-of-twins-to-be (congratulations to Kevin and his wife!) about what fatherhood is really like. My favourite words from the whole post:

Real freedom comes only from love. When you have your kids, you will have a love that you’ve never before experienced, and never could have experienced, and that will be the truest sort of freedom.

You know you want to read the rest, including his blow-by-blow account of being responsible for his twinfants, solo, for all of two hours. If you’ve ever felt underappreciated for the level of care our kids needed as babies on an average day, rest assured that this guy gets it.

*Another thing. I think the fact that I can completely disagree with Matt’s politics but completely agree with his view on parenting just demonstrates that our kids and our responsibilities toward them can overcome differences big and small.

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Twin Advantage – Playmates and Best Friends

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Categories Family, Fraternal, Love, Parenting Twins, PreschoolersTags , , , 4 Comments

I’m sure we’ve all heard it before.  We’ve heard it in those comments from strangers who said that they always wished they had a twin.  We’ve heard it from other parents of multiples.  We’ve heard it from multiples and twins themselves: there’s something very, very special about being a twin.

It’s often this twin connection, this twin bond, that strangers like to inquire about – Do they have their own twin-speak?  Is one more dominant?  Do they like to hold hands or snuggle together?  Do they get along?  Do they always want to be together?

A twin has a built-in playmate and, hopefully, a built-in best friend, too.  I mean, twins can’t have a sibling any closer in age!  And I know that I loved having siblings close in age to me (my sister is 16 months older than me, and my brother is 15 months older than her) as I spent so much time with them and they became my best friends.

And I have to say this ultra special sibling connection is one of the greatest blessings and advantages about having twins.  While twins are especially demanding in the first year or two of life, part of the reason I think they get easier with the passing days and months and years is that they have each other.  As a parent, I don’t have to entertain them myself all day long.  I don’t have to come up with things to do for them.  They can play with each other.  They can talk to each other.  They are siblings, playmates, and best friends, as well as being twins.E13My twin daughters may not be identical, but they still have this great bond.  Now, at the age of three years, I love hearing them play together, hearing them giggle, watching them smile, holding hands and hugging of their own fruition, apologizing, kissing boo-boos, and pretending.  I love how they encourage each other (though sometimes it may mean double trouble for mom and dad!), share, care, and love each other.

My daughters will always have each other to share their lives with, step by step.  It’s so unique!  And I know it must be that bond, that connection, that people are often jealous of!  They want their children or themselves to have a best friend for life.  They want to have someone who has always been right there with them through all of their lives, through the good, the bad, and the wonderful.

While I know that some twins don’t stay best friends forever (sad!), and often end up going their separate ways, I hope that I can continue to foster their love and affection towards each other, so that when they are grown and have their own lives and families, they will still have each other, though maybe not in a physical way.

Twins are a blessing indeed, aren’t they?  Even if some days that blessing only seems to be for their benefit and not ours.

Are your twins best friends? Do they share a special bond?  What have you done to foster it through the passing years?

ldskatelyn is the proud mama of twin daughters and a four-month old bouncing baby boy.  She counts her multiple blessings everyday and love that her kids have each other, as she loved having all of her own eight siblings growing up!  Find out more about her and her family at What’s up Fagans?

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