A Tale of Two Velveteen Rabbits
Twinning is a special way to say we are more than surviving our hectic life with twins, we are winning; Although, most days I use the term sarcastically.
It was a year ago today that our twins entered our world. We soon brought them home to be a family of 6 and things became crazy fast. I still remember the tears that brimmed my eyes when Charlie’s 6-week paternity leave was up and it was time for me to be home alone with the 4 boys. I feared we would not all live to see 5 pm. Memorable quotes from children books became my mental strength; maybe it was the constant reading to the kids or the playing of movies in the van, but I would repeat, “I think I can, I think I can”, “Slow and steady wins the race”, and then a little Bob the Builder, “One thing at a time”.
There have been many messy wild days in the past year. Days where all four boys are crying and I can’t hold them all. Days where I save one child from imminent danger just to jump to the next in the nick of time. Days where I do not have one solid surface in my home that isn’t sticky including me.
Over time we have started to develop a routine, but sometimes it seems the only routines are diapers and dishes. With angst and gnashing of teeth I have lowered my standard on oh-so many things to address the most important thing: raising our boys with their spirits and body parts intact. Somedays go smoother than others, but daily I have to work on extending myself grace.
Looking retrospectively over the past year, I humbly admit it has been a hard year. Maybe our hardest thus far, but in full disclosure, it is hard to remember much past yesterday.
The most memorable over the past year is that my husband has been my biggest ally and he makes this ride more enjoyable than I can express in mere words. We work hard to make eye contact in our busy home as it often seems like we are constantly just passing each other by attending to needs. I am thankful he has such a steady composure and a witty sense of humor as it makes my hard days easier.
This school year the twins started Mother’s Day Out, which is a huge milestone in our home. It means the boys are FINALLY big and healthy enough to attend a group daycare setting! It means Mom will have a few hours a week without the babies to attend to other needs. It means Dad and Mom can have a conversation and maybe a lunch date. I am giddy with delight. This is our light at the end of the tunnel.
As I am starting to get a little quiet time to reflect on our hectic year it makes me smile to remember some of the stages we have survived.
The Survival Stage: Keep the Babies Alive
I fondly remember the day we met our OB, he had 16-year-old twins and his only advice was, “it’s a wild ride so hold on to your hats”. Boy was he was right.
Our twins made an early entrance and we seemed to traverse 15 days in the NICU like pro-parents, but the re-admittance two weeks later humbled us. It left us nervous and anxious. The third hospitalization made me an emotional wreck. My mantra became “keep the tiny humans alive.”
In the early days, it was a lot of work; Babies and Mom alike were exhausted by 5. I fondly remember how desperate I would feel when my husband came home late from work. If he was late without an early proclamation, I considered he was declaring war. Lucky for him he was often granted a reprieve from my wrath as he came home with dinner and swooped up some boys who would instantly calm.
Although this stage has left us more anxious than we have ever been, we have survived it. We rejoice daily that we have conquered another day with all kids alive and basically unscathed. #twinning
Nobody is Sleeping Stage
I have developed cry fatigue where I tune them out. It is not intentional; just a coping strategy that has naturally developed. It is not uncommon for Charlie to wake me at night to let me know one of the babies is crying and his hands are full. Although it would be well played, I am not leaving him with all the work; sometimes, I do not hear them in my sleep.
On the roughest of days, we utilize our mad parenting skills; we load all the kids up in the van so they are forced to be still long enough to fall asleep. During these times, we try to make time for ourselves. Sometimes Mama gets a pedicure while Dad drives around enjoying some quiet time. Sometimes we drive and listen to music or talk. Often, we enjoy a quiet dinner via drive-thru and eat in our drive way (I am sure the neighbors have wondered what is going on at our house and now you know.) #twinning
The House Has Been Neglected Stage
Unfortunately, we are still in this stage or maybe it isn’t a stage. This may be our new normal, and I may not be ready to say it out loud. This type A Mama struggles to let this one go, but I have been forced to accept that Jesus didn’t die on the cross so that I could have a clean house and He didn’t create me because the world needed a better dishwasher. I don’t mean that flippantly. I have sincerely had to dive deep into the heart of the matter and admit I was created for more than a clean house. It was mainly my pride and wallet that has taken the hit in this phase; The rest of the world just keeps moving along not knowing or caring about my laundry pile. I know every blog and parent says this, but I still had to travel this phase via the hard knocks. With that said, sometimes the chores have to get done and my hands are full. I have hired many services at different times from laundry, cleaning, childcare, lawn services and of course daily take out dinner. Sometimes I wonder if I perform any household chores or if I have just become the Weisinger CFO who now coordinates and pays for services rendered. #twinning
The Paparazzi Stage
I have never been good with staying home all day. I need to venture out or I lose my sanity. It is how I am wired; daily we load up and venture out. We always get noticed. We have come to dread the attention, much like celebrities and the paparazzi. We pump ourselves up by saying, “are you ready to unload the circus?” and the other responds by singing circus theme music.
We have our routine that has minimized our load to look as small as possible. We think we look discreet, but we don’t. We never get fully unloaded before we begin hearing:
“God bless you.”
“You have your hands full.”
“Are they all yours?”
“Are they twins?”
“You know what causes that don’t you?”
“It just overwhelms me to watch you”
These are comments our family addresses at every outing. The grocery store seems to bring on the largest of productions. I doubt we make it through a shopping trip with less than 8-10 comments of people stopping to peak at our babies and ask questions. With our fanfare of children, we have become the Weisinger Parade wherever we attend.
I am not easily offended and I appreciate when people complement our beautiful family. With all the attention, it is hard to get tasks accomplished, but on the plus side, there is always someone to help open a door or distract my toddler from a tantrum. [Parent tip, next time your kid is melting down have a complete stranger walk up and nicely ask, “what is the problem”. It works every time. The little guy is so stunned a stranger is talking to them they forget what they are upset about.]
This attention used to make me uneasy, but now we just roll with it. #twinning
As we have emerged through these phases one of us is losing a little more hair and one of us is gaining new gray hair; Our eyes and tummies are puffier too. Our memories are fading and our sentence structure is often non-comprehensible. Our eyes burn from fatigue, but we don’t really care about all that. Our life has turned into a beautiful storm full of laughter, screaming, messes, hitting, throwing, cuddles, hugs, sticky messes, and most of all, full of love. We, like the Velveteen Rabbit, have been loved into Real and we wouldn’t take it any other way- well, maybe with a little more sleep…
“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’
‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.
‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’
‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
The Velveteen Rabbit