mothers day deux

Parenting is not pretty.

Last mothers day weekend, I begged my sister to come spend the night. Frank was out of town and I had to go up to my in-laws for mothers day on Saturday.  We plant flowers and have a nice meal together.

But I knew I would be in no condition to go up there if I had the twins to myself at night.

And so I commenced begging Caitlin.

Because Caitlin is so amazing, the conversation went like this:

Me: Hey Cait–

Caitlin: I’m coming over!!

So yeah.  The evening initially went OK. I mean, there was the requisite puking, but by bedtime, Caitlin was still wearing the same clothes she arrived in.  We snuggled the girls into their car seats (that’s where they slept for three or four months) and tried to get some sleep.

I want to tell you I vividly remember what occurred that night.  I want to tell you that it was a series of Norman Rockwell moments illustrating a generation of sisters passing along the torch of sisterhood to the next generation of sisters.

No.

I have to tell the truth.  The night is a blur.  I desperately wanted and needed sleep, but the nursery house of horrors had come alive in vivid shades of regurgitated formula and the soundtrack was the wailing and gnashing of gums.  I helped Caitlin with one of the feedings, I think.

I know that I went into the nursery a few times and tried to help.  My sister valiantly sent me back to bed.  I was somewhat aware that she was in a new outfit – or that her outfit had been “redecorated” by one of the twins – but I didn’t stop to question it.

When I came-to in the morning, having had a few continuous hours of sleep punctuated by a foggy awareness of babies crying, I stumbled into the nursery at 6 a.m. to find my sister surrounded by a half-dozen half-eaten bottles and dirtied burp rags. Her normally beautifully-kept, perfect blond hair was in rats nests around her face (how do babies make that happen so quickly???) and she had the look of a woman who had seen things she could not bear to repeat.

Me: What… what… what happened?

Caitlin: Oh (looking around, trying not to break down), it’s nothing. They just… they just… THEY WOULDN’T GO TO SLEEP! (lower lip quivering) Why? Why? I tried (weeping) Lord knows, I tried.  I sang, I rocked and they – THEY VOMITED!

Me: Uh huh. Are you OK?

Caitlin: Yes. Yes.  I’m OK.  I’m OK. I just… Just.. need… sleep.  Please, make the crying stop.  I just need to go to sleep.  One would stop and the other would start. Why??

Me: There, there.  It’s OK.

The twins, for the record, had calmed down.  They were looking at us with a quiet satisfaction. It appears that the generational torch of sisterhood can be passed in either direction.

Together, we put the girls in their cutest outfits.  I combed my hair.  Caitlin helped me load the car for my one hour journey and then she stumbled to her car and drove home, where she slept until 2 p.m.

I don’t blame her.

And I thought to myself, “Is this how it is always going to be? What did I sign up for?! HELP!”

I wasn’t alone.

Around July of last year, Frank looked at me pleadingly and asked, “will these children EVER sleep through the night?” I told him reassuringly, “Of course!” but thought, “What if they don’t? What if we never sleep again?!” And then, miraculously, about a week or so later, the twins finally started sleeping through the night.

We had the same situation with feeding the girls solids – it seemed like we would be forever be covered in sweet potatoes and mashed green beans and all sorts of disgusting (and, might I say, bland) baby food.  It seemed like the girls would never figure out their sippy cups or straws.  It seemed like they would never crawl or walk or talk.

And every time I’ve felt that way, I’ve been wrong.  Motherhood has proven me wrong more often than not.

So this year, I’d like to say three things about parenting on this lovely Mothers Day weekend:

1. It is epically humbling.  Not: “Waving at someone across the street because you think you know them but then you realize that you don’t know them and so you pretend your wave was actually a hair adjustment”, but “Holy crap, I actually showed up to college graduation naked AND without the required number of hours!” But, the good news is that it’s not about you as a parent, but rather about doing what’s best for your kids and your family. So, you know, grab a trench coat from graduation coat check and fake it til you make it.

2. A win is a win. Yeah, your kid may not have walked as soon as Susie’s prodigy child or Donna’s baby might have a larger vocabulary, but odds are, your kid will not go to high school only saying “bah” (ball) and “dada” (everything else).  Odds are, you will have a phone bill that will prove that your child has indeed expanded her/his vocabulary to include “Whatever” and “Can I have the car tonight?”

3. Old people are on to something.  Live long enough, I’m starting to realize, and you’ll start saying the same annoying stuff your parents said.  I’m not going to suggest that anyone admit their parents are (gasp!) right, but perhaps our parents might have a few pieces of well-earned wisdom.  They still don’t understand good movies/music/books/fashion/texting/whatever, but they definitely might have a few pieces of sage advice when it comes to raising/chasing after/loving kids.  I mean, I/you didn’t turn out so bad, did we?

Right now I find myself starting to wonder if the twins will ever grow up.

And I stop myself.

 

 

Happy Mothers Day to all you ladies.

mother’s day

When we were going through infertility treatments and struggling to get pregnant, this day was so bittersweet. I have a wonderful mom and a great mother-in-law. But the pain of feeling excluded from this day, because of the challenges we faced having a child, weighed on me.

This year is different for two obvious reasons and I am beyond grateful for our twin girls. They are smiling, cooing and starting to develop a little bit of personality.  It definitely helps make the long nights worthwhile.

But since I had the twins, a realization that had started to take shape when we struggled with infertility has continued to become more clear to me.

Motherhood does not happen to you, it happens in you.

Yes, it sounds totally cliché and trite, but bear with me. I did not magically become a mother on February 19th of this year. There was not a moment in the delivery room where a rush of hormones released a locked part of my brain, making me a mom.

Becoming a mom started a long time ago when I watched my own mom care for my sister and tried to imitate her with my doll I named Karen. It started in preschool when I pretended to be the mom when we played house. It continued to develop when I would babysit my siblings and neighbors. In my career, my instincts to mother grew as I learned how to nurture my coworkers and help those who reported to me achieve their goals. In volunteer work, I practiced and developed mothering skills with teenagers – one of the toughest and most rewarding groups to work with.

That being said, on February 19th when the doctors gave me my daughters to hold, I was filled with the requisite awe and wonder at our infant daughters. And while I loved them immediately, the moment was not transformative as I had previously imagined it would be. Sure, now I had the title, but it occurred to me that I had been doing the job, in one way or another, my whole life.

Am I saying that being a mother isn’t full of responsibility, challenges and difficulty? Certainly not. After being up most of the night with the twins, I have new appreciation for my own mother. I also have an even greater appreciation for my husband who was up with me, changing diapers, making bottles, rocking and burping.

But I also have a great appreciation for all the women in my life that have mothered me without having the official title. From teachers, bosses, mentors and friends, I have been fortunate enough to have a fantastic biological mother in addition to an army of women who have come alongside me and used their mothering skills to help me grow and flourish.

Mothering is encouraging, growing, nurturing, challenging, comforting, loving and caring for others, with little to no reward.  For the women out there who feel excluded from this day because they do not have children, I hope that this realization affirms the wonderful women that they are. It may not take away the pain and heartache of not having a child in your arms, but I want you to know that the amazing work you do in the lives of others is not, and will not be, forgotten.

And for everyone out there that has had the great fortune of having an army of mothers as I have had, I hope that you can take some time today to thank some of those outstanding women.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the women who mother – you are all a wonderful treasure!

the one about “The Entity”

Haunted house, much?

Oh, where to even begin?

I suppose that first of all I should preface this post with a warning that my family is just a few bananas short of a full bunch.

That being said, we think our house might be haunted.  Or maybe we’re crazy.  Or maybe it’s a little bit of both.

I submit the following items to you as evidence:

Evidence A: For a long time, I’ve said to Frank that I think we have electrical issues in our house.  I’ve changed the same light bulbs multiple times in a few short months – and then haven’t changed them since in over a year.  Our dishwasher started on fire.  Our built-in microwave stopped working the first two weeks we lived here (and is now the happy home for our tortilla chips and breakfast cereals – don’t judge – we make due with what we have!).  We have light switches that go no where.  Well, that last one is probably more of “user error” than anything else.  Whatever.  Is it electrical or is it… a haunting??

Evidence B: The night I came home from the hospital, but while the girls were still in NICU, Frank had a very strange dream.  In his dream, he heard the bells on our front door jangle, which means that someone opened the door.  Still dreaming, he thought it was me coming home, but then he became aware that I was still in bed with him.  Starting to get concerned, he heard footsteps climb our stairs, walk through our bedroom door and stop at the foot of our bed.  Frank says that in his dream, he felt like someone was menacingly standing over our bed, staring at us.   Before Frank could do anything in his dream, he heard the ice-maker in our freezer start producing ice.  In his dream, he went downstairs and there was ice pouring out of our freezer and filling the kitchen.

Evidence C: My mother-in-law and my mom have been staying with us to help with the girls when Frank is on trips.  One of the first times my mom stayed here, she had a vivid dream of someone standing over her bed, watching her.  I’m not sure whether the “someone” was evil or not – but it doesn’t matter.  It’s always creepy to have someone staring at you while you sleep!

Evidence D: We had a chandelier installed in our kitchen about a year ago.  Within a week, four of the six bulbs burned out.  Sure, this is more of an addendum to Evidence A, but the lights didn’t start burning out until I came home from the hospital.  Perhaps I brought an entity home with me from the hospital?  Never you mind that I was staying in a brand new wing of the hospital, but hey, you never know.

Do I think we have a ghost living in our house?  Eh, probably not.  I think we have some electrical issues and some family members with vivid imaginations.  But just for fun, we’ve named this creepy people-watcher “The Entity” thus ensuring that no one will ever want to babysit our children.

So, who wants to sleep over and find out if I’m right??

100 joys (13-17)

The great thing about doing this project is that every day I find myself excited to look for all the joys in my life!  The not-so-great thing is that this has been a particularly busy week and so it has been difficult to find time to document all of the joys.

That’s ok!  It’s a good problem to have 🙂

Joy #13

My shampoo and conditioner.  If you recall from yesterday, I find my Mary Kay skin care to be a joy because it takes care of some dry skin issues I’ve had in the past.  Unfortunately, this dry skin shenanigans is not limited to my face and has, at times, invaded my scalp.  Ugh.  There is nothing worse than not being able to put your hair in a pony tail on a hot summer day because of how dry your skin is!  (Ok, there are plenty of things worse, but stay with me)  I tried lots of things over the years – expensive shampoos and conditioners, scalp oil, etc.  The expensive (ahem, Aveda) scalp shampoo only dried out my hair and didn’t greatly improve my scalp situation.  Then one day, in a fit of frustration, I used Herbal Essences.  Instantly, my hair was shiny and soft again and my scalp was much healthier!  Every day that I wash my hair, I am delighted that my finicky head craves the cheap grocery store brand of shampoo instead of the super-expensive variety.  Love it!

Joy #14

AirplaneI know, Frank makes the list nearly every day in some form or another, but seriously – this guy is fabulous.  A lot of snow had blown onto our driveway in the past couple of days and when I came home from work tonight, Frank had completely tidied up the driveway.  He’d also taken care of several other chores around the house, which is such a treat!  He makes the bed every day and I love coming upstairs to see the made bed.  Frank is the source of a lot of little joys!

Joy #15

Note: This is not our dishwasher, but it looks close enough.  After having experienced life without a dishwasher, it is such a joy to load up the dishwasher, turn it on and… walk away!  Take that, sink full of dishes!

Joy #16

I had a visit with the doctor today and got to hear the babies’ heartbeats!  I love hearing them – it is such a sweet reassurance.  Baby A’s heart rate was around 140 and Baby B’s heart rate was around 150.  Plus, the babies have both been quite active today – another big blessing and joy! Because we are having twins, we are now going to have appointments every two weeks.  Yay!

Joy #17

Not exactly the best picture of my parent’s living room, but this is a glimpse into what my parents’ house looks like at Christmas.  They set up one lonnng table to seat about 20 people and Mom makes an amazing prime rib with all of the fixings.  SO GOOD!  And such a great time with family.  It is a joy that I am looking forward to!

mother's day

Mother’s Day is coming up around the corner.  This is the second year that I alternately dread the day and love it.

I dread it because it so freshly reminds me of where we are at with our fertility situation.  It reminds me that for so many people, getting pregnant and having the baby is the easy part. It reminds me that our guest room is still just a guest room, not a home to a permanent resident.

I love Mother’s Day because I have a wonderful mom.  My mom is vivacious and bright and beautiful.  She is a fantastic cook, an enthusiastic story-teller and a one-woman party.  If you wonder where I get my “talk to anyone” attitude, it’s from my mom.  I remember being in Washington, DC, waiting to cross a street and Mom struck up a conversation with a complete stranger. Turns out Mom knew a guy who knew someone that this stranger knew.

No one is a stranger to my mom.

She is inclusive and fiercely loyal.  My friends love hanging out with my mom.  She remembers them, she remembers their stories and she always asks them questions about what is going on in their lives.

My husband loves my mom.  I suspect it is largely due to the fact that whenever Mom sees him, she is constantly trying to feed him (this is not something that happens for him in our house… woops!).  I think it’s good that he loves my mom because, as Mom would say, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!”

Speaking of that – my mom LOVES sayings.  She says things like:

“That’s why tigers eat their young!” (Do they?  Do they really?  I don’t think they do, but my mom has said that for SO long, I have started to question tigers…)  “There’s a lid for every pot” (not in our house – but I think she was referencing finding a mate, not actual cookware)  “No good deed goes unpunished” (Hm, sadly, I have found that to be true more often than I would like…) “Better to ask for forgiveness instead of permission” (Hmmmm…)

My mom, often in desperation, would tell us things that were not true that still mess with me to this day.  Like, for example, you HAVE to curl your hair to go to the city.  Or that the waiter was going to lock my brother up in the back room if he misbehaved (which explains why Andy would cry whenever he saw a waiter until he was about 18).  Babies crying in church were baby Jesus being born (this really messed me up because we had a giant crucifix at the front of our church + my dad read me time travel stories = I thought Jesus was a time traveling baby and I always wanted to tell warn him about the crucifixion “Don’t do it Jesus! They are going to crucify you!”).

Everything was fun and new and fresh with my mom.  Every day was a new adventure growing up.  My mom let us try a lot of things – this is how I knew I’d never be a horse jockey, a concert cellist, or a professional softball player.  It’s also how I knew what college I wanted to go to, what I wanted to major in and gave me a foundation of skills and knowledge to do all of those things.

When I was little, I loved driving places with my mom.  I remember listening to Elton John and Billy Joel on the radio, bopping along with her as we went to the grocery store or to visit Nani.

On one sunny afternoon, I remember my mom let me get Bubble Tape (6 feet of gum!), even though she hates gum (and bananas and raisins – also called the unholy trinity).  I remember holding the package in my hand, so happy to have this treat.  I looked at the packaging and I looked up at Mom and said, “Hey Mom, you know who makes this gum?” She replied, “No, who?” And I said, very seriously and proudly (I had just learned how to read) said, “Pat Pending!”

My mom laughed so hard that big tears were rolling down her cheeks.  She tried to explain to me what a patent was and what pending meant, but she could hardly get it out.

My mom loves to laugh.  She loves to delight in everyday kinds of things.

I love you Mom!  Happy Mother’s Day!

christmas with the fam

normal family (except for weird devil dog picture)

 

493 divided by 23.3

hmmmm….

uh oh… Mom’s mad!  (notice that Andy is instinctively pointing at Caitlin…)

now we’ve done it!  we woke  up Dad!  here he comes!!

Funny true story about waking up our dad in the middle of the night.

Caitlin and I were up late one night, playing around on instant messenger with her friends.  No good can come from us being up after midnight: it’s a fact. 

Well, anyway, somehow my parents went to bed without realizing that we were still up and playing on the computer at 2 a.m.

Eventually our giggling woke up our dad 2 floors over us.  We heard his feet hit the ground next to his bed and we KNEW we were in trouble.  I tried to quickly shut down the computer and turn out the lights while Caitlin brilliantly started pacing in circles and then locked herself in the furnace room, still walking in circles and laughing the laugh of a girl in trouble.

Now, my dad is hilarious when he is mad.  It’s not funny at the time – it’s usually pretty intimidating – but man, in retrospect, it’s pretty funny.  When Dad is awakened from his slumber (which is often because he is a light sleeper), he squints with one eye and scratches his butt.  I don’t know why he scratches his butt and I’m not sure what is accomplished with this maneuver, but that’s just what he does. 

So when we heard Dad coming down the stairs, we knew he’d be squinting and scratching and generally not pleased with the two of us.  I barely got the computer turned off before Dad made it all the way from his room to the basement. 

“What is going on down here?  What are you doing up?” asked Dad.  And when I say “asked”, I mean “growled”.  Also, I am significantly editing the colorful language dad used when asking these questions.

“We were on the computer….” I replied lamely, racing to the stairs, following Caitlin up the stairs (somehow she made it out of the furnace room and to the stairs before I did).

“Uh uh uh uh uh… uh… uh…” replied Caitlin.

“Get to bed.  Gettobed! Get. To. Bed! NOW!  What is wrong with you people??”

I guessed correctly that the last question was rhetorical in nature and wisely declined to respond.

“Ok ok ok ok!” I was panting as I was racing up the stairs behind Caitlin.  Dad posed no physical threat, but the faster we got to bed, the sooner the squinting and scratching would cease.

Caitlin was up those stairs so fast that she was already cowering under her covers before I got up there. 

Lesson? For pete’s sake – don’t wake up Dad!!