knowing yourself

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“Night night.”

Anyone who’s hung out with Etta knows what those words mean. She is D-O-N-E. When she comes over to me, wherever we are– zoo, story time, splash pad– and says “mama, night night,” I pack it in and we jet. Because apparently, my tiny tot knows herself well, and she lets me know when she’s reached the point of needing to get home and get to bed for a nap ASAP. Continue reading

Screw You, “British Nanny,” I let my kids choose their sippy cups

Society isn't in crisis just because I let this kid choose this Elmo cup (and her outfit).

Society isn’t in crisis just because I let this kid choose this Elmo cup (and her outfit).

At this point, everyone who knows anyone with a kid has likely seen the latest viral parenting piece from a “British Nanny” letting us know 5 Reasons Parenting is in a Crisis. Most of them left me with that record-scratch sound playing in my head.

For one thing, I’m an ACTUAL PARENT, and I’m not here to tell you a bulleted list of how to raise your kids. Because if twins have taught me anything, it’s that every kid is different, and every parent is different, and only you know what is best for your child. We’re all just doing the best we can here, and my biggest takeaway in two years has been that we all need a little more grace and a lot more help.

But for another, what really bothered me the most is that Emma, the aforementioned Nanny, characterizes every interaction between parent and child as a power struggle, one in which parental will must be exerted at all costs, lest children get the idea that they “are in charge here.” Continue reading

pixie dust and sippy cups

tinkerbell cup

I feel like when my kids are supposed to switch from various bottles and cups to the next level is one of those lessons I missed in mom school. Bottles to soft sippies, soft sippies to straws, straws to ?? I don’t even know. I eventually got the vague idea that I needed to get them off of the bottles and onto sippy cups because otherwise their teeth would be jacked up, and so we did that somewhere around age one. Except that after that, Etta would ONLY drink from a very particular Nuk soft sippy cup, and Claire would drink anything out of anything except milk NEEDED to be drunk from a baby bottle. And since milk was such a key part of our bedtime routine, since it worked SO WELL to get them sleepy and since I am so utterly lazy, I decided not to fight it. They won’t go to college drinking out of baby bottles, right?  Continue reading

leveling up

I regret not a single minute of this.

I regret not a single minute of this.

For two years and two months, Claire has been snuggled, held, and rocked to sleep. For 19 months of that time, Etta was rocked or bounced to sleep, herself. This could take up to an hour. Sometimes it got annoying– especially after a tough day, sometimes I didn’t feel like the long ordeal. Sometimes, like just last week, my husband and I would talk about maybe it being time to do some sort of sleep training, something anyone who has ever had kids has had strangers recommend, but something I had always resisted. And I resisted because the annoyance was only a rare sometimes. Mostly? Mostly I loved the snuggly ritual of helping my sweet small ones transition from awake to sleep, feeling them grow heavy in my arms, hearing their breaths grow longer, watching their eyelids close. Mostly because I know I’m not allowed to birth any more babies, I felt no need to rush one of the last vestiges of my only babyhood away. I figured eventually, they wouldn’t need me to rock them to sleep, and that when that day arrived, they’d let me know.
And they did. Continue reading

happy birthday, bufflogals!

Etta and Claire are two today. The last two years have been the craziest, hardest, best, most beautiful years of our lives. And every day they just get better. I’ll spare the sap, but here’s a little photo retrospective.

brand new bufflogals

brand new bufflogals

I didn't get to hold Claire, because she had to be immediately transferred to Children's Hospital to prepare for her spina bifida closure surgery.

I didn’t get to hold Claire, because she had to be immediately transferred to Children’s Hospital to prepare for her spina bifida closure surgery.

Still can't get over how tiny they were. I was pretty proud of my 6 lb 34 weeker twins, though.

Still can’t get over how tiny they were. I was pretty proud of my 6 lb 34 weeker twins, though.

First photo as a family of four, 9 days later, in the NICU with Claire.

First photo as a family of four, 9 days later, in the NICU with Claire.

First birthday cake/pudding.

First birthday cake/pudding.

One year as a family!

One year as a family!

And last weekend.

And last weekend.

And now they’re two. I expect a little bit of terrible but a whole lot of terrific.

never say never to say this

photo-4I feel like every day a new post like this pops up in one of my social media feeds. Today it was “9 Things Never to Say to the Parents of a Newborn.” I’ve seen others about things not to say to pregnant women, or twin parents, or even parents of kids with disabilities. And even though I have even shared a post of things you actually CAN say to parents of kids with disabilities (because hey, that one was actually helpful), I think my list of things you should never say is rapidly boiling down to only one bullet point:

 

  1. Never say a list of things people should never say.

 

My rules for relationships are all summed up in one very wise quote from the movie Bill and Ted’s Most Excellent Adventure: “Be most excellent to one another, and party on, dudes.” The gist is: be kind to others and yourself. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Know that generally, things said by people who care about you do come from a place of caring. If they ask how your wife who just had a baby is doing, why not assume they are sincerely asking? Instead of writing a blog post about what a moron someone is for asking you to let them know how they can help out with your new baby, why not say “hey, actually, could you come rock and snuggle the baby while we shower and nap?” People LOVE to rock and snuggle babies, and lord knows every new parent needs a shower and a nap.

Being Most Excellent also means assuming that the people you care about and talk with are doing the best they can with what they know, and will generally ask for advice if they need it. Being Most Excellent means that if you can’t make that basic assumption, that someone is doing the best they can to make the right choices for themselves and their kids, maybe what you need is to not be friends with them, rather than attempt to shame them either outright or via passive aggressive article posting about baby sleep/baby feeding/car seats. Being Most Excellent means thinking for just a second before you speak, which would save you from something dumb like asking if boy/girl twins are identical, or offering some unsolicited advice to a mother of a child with a disability.

And Being Most Excellent means that sometimes, you might have to talk with someone about how they said that thing they just said and how it made you feel. I know I sometimes need to give myself a talk about using ableist language like using “lame” as a pejorative, for example.

Rather than publish a list of Things Not To Say to a Mom of a Child with Spina Bifida, I’d rather offer an open invitation to people who know me or read my words: if you have a question, even if you’re worried about how I might take it, please feel free to ask. If you’re coming from a place of Being Most Excellent, I promise to do my best to Be Most Excellent right back. I think if people felt more free to talk and ask about hard things in life, we might spend less time tiptoeing around each other and more time really connecting. I remember being sincerely asked how I was doing when the girls were newborns and breaking down sobbing in the arms of some friends, because it was exhausting and hard and I needed a break. And you know what? Just connecting, and literally crying on someone’s shoulder, and getting a hug and some encouragement? It was way more valuable than some weird polite attempt from someone who’s read too many “never say” lists and become afraid to ask how someone’s doing.

Note: this Be Most Excellent thing pretty much only applies to people you have an actual, established relationship with. A friend asking me about, say, Claire’s leg braces would be quite a different thing than a stranger in a store, where the asking serves to point out her difference and put her on the spot in a way that I don’t want her to be when she’s just going about her day to day life. But if you’re close enough to come over with food or rock my newborn, I promise you are close enough to ask me about just about anything, and I promise not to jump down your throat. I can’t promise not to tell you if the language you use is problematic or hurtful, but I do promise not to be a jerk about it. Let’s all try to Be Most Excellent. Party on, dudes.

two

In three days my two will be TWO. It at once feels huge and also like no big deal at all. Huge because they are definitely not babies anymore. They’re walking, talking, singing, thinking, hugging, kissing little humans. And no big deal at all because I am a giant sap who Lives in the Moment and Loves Each Phase as it Comes, and frankly, they just keep getting cooler and more interesting and more themselves, and there’s no room to be all that sad about that.

The best thing about firmly arriving in toddlerhood and leaving babyhood behind is the love. I am always telling my girls, “Thanks for the love! I love the love!” This is usually after some tiny arms have been thrown about my neck and a big, wet, open-mouthed kiss planted on my lips, with possibly some snot thrown in. Or after Etta has made a bee-line for me across the room, suddenly dropping all toys and play, to climb into my lap, lay a head on my shoulder, and let out a sweet little sigh before going back to the serious business of filling a doll stroller with play food. Or after Claire, sitting in a stroller pushed by her daddy as we go on an evening stroll, reaches out her dimpled hand to hold mine and holds on tight for 20 minutes to home. They still need me fiercely, but now they are able to reciprocate my affection for them, and I just love it. I can’t get enough of it. It explodes my heart.

On top of all the love, Claire has really really taken off in the talking department. By which I mean, she is constantly talking unless she is eating, pretty much. Etta isn’t much of a talker, and to be honest, I think Claire’s incessant babble wears her out a bit. She’ll actually say to her sister, “Shhhhhhh baby.” She calls Claire “baby” and Claire calls Etta “Sissy” or sometimes “Eddie.” (Claire’s first word was Etta, you may recall.) Sometimes the talking wears me out, too, but mostly it delights me. Her tiny voice is just crazy adorable. She loves to say “puppy,” possibly because what word in all the world could be happier? Her descriptive language is just exploding and the things she comes up with are amazing to me. I came into the room where she’d been hanging out with her dad, and asked her where he was. She said, “Daddy coming. He potty.” And sure enough, he had left to go to the bathroom. She’ll bump her head and say “I bonked it.” She talks about airplanes and elephants and her snazzy new braces and how she uses a cath to go pee pee. She’ll even say “tank you” when you give her something or do something for her. As a wordy mama, it thrills me to no end to hear every little thing she has to say, and I admit I sometimes have a hard time not worrying that her sister doesn’t talk all that much. She clearly understands most of what I say, though, and follows instructions, and does say some words, and luckily I live with a pediatrician who can reassure me there is nothing to worry about and like everything, language develops at its own pace.

My two are two. They are hugging and kissing and walking and talking and getting more interesting and coming more and more into their own. What a lucky lady am I!