Guess what? It’s still October, and it’s still Spina Bifida Awareness Month. Inspired by this post my friend Mary Evelyn wrote last year addressing reader questions about SB, I thought I’d cover a biggie that I’ve never answered before: How hard is this SB/special needs parenting thing day to day?
A small, huge thing happened yesterday when I dropped Claire off for preschool.
I was taking her out of her car seat as usual, and she turned to her sister and waved and said, “Bye bye, sissy!” as usual. And she blew a kiss, as usual. And then… she told Etta, “I love you!”
Mark it down in the baby book blog: it’s the first time I have ever heard either one of them say “I love you” to the other one. Sure, they show it– they like to hug and kiss and hold hands, and I sometimes find one in the other’s bed, but this was the first instance of verbal love between the two of them. It exploded my heart.
When my sister and I were kids, our parents didn’t allow us to call other people “stupid.” So we did what any smart kids would do: we created a code word that worked just as well. Our code word? “Sebastian.” Ariel’s very own personal crustacean buzzkill was a natural choice for a couple of kids whose first movie in the theater was The Little Mermaid. “You’re so Sebastian,” we would say to each other, and the recipient would TOTALLY know exactly what we meant. It became something of a family joke, and to this day, my Papa, particularly when he is performing a monologue on behalf of the dog in his special dog-voice, will use the word “Sebastian” to call someone a nitwit.
This is why I was surprised when I saw that the name “Sebastian” has now arrived on the top 50 list of boys’ names. Guess all those people just don’t know they’re basically naming their kids “Stupid.”
*Note: if you named your kid Sebastian, I am sure that he is not, in fact, stupid. It’s a great name. But it will always first and foremost make me think “Stupid.” And then it will remind me of “The Neverending Story.” And then I’ll want to put a necklace on my head and pretend to be The Childlike Empress. And THEN it will make me think of twee rockers Belle and Sebastian. The end.
See that stunningly gorgeous, extremely sticky kid right there? She’s wearing a stained tank top and no pants with skinny legs stuck into new red high top sneakers her daddy picked out for her. I sliced her up a delicious peach as part of her lunch. And you know what that magnificent child did? She shared it with me. She brought over two pieces at a time, running in those little high tops from her tiny table to my spot on the couch, handing me one piece, and devouring the other with a smile. Her eyes lit up every time I said, “Thank you, baby!” She grinned every time I said “mmmmm.” When we finished our slices, she ran back on crazy legs to bring more.
This kid is 2 years old and she knows the secret to life: the best things are only the best if they’re shared. I’m so glad I get to share all my best things with my Best Things.
Dear couple staring in disbelief at an ultrasound image of TWO babies,
Hi. You might be feeling a lot of feelings right now, and those feelings may be giving you other feelings too. Like, maybe you’re a little bummed out and the difference between how you feel and how excited everyone else seems to be about this twins thing might be making you feel a little guilty on top of the whole feeling bummed thing. I know.
I’ve made no secret about the fact that Instagram is probably my favorite Internet. Instagram is a happy place, for the most part (unless you’re totally following the wrong people), where folks share the beauty and joy and interesting things in their lives. There’s no BuzzFeed Quizzes. No weird out-there political rants. No ugly. No mean. Just all of my favorite things: food, babies, nature, pets, scenery. It’s the first thing I check when I fire up my phone in the mornings, and often the last thing I scroll through before bed.
Which is why it confuses me when people feel the need to “expose” the reality behind the filtered world of Instagram, or confess that Instagram makes them feel insecure.
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.
Sitting at the dinner table, the three of us hear a familiar clink in the driveway, and I can see smiles creep across the girls’ faces, sparkles arriving in their eyes, and then we see him, the hero and his trusty steed, or rather, my husband, wheeling his bike into the shed. They begin a chant, squealing and giggling, “DADDY! DADDY! DADDY! DADDY!” You’d think the star player were entering the stadium. And to us: he is. Some days he rides in like the cavalry, saving me from a day gone horribly wrong and saving my children from a mama at her wits end. But even on a day gone right, things are still just infinitely better when he’s home. Continue reading “happy father’s day”
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 “leveling up”