By: Amber Leventry
At least once a week, my partner and I look at each other with a look that refers to many conversations where we have said, “I don’t want to wish their youth away, but I want the boys to be a little older.” I feel guilty for feeling it and guilty for saying it. Since my partner gave birth to our twin boys, giving our two year old daughter two brothers, life has been a fast-paced, sleep-deprived, blur of events and emotions.
As my boys turn two years old this month, they are getting older. Since we haven’t documented a thing they have done in a journal or baby book, I have been trying to remember some milestones or lessons learned over the last year. Yes, they each learned to walk. They each had their first haircut. And they both cut a full set of teeth.
But I want to find a way to capture more than the achievements of my growing children. I want to capture what I have achieved and I what I have learned. I want to pinpoint this sensation of walking through a foggy dream. I’m afraid that if I don’t grasp more than the words “exhausted” and “busy”, then the reasons for wearing those adjectives each day will be lost.
Here is what I remember about life over the past year with twins and a toddler.
I became a SAHM/WAHM.
Oh, the dichotomy of staying at home and working at home with children around. Thankfully our daughter is in preschool, but sending the boys to daycare would mean not eating or losing the house, so I am home full-time. My work gets done early in the morning, late at night, or on the few good days when naps are longer than an hour. I dreaded the transition, I have hated my new role, and I have now accepted it. Most days with my two adorable trouble makers are good, but some days are painfully boring and lonely.
Having three young kids at once has felt like fulfilling prerequisites or doing jail time.
There is a lot of mind-numbing work that needs to be done before we can actually get to the good parts and before we can feel the sensation of freedom again. Someone always wants something, usually at the same time, and probably when I am not in a position to help anyone.
I became a yeller.
Not a screamer or belittler, but I have become the parent I never was when it was just my daughter. Once the boys began to walk, climb, and get into everything all of the time, my worn patience gave away to frustrated and exasperated yells of discipline. After days and months of not being able to pee alone, finish a task, or take care of my own needs, I cracked. I yelled. I hated myself. I did it again, and continue to do it. It’s not effective, but on some days it’s the only thing I feel capable of doing when one or both of the boys are throwing balls at the television, biting each other, or refusing to nap.
Tantrums happen several times a day, every day.
If my daughter isn’t wailing about not being able to find her zebra print capris, one of the boys is screaming because he isn’t allowed to suck on a marker like it’s a popsicle, while the other one is about to lose his shit because he can’t get his shoe on and he doesn’t want my help.
Independence is a bad 12 letter word.
When our daughter was between the ages of one and two, we encouraged her desire to learn how to do things on her own. But with the boys, it’s all I can do to let them pump the soap out of the dispenser on their own while I hold them in place over the kitchen sink for pre-meal hand washing. While I am proud of their attempts, waiting for them to put on their own pants or socks increases my blood pressure and tests my patience.
Through the tantrums, the boys have started to talk. They are able to understand everything we say, but we can’t say the same about what comes out of their mouths. Their verbal development is about six months behind what our daughter’s was at this age, and we struggle with what they are saying. My partner and I nod a lot and try to articulate back to them what we think they are saying. An outsider looking in would think we are playing a game of Taboo with Tourette’s inflicted toddlers as we try to guess the word they continue to say over and over and over again until we get it right.
The little things are the most important.
If I close my eyes, I can see Ben shooting and making hoop after hoop on the Little Tikes basketball hoop. I can hear Ryan trying to sing along to his sister’s Frozen soundtrack, his high pitched intonations right on target. I can see Eva helping her brothers put on their coats, teaching them how to hold a crayon, and trying to read to them. I can hear the three of them giggling in ways that only makes sense to siblings, whose love exceeds the tantrums, fighting, and envy for each others stuff and space on Mama’s lap.
I can taste how good stale Goldfish crackers, cold chicken nuggets, and soggy cereal are after realizing I was too busy to feed myself. I can feel little hands on my face and little arms around my neck. I can smell food, sweat, and milk on their skin. And I can feel the softness and warmth of all three of their little bodies as we cuddle up each night before bed.
These are the sensations I will hold onto. And even though I am happy to move on to a new age with my twins, I don’t want to lose a year as a parent. Not recalling why I feel so ragged means I might forget the best things about being exhausted. I know I will look back and think that was really hard. But I would be doing myself and my children a disservice to not also look back and feel, beyond the surface of my frazzled nerves, the stored memories soaked into every part of my body that make being a parent more powerful than achievements stored in a baby book.