Motherhood: I’m doing it ALL WRONG

Last fall, I came across this article (10 Things Your Mom Never Told You) on Facebook, and it really rubbed me the wrong way. It’s that treacly stereotypical garbage that obviously means I’m an absolutely terrible mother. In fact, I’m such a bad, lazy mom that it’s taken me four months to actually get around to sharing my response.

1. You made her cry… a lot. She cried when she found out she was pregnant. She cried as she gave birth to you. She cried when she first held you. She cried with happiness. She cried with fear. She cried with worry. She cried because she feels so deeply for you. She felt your pain and your happiness and she shared it with you, whether you realized it or not.

Okay, yes, totally. Completely. There have been a lot of tears on my end. Anxious ones, happy ones, inexplicable ones. Even now, if I look long enough at them, they’re so sweet that I tear up.

2. She wanted that last piece of pie. But when she saw you look at it with those big eyes and lick your mouth with that tiny tongue, she couldn’t eat it. She knew it would make her much happier to see your little tummy be filled than hers.

What?! No way, man. I’ll give you a bite, sure, but that pie is mine!

3. It hurt. When you pulled her hair, it hurt; when you grabbed her with those sharp fingernails that were impossible to cut, it hurt; when you bit her while drinking milk, that hurt, too. You bruised her ribs when you kicked her from her belly; you stretched her stomach out for nine months; you made her body contract in agonizing pain as you entered this world.

Obviously. (Though I had a c-section [bad mother!], so that last pain was from the major surgery, not labor, in my case.)

4. She was always afraid. From the moment you were conceived, she did all in her power to protect you. She became your mama bear. She was that lady who wanted to say no when the little girl next door asked to hold you, and who cringed when she did, because in her mind no one could keep you as safe as she herself could. Her heart skipped two beats with your first steps. She stayed up late to make sure you got home safe, and woke up early to see you off to school. With every stubbed toe and little stumble, she was close by; she was ready to snatch you up with every bad dream or late night fever. She was there to make sure you were OK.

Oh, yes, I’ve had fears in the back of my mind since we found out about them. So many, too many sometimes, and they’re not even in school yet.

5. She knows she’s not perfect. She is her own worst critic. She knows all her flaws and sometimes hates herself for them. She is hardest on herself when it comes to you, though. She wanted to be the perfect mom, to do nothing wrong — but because she is human, she made mistakes. She is probably still trying to forgive herself for them. She wishes with her whole heart that she could go back in time and do things differently, but she can’t, so be kind to her, and know she did the best she knew how to do.

Eh. We have two babies. We’re doing it all wrong, probably. Ain’t nobody with two babies got time to worry about being perfect.

6. She watched you as you slept. There were nights when she was up ’til 3:00 a.m. praying that you would finally fall asleep. She could hardly keep her eyes open as she sang to you, and she would beg you to “please, please fall asleep.” Then, when you finally fell asleep, she would lay you down and all her tiredness would disappear for a short second as she sat by your bedside looking down at your perfect cherub face, experiencing more love than she knew was possible, despite her worn-out arms and aching eyes.

DUDE. I am not spending even more time NOT SLEEPING than I need to. I will hold and comfort and soothe (and I still check to make sure they’re breathing, more than two years in), but then I go BACK TO BED. Like a normal human person.

7. She carried you a lot longer than nine months. You needed her to. So she did. She would learn to hold you while she cleaned; she would learn to hold you while she ate; she would even hold you while she slept, because it was the only way she could sometimes. Her arms would get tired, her back would hurt, but she held you still because you wanted to be close to her. She snuggled you, loved you, kissed you and played with you. You felt safe in her arms; you were happy in her arms; you knew you were loved in her arms, so she held you, as often and as long as you needed.

Maybe this is a twin thing, because once they’re older than a few weeks, it’s nearly impossible to hold two babies at the same time. And now, when there are two thirty-pound toddlers demanding to be held (“up! UP! UP!!”), there is no physical way for me to do that. I have to put one down, or sit on the floor/couch, or put one in an Ergo. And I can’t carry even one for very long anymore, either. I guess I haven’t earned my mama stripes if I am unable to carry a baby more than a certain amount of time. Am I not allowed to be a mother if I give in to an aching back?

8. It broke her heart every time you cried. There was no sound as sad as your cries, or sight as horrible as the tears streaming down your perfect face. She did all in her power to stop you from crying, and when she couldn’t stop your tears, her heart would shatter into a million little pieces.

Every time? Every time? Really? You sure about that? When one of them falls and bumps his head–absolutely! Poor sweet baby, come here and let me make it all better. But when it’s 4.30am and it’s the fourth wake-up of the night and you just want to sleep, for the love of all that is holy? Nope, nothing shattering over here. Let me give you a hug and then PLEASE GO TO SLEEP.

9. She put you first. She went without food, without showers and without sleep. She always put your needs before her own. She would spend all day meeting your needs, and by the end of the day, she would have no energy left for herself. But the next day, she would wake up and do it all over again, because you meant that much to her.

I hate this idea that mothers are “supposed to” sacrifice everything for their babies, and love it. That mothers’ lives aren’t meaningful on their own, that somehow being hungry is a badge of honor of maternal pride and accomplishment. I *do* shower, and sleep, and eat. I don’t think that should be special or unique, either. (I also wear pajamas most of the day. Nothing wrong with that!) All mothers need and deserve to do basic biological things like eat, for god’s sake. I’ve said before–and I think it’s RIDICULOUS that it even needs to be mentioned–mamas are people too, and mama, YOU MATTER. Go wash your hair, go take a nap, go finish that pie–you deserve it!!

10. She would do it all again. Being a mom is one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, and it will take you to your very limits sometimes. You cry, you hurt, you try, you fail, you work and you learn. But, you also experience more joy that you thought was possible and feel more love than your heart can contain. Despite all the pain, grief, late nights and early mornings you put your mom through, she would do it all again for you because you are worth it to her. So, next time you see her, tell your mom thank you; let her know that you love her. She can never hear it too many times.

My little toddlers run grinning into my arms when I pick them up from daycare, and they have also just recently started to say, “I lub you, mama,” and dammit, there goes my heart shattering every time.

DSC_4669-1_WEB

So maybe I’m doing something right after all?

Life and Schedule update, v10 (26 months)

I realized that a few things have changed a lot since I last did one of these–over a year ago!–and I wanted to make note before I forget and before even more changes happen.

First and most obvious, they walk and run and talk now, ALL THE TIME. 🙂 Their little voices are really cute, especially when they’re singing the ABCs or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. 🙂

Last summer, when they were 20 months old, we finally made the switch to sippy cups. It took a few tries to find the best one–that didn’t leak, and that didn’t frustrate them. (We settled on these: Munchkin Sippy Cups, 9 ounce) Soon afterward we cut out the post-nap milk (but kept the snack), as well as made the morning milk much less (maybe an ounce or two?). The evening milk is still a few ounces (approximately half of the sippy cup) and about half the time they ask for more.

By the time of the time change in the fall, before they turned two, their bedtime had been pushed back a little bit, from strictly 730 to 745/8pm. (We successfully moved them back a little bit for three nights so that on the last night, they went to bed at 9pm. Then the next night after the time change it was 8pm. Phew!)

Later in the fall/winter, it’s been pushed back more. Now we start getting them ready around 8 and go upstairs between 820 and 830 (which means that some nights, we don’t get out of their room until 9!). Sometimes bedtime is quick and easy, but more often it feels pretty drawn out. They have to each close all the doors in the hallway, we have to say goodnight to the animals on the projector, we sing our two regular songs and then a bonus song or two, and then there are hugs. Lately they’ve been demanding a lot more Daddy hugs and rejecting Mama. :/

The timeshift is a reaction to them suddenly waking up much earlier. We are not morning people, so when they started being up for the day around or before 7am, we were like, NO THANK YOU. Moving bedtime back meant that wakeup also moved back a little, back to the 730 range. AND even better, sometimes it’s 8am!

The naps have shifted a bit too. They used to go down around 12 or 1230, but for the last few months, it’s been 1pm. And as of January or so (so after they turned two), they have gotten shorter, generally 2-2.5 hours. This sucks a bit (I really liked taking my own naps during their naptime, or doing some work), but it also means we have more time to play before and after nap. Especially as the days are finally starting to get longer, that means that they can go outside after nap! We are eagerly awaiting those long summer days when we can go on walks after dinner again…

In general, there’s been a wonderful change in that they are never desperate for food or milk anymore. They used to get all desperate and hysterical and whiny about wanting to eat RIGHT NOW, but as they’ve gotten older, they don’t do that as much anymore. What they do do is beg for snacks. (We give them a mid-morning snack and a post-nap snack, but Emmett especially will ask for and eat crackers all day long. Of course we don’t let him, but it does get annoying to deal with saying no and dealing with his unhappy reaction.) Dinner is often around 6pm nowadays, which again gives us more flexibility with the afternoon and evening hours.

So here’s an actual timeline of a typical day:

745-8am: wake up and milk
830ish: breakfast (oatmeal with fruit puree)
10ish: snack
1130/12pm: lunch
1-3pm: nap
330/4pm: snack (usually a homemade fruit pouch)
545/6pm: dinner
730pm: milk
830ish: bedtime

Our Favorite Toys for Toddlers, 18-24 month edition

When I went to the big twins club re-sale in 2013, I had a very specific list of items that I knew our 5 month old babies would need in the short term. When I saw the huge area of big toys, I froze. I tried to think about the next 5-6 months and what the babies would do or learn or want or play with. And I had utterly no idea what, say, a 9 month old could use.

So I figure that as I go along, I’ll keep track of the toys we use in age-ranges of our babies, in hope that someday, another parent will find it useful! This isn’t an official review or sponsored post, it’s just what our babies have liked and used a lot. Amazon links are affiliate.

(Previous gear lists: Pregnancy, New Babies part 1, New Babies part 2, New Babies part 3 Toys for 3-6 months, Toys for 6-12 months, Toys for 12-18 months)

Also, FYI: Baby Cheapskate does an annual roundup of “Toys that get played with” for all age ranges, based on reader polls/surveys. Here’s the 2013 list for 13-24 months. You should follow them on Facebook--they find and post tons of deals on baby gear every day!

Things they’re still loving from last time: Water Table; Learning Towers, baby broom

Tricycles!

The Radio Flyer Fold 2 Go Trike is perfect for younger toddlers, because it’s a little smaller. I think our boys started riding them before they were 18 months, actually. (Read the post about it)

DSC_6964_WEB

Haba Blocks: We got some of these from a friend, and the dudes love them! The duplos still got good use too. The wooden Haba blocks don’t stick together, but that means that they can build tall towers and then knock them over. And what’s more fun than that? 🙂

IMG_9109_WEB

Play Kitchen: We received one when they were about a year old, and kept putting off putting it together until they were a little older. We finally did it when they were 23 months, and oh my goodness, THEY LOVE IT. I’d meant to move it upstairs to their room, but they play with it just about every day here in the living room. They LOVE it. And they probably would have loved it just as much a few months earlier! It is so much fun to watch them play pretend, and it’s so freaking adorable I can’t even stand it.
IMG_8156_WEB

Spoons, empty containers, dried pasta or beans: Part playing pretend, part sorting and pouring, and part percussion practice. We have a bunch of empty oatmeal canisters that they can play with, and we give them real spoons and Pyrex bowls, and they “stir stir stir” and scoop and stir. If they have some they can pour and scoop and move between one place and another–water, dried beans, dried pasta–they will play with it for a loooong time, very happily.

IMG_9028_WEB

IMG_7005_WEB

Push toys: When we go out on walks, they still love their push toys! We have the musical one musical one (we call it the “jingly walker”), the wooden one (“clacker”), and until recently we had this Fisher-Price Mower. (It finally broke and they got a newer, more realistic looking one for Christmas.)

IMG_4943_WEB

The umbrella strollers work very well too!
IMG_4729_WEB
Basketball hoop and other athletic stuff: The basketball hoop is a lot of fun, but even when that’s not out, they’ve enjoyed played with the mini basketball and a couple other balls we have. They figured out kicking and dribbling balls, so the soccer ball was a good addition. I also had two cheap frisbee-type things, which they love to play with and throw.

DSC_0411-11_WEB

Buckets/containers:

Good for headwear, beach trips, and generally collecting things. Gathering and unpacking is a big thing for them.

DSC_1587_WEB

Baby Guitar/Ukulele: Our nanny (who is in a band) sometimes brings her ukelele and sings to them, and lets them play with it. They will happily sit on their baby couch together, strumming and swaying back and forth. They never ever want to stop playing, and anytime it’s been here, they ask, “More le-le?” over and over again.
IMG_4722-1_WEB

Mama’s wallet:

This is my secret weapon toy. If I need them to chill out/I’m out of ideas/they’re stir-crazy, they get to play with Mama’s wallet! They methodically take all the cards out and then play with putting them back in and handing them back and forth to each other. I don’t get it, but I’ll take it!

DSC_2536_01_WEB

Rocks:

Every toddler’s favorite!

*     *    *

I’d love to hear what your young toddlers love to play with–leave a note in the comments!