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Archive for the ‘Mommy Issues’ Category

Disclaimer: I love my twins. They are fantastic and I have a great family. Most days, I love having twins. Yesterday was not one of them.

Dear moms of singletons (who tell me—incessantly—how great it is that I have twins because they play together),

My son, who is a quiet little guy, spoke his first sentence yesterday a week after his second birthday. In fact, he’d never even said a two word sentence, and we got three—subject, verb and object. Go Danny.  And what did he say?

“Bite! Abby bite. Abby bite. Abby bite Danny!”

Yep, it was a day of firsts in my house. Abigail bit for the first time at 4pm—and the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th before bed at 7pm—and Danny spoke his first sentence. Somehow I should be happier about this developmental gain. Right? Right?

Yep, moms of one. Enjoy your lonely singleton. He may not have anyone to play with, but at least he is not covered in teeth marks.

Rebecca
Mom to Danny & Abigail, age 2

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The Role of a SAHM

As my husband and I were driving home last night, he asked me how my day was. “It was a really good day,” I said. “After the kids woke up and we all ate breakfast, we headed to the gym (which I call the ‘play place” for the kids’ sake.) They said ‘hi’ to the fish at the entrance and played happily for an hour while I exercised. From there, we said ‘good-bye’ to the fish, headed over to Kohls to make a return, and then over to the pet store. I let the kids walk around holding hands while I pushed the stroller, and we looked at mice, cats, birds, fish and turtles. Back in the stroller, over to Target for some shopping and then when we were done we munched on popcorn and then home for a little play time and nap!”

“After nap, Jonathan and I worked on the laundry, and then they both colored while I cleaned the kitchen and started dinner. They got bored with that pretty quickly, so I got out the playdough set we never opened from Christmas, and they played with that for 45 minutes! It was an enormous mess when it was all said and done, but they had fun and I got some work done.”

By now, my husband is nodding enthusistically, smiling as I tell him little stories about Faith’s new words of the day and Jonathan’s insatiable desire to “help.” Yesterday was a very good day. The kind of day I dreamed about when I was a teenager, wondering what I was going to do with my life. The type of day I idealized when going through infertility. The type of day I hold onto when we go through our six months of winter sickness, crankiness and misery! Yesterday was exactly the opposite of Monday, which I wrote about here.

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In 2003, I moved 50 miles north to Pittsburgh, leaving my job as a Program Director of a large senior center. I really enjoyed my job, and was looking forward to searching for an exciting new job after my November wedding. After our wedding and honeymoon, I moved into my now-husbands house and started changing things. Paint went up, carpets were laid down, boxes unpacked and organized. Everyday I would work from morning ’til night, creating a home for my future family. Eventually, after settling into the area, I began job hunting. I held a bachelors degree in Gerontology, had quite a bit of experience for my age and was willing to try just about any position that would allow me to work with older adults. And yet, door after door of opportunity was closed in my face. I simply could not understand why I wasn’t getting a job. Later, I would come to understand that being a homemaker was the time of preperation God gave me to be a SAHM. (On a side note, do you know how embarrassing it is to be a homemaker in this day and age? I was so thankful when I had the kids…my place at home seemed much more legitimate!)

While I was job hunting, I really wrestled with how to structure my days. I had the option to sleep in, not shower, watch morning tv, etc etc. However, I realized that the less structured my days were, the more depressed I felt. So I began treating my days at home like a regular work day (with perks!) I would get up with my husband, shower, dress in decent clothes, and start on my to-do list. Sometimes I would meet my working friends or my grandma for lunch. Tuesdays and Thursdays I volunteered at the Alzheimer’s Association. Tuesday nights and Wednesday nights were reserved for Bible study…one I led for teenage girls, the other I attended with 10 other women who quickly became my dear friends in this new city.

Fast forward, past a job I had at an assisted living facility, past 19 months of infertility and 39 weeks of a twin pregnancy. Next month my son and daughter will turn two. And I am ever so thankful to have been at home with them for the past two years. I hope to remain at home with them until they begin kindergarden, and then I will look for part-time work.

Over the past 5.5 years of marriage and mommy-hood, I have learned a few tricks that I hope to pass on to other at-home parents. It is very, very easy to feel isolated, lonely, bored, depressed and resentful while staying at home. Here are some of the things I have learned over the years, that allow me to enjoy my job as a MoM, that enable me to stay rooted in my field, fulfilled in my day and growing as a person.

* I wake up at a normal time every day. Then I shower. The only exception would be if I am going to the gym in the morning, and then I shower during nap time. There is something about the routine of getting ready that makes me feel awake, and like a productive member of society.

* I dress as nicely as I can. Often, it is in jeans and a t-shirt, but my clothes are clean, ironed and without stains or holes. I wear makeup every day, too. It is just part of who I am.

* I keep a calendar and to-do list handy at all times. Being a stay-at-home parent offers a lot of flexibilty, but it is very easy to let the hours slip through your fingers without having much to show for it. My main objective every week is to complete my tasks through the week so that our weekends are freed up for fun and family time. Granted, I can’t always accomplish everything (grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, car maintenance, yard work, etc.) but I can do a lot.

Utilize outside help. My husband is a corporate attorney. He works a lot of hours, and they are unpredictable. He often is traveling with less than 24 hours notice. His first work trip took place then the kids were 7 weeks old. I quickly had to accept the fact that I could not “rely” on my husband the way some woman can whose husbands work normal hours or who don’t travel for their job. Rather than resenting his commitment to his job (he is very committed to his family, but the job pays the bills!) I decided to train a mothers helper. Mary started with me when the kids were 5 months old. I paid her $5 an hour and she would play with the kids, empty the dishwasher, etc while I pumped, checked email, made phone calls, etc. I now have two neighbor girls (14 and 15 years old) who I can call on to watch the kids for an hour or so at a time. They have been with me for so long, and know the kids so well, that I feel comfortable leaving the house for an hour while the kids are in their care. This came in very handy last week when I needed to be at the hospital with my mother-in-law. At $6 an hour, their help is invaluable to me, even though I only use them 2-3 hours a week. Jay and I also routinely use babysitters (usually family) for date nights or occasional days off. This has provided us with a much needed balance in our roles as Mom and Dad vs. Husband and Wife.

* Stay rooted in your field. I continue to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association. I have taught community programs, helped at the Memory Walk, co-chair the young-onset support group, and belong to two committees. I probably only spend a total of 5 hours a month volunteering, but it is enough to stay connected to my peers and current in my field. It is also very satisfying to dress up once in a while and head out to my meetings, coffee in hand!

* The last bit of advice might sound a bit odd, coming from a fellow Mom. But do not make your entire day/week revolve around your children. Children are a wonderful addition to our families, but they are a part of our families, not the center of them. I am trying very hard to teach my kids that part of being a family is doing things you may not want to do for the sake of the whole family. Going to the gym day care or church nursery may not be what the kids want to do, but eventually they learn, and the entire family is better off.

Being a stay-home-parent has provided me with ample opportunity to care for my family, my community and myself. Self-discipline and an outward focus are key to making the most of your time. I am not the kind of woman who proclaims from the rooftops that being a SAHM is the only way to go…no, I just simply cannot fathom how MoM’s with two jobs possibly get any sleep!

I enjoy my job (most days) and hope that my family, friends and community benefit from my decision to be a SAHM.

Faith and Jonathan aka "sissy" and "brother."

Faith and Jonathan aka "sissy" and "brother."

What is your trick or tip for making your day at home successful? How do you measure that success?

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Mommy, Esq lives in the Boston area (where the winters try their best to get her to move South) with six month old Ned and Penny, and her husband of six years. She is a corporate lawyer by trade, but would love to attempt being a wedding photographer. She says “I love taking photographs and doing storybook photographing – which is why blogging is perfect for me!”

Spending time with my sister and her daughter last week brought back some memories of our newborn days. I can’t say it brought back many memories because frankly I don’t remember a lot – and that is probably for the best. Having a newborn (or two or more) is hard on your marriage. Usually when I cried – which was not that often thankfully – it was about my husband. Husband and I have found a good groove now that I am back at work and things feel more equal. But those early days were all about what I had to do and how I wasn’t feeling supported or appreciated or understood. Here are a few lessons that I have learned along the way…

 1. Roadmap. There is no roadmap for new moms – no matter how hard you know breastfeeding will be, how many classes on childcare you take or even if you have hired a baby nurse (as we did) it is The Mommy who is in charge. The Mommy is expected to know everything – how to change a diaper and sooth a cranky baby. How much and when to feed The Baby. When The Baby needs to sleep. If The Mommy is stubborn (ahem) the road the newly created family travels will be that much harder.

2. Mindreading. Husbands can’t read minds. But The Mommy is expected to know everything so why can’t The Husband be expected to read The Mommy’s mind? Can’t The Husband understand the nuances of when The Mommy is about to break-down because dammit The Mommy didn’t want him just to swaddle The Baby she wanted him to hold The Baby and make The Baby STOP CRYING. Or just sit next to The Mommy and talk about how wonderful the kids are while The Mommy breastfeed even if The Husband hates the HGTV/SoapNet show she is watching. Communication is really hard when you are sleep deprived, when you are burning more calories breastfeeding than a marathon runner and when your mind is consumed by details of poop and last feeding times.

3. Changing Roles. The Mommy was (just) a Lawyer, Wife or some such person 10 minutess before the baby(ies) popped out. Now The Mommy is supposed to be 100% about her kid(s). See #1 – where is the instruction manual? How come The Husband can complain about being sleep deprived when he is only getting up once a night (or not at all)? Suddenly The Mommy is supposed to cook dinner when it used to be all take out; do the laundry when it was a 50-50 job in the past? The Mommy does NOT = Housewife. The Husband shouldn’t be worrying about paying bills or opening mail or anything not 100% baby-related when he is home with The Mommy – that can wait until The Baby is asleep.

4. Worst Time of Day. The Mommy will be calling Husband every 10 mins after 4 pm asking when he is going to come home. Because the time from 4 pm to bedtime is a Soul Sucking couple of hours. And if you are pumping and breastfeeding (or trying to) it is even worse because you are so exhausted from the life being sucked out of you. If someone else tells The Mommy she should be sleeping when the babies do she will probably kill them.

5. Learning to Accept Help. Husband and I were rockstars in the hospital. The nurses told me that they never worried about us – I seemed so together and strong despite a C-Section. The kids roomed in and we did it all with a cheery waive to the nurses – “all under control, thanks!” My sister was smarter – she sent Cameron to the nursery because after all, Cameron wouldn’t be rooming in when they brought her home. Damn, good call. Stacey though can’t let go of the cleaning/picking up of the house. Husband had already trained me in that department. Sort of like #2 it took a while before I was willing to accept help – even from the baby nurse we were paying! Stupid stubbornness. The Mommy needs to be in control and make all the right choices. I found it easier to limit the interactions with the wider world to once or twice a week so I could appear completely in control during those times and let myself be crazy the rest of the time.

6. Nothing Stays the Same. The Husband always complains to The Mommy: “Why do you keep changing things?” See #1 – The Mommy has no idea what she is doing. The baby changes every day. The Mommy will try out a multitude of routines before she “picks” one that will last for about 2 days. This was so hard on Husband. I think he loves that the kids have been on the same routine for more than 2 months now. Hmmm…that must mean it is time to shake things up. This walk down memory lane hasn’t dampened my desire to have another child but it does remind me how friggin’ hard the first kid(s) are on a marriage. I would like to think I would handle things better the next time around but frankly I don’t think I will remember enough so we’ll be back at #1 reinventing the wheel. The Husband will probably helpfully ask at multiple intervals: “Is this what we did for The First Baby(ies)?”

What was the hardest thing in your relationship with your partner when you brought home your bundle(s) of joy?
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Read other HDYDI posts on marriage and multiples:

The State of the Union

Absence

The Man in Your Bed

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My twins are a week away from their second birthday, and the “terrible twos” have hit. Hard. My daughter has always been, how shall we say?…..opinionated. dsc_0233Strong-willed. Assertive. She’s a sweet, engaging little girl, but she’s intense. We’ve been seeing tantrums from her for months and months now. My little boy has been much more mellow and go with the flow. In the last month or so, that has changed. Now, I have two two year olds who tantrum. And have strong desires about what they want. And don’t want. And it changes by the minute. Danny’s new thing is to say no when offered a food—-then about 10 seconds later, change his response to, “Yeah, yeah, yeah”. It happens about 80% of the time. babies-23-months-097They’re fighting over Danny’s pink sippy cup (I know, not the most masculine color). They’re fighting over getting dressed in the morning…..and getting undressed at night.

We’re not quite sure how to handle this new phase. Here’s one thing we’ve done—-a sticker chart for getting dressed in the morning. If you get dressed without screaming or crying, you get to pick out a sticker for your chart. It’s been shockingly effective. The rest of you with one, two, three or more toddlers out there…..what do you do to get through the day? Besides my favorite, which is to throw them in bed at 7pm and pour a big glass of wine. Nice, but not really a great long-term coping strategy.

Sticker charts

Sticker charts

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My kids are now almost two—and part of me has no idea how that happened. It seems like just a month or two ago, we were starting solid foods. And working on sleeping through the night. And outgrowing the bucket carseats.  However, since they’re not infants anymore, they do lots of fun toddler activities. One activity they go to is an Early Intervention playgroup. They have a blast there—there’s a gross motor room (think slides and swings), free play in the classroom, circle time, snack time and art. Oh, don’t even get me started on the time they did fingerpaints. Oh. My. Lord. My kids were about 18-19 months. Imagine. There was fingerpaint in hair, mouth and decorating a cute little shirt which used to sport the name of the college both Daddy and I attended—without green paint.

So,  perhaps you’re thinking—this doesn’t have a lot to do with food? Then, let me get to the point. During each group, there is a snack time. Snack time takes place at the table (without sippy cups–eep!) and the kids are offered two types of snacks. The teachers show the kids both snacks and ask, “Do you want applesauce, cracker or both”. My kids? They always want “both”. Of course they do, as they love eating out. When we started group, they also enjoyed eating most foods at home too. However, since then, they have developed into typical toddlers. A bit finicky. A bit tantrum-y. Very indecisive. So challenging.

In the last month, mealtimes have become a headache. They are requesting certain foods, then refusing to eat them. Foods they used to love get a (screamed), “No!!! No!!! No!!!” along with a violent head shake, in case Mommy is a bit slow and didn’t realize that they didn’t want that food choice. I get frustrated. They get frustrated. It’s not pretty. And I really am not an idiot. I don’t prepare six types of food for them. I don’t let them have cookies for dinner. But, it’s still frustrating. And when they’re hungry and grouchy, I get pretty grouchy myself, fairly quickly.

So, one day this week I decided to take the EI approach. I offered two choices (pasta & pear). The kiddos? They wanted, “Both”. And got really excited about it. Hmm. Since then, this has been what happens at every meal. They have eaten foods I haven’t seen them eat for months—turkey meatloaf (somehow feeling a bit wrong since we were JUST watching the wild turkeys out the window), pasta with tomato sauce, kidney beans, black beans, red pepper, cornbread….it’s all excited when they get to pick both. They’re eating much healthier and more balanced meals. And there’s almost no yelling. Maybe those Early Intervention teachers know what they’re doing. Hmm….perhaps I am a bit slow after all, since it’s taken me months to think to try this approach at home.

Anyway, I thought I’d offer up this technique in case others with toddlers were experiencing the same joy around mealtimes that I was. Oh, and a bonus? My two slow-to-speak kids? They can now say “both” very clearly.

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