The attack of the Mom Shoes

It gets worse. Not only am I now a blubbering wreck at anything vaguely emotional, a Pod Person who talks about nothing but her kids, and someone who’s in bed by 10pm every night, I am now also the (embarrassingly) proud owner of Mom Shoes.

You know the kind: ugly but bloody comfy as hell. The kind we swore blind in our teens and 20s that we’d never be seen dead in. The kind our own moms used to wear on those Forced Family Fun afternoon walks.

I was talking with a fellow mama recently and we agreed that having children has changed our mindset  to such an extent that it permeates into every single part of our lives in a way we never thought possible. It means struggling to relate to deliberations over fashion choices being discussed by child-free friends (all I can add to the discussion is “But is it comfortable??”). It means zoning out of discussions about the latest movies because trips to the cinema are a distant memory. It means sometimes feeling like going out to paid work is a relief. It means spending more time make-up free and letting the grey hairs grow through because hair appointments are impossible to attend, afford or justify. And it means ALWAYS choosing comfort ahead of appearance!

I get the whole Yummy Mummy thing; who wouldn’t want to be that glamorous mama? But it just seems like an impossible task. I spend my days doing chores, thinking of ways to entertain two crazy toddlers (whose attention span is usually about 10 minutes), lugging said toddlers and associated paraphernalia in and out of the car or pushing said kids in the buggy (why do they have to keep growing?!?). It comes to something when your local friendly family butcher tells you you’re looking tired!

There are times I make an effort and it does feel good but those times are few and far between. At least I know that there will come a day when I’ll have time to make the effort more often, though by that point, my girls will probably be wearing their own make-up, cool clothes and beautiful shoes, and I’ll just be their out of touch, old hag of a taxi driver! The only way is up!

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
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The Terrible 2s – Squared!

I always knew this day would come (though I naively thought it would come once they hit 2 years old, rather than before): the Terrible 2s (or should that be 4s in my case?!). But I never really knew what it meant, other than that they may become possessed by the Devil and that it would be permanently horrendous.

I was wrong.

Before I read into it (via Google of course), here’s my take on what I think is going on here:

My little girls’ personalities have been gradually developing and shining through since birth. Even at mere days old, I could see differences between them, evidence that twins are completely individual rather than just two halves of a whole. T1 needed more attention and had less patience but slept more. T2 was generally more content and less interested in my attention or approval. These tendencies swung in roundabouts at times, but grew and strengthened over time.

As their little selves became more prominent, so too did their emotions. Unfortunately, they lack the intelligence to grasp what all of their emotions mean right now, and become utterly overwhelmed with them. This can sometimes manifest itself as reenactments of that girl from The Exorcist (x 2), but it can equally mean hilarious laughing fits! The point is that they go with the flow, living in the moment in a way us cynical adults never can anymore, giving in entirely to whatever they’re feeling at the time, regardless of logic or societal standards. Sometimes, this is freeing. Sometimes, it means throwing themselves on the floor in a rage, with no amount of consoling from me making a difference other than to make it worse.

And to make matters worse, they lack the communication skills to tell me what’s wrong, or even to ask me why they’re feeling the way they do. At best, they can repeatedly screech, “Mommmmeeeeee!!!!!!” At worst, they scream unintelligible, guttural sounds, tears streaming down their puffy red faces, and I’ve learned that the only way to handle this is to ignore them. To let them scream it out. If it’s just one of them, it means turning to her sister and praising her, playing with her, and giving her positive attention until the screaming one calms down and comes to join in with whatever we’re doing. Sometimes it works, and the three of us have a lovely time post-tantrum. Sometimes, however, it results in the grumpy one getting jealous and instead of joining the fun, she comes over and shoves her sister out of the way to get to me. This can result in a meltdown from her sister, who was otherwise ok, and me losing my patience. I wish I could say that I always remain calm and patient, but I am a human being and am therefore innately flawed!

I see my role as the person who needs to show my girls what normal behaviour is. It makes me think of the importance of these formative years. It helps to explain why some children unfortunately grow up to be anti-social non-members of society. When we read about an act of violence, for example, I wonder what the offender’s childhood was like. I don’t think it explains everything but if a child isn’t raised to understand what is and is not deemed acceptable in society, how can they ever become well-adjusted, functioning adults?

I went off on a bit of a tangent there…

So, what does Google have to say about the Terrible 2s?

This was the first quote that came up:

“According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, the terrible twos are a normal stage in a toddler’s development characterized by mood changes, temper tantrums and use of the word “no.” The terrible twos typically occur when toddlers begin to struggle between their reliance on adults and their desire for independence.”

Sounds pretty spot-on (how could I forget about “no”?!).

I also came across this helpful article which highlights the potential positive aspects of every tantrum.

Something important to note: toddlers are AWESOME. I have so much fun with my girls! They are so entertaining, singing along to their favourite songs, playing Hide and Seek, dancing, running, spinning around, getting into mischief and giving me the most amazing cuddles! And being witness -and direct influence on – their speech development is a really exciting time. I know there’ll come a day when I’ll wish they’d shut up but at the moment, it’s so much fun.

In conclusion? There are ELEMENTS of the Terrible 2s which suck. There are times I could quite happily just walk out my front door and keep walking. But there are so many amazing things about toddlers at this age that putting up with their inability to understand and control their own emotions is a small price to pay… Most of the time anyway!

Mummuddlingthrough

Is there such thing as PRE-natal blues?

Pregnancy and childbirth play havoc with your hormones so I’m hoping that intense emotions – or lack of – are all normal. I just read a great blog by Mrs Mum NZ, who experienced what one commenter referred to as “grower love” i.e. love for your baby that isn’t instant, but comes in time. I agree that the “grower love” thing should be talked about more so that those women who experience this can know that it’s normal and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

For me, I had a relatively normal (albeit twin) pregnancy which throughout, I felt no connection to. It’s like I experienced the lack of bonding thing before they were born. I was terrified most of the time that I wasn’t cut out for parenting two babies and simply couldn’t feel the excitement that everyone else around me felt. I felt a complete failure.

And then they were born. Birth was long and horrible but I must say that the burning love we all feel for our kids was instant with me. I think it’s because I’d felt so negative throughout the pregnancy that I had no expectations. T1 was plopped out on my belly and I swear to God, I’ve never known a feeling like it. Totally overwhelmed with love that I couldn’t express because I was so exhausted, but it was there. T2 was born when I was barely conscious but I still felt an instant love.

However, with a new baby, I think the word “love” could be substituted with the term “protectiveness.” When you love someone, you love who they are; their personality, their quirky little ways, their odd mannerisms, funny habits and endearing qualities. None of that applies with a newborn. They are grumpy little blobs a lot of the time who otherwise do very little, and yet the instinct to protect can be utterly consuming. For weeks after my girls were born, I would stare at them and cry, pulling them to my chest like I’d never let go. I felt such an overwhelming sense of responsibility, and felt so fiercely protective of them that I quite happily may never have left the house for fear of what may happen to them. It all took me by huge surprise because of the disconnection I’d felt whilst pregnant.

The real “love” comes with time. You start to see those funny little mannerisms and individuality, enhanced when you have more than one, and you start to love them for who they are. My twins are nearly two and I swear I love them more every day (is that even possible?)!

I’ve yet to encounter anyone who can share my experience of pre-natal blues (is there anyone out there…?) but many women struggle afterwards so I do feel – in hindsight – lucky in that respect. I guess the thing to remember, with pre or post-natal blues, is that bubba won’t remember those early days anyway, so there’s time to get close!

Sending love to all mamas doing their best!

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

Hope for the best; prepare for the worst [poonamis etc]

You know you’re a Mama when you go to put a shoe on and find a plastic toy buried inside it. Or you go to put the toy tool bench away and find snot smeared all over it. Or you get to work and find a plastic apple stuffed in your laptop bag!

The funny things I find around the house etc are happy accidents; stuffed in other nooks and crannies are my just-in-case items (and I know I’ve missed out about a trillion much better ideas that other mamas utilise – ideas are welcome!). These include:

Tissues. Endless, ENDLESS packs of tissues. How is it that kids are permanently snotty?

Those little boxes of raisins. My girls are now at the age where I can just give them a pack (each of course; God forbid I should attempt to encourage them to SHARE anything. I choose my battles…).

Baby wipes. I think I’ll keep a stash of wipes in every corner until my girls are… What, 25? Yes, that seems a reasonable age.

Nappies. Going out for an hour? Pack enough nappies for a day. Have a couple stashed in every bag, in your glove box, every room of the house. Be generous! Give them to friends and family so you can always change a botty no matter where you are!

Small cardboard books. Great for the car, not easily damaged (though nothing is impossible with a determined toddler) and mess-free.

Calpol (or other generic paracetamol brand); kids can go from TOTALLY FINE to boiling hot and cranky in approximately 0.8 seconds. Always be prepared.

Spare clothes. I’m usually not organised enough to pack entire outfits (plus, that one’s too cute to just live in the boot of the car as a Maybe. What if it’s never used and they grow out of it??) but a couple of pairs of leggings (oh, leggings, I love you) means I can at least bag up the pooey pair they’ve just ruined and retain their modesty (lol).

Talking of bagging up: carrier bags. You’ll need one for messy clothes, muddy wellies, snotty tissues… Again, be prepared.

Money. Just a couple of quid so that if I need to purchase any of the above emergency items and I forgot my purse AGAIN, I don’t need to completely panic.

There you have it. My list of essentials that may be completely inadequate but it’s lasted me nearly 2 years with twins. Not bad eh?

Mummuddlingthrough