Bye bye!

After realising how little I blog, how infrequently I check Twitter and how much I prefer reading and commenting on other people’s blogs to writing my own, I’ve decided that this blogging lark isn’t for me. Absolute kudos to those of you who do it religiously, but I just can’t be bothered! I don’t do anything to increase my number of readers, and despite having told a couple of friends and family about imatwinmama, I’m pretty sure none of them actually read my blogs. So what’s the point? To do well at this game, it’s a popularity contest and I’m not interested in that. I’m also not willing to link my identity to this and I think that’s what you need to do in order to really make something fly in this saturated market. There are so many people doing it better than me that I think it’s time to step aside and watch the masters at work!

So on the off-chance that ANYONE is reading this, goodbye!

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10 parenting questions I ask myself (aka I have no idea what I’m doing)

I haven’t blogged in a while. What is there to say? Imatwinmama is supposed to be figuring things out with this multiple parenting lark but honestly, I have far more questions than answers. Apart from “Who am I? What day is it?” Here are some of the questions that have plagued me in recent months:

1. Is it ok for the twins to eat peanut butter on toast for most of their meals?

2. Is it bad that I deliberately exposed the twins to chickenpox (and it worked)?

3. Is it bad that I drink alcohol pretty much every night? Talking of which, where’s the wine??

4. Is it normal that I fantasize about my cats – once considered to be my fur babies – mysteriously disappearing and never returning, just so I can get some goddamn peace and quiet (or less hassle) and save money?

5. Why do parents of older children insist on telling me that it never gets easier, it just changes? Can’t they see how effing DEPRESSING that is??

6. When will this end??

7. Why can’t I have more patience? Why do I apply adult norms and values to a 2-year old and then lose my shit when they do what 2-year olds do??

8. When will I be able to take them places on my own, sans buggy, without feeling terrified that they’ll run away from me in opposite directions and something awful will happen to the one I can’t follow?

9. Why do I insist on a clean-as-you-go approach, knowing full well that this means I’m cleaning ALL DAY when it would make more sense to leave the mess and clean up after they’ve gone to bed? Am I a masochist??

10. How is it possible, despite questions 1-9 and many, MANY tear-filled days (them and me), for me to love two human beings SO intensely?

Because that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s so damn hard, and sometimes so unenjoyable, and yet so bloody amazing as well. Parenting means experiencing the spectrum of all emotions in one day, until you flake on the sofa at the end of it all, utterly exhausted, physically and mentally. It’s being climbed up, clambered on, pulled, pushed and dragged all day until you want no human contact (sorry hubby). It’s discovering bruises all over, all unintentional, all battle scars from the crazy day. It’s having hair pulled, clothes bitten, house trashed, nerves shredded…

But it’s also laughter, smiles, singing, dancing, playing, cuddles, endless rewatching of Frozen (getting weirdly emotional at Let it Go), baking, chatting, drawing…

I hate the hard days. But I love the good days. And even the hard days have good bits.

I am immensely lucky. It doesn’t always feel that way, and I’ve never shed so many frustrated tears, but those girls are the best decision I ever made. I just wish I knew what the heck I was doing!!

A-Z of the sucky bits of parenting

Sometimes, social media is awesome. When I’ve had a really bad day with the twins, reading something positive like this can help to remind me how lucky I am. How blessed I feel. And how ultimately, it’s all totally worth it.

But I can’t deny any longer just how HARD I find it being a parent. How there are days where I feel like I really can’t cope. Days where instead, I can quite easily make a list of the A-Z of the times when parenting [toddlers] SUCKS:

A
A is for Attention. “Mommy! Mommy! MommyMommymommymommymommy” It doesn’t matter how frazzled your brain feels; be ready to stand to attention for your Master!

B
B is for Boring. I do feel bad admitting this but I find a lot of parenting mindnumbingly bloody boring! Especially when I’m home with the kids all day. There’s only so many times I can feign enthusiasm for that clever thing they just did.

C
C is for Curiosity. Ok, now I sound really evil don’t I. The wonder of a child’s curiosity! It’s part of the charm! And it really is, but it’s also the reason why those of us in charge have to have eyes in the backs of our heads. Which can be terrifying and exhausting.

D
D is for Drained. I sometimes feel like my children are draining every last drop of everything I have to give. Somehow, I keep going, even when it feels like there’s just nothing left.

E
E is for Expense. Kids cost so much! Even though I have a philosophy of buying second-hand where possible, gratefully accepting hand-me-downs and not spoiling them, I am somehow still completely broke. The cost of nappies and wipes alone is scary!

F
F is for FFS! Because sometimes parenting is so FRUSTRATING! particularly so for a natural control freak like me.

G
G is for Grey Hairs. Parenting causes premature and rapid aging. I look permanently haggard these days.

H
H is for the agony of Hair Cuts. My girls think hair cuts are a form of torture. I also can’t remember the last time I had my own cut, because I apparently don’t matter anymore.

I
I is for Impatient. Little kids don’t do waiting. “Screw your [insert so-called important task here], I want juice NOW!”

J
J is for Jealousy. Speaking just of my experience having twins, they fight over things – including me – ALL the time. It gets exhausting constantly breaking up the fights! They don’t do sharing do they, these selfish little creatures!

K
K is for Knocking things over. Little’uns are so clumsy! Awww, endearing… Until they break something dear to you, or expensive to replace, and then they don’t seem so cute.

L
L is for Late for everything. It is completely impossible to be on time for ANYTHING! There’s always a last-minute emergency or meltdown to deal with. And so much stuff to pack for any trip outside the house. Blah.

M
M is for Mess. This is genuinely one of the most difficult things for me. Hubby and I both like a neat and tidy house. We don’t do clutter and we don’t do dirt. And then these two little whirlwinds came flying into our lives and now I spend most of my time cleaning because I’m just not cool enough relax about it.

N
N is for Noisy. Such little lungs, and yet so much volume! Whether it’s laughing, crying, shouting, screaming or whinging, they only shut up when they’re asleep or watching TV. So I stick them in front of the tele in order to get some peace, but end up feeling guilty then for not being an awesome parent.

O
O is for Overwhelming. Those first few days and nights after we brought them home were ridiculous. I was supposed to fend for these teeny tiny humans for the rest of my life, with no appropriate training or qualifications??! And still now, I have moments of WHAT THE HELL!

P
P is for Potty Training. I’m in denial about the whole thing and the girls are nearly two-and-a-half. I don’t think they’re ready, but well-meaning and annoying people keep pressuring me to do it. So I occasionally sit them on the potty and they get up immediately, refusing to stay. Then I realise how stupid the whole thing is when they don’t even know when they’re wet yet and I go back to my instincts: they’re not ready. I just hope it isn’t a battle!

Q
Q is for Quick. How do they move so fast? That heart-wrenching moment when they pull away from your hand and go hurtling towards the lake at the park. That gut-curdling time they let go of your grip and make a run for it at the supermarket, and for a minute you have no idea where they’ve gone. In Toddler Taming, I read that at this age, children have maximum mobility and minimum sense and that is SO accurate.

R
R is for Relentless, Repetitive and Restricting. The sheer monotony of the days, the way they love to hear you read the same book, or watch the same cartoon over and over and over and over… And the way you no longer have the same level of freedom you used to (though of course, you never appreciated the freedom when you had it. #1stworldproblem I know, but it still makes me feel down sometimes.

S
S is for Stubborn. A toddler’s favourite word is “NO!” and it never fails to amaze me how little control I can have over someone less than half my size.

T
T is for Tantrums. Need I say more???

U
U is for Utterly exhausting. For me, it’s the mental exhaustion I think, rather than physical. Running around after them can be tiring but I know there are many things more physically challenging in this world. Not sure much beats the tiredness associated with parenthood though lol.

V
V is for Vomit. When they’re babies, it’s not so bad as it’s just milk. Once they’re on the solids… My first experience of caring for the twins when they had a sickie bug scarred me for life. Ick.

W
W is for Washing. It’s ENDLESS. Call me Cinderella.

X
X is for Xtra comfy clothing and Xtreme slobathon. All dignity has gone out the window as I live in my onesie and rarely wear make up. It’s not empowering, it’s lazy lol. Ok gimme a break, X was a hard one!

Y
Y is for “Yak!” aka the response to many meals. All that steaming and blending food when weaning made no difference; they still prefer fish fingers and spaghetti hoops ahead of veg.

Z
Z is for Zzzzz or Remember Lie-ins?? Yep, me neither.

The funny thing though? Today was a pretty awful day (there were plenty of tears, most of them not from the kids) and I sat down to write this in a fit of despair.

So why is it I’ve come out of it feeling awesome?? Yes I’m sure it was cathartic but not only that…. I realised that through every letter of the alphabet, I was smiling. Smiling at the memories of the cheeky times. The times that have led to T2 regularly giggling “Cheeky madam!” as I chase her, The times T1 has frowned at me and said “Naughty girl!”

What would my life be without them? Not freedom, but nothing. Nothing at all.

Noise, noise and more noise

Gosh, how I miss those days of quiet
Where my nerves weren’t ripped to shreds
I love my girls with all my heart
But I love it when they’ve gone to bed!

Most of the time I’m barely aware
Of the soundtrack to each crazy day
But now and then I lose the plot
And want to scream, “Go away!”

Whinging, whining, screaming, shouting
Banging, tapping, NOISE
Let’s not even talk about
Those incessant musical toys!

But then there are the noises
That really make me smile;
Singing, laughing, playing, giggling
Make it all worthwhile

A delighted squeal, with arms up high,
“Mommeeeee!” they crowd in for a huddle
Silence is golden, but noise is better
When it means getting lovely cuddles!

One day they’ll be grown
And the noise will be gone
I’ll miss it I’m sure
So for now, carry on!

The Terrible Twos (a poem)

One dark night
Whilst I was in bed
Someone snook in
And quietly said

“Remember that happy little girl
You thought you knew?
I’m swapping her for a new model
Good luck to you!”

At least, I assume,
That’s what occurred
Any other explanation
Seems completely absurd

See, surely it’s impossible
For such a happy child
Normally so gentle,
Content, meek and mild

To turn into a modern day
Jekyll and Hyde?
The tears from her latest meltdown
Still haven’t dried

Google gently tells me that
Her emotions cause her fear
She can’t handle what she’s feeling
So she steps it up a gear

The toddler tantrum escalates
Into blood curdling screams
She passes the event horizon
Where there is no escape, it seems

And Google also tells me
That I should stay nice and calm
That I should let her burn out
Whilst keeping her from harm

Because a full-on meltdown
Means she throws herself around
Screaming and crying
And rolling on the ground

Lucky me; I have twins!
So it’s meltdowns times two
Thank God for wine
(And a bit of choccy too!)

It’s nice to know that
This phase is temporary
If it was like this forever
That would be bloody scary!

But I must keep things in perspective;
My girls are so often a delight
They make me laugh, they kiss me
And they cuddle me nice and tight

This phase is a milestone
From which they’ll learn and grow
I’ll look back and laugh one day
But ’til then, may the wine flow!!

A parenting rite of passage

Toddler tantrums. I could pretty much end this blog right there, knowing that those of you who’ve been through this sometimes horrendous milestone will sympathise with me (particularly those of you with twins!), that the heros among you with triplets or more will feel rightfully smug, and that those of you who haven’t reached this wonderful stage yet will shiver in dread. Whatever stage you’re at: this is a parenting rite of passage we must all go through that I think may change me as a person.

All kids have the potential to be stroppy, to have a face on them occasionally. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the toddler’s complete inability to control their newly forming emotions to the extent that you get kicked out of the “meet the mammals” animal encounter at the petting farm because said toddler is throwing an almighty tanty which is escalating and will “scare the animals” (true story). And there’s a direct link between this inability to control feelings with the frustration of being unable to effectively communicate. So what toddler is essentially telling me is: something’s terribly wrong, I can’t tell you what it is and it’s making me feel angry. Can’t blame her really.

Unfortunately, as an adult, I’m not really that far removed from her. Sometimes the tantrums press just the right button in my psyche and I’m liable to have a tanty of my own. Hindsight – sometimes immediate – tells me that screaming, “SHUT UUUUPPP!!!!” at my tantruming toddler is a really bad idea. What a shame my unevolved, caveman brain can’t always see it at the time!

I feel really proud when I stay calm during a whirlwind episode. There are many times when I’m not only calm, but I’m not suppressing the urge to strangle. In those times, I am a Zen warrior, and I can even smile at the toddler as she throws herself around the room, thinking, “Bless her, she can’t help it. I can ride this storm. We’ll cuddle after.” High fives all round.

But sometimes, it’s been a tough day, we’ve been stuck indoors and I go a bit crazy. I’ve discovered it’s definitely healthy to get outdoors as much as possible. It’s also good to meet up with friends/family as much as I can, so I can have that extra pair of hands (even if it’s just to entertain T2 while T1 ruins my day).

I think the times I feel least able to cope with a serious meltdown are the times when the control freak in me has a chance to shine. The times when we’re on our way out the house for a timed event and therefore I have a schedule. Toddlers laugh in the face of my schedule! Or the times we’re out and about and a tanty is embarrassing and doesn’t conform to the plans I had that day.

But as much as I sometimes struggle, and don’t always react in the best way, I feel proud of the times when I stay calm and manage to diffuse the situation. I think back to my 18 year old self, the one whose priorities centred around drinking, dancing, lie-ins and freedom, and I know for a fact that she would never have coped with being a parent. She would have had ZERO patience, and would have responded to tantrums by having an almighty tantrum of her own! She didn’t know the meaning of the word “compromise.”

But the other thing 18 year old me didn’t know was the all-consuming love of being a mama (a twin mama!). Younger me had a damn fun time but she needed to move aside for the version of me who is still learning, not always getting it right but getting it right sometimes and for that, I feel proud. Now, I’m off to see what other mistakes I can make today!

Run Jump Scrap!

No-one tells you it will be so boring (now SUMO)

Of all the things I read pre-kids, and actually the majority of stuff I’ve digested since, I don’t remember much about the sheer tedium of parenting. I don’t mean every moment of every day. There are times it’s amazing, when I could live in that moment forever. They’re usually the small, seemingly insignificant things like the delight on their faces as they find a dandelion ready for blowing away times on the clock. Or the satisfied smile as I draw on their backs with my finger, singing, “I draw a snake upon your back and who do you think has bitten you?” And there are of course hideous times, like yet another Mega Meltdown, or when they refuse to eat a meal I’ve slaved over, or one of them does a huge poop just before we’re about to leave the house.

No, I’m talking about pretty much everything else inbetween. The endless, ENDLESS cleaning. How can they make so much mess? Unfortunately I’m too neurotic to let it slide!

The repetition of things which excite them. Like how they can watch Peppa Pig for hours until I can quote every episode and the music whirrs around in my head all night. Or how if I laugh at something delightful they do, they then do it over and over and over and over and OVER again to elicit the same reaction, which of course I can’t after about the third go. Or they’ll discover a new word they love and then just repeat it for hours, getting louder and louder unless I not only acknowledge them but feign enthusiasm.

Add to this the complete lack of freedom. Not that I expected any kind of freedom when I chose to get pregnant, but knowing it in theory and actually living it, every day, is harder than I thought it would be. I can count on one hand the number of times we can call upon a family babysitter in one year. It’s amazing how infrequently people offer when you have TWO toddlers who need watching. I don’t blame them; I wasn’t exactly Mary Poppins before I became a twin mama!

So we almost never go out without the kids. And going out WITH the kids is too stressful to be enjoyable. I’m not talking about daytimes as such. For me, daytime is about them and I’m happy for it to be that way, despite the tedium. But then I feel like the evenings should be for us to have some time to regroup. We do to an extent. The girls are in bed by 8pm at the latest but I’m so exhausted that I go to bed at 10pm so there’s a two-hour window for relaxation. That’s when we squeeze in a film or tv show on Netflix. Gone are the days of the cinema. #1stworldproblems

It’s good to have a bit of a moan sometimes but a good friend recently told me about the SUMO philosophy: Shut Up and Move On. I’m allowed a little hippo time (where I wallow in self-pity) but then it’s time to drag myself out of it and STFU. So with that in mind, it’s time for me to remember to be bloody thankful for what I’ve got, put my pitiful problems into perspective and get over myself. After all, kids may be boring sometimes but they are also effing AWESOME!