If there had been a book like Multiples Illuminated when I was pregnant with twins or caring for two infants, I would have eaten that up like a salted caramel chocolate bar. When you’re a twin parent, connection with other twin parents and the reassurance that you’re not alone is one of the most valuable things to discover.
When I found out I was pregnant with twins in the fall of 2007, one of the first people we told was our realtor, not because we would surely be needing a larger house soon, but because she was pregnant with twins herself, just a couple of months ahead of me.
“You HAVE to join the local moms of multiples club,” she insisted, implying that mine and my babies’ lives depended on admittance to this sacred organization.
She wasn’t wrong.
I remained in that group until my twins were five. I let my membership lapse when I realized I hadn’t logged on to the forum for months. Thanks to my growing girls, I didn’t feel the need to ask many questions, and I didn’t have much input for new moms with babies anymore. And thanks to the growth of blogging and social media, I was finding new ways to connect with twin parents.
Still, the information and friendships I made through that club were invaluable, and I’m still connected to many of them to this day.
You see, when you’re a parent of multiples, the only people who can even have an inkling of an idea as to what you’re going through are other parents of multiples. Thanks to that group, I met new friends. I got sleep advice. I received commiseration after leaving library story time in tears. And probably most importantly, I received support – reassurance that my preterm delivery wasn’t my fault, breastfeeding encouragement, and the coveted “me too” that we all yearn for when making emotional connections.
And I got oodles of book recommendations.
Without certain informational books, I wouldn’t have known what to expect logistically. They helped me physically prepare for twins ( or at least gave me the impression I was preparing, because there really is no way to prepare to bring home multiple infants!) and even helped me realize that I was developing preeclampsia, which was soon confirmed by my doctor, and I was put on strict bed rest.
But what I lacked was a collection of personal stories, something that would tell me what it was really like to carry, deliver, and raise twins, a collection of vastly different experiences that I could relate to, or even those that I could not.
Although I am well beyond what I call the “grunt years” of raising twins, I can tell you that at some point during almost each essay in Multiples Illuminated, I found myself saying “ME TOO.”
I commiserated with the fatigue and the sometimes fear of the multiples pregnancy.
My heart ached at the descriptions of tiny preemies and terrifying NICU experiences, some that were so similar to ours, and some that were wildly different.
And I’m not sorry to say I laughed at the stories of twin toddler life, because BEEN THERE, DONE THAT, NOT SORRY TO SEE IT GO. And some day, those parents will laugh about it too, if they aren’t already.
Multiples Illuminated is the brain child of writers Megan Woolsey and Alison Lee. Find out more at MultiplesIlluminated.com.
Buy the book!
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As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to tell you about what I’m watching on Netflix. What should I watch next?
Years ago people used to say that my husband was the spitting image of Freddie Prinze, Jr. They were both thin, with dark hair and eyes, same hairstyle. It was a little uncanny. Any time he popped up in a movie, we’d say, “Hey! You have a new movie coming out!” Or when a coworker found FPJ’s Got Milk? campaign, they tore it out and hung it up above Christian’s desk, where it remained until he left that job.
Over time we both forgot about it. Until my girls pulled up Scooby Doo on Netflix and I was confronted with my husband’s dopplegänger all over again.
Now I am not complaining. Freddy Prinze, Jr. is ridiculously easy on the eyes. He’s also happily married to the adorable Sarah Michelle Gellar, who ironically, I do not seem to resemble one bit, which is a little unfair, if you ask me.
Just so you can see what I’m talking about, let’s do a little side-by-side comparison.
I showed this to Christian, and he said, “Man, we are getting old.” For the record, Freddie Prinze, Jr is 40, and Christian just turned 38. They both have the graying hair that makes men look hot and distinguished, also totally unfair. Also for the record, I don’t follow a lot of celebrities, but FPJ and his wife are fun follows on Instagram.
Yesterday we got a fun delivery so we can make up our own dopplegängers. Thanks to Netflix and Fuller House, we can unleash our inner Kimmy, DJ, and Stephanie. My girls have no idea who DJ, Kimmy, and Stephanie are, so I think some old school Full House is in order so we can start watching the Netflix exclusive, Fuller House.
Netflix ALSO sent us some of our favorite things: LEGOs! I cannot tell you how excited I was to get this delivery. Rachel set to putting the Bionicle together, while Zoe insisted on doing almost the entire LEGO Friends set together on her own. Homegirl has a determination streak like I’ve never seen. Then they turned on the new LEGO Bionicle: The Journey to One series and had a blast identifying her character and all of the others. And he’s blue, her favorite color.
I love you Netflix.
What are you watching?
This comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone who knows me well personally, but here it is…
I am flaky.
Yesterday I forgot about lunch plans with a friend. A friend who was in from out of town. And her birthday had been the day before. And she’s going through a hard time right now.
And I completely forgot about it.
Did I mention I am the one who helped plan the lunch?
Instead of heading to a delicious restaurant with girlfriends, I was at Costco, a bottle of Nature’s Bounty Fish Oil pills in one hand and its Kirkland’s Best counterpart in the other, scrutinizing the difference. For the record. Nature’s Bounty has a few more milligrams of the good stuff for twice the cost.
My God, my life is fascinating.
I could have given – and did give – a thousand excuses as to why I failed to remember our lunch date. I’d had the shittiest Monday on record, starting with copious yelling in my attempts to get three kids out of the house. I had mountains of work to catch up on after the long weekend. We’d just returned from Dallas late the evening before and the laundry was out of control. I banged my knee on the kitchen chair trying to feed the cat. I mean, really.
But the truth is, lunch wasn’t even on my radar. I’d forgotten about it long before Monday morning. I failed to put it on my calendar, along with the blaring alarm that accompanies anything I even remotely want to remember – library days for the kids, doctor’s appointments, our weekly gymnastics class, LUNCHES WITH BIRTHDAY FRIENDS.
And the other truth is, I am a flake.
Part of me wants to say “to know me is to love me,” and that means realizing that I am forgetful and slightly self-absorbed. Not in a narcissistic way, but I tend to get wrapped up in my own life and can easily let my connections slip. I’m terrible with birthdays. I don’t often suggest lunch dates or girls’ nights out. I shamefully depend on my extroverted friends for those things. I fail to “check in” with my close friends or with people I know need support. When I asked if someone had had their baby yet, my friend texted back, “God I hope so. He was due a month ago.”
Sometimes I think that some flakiness is okay. This is who I am! I say, and people just think, “Oh, that Leigh Ann. She’s so in her head! A true creative indeed.”
And then I realize that I’m actually just being rude, and my failure to keep up with these things may be sending the wrong signals.
That I’m disorganized. (Check.)
That I’m flaky. (Yup.)
That I don’t care.
That last one’s not true. I do care. And I’m crushed to think that my flakiness may cause someone to think I don’t. You know those people you feel don’t care enough to ask about your life? I’ve become one of those people. I’m so wrapped up in my own circus, it’s hard for me to pay attention to the other acts. I mean, my children are very loud and a little overwhelming, and our life is hectic for sure. But that shouldn’t keep me from asking about a friend’s job interview or impending move. I want to know how you’re doing, what you’re up to, whether or not you’re still pregnant after 12 months or so.
It just may stare unblinking for a second or two too long when you text, “I’m waiting for you guys at a booth towards the back!”
I’ll catch on eventually.
Eight years ago today I was lying in a bed in the antepartum wing of the hospital, my OBGYN and my perinatologist on either side of me.
They looked over my charts and numbers from the weekend and were all, “Yeah, NO. These do not look good.”
And I was all, “I’m feeling great! I think I can totally keep my blood pressure under control at home.”
And they were all, “Your babies are fine for now, but you’re probably going to have a seizure if we let this go any longer.”
(Let’s not talk about the nurse who had said, “We were all talking about how we’ve never seen someone with protein so high who was still pregnant!”)
And then an hour or so later, a nurse stuck her head in my room.
“Did they tell you you’re delivering today?”
And I said, “No. No they did not.”
And she said, “Oh! Well you’re on the board for 4:30!”
And I was like, “DAMN.”
And that is – give or take a few liberally misquoted conversations, but that’s pretty much the gist of how it went down – THAT is how I ended up delivering two tiny twin girls at 31 weeks.
Happy birthday, sweethearts. We’ve come a long way.
Sometimes I get overwhelmed at life. Springtime is SUPER busy for us, between Zoe’s birthday in February, Listen to Your Mother auditions, casting, and rehearsals, Christian’s birthday in March, and Rachel and Claire’s birthday also in March. I always have something to do, and that makes me anxious. So today I’m just escaping here to do a little rundown of things that are good in life, and things that could use a little improvement.
THINGS THAT ARE GOOD
• Spring came early this year. We had an unusually warm February. Warm days are not uncommon in a Texas February, but neither is going from 76 degrees one day to snow the next. It looks like it’s here to stay, and since I cannot function in anything under 54 degrees, I find this quite delightful.
• Things are moving along swiftly in Listen to Your Mother world, and we’ll be announcing our cast soon!
• I’m running again! Sometimes pain free! I’m training for the Statesman Capitol 10,000 and hoping to finish before they kick me off the course.
• Texas Mountain Laurels are in full bloom. They don’t last very long, but while they’re here, they’re heavenly. When the girls were babies, I used to take them for sometimes twice-daily walks around the neighborhood. Back then the smell of these flowers reminded me of walking around the UT campus in the springtime. Now it reminds me of walking my babies around the neighborhood and how nice it was to be able to strap them into something where they couldn’t get out. #memories
• I’m unclenching a bit by letting go of a contract gig I’ve had for a while. I really enjoyed it, and I’m sad to say goodbye, but I’m looking forward to being able to focus on my other job and maybe have a little more free time. Or at least some stress-free, clench-free time.
• My grandpa is turning 91 on Easter, and we’ll be there to celebrate!
• It’s been raining for days, so today I just let the girls come home and watch movies after school while I helped Zoe with some LEGO building and cleaned some of the neglected house. These are admittedly some of my favorite days.
• House of Cards is legit awesome this season.
• I am obsessed with this band Shearwater. They’re from here in Austin, and I’ve been listening to them nonstop when I’m working. Catch them on Spotify here. Please don’t get too popular so I have to stop liking you.
• I saw Doc Brown yesterday.
THINGS THAT COULD USE SOME IMPROVEMENT
• At this very moment my cat is walking around and yowling for God knows why. He’s definitely deaf, probably going blind, and likely has a UTI. I need to take him to the vet. Christian wants to take him to a field far, far away. We are both tired of cleaning poop out of the bathtub.
• It’s been raining for days, and I miss the sun.
• I whined the other day to a writer friend that I couldn’t even manage to make myself write for 10 minutes a day. She calmed me down by saying she “only had 2 kids.” I love it when people justify my crazy home life, even though I only have one more child than they do. But I do wish I was writing more.
• Most days are pain free, but my back does get cranky here and there after running. Every time it makes me want to throw in the towel and say, “Enough! I will never recover fully and be able to run again!” And then I think of that guy who could barely walk, and then he got super into yoga and can now run and is incredibly fit. Too bad I’m too lazy for yoga.
• Rachel’s voice has changed a little since her tonsillectomy. We expected that, but I didn’t expect it to be so….[insert word that means awful, but won’t hurt anyone’s feelings when they inevitably read this in 10 years]? When I was a kid, I never really understood what authors meant when they described someone as “talking through their nose.” Now I know. Let’s just say that at the end of a long day, it’s not my favorite sound.
• I got my kids to donate a few stuffies to the school carnival…..where they promptly played the Stuffed Animal Walk game and – you guess it – brought home more stuffies.
• I was a total bitch to the cashier at Lowe’s today. When I contested the price of some fabric bins I was buying, she asked if I could go get the tag (I’d already been waiting in line forever). When I did, she informed me that it was for a different FUCHSIA FABRIC DRAWER, even though the FUCHSIA FABRIC DRAWERS I grabbed were the only FUCHSIA FABRIC DRAWERS in the vicinity and the tag was right underneath them. I get that errors happen and retail sucks, but man, was I cranky. I’m not naturally a bitchy person (depending on who you talk to – this cashier would definitely five me full on bitch classification), so I felt bad.
• Fuchsia is an unnaturally hard word to spell.
What’s going on in your world?
As a part of the Netflix Stream Team, each month I get to talk about what I’m watching on Netflix. What should I watch next?
A few nights ago I had a mountain of laundry to fold and some quality time to spend with my husband. We’ve been so busy this week with Listen to Your Mother auditions, unexpected work loads, and just the crazy busyness of life with kids that we both needed to chill for a night.
I spend forever browsing Netflix before I can decide on what to watch. I need to make sure that the time I’m spending watching this movie or that show is time well spent. The kicker is, I spend so much time browsing, neither the laundry nor the movie get folded or watched.
My husband, on the other hand, looks briefly through the first few movies suggested, pulls up Good Will Hunting and presses play.
Our relationship in a nutshell.
We’d both seen it before, more than once, so it was the perfect mindless entertainment to get me through the laundry folding and him through…not folding the laundry. I’d forgotten what a wonderful film it was, couldn’t fathom that it was almost 20 years ago, and my God, can you believe Robin Williams isn’t with us anymore?
Oscars well deserved, boys.
I didn’t watch the Oscars this year (we don’t have cable, and someday we will get a digital antennae, but that day has not come). And I’m not sure if I really saw any of the Oscar-nominated movies other than Inside Out (did it win? I haven’t even checked). But I know you CAN watch loads of Oscar-nominated movies on Netflix! (exclamation points!!!)
I mentioned this in another Netflix recap, but it’s such a great film. Jennifer Lawrence’s jiggly boobs still make me uncomfortable though. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director for David O. Russell, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Actor for Bradley Cooper, Best Actress for Jennifer Lawrence, Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro, and Best Supporting Actress Jacki Weaver; with Lawrence winning for Best Actress.
The tale of a simple-minded man who leads a remarkably event-filled life won six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Zemeckis, Best Actor for Tom Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects (I remember the absence of Lieutenant Dan’s legs being a HUGE deal), and Best Film Editing.
This is one of those films I was dying to see, but when I dragged my husband – then my boyfriend – to see it, he was probably all, “What in the ever-loving HELL.” But then the movie won five Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Screenplay and Best Cinematography, so I felt redeemed.
I’m not a huge war movie buff, but I di end up watching a lot of war movies, thanks to my military-obsessed husband. Black Hawk Down won for Best Film Editing and Best Sound Mixing, and if you don’t blink, you’ll get to see a sweet little Orlando Bloom in his pre-Legolas days.
Speaking of war movies, this Quentin Tarantino film makes me squeamish, but it’s worth it. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Waltz, and Best Original Screenplay. Waltz was awarded the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
What are YOU watching?
Some things going on that are all pretty random, but kind of related in some way. It’s basically a week’s worth of brain dump.
1) Rachel is making progress in her recovery. She’s still home with me and still in pain here and there. Scabs apparently (probably) (maybe?) came off a couple of days ago (pause for gagging), which caused lots of ear pain and throat pain, so we’re not totally off the hydrocodone yet, but hey, she’s not vomiting it back up! #blessed
Now we’re at the point where she’s still home, but not miserable. So lots of TV and video games, fewer naps and less caretaking on my end. Let’s just say she’s not well enough to go back to school just yet, but she’s well enough to be driving me just a wee bit crazy, especially when I can’t stop what I’m doing to help her complete level 3 of Sonic the Hedgehog. I predict she’ll be ready to go back to school in a few days, but there’s no sense in sending her back on a Friday, right? GAH.
Oh, and since you’re dying to know, yes, the breath is still completely rank. Not filling up entire rooms with noxious gasses, but it still makes my stomach turn when I catch a whiff.
Upside is I am enjoying spending time with her, and I’ll miss her when she goes back to school.
2) Claire has been having a bit of a hard time with this whole ordeal. On the one hand, she really wants to take care of her sister. On the other hand, she’s feeling left out and is actually voicing that Rachel and Zoe get all the attention. Apparently she’s still a little bitter about the whole dental nightmare of 2015.
It always comes up at bedtime, where she resists sleep in favor of crying and pouting that she never gets any attention because she didn’t “get” to have surgery. Because we all know how fun surgery is. Just ask Rachel when she’s vomiting up hydrocodone.
So I told her that she and I? We’re the caretakers. And sometimes being a caretaker is a thankless job. We spend our time and energy caring for others, and sometimes it seems we don’t get a lot of attention in return, but that’s not necessarily true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I would get just a little sick so someone would take care of me for once. But then when I do get sick and I’m writhing in pain from the body aches and fever, I would give anything in the world to feel better.
I’m so proud of how responsible she’s become over the last year. She’s going to make a great mom someday. I mean, she already has the martyr part down pat.
3) Claire and Zoe went to the dentist on Monday (Rachel had to sit this one out since she was still fresh off her tonsillectomy), where we learned some things. First, Claire has an extra baby tooth (which we already knew, but hang on). During development, her lateral incisor (AKA “the tooth next to the big tooth,” for those who don’t know, like me before I googled “tooth names”) split into two teeth, a process called – wait for it – TWINNING. I KNOW. A twin with twin teeth. So meta.
Anyway we had been told that those two teeth would fall out as baby teeth do, but only one would grow back.
Except her x-rays on Monday showed that she has two permanent teeth ready to grow in, where there should only be one. Actually, they already are growing in, because those twin baby teeth aren’t loose at all, not even a little bit.
So…..in order to avoid becoming a snaggletooth, she has to have those baby teeth pulled, a process the dentist assured me would be painless for her, but would take a while, and she’d have to miss school and get lots of attention from me, and my God, you should have seen her eyes light up.
“I’m going to have surgery???”
Well, kinda, not really, but you will get to miss school for the day!
PLUS once the double permanent teeth come in, we’ll then be shipped off to the orthodontist, who will decide which of the teeth to keep and which one gets evicted. More teeth pulling! Yay!
I predict Claire will use up the majority of the health savings account in the coming months (years). She’s a thumb sucker, so I’m pretty sure this will not be our first trip to the ortho for her.
Now if I can just keep the rest of my family from having dental problems/tonsil problems/anything involving knives and medications and days off from school, life will be grand.
We are Day 5 post-op (not including surgery day).
Today was a good day. The past 4 days, not so great.
Surgery day was tough on all of us. I’m not sure I prepared her all that well, other than telling her she wouldn’t be able to eat much afterwards. The promise of ice cream and popsicles kept her from being too anxious about it, but as we waited in pre-op, she grew increasingly quiet and withdrawn.
In hindsight, I wondered if I should have been more up front with her about how she would feel. But I wasn’t, partly because I wasn’t so sure myself. And partly because how do you tell an anxiety-prone 7-year-old how confusing and unpleasant it is to come out of anesthesia? How much her throat will hurt? How do you tell someone how much they take swallowing for granted until they literally cannot do it?
When we arrived into the recovery room, her face was teary, and she held a sad, quickly-wilting popsicle – the kind that’s basically frozen sugar-syrup with a healthy dose of red dye #40. For the next two hours we sat while she slept on and off, her little bum peeking out of her hospital gown.
During those two hours, I realized how naive I had been about this whole thing.
I hadn’t been prepared to watch the nurses wheel her away from me, through the double doors to the operating room.
I wasn’t prepared for the tears I couldn’t stop when her nurse applied hand sanitizer too close to me. (NICU flashbacks are real, you guys.)
I didn’t anticipate “I have to go pee” to turn into “I’m going to sit on this toilet and cry for a few minutes” while we waited for the short surgery to finish.
I wasn’t prepared for how little work I would get done with her home, but I will close this laptop in a heartbeat if my girl needs some snuggles.
I had no idea how exhausting it could be to take care of someone who really didn’t need much more than apple juice and medicine.
I didn’t anticipate it being so difficult to get her to take in her fluids.
I was NOT prepared for the most rancid, sickeningly sweet, could-burn-the-nostrils-off-zombies bad breath that has been coming from her mouth-hole and filling up entire enclosed spaces like cars and bedrooms.
I wasn’t prepared to hold my girl as she shivered and cried because the pain medicine made her sick, or the congestion was keeping her awake, or the anti-nausea medicine burned her throat.
Watching her go through this has been so, SO tough, and it reminds me that there are parents out there who watch their kids go through this and worse every day. It doesn’t make our ordeal any less sucky, but it’s a nice piece of perspective to have. She will recover from this. We are having a hard week or two. But she will recover.
Today was a good day. She’s eating a little more. Two out of 3 meals today have been salad – including breakfast. Homegirl loves her balsamic vinaigrette. We went to see Kung Fu Panda 3 and had dinner with friends, followed by ice cream. At dinner she hit a bit of a wall, like you do when you’ve really had a bit too much activity. She got a little feverish (which is normal for a few days after surgery) and ignored her dinner in favor of laying her head down on the table and dozing. We were nearing the evening hour where her pain has routinely been the worst, and here we were, out with no medicine. I’m the mom who never even carries tissues or Band-Aids. I’m lucky if I have all my kids with me. I can’t be expected to remember to bring a medicine cabinet.
I walked over to a Target in the same shopping center to grab some children’s ibuprofen. Hopefully it would kick in quickly, or the ice cream would distract her from the pain. I think it was a little of both.
She’s a trooper.
I wasn’t expecting to feel so happy that she had a good day.
(And now for a good old-fashioned photo dump of our recovery. Most of these are also on Instagram.)
In less than 12 hours, I’ll be headed to a surgery center with Rachel to get her tonsils taken out. It’s kind of a long story that started with some inquiries on development and frustrations that led us to occupational therapy. What I didn’t talk about in that post was that upon examination, our pediatrician noticed that Rachel’s tonsils were enlarged.
All of the frustrations we were having were also all things that could be caused by fatigue from interrupted sleep.
I could go into a lot of boring detail, but I’ll save you most of it. We learned about the enlarged tonsils back in July, but I didn’t act on it until we started to notice it affecting her schoolwork. Worksheets (mostly math) were coming back completed, but it was clear she was just filling in answers so that she could a) appear to be working, even if she didn’t understand the assignment, b) not draw attention to herself by asking questions about the assignment and being embarrassed to ask for help, and c) finish quickly so she could turn the page over and draw Sonic the Hedgehog story lines.
The short version is that many signs, both at school and at home, pointed to possible ADD/ADHD, but we needed to get her tonsils checked out first. That led us to a sleep study, which was completely terrible, mainly for me, the mom who had to sleep on a makeshift bed that killed my hips. AND I forgot my allergy meds in the middle of full blown Cedar Fever season here in Austin, so I sniffled and snorted through the entire night, so I fully expected them to come back and say, “She slept fine, but we’d like to test YOU.” Meanwhile, Rachel woke up approximately 874 times to ask if it was time to get up yet.
Results: She had an average of 4.5 “episodes” per hour, where they don’t really want to see more than one. One of those episodes lasted for over 20 seconds. 20 seconds where she was struggling to breathe. Diagnosis: sleep apnea, although apparently 4.5 episodes per hour is still considered mild.
Tonsils and adenoids, yer outta here.
She’s surprisingly not too nervous. Rachel struggles with a bit of anxiety, but her anxiety seems to revolve around things that either aren’t real (mutant squirrels), or things that I cannot do a thing about (it’s 4:30 on a Sunday afternoon and she has to go to school the next day). These are the things for which I have a hard time easing her fears. School is school, and as long as there’s no deeper reason for not wanting to go (there isn’t; she just claims to get bored), we go. Mutant squirrels? Stumped. “They’re not real” isn’t a good enough argument for her. But when her sister made a sign on the front door forbidding entry of all “BAD SKWIRLS,” all fears faded.
I’m not creative enough for this, y’all.
So anyway, by the time anyone reads this, she’ll probably be in surgery, or out of surgery, or back home, or maybe back at school because we’re all behind on our blog reading. She’s not nervous. I am nervous, because my poll on what to expect came back that either she’ll recover like NBD, or she’ll be laid up and miserable for an entire 2 weeks. Friday is also Kids’ Night Out at the school, and Christian and I were looking forward to a much needed date night. But you know. Priorities and such.
She IS super excited about missing at least a week of school and her upcoming popsicle/ice cream/smoothie/ALL THE LIQUID THINGS diet. So there’s that.
I’m looking forward to some unadulterated Rachel time. So there’s that too. [insert smiley emoji here]
Years ago I read a few twin-centered parenting books. My girls were all of about one year old, and we all know that in hindsight, reading a parenting book when your children are not even considered toddlers yet is pretty much a waste of time. But back then I thought I was getting a head start on things. And one of the main things I took from these books was the importance of spending individual time with your twins.
Ask me how many times since then I’ve taken the girls on individual outings. Not including errands. It’s embarrassing.
Zoe had that kind of quality time with me from 18 months old. When Rachel and Claire were in preschool twice a week, Zoe and I were together. ZOE AND I WERE ALWAYS TOGETHER.
When Rachel and Claire went to elementary school and Zoe started preschool, she still had two days a week with just me. I miss those days with my girl terribly, although most of them ended with me saying, “Wow, is it time to pick up your sisters yet? Because this child needs someone else to talk to that is not me.”
Anyway. I decided recently to make the effort to take each of the girls on a special outing, just me and her.
My visions for these outings were idealistic at the very least. We would go to a local coffee shop or bookstore, grab a treat from the pastry case and a coffee for me. We’d find a small cafe table near the warm sunlight streaming through the windows, just enough room for her to draw quietly in her journal and for me to read my book. We’d stop every few minutes to chat about her pictures or school or whatever.
“Mom, I want to go to the mall.”
If you know me at all, you can probably guess that I hate the mall. It’s not sunny. It’s loud. There’s terrible music playing at just about every turn. It’s filled with strange people who are just there to…shop. For someone who pretty much only goes out when I need something, I find that very strange.
She wanted to go because there was a Sanrio store, filled to the brim with Hello Kitty and friends.
The Hello Kitty store was no more.
Not only that, but in this trip to the mall, I learned that The GAP had closed, the once gigantic Express store moved into a suite less than half its prior size and apparently now stocked nightclub wear (I used to buy my work clothes there!), and of course Victoria’s Secret and it’s boobs still reigned supreme in the upstairs, near the food court. Oh, and Abercrombie & Fitch still smells like teen desperation.
There WAS a Pokemon store (with everything behind glass cases, THANK GOD. Going to the mall with sensory seeking kids is a special experience indeed). There was a cool hippie store with lots of jewelry for her to paw through, Chinese stress balls for her to ooh and ahh over, and bonus hookahs for her to pick up and shout “I want THIS!” There was a giant pretzel from the pretzel shop.
And of course no trip to the mall is complete without a stop at Claire’s. Especially when you are with Claire.
Claire is turning out to be my girly girl. She’s discovering her style, although she still needs a little guidance on what combinations won’t assault other people’s eyeballs. She loves makeup and nail polish and admires herself in the mirror. I would say that looking nice is important to her, and she tests the boundaries of what goes with what. But I think the main thing she cares about is “Do I feel good in this?”
She picked out a sparkly teddy bear necklace and a small compact of glittery eyeshadow, because although the intention of this outing wasn’t to go buy her something, it’s not like you can take you kid to the mall and go home empty-handed. Children do not exactly understand window shopping, and I figured the $10 I spent on those things would have been spent on coffee and treats at a coffee shop.
At the end of the day, or the END OF DAYS because it was the mall, I was just glad to spend that time with her. As admirable as our intentions are, it’s not something we get to do often, even though we know it’s so important.
“I love spending time with you, Mommy,” she said, hugging my arm tight as we walked through the parking lot. “But I miss my sisters.”
Seems we’ve fostered quite a bond among those three. And I’m grateful for that. Christian and I won’t be around forever, and it’s important that they have each other. Even if right now it seems like they can’t seem to get away from each other. And even if I have to go to the mall.