On the surface, it was a perfectly fine weekend, and many parts were truly enjoyable. Good stuff:
- I spent all afternoon and evening on Friday with a friend who was in from out of town. That was a real treat.
- Saturday, a friend's husband installed a storm door on our house. I love being able to have the front door open and not let in bugs and neighborhood cats that don't belong to me.
- Saturday afternoon, I took a walk with a friend and her baby. It was hot and muggy, but good to get out.
- Saturday night, friends came over to help with the babes, then we made homemade pizza, watched a movie, and had ice cream.
- Sunday morning a friend's dad tethered my bookshelves to the walls, a seriously important babyproofing objective.
- Sunday afternoon I saw some friends of John's. It was somewhat of an obligation visit, but it turned out to be pretty fun.
I felt a lot of frustration both about single parenting and about twin parenting this weekend. The twins were somewhat cranky; both of them have summer colds that are giving them a fair amount of grief, poor things. But I felt so consumed by my own sadness that it was hard for me to give to them in the way that they needed me to give. Even though I knew they didn't feel well, I found myself frustrated by things that they did that I know to be age-appropriate and/or a result of feeling sick and annoyed. For example:
- Suddenly they are serious snots about eating. They are at that awkward stage of wanting to feed themselves but not being all that thrilled about their self feeding food options. They are picky now, or at least pickier than they used to be. They like to knock their food on the floor and often refuse to let me put food in their mouths. They bang their water cups on their trays and then drop them on the floor. All told, they barely eat anything. All of this drives me crazy even though I know they are not doing anything that is not typical of most one-year-olds. The only thing that seems to work is me putting a selection of finger foods on their trays, then busying myself doing other things around the kitchen while they "eat." I guess that's OK, but for some reason it bugs me. Bah, baby eating habits: so dull I've bored even myself, and I'm obsessed with my kids.
- The fighting over toys! Oh, the fighting! Maddie wants what Riley has. Riley wants what Maddie has. They grab. They cry. I try to mediate so they at least hear the language of sharing, and I also try to distract and entertain. But it's exhausting. I put away a bunch of toys that are sure to cause a squabble every. single. time. we get them out. That helps, but I find the mediation tedious, and, at this age, not always successful.
When I'm around my friends with singletons, what I find difficult is to refrain from judging myself and my kids. I can easily start to feel like a lesser parent when I'm around singleton parents. I feel like I have to spend so much time mediating disputes, making sure everyone is diapered/fed/safe, and just taking care of all kinds of logistics that I am left with a smaller slice of the pie to devote to fun and games. For example, I try to read my kids stories while we do bottles at bedtime, but it's a three-ring circus to keep everyone eating and relatively contained. If we get a story read, it's the icing on the cake. I've tried feeding/reading to one while the other one holds his or her own bottle, I've tried propping them both on Boppies while they hold their own bottles and I read . . . some days it works, most days there's no story going on, and they are so tired by that point that it doesn't work to do story after bottle. If you only have one kid, one parent can read while the other feeds, or one parent can do it all because there is not another one to manage at the same time.
I watched some friends interact with their 2.5 year old this weekend and I was amazed at all of the fun and learning that goes on. My friends make everything a game for their daughter, and she's smart as a whip to boot. Watching them made me feel like all I do is go through the motions. Everything gets done, but the fun is sucked right out of it. I'm so tired all the time, and there is just so much to do logistically. I feel like my kids get the short end of the stick sometimes, for example as I sit on the couch and watch the news in the morning while they entertain themselves in the living room for twenty minutes. I justify things like that by saying that I need that time for myself, but they need me, too.
The other aspect of that is not judging my kids. I sometimes feel like I have really cranky kids. They cry way more than the singleton kids I know. They have to wait more. They have to share more. There's one of me and two of them, and they are too young to understand why I can't hold them all the time, take care of them all the time. I'm constantly deciding who needs me more between two babies who would both like to be with me. I admit that I'm sometimes envious of my singleton parent friends who can wear their babies more or take a fussy baby back to bed with them in the morning (not happening on my own with two wiggly babies!) I have cut back on breastfeeding since I've been a single mom because it's logistically tricky to do with twins, especially on my own in public. My split attention makes it seem sometimes that my kids are crankier than most when, in fairness, they are just one-year-olds who don't get as much parental attention as a single baby with two parents does. I hate that my kids get shortchanged like that, and I'm jealous of my friends who are have the simpler situation.
Of course, I would not trade having twins for having a singleton. It's just that I feel bad for Maddie and Riley that they don't have their dad and I feel bad for me that I don't have my husband. I'm sad and tired. I think the babies feel the same way. I wish that I could be two people and hold everyone who wanted to be held all the time. I wish that I didn't have to multitask so much. I wish John were alive and healthy.
Mornings like the one we had today don't help. Riley woke up and cried almost every hour last night; I think his cold is still bothering him. It was not the kind of crying that required intervention from me, but it did wake me up every time. So I started the day off feeling not well rested, as did Riley. Everything was high drama for the little man this morning. Oh, the indignity of having to wear shoes! To eat breakfast! To get a clean diaper! To hang out in the playroom! Woe to Riley! We finally made it through getting dressed and having breakfast, and I got them packed up to go out to the car. Maddie was in the backpack and Riley was in my arms, and I was bedecked—as I am every day—with the diaper bag and my work bag. We staggered out the door into the rain. I noticed that the canopy over our deck was collecting water and sagging precariously. I attempted to get some of the water out and ended up sending a cascade of water down my front. Ugh. No time to change; I figured I'd just blast the heat in the car. As I unloaded Maddie from the backpack, I had a backpack malfunction and banged her head into the hatchback of the station wagon. Poor little girl. We all looked like drowned rats by the time we got to daycare, and I felt like I'd lived an entire day even though it had just started.
I'll at least end all of this with a good thing, a cute thing. I was driving home from my friends' house last night at about 6:30. I looked in the rearview mirror and saw that Maddie and Riley were holding hands between their carseats. Very sweet. They are very good babies. Sometimes I feel like I could be a better mother, but then again, I suppose most parents feel that from time to time.