18 August 2008

The Best of Times, the Worst of Times

Maddie and Riley are almost never sick. In fact, until this weekend, they had never had a fever over 101°F, never had a vomiting illness, and each of them had only stayed home from daycare one day in nearly two years of going to "school." In fact, on the day of my anniversary, I talked with my mom about how healthy Maddie and Riley are and how lucky I've been.

Pride goeth before a fall.

When I picked the kids up last Thursday, Maddie was running a temp and was clearly not feeling well. Poor baby. She kept saying, "Maddie a little sick. Maddie a little sick." She just wanted to be held and snuggled. We ate a simple dinner that night, and I let the kids watch the only thing they have ever enjoyed on TV, the Baby Einstein: Baby Van Gough World of Colors DVD. I gave Maddie some Motrin, and put the kiddos to bed. They went to bed fine, and after some internal debate, I decided to go ahead and go out with my girlfriends to celebrate my anniversary. 

We had a great time at Finale; we got two tasting platters (The Whole Nine Yards and Fantasia) and a bottle of champagne, then decided that we had not had enough dessert and also got a molten chocolate cake. Good times.

Maddie and Riley slept fine while I was gone, but were up and down in the night. By morning, it was clear that Riley was also sick. He was warm to the touch, and both kids were unbearably crabby. I called in sick to work, called them in sick to daycare, and tried to console two inconsolable, ill babies. They both wanted to be held, but each wanted my full attention. If I tried to snuggle both of them at the same time on the couch, they cried because they had to share me. Then they just cried because they felt bad. There was a lot of crying, very little eating or drinking, and the Baby Einstein was on an endless loop.

By evening, Maddie was feeling better, but Riley was, if anything, worse. Friday night was awful: more crying and little sleeping. Saturday was much the same, but by Saturday evening, everyone seemed to have turned the corner. The kids slept well on Saturday night, and we had a nice day on Sunday. 

All in all, it was not that big a deal. It was two days; I know that plenty of illnesses last much longer. But the whole experience brought out the worst in me. I was raised in the Buck Up school of thought; it's not that my parents were unsympathetic to illness, but no one in my family is sick very often, and our model and motto was always to power through. I am not incredibly nurturing by nature, and I have a very short fuse for whining and crying. 

The problem is that two-year-olds can't power through. They can't do for themselves when they are sick. They need a lot of love and a lot of attention, a lot of snuggling and a lot of sympathy. I found it very hard to provide what they needed, especially when both of them needed it at the same time. It took me back to the newborn days, when Maddie and Riley would both be wailing and I would have to choose who to help. I have practically no tolerance for crying; it just rips out my soul, and I continue to find it nearly impossible to console one baby while listening to the other one wail. I end up taking my frustration out on the poor, ailing kiddos, then feeling awful about it all. Overall, there are many things I love about having twins, but this weekend was one of those times when having two kids was exponentially harder than having one. Neither Maddie nor Riley ever got my full attention all weekend because part of my physical or mental being was always with the other one, plus I kept a bit for myself, and in the end we all felt shortchanged and disgruntled. Yuck.

Bleargh. I'm just glad it's over. I'm trying to figure out what I learned from it, and I think my main lesson is that we will survive, that it doesn't have to be pretty, it just has to get done, and that my best is not always very good, but it's good enough. The usual life lessons.

In the category of Good Things, we did have some fun when everyone was feeling better on Sunday. I took Maddie and Riley to their first movie, a Muppet Movie sing-along. We went for a friend of mine's birthday, and it was lots of fun. Maddie and Riley were a little young for it; the movie only held their attention for about fifteen minutes, but they enjoyed playing on the stairs to the balcony and eating popcorn, and since it was a sing-along and the theater was packed with kids, no one seemed to mind when Maddie yelled, "Frog singin'!" and Riley crowed, "Those guys in a car!" etc.

Also big this weekend was that I felt really loved. Not that I don't always feel really loved, but it was a tough weekend emotionally what with my anniversary and sick kids and all, and my friends and family came through for me in a big way. On my anniversary, my coworker (aka Shazam) and her wife brought me flowers, and then they were the one who watched the kids while I went out for dessert. Then, when I was home sick on Friday, Shazam brought the flowers to my house since I'd left the gift on my desk at work, thinking I'd be in to pick them up and take them home for the weekend. She also brought me a coffee. I was feeling quite low on Friday, and quite overwhelmed, and it was a great pick-me-up to see her at my door.

My brother- and sister-in-law happened to be visiting this weekend, and they were a huge help. They passed no judgment when I lost my s&%* repeatedly, and they cooked and cleaned and generally provided the extra set(s) of hands that I don't often have around. They also provided wine. Hallelujah. I wish we could have had a more fun weekend, but in terms of sheer need, this was the weekend that it was good to have guests in the house.

And then on Sunday,  when we went to the movie, my friend K. and her family were wonderful, helping me get my stroller in and out of the theater, fetching snacks for us during the movie, and just making sure that we were having fun. 

I have good friends. I have a great family. I am loved, even during the tough times. Perhaps especially during the tough times. 


My name is Andy. said...

People who bring wine really are the best aren't they?

Glad the kiddos are feeling better.

Imperfect said...

Sick kids, no fun. Glad to hear that you made it through the weekend. You had a lot of folks sending good thoughts your way these past few days!

Sandy said...

Good friends. Good post!

Nancy said...

Glad the kids are feeling better! I hear you about the clingy, icky-feeling kids thing. It's hard to share mommy when you want her all to yourself. It's during those times that I keep telling myself, "they won't remember this, this is a non-important thing that's happening in their lives and they won't remember that mom can't do it all." And then do the best that I can. :)

Rachel said...

That sounds so incredibly hard. One sick kid is sometimes more than I can handle. {{{Hugs.}}} I'm glad they are feeling better, and that you got some support.

T & J & V said...

That is the most we can ask, to know we are loved.

OTRgirl said...


I do love that you're honest about what parenting feels like. I respect that a great deal.

I'm so glad that you got practical help in the midst of what sounds like a rough weekend.

Nina said...

yay for family and friends!

I'm glad the kids are feeling better. And you all got through in one piece! :)

Pam said...

Glad the kids are better. I had to laugh when you were telling your Mom how healthy they had been. Last month I was bragging to a coworker about how healthy my DS has been. HA! That very same night he came down with what turned out to be strep, then landed in the hosptial after having 7 seizures. I will not be making that mistake again.

Jane said...

Ugh -- sick twins is the worst. I'm sorry you had to deal with that. On the bright side: at least you weren't sick, too. (I had the lovely experience once of having a stomach bug while both of my girls had it, too. And my husband was out of town. Good times.)

Hope you stay well -- and that M & R have made a good recovery.

Whitney said...

just one of your new fans here (CNN), and wanted to thank you again. You're doing a fabulous job and reminding us out here how to do the same.


Anonymous said...

The first time they are sick is really the hardest. It gets easier as they get older too. Hang in there!

Lisa said...

Great post. It is great to be loved and although the twins didn't get you 100%, you were there, provided comfort and love. They get it. hard not to be hard on ourselves.

Silver said...

Sounds like you have some wonderful people around you. It is great when they are there when you need it.

Sorry about the sick kids, it's so hard when they are both sick at the same time!

Take care

cat said...

Wonderful to have friends and family around when you need them most. My kids also love the Baby van Gogh.

Juicebox Mom said...

I feel ya, my youngest has been(knock wood) extraordinarilly healthy for years, no colds, nothing. I always wanted to brag, but held back to ward off a double ear infection or something. I feel i'm safe here since i'm so annonymous (uh...knock wood).

Also, I remember her 1st movie as if it was yesterday (she is nearly 13 now). It was Barneys First Big Movie or something and she was also about 2. Good Times! and popcorn allll over the floor.

Christine said...

I get very anxious when the Boo is sick. Right now he has an ear infection and is teething, so it's Night of the Living Dead at my house. Glad they are feeling better.