Is Motherhood the Hardest Job in the World?

Last week, I read this article and immediately upon finishing it, I wanted to reach through my computer screen and throttle the author. After my first reading, it seemed to me that the author was contending that motherhood was not the hardest job in the world. That Chuck E. Cheese employees and corn huskers have it much harder, and that mothers just need to chill out.

The absolute last thing I need to read was an article telling me that what I'm doing every day with three kids under age 3.5 isn't difficult, and that really, I need to shut my yapper and give "bean picking in a hot field" a try before I complain.

Sasha's post on this same article made me give it a second read, and upon completing it, I realized that what the author was (probably) trying to say (I agree with Sasha in that the article lacks clarity, therefore leaving it open to vastly different degrees of interpretation) is that mothers put too much pressure on themselves and in doing so "professionalize" motherhood, which sets the expectations for motherhood way too high. Perhaps we're all trying way too hard to be "perfect mothers" and in killing ourselves to achieve this impossible standard, motherhood becomes less of a relationship and more of a job.

I will readily admit to trying too hard and putting too much pressure on myself. You've all read about my fears about not giving the twins enough stimulation and Isabella enough attention because their basic care, my work, the move, and everything else that's part of everyday life requires so much of my time. I constantly feel inadequate. I always feel as if I'm failing. And I never feel at the end of the day that yes, each of my children had enough of my time and enough social, developmental, and cultural enrichment. When I look at things this way, then yes. Motherhood is a job, and one at which I am not particularly succeeding.

But for me, motherhood is indeed the hardest job I have ever held, even if I wasn't self-imposing pressure to achieve perfection. My desk jobs as a technical and marketing writer and editor for the first 10 years of my professional life were cake-walks compared to what I do now.

Of course, it's not just a job. It's also an ongoing relationship, like the author of this essay suggests. Motherhood is all-encompassing, enormously fulfilling, and intensely gratifying, but for me there are many parts of it that are hard work, and I don't believe that admitting this means that it's entirely within my power to change it.

Is it easy for me to balance working with staying home with three small kids, two of whom are extremely high-needs and fussy, all day long? Absolutely not. I never have enough time. I have to stuff my work into the leftover cracks of the day (often early mornings and late at night) because I don't have any significant blocks of time in which to do it.

Is it fun for me to continually subjugate my own needs for peace and quiet and time to clear my brain in a house that's perpetually noisy and in which at least one child is seemingly always crying? No. There are times when they're all crying and I literally want to get into my car and drive away.

Is it enjoyable to try and decide whether it's worth it to lug two high-needs babies and an increasingly difficult preschooler to the store to get milk, to Target to buy mittens, or to the museum to have fun, only to end up staying home rather than face the explosive and temperamental personalities of two babies you love dearly, but who are slowly sapping you of your will to live? Of course not. I make decisions similar to this one every day, and more often than not, I opt to stay home, which makes me feel completely trapped and unhappy.

Would my view on motherhood as a job be a bit different if I had had two singletons? Probably. Would I view the "work" aspect of motherhood as less soul-sucking if I had had a Luci or a Nicholas but not both? Perhaps. But for me, being a mother to three small children is the hardest job in the world. The never-ending needs, the endless schelpping of gear and bodies, the exhausting preparation and cleanup that are involved in virtually everything we do make these parts of motherhood a job for me.

This is hard work. These things are not the joys of motherhood, of which I experience plenty, of course, but which are often forgotten in the face of dozens of diaper changes, 3am wakeup calls, and the heaving of way-too-heavy infant seats.

I know it won't always be like this. In about five years I will look back at this period in my life and wonder how I managed to maintain the thin shred of sanity by which I hang on a daily basis. It will be easier then. The work will still be there, of course, but it won't be so consuming and exhausting. Perhaps it won't even seem like a job anymore.

But right now it does. And no amount of "chilling out" will make it seem less so for me.

I'm really interested in reading your thoughts. What's your take on motherhood: job, relationship, combination of the two, or something entirely different?

Apples and Aggravation

We decided to give apple-picking a try this year. Isabella is at a great age for activities like this, and somehow picking apples seems quintessentially fall, my most favorite season of the year.

(Speaking of which, I haven't had a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks yet this year. Must get one soon.)
Given that I am a gigantic nerd and research everything we do in advance of leaving the house, I began to check out the websites of the farms in our area that offer "U-pick" apples. There aren't any close to my house, so on Friday the hubs came home from work and said that there was a great one a few miles from where he teaches, about 30 minutes away. On Friday night, I went out to their website to check it out...
and my laptop was infected with an insidious, nasty, super-deep virus that had taken over the farm's site.
My anti-virus program did not touch it. I am enraged over this, because the company and program I used (past tense) is well-known, very large, and apparently, completely ineffective. I don't want to go all Dooce and Whirlpool on them (although I really, really want to) because let's face it, my audience is about 1/1,000,000 of hers and therefore I'm unlikely to do any damage to their business, but I am very, very pissed off. Needless to say, I am now running a different, more effective anti-virus program. Email me if you want more details than this.
Anyway, I called my friend, IT genius that he is, and he was just getting on a plane heading back home from a business trip. He spent 30 minutes helping me troubleshoot the problem over the phone, and following our conversation, I thought I had gotten rid of the virus. I turned off my laptop, and went to bed.
When I woke up Saturday morning and switched on my computer, the virus was back. A fake program was popping up all over my screen, telling me my computer was infected with spyware, and telling me to buy their program to get rid of it. This was just the mask of the virus, which was then burying itself 17,000 levels deep in my registry and Windows OS files. I couldn't get online. I couldn't get rid of it via any of the conventional troubleshooting methods, which I'm familiar with given my technical writing background, because the virus was preventing access to the registry, Control Panel, and any of the utilities used to fix issues like these.
Needless to say, I was freaking the hell out. My entire universe is on my laptop-all my client work and contact information, all the work and information needed for my online teaching job, which is probably starting this week, all my photos, and I had no Internet access. None. I started to hyperventilate at the prospect of having to wipe my hard drive, re-install my OS, and start from scratch.
I called my friend at 8am, expecting his phone to go to voicemail, since he had returned home late Friday night. Instead, he picked up, and was able to decipher my blubbering, panicked cries for help enough to agree to come over later than day to help.
In the meantime, off to apple-picking.
In spite of a brief temper tantrum in the orchard from a certain three-year-old who wanted to be carried instead of walking (I thought we had kicked the "Carry Me!" nonsense months ago, but apparently, I was wrong), we had a great time. Isabella picked a ton of apples, and has wanted to do little more than eat her bounty since then.

Here are the twins expressing silent skepticism about the apple-picking business.
Nicholas spent the entire trip fantasizing about something new to sink his 1.5 teeth into.

We returned home, put the kids down for their naps, and my friend came over to help.
He spent the next 11 hours at my house, trying to get the virus in my laptop to die. He thought he'd killed it only to have it re-emerge several dozen times. Keep in mind, this is a guy with 12 years of big-time IT experience.
Finally, he uninstalled *Well-known, yet utterly useless anti-virus program* and bought and installed the one he runs (Trend Micro, for those interested). I also bought their 24/7 support, because he had tried every trick he knew to rid my laptop of the virus, and it would not leave, and at 11pm Saturday night, we called their tech support hotline. Their Level 1 rep tried for an hour to remotely fix the problem (at that point, I had Internet access once again). She couldn't do it, and elevated the problem to their Level 2 team. And this rep, after another hour of work, finally fixed my computer.
Both she and my friend both agreed that the virus in my laptop was the worst one each of them had ever seen.
I spent a tender moment or 12 gently caressing my laptop and shedding tears of joy before going to bed close to 1am.
My wonderful, awesome, amazing, not-feeling-well-and-super-busy-himself friend spent 11 hours at my house last night trying to fix my computer. I bitch and moan quite a bit about my life on this blog, but it's high time I realize that I am lucky indeed to have people like him in my life.

Year One With Twins: A Survival Story

Jamie is 37 weeks pregnant with fraternal twin girls.

37 weeks.

She is a rockstar. I was a whale-like, sweaty, sleep-deprived, bloated, hot mess at 34 weeks, when I delivered Luci and Nicholas.

This is the last photo of me pregnant with Luci and Nicholas, taken at 32 weeks at my great aunt's 80th birthday party. I believe I spent the majority of the party in this chair, because I was too gargantuan and exhausted to heave myself out of it. To say I was uncomfortable, miserable, and panicky every single moment of every single day in those last few weeks doesn't quite cover it.

Jamie has lasted 37 weeks, and as of Wednesday night had cleaned, mopped, and vacuumed her entire house.

While 37 weeks pregnant.

With twins.

It's nearing Luci and Nicholas' 1st birthday, and Jamie is scheduled to deliver her twins on Monday (at 38 freaking weeks-yay, Jamie!), so I figure it's a good time to answer the question she asked me back in July, and that question is:

How do you survive the first year with twins and a toddler?

Oh, did I also mention that Jamie has an adorable 22 month old son as well?

Here are my Top 8 Survival Tips, in no particular order. I would like to add the following word of caution to Jamie and my other readers who are currently pregnant with twins.

My twins were (and still are) extraordinarily tough babies. I have several friends with much more even-tempered twins, better-sleeping twins, and twins whose screams do not break the sound barrier and make you want to pry out your eardrums with a dull knife. My survival tips are based on my own experiences, which when negative, will hopefully NOT be your experiences.

1. Line up help for the early weeks/months. And by "help," I don't mean relatives who want only to hold your babies, and who have no interest in giving you the help you really need. If they don't volunteer to wash the week's worth of dirty dishes in your sink, throw a load (or 12) of laundry in the machine, or cook or buy you a meal, since the crust from your toddler's peanut butter sandwich does not constitute lunch, consider asking them to postpone their visit until the twins turn 10.

I was extraordinarily fortunate to have my mom stay with us for the first 7 weeks of the twins' lives. She shopped, cooked, and cleaned for us, in addition to pitching in day and night (and middle-of-the-night) with twin care. Other relatives brought food, did my laundry, and watched Isabella. When someone asks you what they can do to help, do not be shy. Tell them exactly what you need. Most are more than willing to help.

2. Embrace the TV. I was entirely anti-TV until Isabella turned two years old. At that point, I started allowing her to watch an episode of Sesame Street a day, and as she neared 2.5, she started watching Clifford and Caillou. I really wanted to avoid having to constantly switch on the tv to keep her occupied while I was nursing the twins in those early months, but she chose the times I was stuck in my nursing chair for up to an hour to all but set the house on fire. So, a couple times a day I would stick her on the couch with a snack and she would watch one of her shows while I nursed. It kept her content, safe, and occupied like nothing else would.

3. Cook ahead. I did a little bit of cooking ahead before the twins were born, and then before my mom left, she stocked my freezer with a lot of meals. This is something I've kept up with to a certain degree, when I have the time.

I can barely remember the first 6 months of my twins' lives. Taking care of high-needs infant twins and a toddler is so all-encompassing that dinnertime would approach and if I hadn't thought to pull a meal from my freezer, we all would have eaten cereal for supper. I just didn't have the time to cook.

4. Make some time for your older child. Longtime readers will know what an emotional mess I was in the weeks leading up to the twins' birth over how their arrival would affect Isabella. Once they arrived and I saw how much she adored them, and how her behavior wasn't out-of-control as a result of her two new siblings, I relaxed and tried to figure out how we could spend some one-on-one time together. Two weeks after their birth, Isabella and I went to a toddler Halloween party at our children's museum. Every Thursday, she and I went to her gym class together. I am still looking for ways to give her my undivided attention. Some days I succeed. Others (sadly, most others), I don't. Twins require a lot of care in the first year, and even if your older child is still just a baby herself, she suddenly becomes the "big kid" and your expectations of her will change, sometimes unfairly. Having time alone with you makes her feel special, especially when a lot of attention from friends and relatives is lavished on the twins.

5. Get out of the house. If you're staying home with the twins, leave the house as soon as your partner gets home. Take a walk, grab a coffee, do whatever it takes to see the light of day (or the dark of night) and breathe the air outside your home. Even if you think you can't leave because one twin is screaming, and your toddler is begging you to color with her, if you've been immersed in newborn twin hell for 12+ hours on your own, you need a break to keep from burning out. I didn't do this enough, and I really, really should have.

Now for the things I didn't do with my first set of twins, but which I totally plan on doing with my second.

6. Pump. If you're breastfeeding, pump as much as you possible can. I rarely did and now only do it if I know I have a (rare) event that will keep me away from the twins during a feeding. In the early days with Luci and Nicholas, I felt as if I spent 18 hours a day feeding them. I nursed them each 8-10 times in a 24 hour period, and these were just their normal feedings. I would also nurse them to get them back to sleep because it was literally the only thing that worked. It was all me, all the time, and while the hubs was able to do some rocking, I was stuck in my chair nursing them constantly. Admittedly, finding time to pump for twins when you also have a toddler needing attention is really hard, hence the reason I didn't do it. But I believe that if I had, I would have been able to preserve more of my sanity over the past year.

7. Separate them if necessary (and if possible). We live in a small three-bedroom house. Luci and Nicholas had no choice but to share a room, and frankly, prior to bringing them home, I had no qualms about this arrangement. A close friend's four-year-old twins have always shared a room and quickly learned to sleep through each other's cries. I thought my twins would do the same.

How wrong I was. Luci and Nicholas constantly woke each other up both when they were in bassinets in our bedroom and when we moved them to their own room. They still wake each other up all the time almost a year later. I was worried they wouldn't have a close relationship if they didn't share a room, that they wouldn't share the twin bond I've heard and read so much about.

But you know what? Well-rested babies trumps any talk of twins needing to share a room in order to bond. Knowing then what I know now, if I had had a fourth bedroom when I brought them home, I wouldn't have given each twin his/her own room, and I cannot wait to move them into their own rooms in the new house.

8. Don't be afraid to seek help for PPD. Looking back, I believe I developed PPD once the cloud of their emergency delivery and NICU time lifted. I was completely overwhelmed with their care and the care of my just-turned-two-year-old daughter. In many ways, I still am. But I didn't see my doctor, and I didn't ask for help. Instead, I blogged, which was certainly helpful thanks to the support of all of you, but which may not have been the smartest thing to do when a prescription could have helped too.

There is nothing in this world that can prepare you for the birth of twins. Throw a toddler into the mix, and you have a recipe for serious mommy burnout. If it all gets to be too much, as it was for me, talk to your OB. End of PSA.

Good luck on Monday, Jamie. I can't wait to see photos of your beautiful baby girls.

Oh, and speaking of twin birthdays, Chas' twin girls turned one year old yesterday! Happy Birthday to A and E!

Isabella at 3 years, 1 Month

Oh, where to begin with the Isabella update for this past month...

Let's go completely counter to my personality and start with the good.

Since turning three, Isabella is becoming more and more independent (which can, of course, be both a positive and a negative...more on this later), but for the most part, I'm really liking this emerging trait. She wants to do everything by herself, and frankly, with two other little time-suckers in my house, I say, "Have at it, kid!"

So, in the morning, she now shuts off her own sound machine, grabs a new pair of underwear from her drawer, goes potty, and heads downstairs where I am already up with the twins, all by herself. I lay out her clothes, and with minimal assistance from me, she dresses herself. She's been attempting to pick out her own clothes, but I haven't been brave enough to let her leave the house in some of her ensembles yet, although I realize I am stifling her creativity and squashing her inner artiste and all that.

Isabella's letter and number recognition have gotten much more consistent over the past month, thanks in part to this awesome toy, the Leapfrog Fridge Words Magnetic Word Builder. She can now spell some easy three-letter words with ease (mom, dad, dog) and her phonetics are improving too. I also bought her this easel for her birthday, and we've been working on her letters and words using it as well.

So far, she is still loving preschool. Of course, she's only gone twice as of this writing, but both times it was an easy transition for her, sans drama, tears, and histrionics. I've said this before, but I am so incredibly proud of her for this. Of course, I wouldn't have faulted her in the least if she was having a hard time. Two of her closest friends are, and Isabella has told me about "boys crying for their mommy" in her class. That kind of reaction is completely normal. But the fact that she isn't, and is rolling with it, makes me think she's capable of handling a lot more than I thought she was.

Isabella is still in love with her baby brother and sister, and is often super-sweet with Luci and Nicholas. If they're screaming, she will run and get them a toy to try to get them to stop, all on her own. She wants to share her breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them, and always rips off little pieces of her food to give to them, with the message, "Tell Luci (or Nicholas) this is from her big sister Isabella." And often, the last thing she says to me when I put her in her room for her "nap," is "Tell the babies I said hello."

That said, this past month has been the debut of some rough behavior with the twins. She seems hell-bent on steam-rolling them. She will lay down on her back on the floor and roll (I think she is mimicking them) into them and over them, and of course, they get upset and cry. She is also attempting to pick them up, sit them up or lay them down, all with disastrous results. I spend half my day telling her to be gentle with the babies, but it doesn't seem to be working. I don't think she's being aggressive or rough on purpose, but on the other hand, I don't understand where this behavior is coming from either.

I am a mystery wrapped inside an enigma.

I am attributing a lot of her spazoid behavior to the death of her afternoon nap, which happened right around her 3rd birthday a month ago. One day, she didn't nap, which wasn't that big a deal, as it had happened before. But when she didn't nap the day after that, or the following day, or for weeks on end, I figured it was ending for good. I've since switched to quiet time, where she stays in her room from 1 -3pm, supposedly reading books, but actually spending her time much more destructively, rearranging her bedroom furniture, stripping her bed, and dropping objects on the hardwood floor, sending noise reverberating throughout the house and waking up the babies. She also began busting through her childproof doorknob cover and walking downstairs.

Not so fast, little missy.

Once that started happening, I had to break out the big guns and start telling her that she was not to leave her room for anything other than a trip to the bathroom, and that if she did, she wouldn't get to watch her half hour of tv after dinner. I have also been invoking the name of her dentist, whom Isabella has so far visited just once, but who has become akin to the Almighty in Isabella's book of importance and significance. Isabella often asks me, "Does Dr. Kelly like it when I eat carrots/draw pictures/take a bath, etc.?" So, I have begun telling her that Dr. Kelly does not like it when she leaves her room during her nap. That one's been working out nicely.

And of course, there are the temper tantrums, never-ending whines, and back-talk that have come to dominate the behavior of my "spirited" child. I'm glad so many of you commented on this post to tell me that three is so much more difficult than two. You're not kidding! It's as if the demon-spawn switch was flipped on August 22nd, because there are some days when I fully expect to see Isabella's head spin around 360 degrees while she spews green vomit over everything in her path. She is argumentative and whiny ("I want it Noooooowwwww!"), explosive and often negative, ("I don't WANT to go on a walk/to the store/to a friend's house"), and contrary and sassy, ("I TOLD you I wanted apples for lunch, NOT pears!"). There are many, many days when I feel all I do is argue with her and put her in time-out, which makes both of us feel awful.

(But then she starts to cry and grabs the mirror to watch herself, and suddenly awfulness turns into hilarity.)

But, I will confess to liking three. So far, it's been very difficult, but it's also pretty awesome too. Isabella is so funny, so smart, and so charming when she wants to be. Yes, her behavior is bat-shit crazy at times, but I think I'll keep her.

Likes: Collecting acorns, leaves, and rocks during walks

Dislikes: Maintaining a single personality

Not-So-Easy Rider

I have totally stolen my change in title format for these monthly updates from Sasha, since my math abilities are about on par with a 4th grader, and I can't for the life of me remember how many months there are in anything past age three.

Stuck in the Middle

Early one morning last week, Luci woke up before her brother. Usually, when one twin wakes up, the other does too. Simultaneous morning wake-ups are not pleasant, as Nicholas cannot stand it when I must set him down on the rug to tend to his sister, even though he always gets picked up first. This, because I cannot take eardrum-piercing cries first thing in the morning, and because I don't want his screams to wake up Isabella.

Luci always, always waits patiently in her crib while I change her brother's diaper and get him dressed.

But on this day, her morning squeals don't awaken her brother. I tip-toe into her room, and instead of two little heads popping up to greet me, there is only hers.

The room is dark, as it is in the early morning hours now, and I leave their sound machine on. She has just awakened, and so is not yet anxious to start the day. I carry her to the glider in their room, sit down, and rock with her.

Luci puts her head on my shoulder and closes her eyes. Her warm breath is on my neck, and her small body is cemented to mine.

For five glorious minutes, there are no other sounds in the room but the gentle gliding of the rocker and the white noise of the sound machine. Her brother is asleep, and she is completely relaxed and blissed out in my arms. And in that moment, I realized that this act of a mother rocking her sleepy child, something that most moms experience daily with their babies, is something extraordinarily rare in my own.

I constantly feel as if there is not enough of me to spread amongst my children. Their needs often materialize simultaneously. They are hungry at the same time. Crying or tantruming at the same time. Wanting to be picked up or comforted at the same time. And these concurrent demands for my attention make me feel paralyzed and powerless to give them what they need. I am only one person.

I'm sure this occurs with close-in-age siblings too, but with twins and a preschooler just two years older than they are, the pit of need runs deep. It is often impossible for me to fill it.

Running triage is a way of life, and has been for the last 11 months, but sometimes it's overwhelming. I cannot rock two babies screaming in unison, and so I rock none. I feed them at the same time, and yet one is seemingly always upset because he/she (most often he) has to wait a moment more than is tolerable to receive his/her next spoonful. If I'm playing with one, the other needs half of my attention, because he/she is dangerously close to crawling under a table. And of course, there is Isabella, who is not quite as high-needs, but has her own set of issues and emotions that often conveniently materialize when the twins are at their worst.

I wish I could grant each of my children one-on-one attention. I crave alone time (that need never goes away), but as I'm sitting on the floor with them, as I do everyday, stacking blocks with one, holding the other playing with a ball on my lap, and reading to Isabella all at the same time, I wish there were three of me to give Isabella, Luci, and Nicholas exactly what they deserve - an unshared and uninterrupted piece of mommy.

Take That, Grandma

I let grandma get into my head.

My grandma was (and still is) against Isabella attending preschool. So is my mom.

Both told me she would lose her sh*t when I dropped her off. Both told me I should keep her out of preschool because of germs. Both told me Isabella would be "bored" in preschool because she's so smart. My grandma even went to far as to tell me that preschool is a place where (and I quote): "mothers who don't want to watch their children dump them off."

And so a few weeks ago, I began to dread the first day of preschool. I was nervous about Isabella's reaction to being dropped off. I had been talking up preschool for weeks and she said a few times, "I don't want you to go."

I envisioned her little face covered in tears as I walked out of her classroom. I thought I would be able to hear her crying down the hall in the room where the informational meeting I would be attending on the first day was taking place. And I pictured myself unable to keep it together if she couldn't, and all the other mothers whose children had been attending daycare or who had started preschool early smiling condescendingly at me.

I arranged for my grandma to come over early yesterday morning to watch the twins while I took Isabella to preschool. It was her first day, and I wanted to be able to concentrate 100% on her, and in case she was nervous or anxious or crying about my departure, I didn't want to have to worry about the twins' often temperamental behavior at the same time.

We got ready to go. Isabella was so excited.

We were a bit early, so we waited outside the door to her classroom with the other kids and their parents. Isabella couldn't wait to go inside.

Once her teacher opened up the door, she immediately started exploring the room. She was a bit miffed that the water table was filled with Mr. Potato Head bodies and pieces and not water, but she was captivated by the sand table.
And then came the time I was dreading: The time to say goodbye. She was playing with Playdoh at the time. I told her I was leaving. I mentally prepared myself for tears or a death-grip around my neck or both. I was not prepared for "Okay. Bye!"

What? Seriously? No tears? No, "I don't want you to leave?", not even a whimper or a whine? I was thrilled, but also a little bit sad at the same time. Selfish as it sounds, I wanted her to miss me a little bit.

So I kissed her, said goodbye, and walked out the door. I'm not sure she even looked up from her Playdoh to see me walk away. I went to the meeting for an hour and a half, and then picked her up on the playground.

She came running toward me with a huge smile on her face. I asked her teacher how she did, and was told that Isabella didn't cry at all, and never asked for me once.

Okay, then.

I collected her bag, and as we were walking back to the car, she asked when she could go to preschool again.
There are not words to describe how immensely proud of her I am.

When we got home, grandma didn't ask about preschool. So I had Isabella describe her day and how much fun she had.

Grandma didn't seem too interested.

To be honest, I think she was disappointed that Isabella didn't come home in tears.

Isabella might have a problem separating on Tuesday. She might cry, or ask me not to leave, or beg to stay home, despite loving her first day so much.
But I know that preschool is going to be good for her. I know she will grow to love it, even if she doesn't love it right away.

And I know I made the right decision to send her.

School Year's Eve

Tomorrow is Isabella's first day of preschool. That's her school bag over there. The school provides a canvas bag to each student, which must have their name on the outside. Apparently, parents go all-out decorating the bags in which students take their art projects home. This caused me a mild panic attack since I have zero artistic ability. I went to Michael's and bought a bunch of iron-on letters and ladybugs and made the best of it.

She will attend her semi-cooperative preschool Tuesday and Thursday mornings from 9am-12pm, although tomorrow is just a half day (from 9am-10:30am). She'll play in her classroom, and I'll be in an informational meeting with the other parents in a separate room. We met her teacher together on Tuesday morning, and Isabella had the chance to explore her room for the first time since the open house we attended together back in January.

Her class will have eight students in it, 5 boys and 3 girls. The preschool is comprised of three separate but connected rooms (the Housekeeping room, which includes kitchen toys, a LEGO table, a water table, a sand table, and a reading seat, the Big Muscle room, which includes a playset, slide, huge wooden blocks, trucks, and tumbling mats, and the Art room, which has art tables, easels, and all the art supplies mama's afraid to pull out at home because mess. I know. I'm awful). She'll spend 1/3 of the year with the Housekeeping room as her "homeroom," 1/3 in the Big Muscle room, and 1/3 in the Art room. For 30-45 minutes each day, students can travel from their homerooms to explore and play in the other rooms.
In many ways, I am so ready for Isabella to go to preschool. I love her to bits, but she is so challenging lately. She is having a hard time listening and following directions, and when she doesn't get her way, she has a meltdown. She's always been stubborn and strong-willed. She is my daughter after all. But since turning three, a whole new kind of crazy behavior has emerged. If my plans don't coincide with hers, if she doesn't like the socks I picked out or what I'm serving for her snack, or she wants to turn left on a walk instead of right, look out. Hell hath no fury like a preschooler scorned.
I'm hoping that she'll learn to take direction from someone other than the hubs and me. I'm hoping she learns about patience (I'm not exactly the best model for this at home), and I'm hoping she will gain confidence and independence. She often wants to do everything for herself (the source of some battles lately at home), but in social settings she's often looking for me to stand right beside her. I know this is normal behavior for a child who hasn't been in daycare or left with anyone other than a relative, but I also know that separating well is an important life skill she needs to have.
Okay, now that I've gotten the positive aspects of Isabella heading to preschool out of the way...

My BABY is going to PRESCHOOL!!!!!!!

Didn't she look like this just yesterday?

Will she completely freak when it's time for me to leave her in her classroom?

Will I completely freak when it's time for me to leave her in her classroom?

Stay tuned.

(Sasha shared this on FB, and I just finished crying. It's just two days a week, for three hours at a time, but it's the beginning of the letting go, isn't it?)

Luci and Nicholas at 11 Months

Today Luci and Nicholas are 11 months old. 30 days and counting until the big 0-1.

Loud and Louder have changed quite a bit since last month. Nicholas is commando-crawling just like his big sister did when she began moving around. It's no longer safe for me to plant him in the center of the living room floor, leave the room for a few seconds, and trust that he'll still be sitting where I left him upon my return. He is moving quickly, and has rolled himself into the fireplace twice, which means we really should re-erect Shawshank, and yet we're only going to be in our house for a few more weeks, so it really isn't worth it. We did, however, erect a portion of the fence in front of the fireplace because CPS generally looks down on soot-covered babies.

Luci isn't as interested in crawling. She's still inching and rolling herself along, which frankly, is fine with me, because I'm having a hard enough time keeping track of one semi-mobile baby. When both are fully crawling, I'm going to need to look into cloning myself.

This was also the month where some cute baby milestones happened. Luci began clapping about three weeks ago, and often gives me a giant smile and a sitting ovation when I walk into a room. And just within the last week, my most well-behaved child moved even higher up on the mama-love scale by saying, "Mama." Now if she would only learn to sleep through the night. More on this later.

She continues to find new ways to torment her brother. She delights in pulling Nicholas' hair, stealing his toys, and hitting him with any toy within her reach. When they are in their side-by-side stroller, she quite literally leans forward, and stretches over to his seat to yank on his hair and swipe his binky. She is hard-core, and when I'm not trying to protect Nicholas from her attacks, I'm laughing at my tiny future pro-wrestler.

Nicholas began "talking" this past month, and when he isn't wailing, now says, "Dada" and what sounds like "Papa." He is just starting to go from laying down to a seated position on his own. Both babies now wave bye-bye as well.

The sleeping issues are still a nightmare. Luci will go a few days to a week sleeping through the night (as Nicholas has for months now), and then she'll have several days in a row where she's up and wailing. Sometimes I relent and nurse her, simply because I know it will get her back to sleep, and I am exhausted, but I really want to avoid this, because it's more than likely creating a bad habit.

But naps are even worse, and I am in need of any and all advice you might have to share. Here is their schedule: They are generally up between 6:30am and 7am every morning. I put them down for their morning nap around 9am, and they generally take a decent morning nap of between 1.5 and 2 hours. The afternoon nap is a complete joke, however. Depending on when they get up from their morning nap, I put them down between 1 and 1:30pm. This nap is sometimes less than an hour long, and probably averages just over an hour. Isabella has "quiet time" during this time, and I desperately need this time to work, but as soon as I start working, someone is up. They are terribly cranky and out-of-sorts in the afternoon as a result of not napping well, and I must work very hard to not run away from home during this time.

What am I doing wrong? Isabella, never a good sleeper herself, had an opposite napping schedule. Her morning one was very short (an hour or less), and her afternoon one was 1.5 to 2 hours.

Plans are underway for the big first birthday bash. The theme is the same as their Halloween costumes this year (which I am making-what is WRONG with me?), and I'm keeping it under wraps for now, but I'll just say that with these two being who they are, there is no more perfect theme than what we're using.

I figure it's time to introduce Likes and Dislikes for the twins, so...


Likes: Throwing toys, physically attacking her brother

Dislikes: Bananas


Likes: Books, Biting, Boob

Dislikes: Sharing his mama

Teeth Count: Luci 0, Nicholas 1

Word Count: Luci - "Dada," "Mama", Nicholas - "Dada"

Diaper Size: Huggies Size 3

Clothing Size: Some 6 months, but mainly 6-9 months

Once Bitten

Oh, how I love you, friends in my computer. You read my last post. You made me feel as if perhaps I am not the worst mother on the Internet. You made me think that I should cease castigating myself for wanting to bridge a large distance between myself and my children on the tough days (of which there are a lot lately), and you suggested that perhaps "natural mother" does not equal "good mother."

It IS natural to want a life, a slice of time, the chance to pee alone, for yourself, isn't it?

As you might have been able to infer from my recent posts, life is sucking here more often than it's not. In addition to moving stress and job stress, Isabella has seemingly overnight changed from benevolent dictator into despotic tyrant. Allow me to go on record: I am not liking 3. 2 was challenging, but not awful. 3 is making me turn grey well before my time. But again, this is a post for another day.

Today's rant concerns Nicholas and his metamorphosis from this charming, smiley, although definitely more higher-needs-than-his-twin-sister little boy:

Into this clingy, weepy, whiny puddle of despair:

I believe I have identified the impetus for his misery. It is white, tiny, multiplying, and causing both of us a great deal of pain.

Nicholas has his first tooth, which you can see just popping out along his bottom gumline.

This tooth was not scheduled. Isabella had a mouth full of gums until she was 15.5 months old. There were no teeth visible at the twins' 9 month checkup, and I figured I had months to go before having to deal with teeth.

And now I have to deal with teeth. Tiny, seemingly harmless, but f-ing sharp as all hell teeth. On my nipples.

Yes, I am still exclusively nursing the twins. And my son, this adorable little boy with the killer grin and big doe eyes is biting me while I'm nursing, drawing blood, and then laughing in my face as I scream in pain. I have tried everything I can think of to get him to stop, but this sadist will not be thwarted.

Teeth suck and are completely unnecessary for a 10-month-old. Their emergence in Nicholas' mouth is making him miserable around the clock. If I have the audacity to say, put him down in order to change his sister's diaper, make breakfast, or you, know, comb my hair, he screams and whines until I relent and pick him up. This begins from the moment he wakes up in the morning, with few exceptions, until the time he goes to bed at night. He's always been a mama's boy, but now it's getting ridiculous.

And the biting business is making me mad. Listen up, buddy. I have sacrificed a lot to nurse you for 10 months. I have given up caffeine, booze, countless hours of sleep, and loads of free time to give you the boob. And this is how you repay me?


Mama loves you, baby boy, but lay off the biting. Vampires are overrated anyway.

Natural Motherhood

Four score and two long months ago, I celebrated my 4th blogaversary, and threw out to you, my awesome readers, the chance to ask me anything you wanted.

Mel asked me this: "Do you believe in the idea of being a "natural mother"? Are some moms "natural mothers" while others have to work at it?"

She had read this thought-provoking post, and wanted to know what I thought.

I have spent a lot of time contemplating this very question, even before Mel asked it.

And truth be told, yes. I do believe in the idea of being a natural mother. I also believe I am not one.

Even before the twins arrived and threw what little sense of "mommy pride" I had out the window, I found motherhood challenging. I am inherently selfish. I enjoy being by myself in absolute quiet, drinking coffee by myself while reading newspapers, and taking long walks or runs by myself, with only my iPod for company.

None of these favored activities goes particularly well with being the mother to three small kids.

I have a very difficult time balancing work with at-home motherhood. When I am stressed, I am even more impatient than I normally am. I do not enjoy being interrupted 47 times in 20 minutes to fulfill the never-ending needs of one child or the other (or the other). Tasks that usually would take me 30 minutes to complete take easily twice that because I have no peace until they're in bed for the night. I have no idea how I'm going to balance my freelance work, teaching online classes, and caring for 3 kids under the age of 3.5.

I have to work at (and lots of times fake completely) being even in the ballpark of being considered a "good mother." Most of the time, I fail miserably. I resent them a lot for draining my time and my energy, I don't particularly enjoy moving from one play activity to the next to the next all day long, because my three-year-old can't entertain herself for more than 2 minutes, and Nicholas won't stop crying unless he's glued to my body. I sometimes have to restrain myself from asking my temper-tantrum-throwing preschooler, "Are you f-ing kidding me?" when she's screaming because her cereal bowl is the wrong color. And I often think I would be a much better mother if I worked FT or even PT outside my home. I know my life won't always be like this, but right now, there is no time left for me. I don't even pee on my own half the time.

So natural? No. I am not a natural mother. But I know plenty who are.

My oldest friend is a natural mother. We met in kindergarten. She lives in Minnesota now, but we see eachother when she comes to town to visit family, and she calls me to talk often. She's a SAHM to three adorable, well-behaved little boys. She is patient and sweet. She never yells or threatens or silently swears at them as I do with my kids. They are always working on one craft project or another, visiting a new playground in her town, or playing "school" in their basement. She devotes zero time to herself and doesn't seem to mind this, and she's not on the Internet. The last time I sent out photos of the kids and asked her if she saw them, she laughed and said she hadn't even switched on her computer in five months because she's so busy with them.

Five months.

If I'm away from my laptop for five minutes, I start to get the shakes.

My mother and grandmother are also what I consider natural mothers. They sacrificed everything for their children. In their minds, the children come first- their children's needs before their own, their children's happiness before their own, their children's time before their own. My grandmother never worked and my mom left work when I was born and didn't return to work until my younger sister went to kindergarten. As my mom likes to tell me, she spent all day playing with us, because she didn't have anything else to do.

The prospect of doing the same does not appeal to me in the least. Yes, my children are important to me, but I am important as well. What I want matters too. And yet at times I wish I was a natural mother. My stress levels would be lower. I might be happier.

In my opinion, natural motherhood is not something you learn (obviously). You either are or you aren't a natural mother.

And this mommy?

Is naturally not.

Off The Wall

The photographs on the walls of my house came down this weekend. My mom, in town again for what seems like the hundredth time this summer, wrapped and packed them for me while we ran the moving sale (we made almost $400!).

As I stared at the bare and lonely hooks and nails on my living room walls last night, it hit me hard: we really are moving.

And it made me very sad. I am a big emotional mess lately. Stressed and overtired Kristi = weepy, melodramatic Kristi. You've been warned.

I've been so insanely busy with training for my new online teaching gig (the last day of my month-long training was yesterday), dealing with all the annoying paperwork needed for our mortgage commitment ("please provide retinal-scan proof of identity along with the past 14 years of bank statements -ALL PAGES"), preparing for the garage sale, plus childcare, plus, plus, plus, and staying up until midnight to get it all done that I've had zero time to slow down and realize what's happening around me.

My life is essentially in boxes. I can't find a thing. And more than likely, in a month's time, I won't live here anymore.

You know I don't really want to move. Our house is essentially where we began. The hubs and I lived together in an apartment for two years before buying it, but we moved into our house and got engaged in the same month: July of 2000. Our married life started in our house. Our kids were conceived in...a lab about three miles away but still in the same general vicinity of...our house. It is where we began, and although we never talked about staying here forever, we never thought we'd leave it this soon either.

Life had other plans for us.

I'm thinking perhaps we should have renovated: added a first-floor bathroom, enlarged the kitchen. Although I know it would have been beyond our means to do so, and we would have destroyed the character of our 1925-built beauty.

I'm thinking perhaps we should have toughed it out and tried to create additional play space for the three kids. Maybe in the basement? Maybe knock down the wall between the family room and my "office"? Although I know that even this would not give them the room they need.

I'm thinking perhaps we moved too quickly, made a decision on the other house too rashly. Although I know we got an amazing deal and had to act quickly on it because someone else might snap it up, and in fact, did.

I emailed a friend in a panic last night, questioning my judgement, my sanity, my decision to move at all, since I love my current house so much. She talked me down from the ledge and reassured me that I was doing the right thing, that the space in our new house would make my life so much easier, and that deep down, she knew that I knew I had made the right decision.

And she is right. I know I made the right decision. I know the house we're moving into soon is the right house for our family. It is the right house for the right price at the right time in our lives.

But knowing this doesn't make leaving any easier.

When Three is Company and a Crowd

We're having a huge moving sale today. I've spent the last few days dusting off the massive amounts of junk I've managed to accumulate over the years (I found a cassette tape of the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, people), tagging it, and sticking it in an appropriate box that I'll haul out to my front yard in the wee hours of the morning. It's somewhat of a cathartic experience. Where once I was a complete pack rat, I am no longer.

Sorting the baby clothes took a lot of time. I'm selling 99% of the clothes I have in 0-3 month and 3-6 month sizes. Luci and Nicholas still fit in some of the 6-month clothing, so not everything is going. But if it doesn't fit, and I'm not sentimentally attached to it (I'm keeping Isabella's "going-home" dress, a few of the impossibly tiny preemie sleepers the twins wore, and a few other pieces) it's being sold for .50 cents on my driveway beginning at 9 o' clock this morning.

As I was sorting, folding, and organizing the baby clothes over the past few nights, I didn't feel even the tiniest twinge of longing for another baby to fill the soft newborn sleepers. I have many friends who have two or more young children and who speak of not completely closing the door to more. I have friends who fall into the "If it happens, it happens" camp, others who fall into the, "maybe in a few years" camp, and even one who seems to be trying to keep pace with Michelle Duggar. I am in none of these camps. In fact, the mere thought of going to camp produces a full-on panic attack.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who's been reading this blog for awhile. Three kids is more than I am equipped to handle. I am a two-child type of parent. Many days (especially lately), I think it might have been better to stop at one. I love them all to pieces, but I have been short on patience and long on massive frustration over having to meet their never-ending needs instead of my own 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. But that is a topic for another post.

Someone else can put my kids' baby clothes to good use. Our family is complete. And I am more sure of that than I am of anything else in my life.

Wordless Wednesday: The Return of Air Bella

I'm not quite sure why I am so obsessed with these year-by-year comparison photos lately. Perhaps it's because I'm still in denial that I'm the mother to a three-year-old. Three years (and in particular, this past year) have flown by. And I know every mother says that, but seriously.

Just look.

July 2008

August 2009

Quick Snapshot:

  • 34-year-old writer and
    mother to a daughter
    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

  • 100 Things About Me
  • My Blogger Profile
  • Send Me an E-mail

  • "All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." -Martin Buber

Inside My Suitcase:

Off the Beaten Path:


    Powered by Blogger

    Design: Lisanne, based on a template by Gecko and Fly