Monday, February 25, 2013

The Present Is the Best Gift

My husband & I were living in NYC in 1100 sq ft.  Our first baby was born in Sept 2006 and when she was 3 months old, we found out we were pregnant with #2, due August 2007.  'Irish Twins' 11 months apart almost to the day, not the lovely 3 years I had planned for.

It was Christmas morning - I had felt sick the few days prior, so I went to the drug store, came home & took the test, then laid on the floor and cried while my husband congratulated himself.  After phoning my Dr, I returned to the pharmacist to pick up my anti-vomit meds; he read my face & said "not the Christmas gift you were hoping for?"  I was scared to tell anyone because I didn't want to ruin my  daughter's first Christmas.

So fast forward to all of us in our apartment, me pushing 2 small babies around the city & carrying all of their various accouterments literally strapped to my back. There were days when I felt like I was going to lose my mind & the days when I actually did.  I left one of them at Starbucks  - she'd climbed out of that Phil & Teds double stroller without me seeing, I didn't notice until I was 2 blocks away (a story I couldn't bear to repeat until about a year later). My family lives far away and my husband travels alot for work; I had plenty of opportunities to feel sorry for myself & dwell on being overwhelmed.

It took me awhile to learn my parameters of joy & meltdowns.  I had to decide what I wanted my days to look like, the impressions I wanted to make on the kids & myself.  I knew it was all going quickly & didn't want to miss it, but I was also a bit foggy in my own head if that makes sense.  I began practicing - I take many deep breaths a day.  I have to intentionally slow down my mind so that I can be very present with my kids.  I chose to stay home with them so I could be a positive person in their lives, to keep them safe & happy.  The best way to teach that is to show it.

So I've let go of Super Mom - which is hard to do & you know it.  Here are some ways this looks at our house - (and this is just what works for me - today)

-We keep the common areas picked up, but their rooms can get pretty bad.  I let them leave out what they're building.  Today we have a large fort of blocks & an animal clinic.

-I volunteer where they'll see me.  In the art class, lunch duty and reading.  The other things I do, I limit to what I really want to see done or help in our community (a library at our school, security issues at school board meetings).

-We do one extra activity at a time.  We did skiing a little earlier this winter, now we are swimming twice a week.  We need downtime & 7:30 bed, they are wiped out by Friday as it is.

I had to forgive myself for being the worst mother ever (having my own tantrums) and make a new and very loose definition of success for my little team.  Each day I want to be able to get my house in order (picked up, laundry/dishes) my head in order (laugh with a friend, hit the gym) share a pleasant exchange with my husband (even a fun email or tv on the couch). and for my kids, I want them to SEE me listening to them.  Maybe our project today is making dinner and working in that animal clinic in her room.  I also expect them to wait (I don't drop everything for them) and entertain them selves (self-soothing at the next level :)

So today - do less.  Take a breath & see what you're doing in the moment you're getting breakfast together & sending them off to school.  Look at them when you greet them & hear what they say.  How would they tell the story about today?  How did you experience it - what's the emotional tone you're setting?  I can do my 'best' each day - and maybe that's about 80% of being Super Mom (they still watch TV around here).

p.s. - We were meant to have them close together; it works for us and continues to only get better.  I adore them both, I love our family dynamic and though I would have NEVER planned it the way it all went down, I would totally recommend it to a younger me.  They way I would tell these stories now is with ALOT of laughter.

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