Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dear Dara: An advice column

Before we had Avery and Lexie, my childrearing skills were pretty much non-existent. I had only babysat a few times, and those kids were old enough to put on their own pajamas and brush their own teeth. I had zero real-life knowledge of what to do with an infant. In fact, I had never even changed a diaper! This just spells Mom of the Year in the making, doesn't it?

Two years later, I still don't claim to know it all, but I have learned a lot from the good things I've tried and the mistakes I've made along the journey.

Last night is a good example. I dropped a bunch of the girls' chewable vitamins on the floor and said "Crap!" I didn't even realize I'd uttered the word until I asked Lexie if she wanted the purple hippo vitamin or the orange lion vitamin. She responded, "No. I want cwap." Not making the connection, I said, "What?" Lexie repeated, "I want cwap one." Inside my head, I said, "Oh, @#$%..." and made up a big lie to cover my tracks. "It's not 'crap'," I said. "It's clap. There's a kind of lion called a clapper. Do you want a clapper?" Giggles. "Yes, Mommy! Cwapper!"

Yes, I do realize this fib will haunt me for days if not longer. But, that's better than having a two-year-old requesting a crap-flavored vitamin, isn't it? I firmly believe in this case the ends justified the means. Or, it was the best my panicked mommy brain could come up with at the time.

I'm going to share random insights like these with a fellow mommy from our childbirth class at Rex Hospital. She emailed recently to announce that she's expecting boy-boy twins and wanted my advice. Knowing that she already has a 2-year-old boy, my first thought was (no surprise) "holy crap!"

We're having lunch on Friday, and I've been pondering what exactly to tell her to prepare her for the whirlwind that is twins. Here's what I've come up with so far:

1.  There's a reason our family motto is "Twice the fun, twice the crazy!" There will no longer be such a thing as a normal day at your house once you have twins, so don't expect it. Wake up each morning with the mindset that you are up for anything, and you'll never get frustrated. Or threaten to sell your kids on eBay.

2. Always allow yourself an extra hour to get to any appointment. Remember, you're having twins, so you have to do everything twice. It sounds easy. Until you actually do it. At our house, we're trying to potty train. The star chart is up, and Avery and Lexie can earn stars for trying, going, flushing and washing hands. Smart, right? Not if you're about to leave for church on a Sunday morning. A last-minute trip to the bathroom means two last-minute trips to the bathroom, because one will not allow the other to out-star her. That's two turns on the potty, two races down the hallway to catch bare-bottomed babes and force them to put on new diapers, two fights over putting their shoes back on and two negotiations over where the stars will go on the star charts. After all this, we're certain to miss the entire beginning of the service. If you ever wondered why the twins go to the nursery at church, it's because Mommy and Daddy are exhausted.

3.  Get a whistle and a striped shirt, because you're about to become an all-star referee. A friend who's a twin once told me that twins love hard and fight hard. No truer words have ever been spoken. I have broken up fights that rival WWE matches over something as silly as a sock. "Mine!" "No, mine!" I firmly believe that Avery, our more dominant little girl, will spend the bulk of her younger years in Time Out. Lexie will continue crying over spilled milk, juice or anything else she finds offending until she starts wearing mascara and it runs all down her face. (She's not much for getting dirty.)

On the flip side, though, they share an incredible bond that can best be explained by actions, not words. They hold each other's hand, share with one another without me even asking and get concerned when "sissy" isn't in the same room. If you ask Avery who her best friend is, she'll say "Wexie." If you ask Lexie the same question, she'll reply, "Avwey." Makes your heart melt, doesn't it?

Geof and I have concluded that although there are many, many challenges with raising multiples, there are even more amazing moments that we wouldn't trade for the world. Plus, what would we do with all that spare time if we'd only had one kid? Psch... too easy! :)

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