It’s funny how sometimes you can change the course of your own history in your head, but one small conversation can jolt your memory back to another time. I feel like my persona today is that I am very open about my parenting style and resolute in advocating in the best interest of my children, particularly when it came to raising my twins and the developmental challenges they both faced, one a little more severe than the other.
“Who are your friends at school?” I ask.
“Everyone!” she responds.
The other night, my husband was out of town, and I decided to take the girls to pick up some Lou Malnati’s (the BEST Chicago deep dish) as a treat. Lou Malnati’s doesn’t deliver to our area, so I packed up my five year-old and three-month-old, and headed to the next town over.
The entire experience was a perfect representation of my oldest child’s personality.
A fellow mom of multiples and I were chatting the other day about how people still think we have our hands full because we have twins, but in our minds, once your kids get a little older, it’s no different than any family having two children close together.
And I would even argue that sometimes having two is even easier than having one. Constant playmates, more offers of help, and constant playmates (did I say that twice?) are just some of the bonuses of having your children in pairs (or triplets) as opposed to one.
Parenting is all about preparation. As long as you realize you’ll never be fully prepared.
When kids are younger, preparation is always to make sure you can survive a two-hour trip out of your house. For me, that consisted of 14 diapers, seven bags of goldfish, three extra outfits, every first aid component ever made, toys, books, mats, drink boxes and a protein bar. My family could survive days on a desert island if needed.
I believe the true measure of a person is determined by how she acts when faced with adversity. I am constantly amazed by my friends and family who have so gracefully handled seemingly insurmountable obstacles with such incredible grace and compassion — both in their lives, and in the worst of times, when there is death. And when I see these people, these people who are composed, who are lovely, who are kind in the most dire of circumstances, it makes me wonder, did their grief change them, or did they change their grief? Were they this strong before facing adversity, or did they find this strength only because they needed it?
I’ve always felt pretty confident about the decisions I make as a parent — until recently as I try to navigate the hormones of two nearly ten-year old girls. In order to get through these trying days I’ve used a combination of the Serenity prayer, girl friend support, parenting books and Kendall Jackson chardonnay.
Unfortunately this is not the first time I have seen this sort of isolationist attitude. As the new girl in town, I’ve spent a lot of time this year on the outside of the Mom circle…at my kids’ schools, team practices, at the pool. People may give you a nod and a smile, but they don’t always invite you in if they’re in their circle. I’m not sure if it’s because they are clueless, feel awkward, or just don’t want to be bothered, but it does seem to be common. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some fabulous people in my latest hometown, but there are also times when I feel like the last kid picked for dodgeball.
Since my post “My 12 Year Old Was Blackmailed for Nude Photos” came out, I have had a lot of people comment and get in touch with me about issues their children — or children they know — have encountered online. For example, a friend got in touch about her nephew that was playing with another child that had a hand-me-down phone with the Wi-Fi code still on it and used it to access porn. They were six and eight.
And the woman who e-mailed me after reading the article to tell me that her 13-year-old daughter had been communicating with a sex offender for four months and was just about to meet with him when the mom found out. How did this happen when the child didn’t own a phone? Her daughter’s friend was kind enough to let her have access to SnapChat on her iPad, which her parents never monitored.
“Tell your sister you’re sorry!”
I’ve uttered those words what feels like millions of times. Say you are sorry for saying that mean thing, you’re sorry for hitting, you’re sorry for losing her headband, you’re sorry for killing your sister’s herd of sheep when you weren’t supposed to be in her world in Minecraft (tell me I’m not the only one?)
“Say it like you mean it,” I often say in my most stern voice after watching the eye-rolling, head-down, muttered apology my girls offer.
It’s back to school time. Right now the excitement and energy is high, routines are new, and (most) kids and parents are happy. And then Meet the Teacher Night rolls around, and we get our first impressions of the person who will spend their days with our precious babies.