Sunday, July 28, 2013

Acceptance


One year ago, I found out that I was having twins.  I was in shock that day…actually, kind of horrified and scared, to be perfectly honest.  Even after I accepted that I was carrying two babies, was actually excited about it, it was so unreal.  Carrying twins – let alone higher order multiples – isn’t particularly fun.  I was extremely sick, yet I had to eat so much food; I had to visit the doctor every two weeks until the last trimester when I got to see her every week.  I had about a hundred ultrasounds.  Three visits to the labor and delivery emergency triage.  Two admissions for preterm labor with resulting unpleasant medication and hospital stays.  Fun.

My homage to matching outfits.  Probably the only time.
Now, it’s hard to remember having only one child.  The babies are only five months old, but the logistics of everyday life have so changed that I can’t really remember what it was like when all we had to juggle were the demands of our single little one.  Ila has been off from school this last month, and I’ve learned a lot.  Actually, I’ve learned one main thing a lot of times.  It is HARD having a three year old and two babies without any preschool or live-in nanny type support.  I think most people would put money on that being the case, but let me just say it again: it’s hard.  It’s hard to keep everyone entertained, to exercise and engage the three year old, to get everyone napping, eating, bathed.  (Baths have grown much scarcer, let me tell you.  For all of us.  Ila likes to tell me that I’m smelly.)  Then, there’s actually getting out of the house.  HA!  Four out of five days, Kiyomi and I will say, “Let’s go do something all together today.”  Then, two hours go by in the process of slowly getting ready to go…and it’s nap time or dinner time and we abandon the whole trip.  Basically, family walks are our main way of getting out with all five of us.  Otherwise, one of us takes Ila out to do something fun to keep her from getting totally stir crazy.  By the end of the summer after Ila turned one, I think we’d gone on five actual trips.  Airplane rides, long drives, boat rides, train rides.  We’d even been out of the country.  Twice.  Now, we can’t make it out of the neighborhood.  I am thankful these two babies are not extremely challenging…just the ordinary level of baby challenge is almost more than we can handle.

Wobbly babies.

Oh, also, the sleep sucks.  Have I mentioned that?  Since mid-June, night time is not the restful domain of sleep.  It’s a farcical satire of that tranquil state.  It’s become absurd.  A good night is when I wake up 5-8 times to nurse, and everybody goes back to sleep immediately.  Pippa starts squawking at 5ish still.  Kiyomi and she go into the other bedroom and sleep a little longer.  Forrest, my once good sleeping-in companion, now wakes and starts rolling around, gurgling and yipping at 6.  If I’m lucky, he’ll do that for an hour and ila will sleep through it.  If luck holds, I can fall back to sleep for half an hour to an hour.  That’s a good night.  A bad night involves one to three children being fully awake for a period of time, usually more than an hour, and crying or hollering or having a bathroom accident or a nightmare or some other fit of wailing and yallering.  This week, I’ve had three “good” nights and the rest have been a little post-apocalyptic.  (Incidentally, I was planning on taking a challenging course with a lab this fall.  HA HA.  I think I will have to postpone that and take an easier lecture.  Really, even that may be beyond me.)  Amazingly, though my total amount of sleep lies somewhere between a very rocky three hours to a moderately disturbed six hours, I generally feel okay during the day.  Still pretty much human…at least passably so.  Night and wake up time are when I feel like I’ve joined the undead.  Oh well, this is just for…what? Two more years or so?

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Anyway, the days run together, and I find that I’ve barely taken note, explicit note, of new exciting things that I don’t want to forget.  The babies have, for the last few weeks, been rolling around a lot, from back to front especially.  Once on their stomachs, they are both pretty focused on pulling their little legs up under themselves and otherwise thrashing around.  Forrest is perhaps a little more persistent about this.  He also gets real pissed about it.  Maybe he really wants to be going places, maybe he’s just sick of holding his head up.  Who knows?  But they could both be little crawlers pretty soon here.  Then all hell will really have broken loose.  This week, Forrest has also become more adept at sitting up.  Over the last five days, he’s gone from ten seconds upright to several minutes…that is, if you spread his legs out to widen out his little base of support.  Pippa sometimes seems even better at it…then she’ll have a day where she doesn’t sit up for 2 seconds when I try.  However, they both love it.  They love watching the whole kooky performance that is our life from an upright posture.  They particularly love watching Ila.  She’s the only thing that has made them laugh out loud without being tickled.  It’s pretty adorable.  Ila is hilarious herself.  She’s so earnest and animated when she talks now.  She’s been talking a lot about her Dads.  Plural.  Apparently she has a few.  Sometimes they are small enough to fit in her pocket.  Other times they are big guys “who don’t clean much but fix a lot of things.”  It’s fascinating and also a little horrifying that some of the cultural messages about gender have really come through already.  We recently went up to Flagstaff (that was an exhausting but fun experience with the three children).  Ila got to hang with a cousin who is about five years older than her.  Ila was entranced.  This girl could do so many things – like pretty amazing tumbling (gymnastics), which Ila had to try in turn.


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Perhaps it’s the sleep deprivation, but it feels surprising when I get one phone call or one email sent.  That’s the bizarre thing about having very small children, you are so busy but you don’t actually get much done.  I’d like to try to get even less done, actually.  I mean, sure, I’ll be taking a class this fall, but I will just have to do that in the little bits of time I’ve carved out with babysitting coverage.  When I’m with the kids, I would like to try to do less.  Just the basic amount of laundry and household stuff (which is shockingly a lot, sure) and the rest of the time just be with them.  It’s very easy for me to get swept up in trying to get an email written or an extra load of laundry done.  I like to be engaged with something other than just tiny people.  But, I feel very torn, very pulled in half when I am only partially attentive to all their tiny demands all day.  I mean, I’ve got to get some shit done each day for the house to run, but I need to spend some very conscious, very focused time with the children.  It’s sort of weirdly artificial, but I’ve started sort of setting a goal, like half an hour one-on-one time with each.  The others can be around, but at least half an hour where I am holding and talking to that child.  With Ila, we do story times before nap and sleep.  We have some snuggle time in the morning and after her nap.  With the babies, I try to spend that time with eye contact, holding, talking, singing.  It feels like so little, but it’s hard to do even that much.

Still, I also need to focus a little on other stuff.  Chores, phone calls, a run.  Otherwise I feel a little Charlotte-Perkins-Gilman-Yellow-Wallpaper crazy.  It’s funny because, on the one hand, little small tasks like these are important to distract my brain.  But, too many and I feel stressed, disembodied, like I am not located in the present enough. I recently heard this quote from Thomas Merton about the innate violence of trying to do too much, even for good.  It seems to me that acceptance and choosing to not do is really at the heart of living skillfully with grace and real peace.  It’s just not a skill that’s particularly emphasized or easy.  I mean, who wants to accept all the irritating shit that’s out of our control?  I’d rather rage, blame, resist, holler, and otherwise beat my fists against the wall.  What is that Virginia Woolf quote?  “Against you I fling myself, unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!”  I’d like to do a little less of that high scale resistance, even if it is very poetic and even sometimes a little satisfying.

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