As a woman, one of the most confusing and annoying things is how to respond when someone gives me a compliment. If I simply say thank you, I feel like I’m by default agreeing with them, and therefore coming across as cocky and conceited. But the default reaction – arguing and insisting the person is wrong because reason XYZ – feels insulting and is frankly annoying and exhausting. Honestly sometimes I just want to be able to take a compliment without feeling like it’s a trick.
I hope against hope that I’m able to raise my girls to be confident enough to opt out of the thanks-but-you’re-wrong dance when they get a compliment. I hope that they’re confident enough to realize that people are going to see good things in them, and accept when those things are pointed out. I hope that they realize that selling themselves short and being insecure are not positive character traits – no matter how many pop songs and movies are built around the idea that insecure women are the most desirable.
So far, the girls aren’t super interested in most of the dress up clothes. Probably because it’s just too difficult to play with – they can’t dress themselves yet, so putting on princess dresses is still beyond them. But they love playing with the accessories – like the train conductors whistle and the stethoscope.
They’re also big fans of the jackets & vests that came with the outfits – the stuff that’s easy to get on and off, and can be put on over their clothes. They’re not playing pretend yet (unless there’s more to their twin babble than I’m picking up) but just enjoying playing with new things. I’m really looking forward to seeing how their playing evolves.
Suddenly my girls are noticing the difference between having someone’s attention and not having it. Obviously, they’ve been aware of the idea of attention for a while – if they wanted it and didn’t have it, they would have a hissy fit. But now, I’m noticing something more…purposeful going on. They’re starting to notice when people are paying attention to them, and adjusting their behavior accordingly. It’s…cool…and frightening…to see them move up in the socializing-with-other-humans realm.
Yesterday one of my friends came over during the day, and the girls were totally showing off for her. They were hugging and giggling and wrestling around – which is something that they’re been doing for a while, but normally they’re over it and either hitting each other or moving on within two minutes or so. This time it lasted about ten minutes, and they were picking their heads up to make sure she was watching every few seconds. It was clear that they were continuing to be unbearably adorable so she would continue paying attention to and gushing over them. I can’t say I wasn’t amused.
The flip side, though, is noticing when nobody is paying attention to them – and taking that opportunity to do things they know they’ll get yelled at for. So, for example, I’ll be changing a diaper, only to turn around and see the other one sitting on the coffee table. Or, I’ll come out of the bathroom to find one (or both!) standing on the couch, just waiting for me to notice them. It’s pretty clear that we’ve moved past the point of “I don’t understand this is bad I just want to do it” and into the stage of “I know I’m not supposed to be doing this so let me wait till nobody’s paying attention” with a little dose of “wheee attention when they notice me”.
I forgot to get Valentine’s Day cards / gifts for the girls school. It’s my first time forgetting about something for school – we made food for and showed up to the Thanksgiving dinner, I put together cute Holiday gifts for all the teachers before Winter break – but damn I forgot about Valentine’s Day.
In fairness, I didn’t actually forget about Valentine’s Day. My plan was to buy the stuff over the weekend, and send them to school Monday with a little gift for each teacher and a little card for each student in their class (there’s 4 teachers in the school and only 3 other kids in their class, so it’s not all that ambitious). But! There is no school Monday – because Presidents – so they aren’t going back till Wednesday.
I’m still going to make something up and send it in, but now I feel like it needs to be extra cute to make up for the lateness. Le sigh. I was doing so well, too.
I read a lot (and I write about it, too! Mostly about Harry Potter, though, so don’t bother if that’s not your thang) and I am a staunch advocate of writing in books. I underline, I make notes, sometimes I just marvel at a particularly interesting sentence (or a particularly sassy piece of dialogue). As the girls get older, I find myself thinking about my collection of books – and the notes contained within – in terms of something that they’ll eventually get into, find, read, and form opinions on – with or without my permission (assuming they’re like me. I read Firestarter when I was 8, stolen off my mom’s bookshelf), and it’s changing the way I interact with my collection.
First of all, I’m suddenly seized with the desire to buy books that will mean something for my children – not just fantasy series and fiction to provide an escape from the world, but real literature and essays and theorists that will help them understand the world they’re looking to escape. I want my girls to be well-read, and educated, and to learn to think for themselves, and I want my bookshelves to be a place for that to begin happening. Suddenly, when I’m buying books, I’m no longer buying them just for my own enjoyment (or for book club!) but for the joy of seeing my children find them one day.
Secondly, I’m trying to be more conscious of the notes that I’m taking. I tend to take the most notes when I’m drinking while reading, and while I certainly stand by those notes and often find them fun (or useful!) when re reading, I’m suddenly mindful of the fact that they may not be just for me. Before, when I was marking up a book, it was for my own use, to remind me of my first impressions of something or note a connection I wanted to make (in class, or later, on my blog). Now, I’m mindful of the idea that the girls will probably one day read my notes, and I want to make sure those notes are worthy of them.
Also, I’m going to need a bigger bookshelf for them to rummage through.
There’s a lot of discussion about what’s important as a parent – you need to give your child attention, but give them enough alone time to foster independence and creativity, and you need to provide for them materially and financially, but you still need to prioritize your child above your job when they need you, and on and on and on. I have a slightly different idea of parenting.
Parenting is 75% doing laundry, and as long as your kids are in clean clothes, you’re probably doing a pretty good job. They don’t even have to match.
Raising twins is hard. You’re never going to hear me deny that fact or try to minimize it. Since the moment they were born, they’ve been competing – for attention, for affection, for food and toys. It’s exhausting to be in the middle of. But it’s also really, really adorable and sweet, because they’re growing up as best friends and partners in crime. Hearing them giggle and chatter nonsense at each other never fails to make me smile (even when they’re supposed to be napping) and sissy snuggles erases all memories of “don’t hit your sister!” and fighting over the same toy / my lap / their breakfast.
It’s moments like this that make all the moments when I struggle, holding onto my patience by a thread, totally worthwhile. Because I know what it’s like to have a sister who has my back no matter what, and it’s a really good feeling. I’m thrilled to see the beginnings of that type of relationship budding between the girls.
Me as a parent in Spring / Summer / Fall:
Yes, all the laundry is done & clothes for everyone for the week are laid out!
There are healthy meals / snacks in the fridge for the week!
No, we don’t need to watch TV, let’s play with this play-dough / paint / sensory box I made!
Let’s go to the playground EVERY DAY and take LONG WALKS!
Me as a parent in Winter:
Sure, you can lay in front of the TV in your PJ’s all day
I’m not really excelling as a mom of toddlers. I know it may be kind of early to tell, since at 18 months they’re barely qualified as toddlers, but I think I was definitely better as a mom of newborns / infants. The issue is that being a mom of toddlers requires a somewhat infinite amount of patience – and I have never been someone with an overabundance of that particular virtue. Being a mom of toddlers means there is a lot of repetition in my day – both in terms of how long it takes to get something simple done, and in playing the same simple games for what seems like hours on end. Sometimes it just wears on me and I find it difficult to not take my frustration out on the girls (by like, raising my voice, not by hitting them or anything). I understand that they’re learning how to be in the world and they get frustrated and I try to be aware of that and try to control my reactions accordingly, but when one of them is going boneless and having a full on hissy fit over being told for the seventeenth time this morning not to touch the Christmas tree while the other one is standing up on the couch daring me to stop her, it can be hard to resist the urge to hide in the bathroom.