For the third time this week I was asked how I manage while having the twins at home with me? I fully understand people’s surprise when they hear Ally and Mateo are still at home with me. Most people I know have their children in some type of daycare by the time they are two years old. Sending two kids to daycare is a fortune and for us it’s not worth it. So, we decided the twins, like my other children, wouldn’t start to go to school/nursery until they are 3 years old.
I offer a preview of what life is like as a stay at home Mom, for me at least.
For starters, I enjoy being home with them. Also, they are lucky to have each other, built in friends. They are smart, so funny, adorable and this age goes by so quickly. There are also hard days. It’s lonely at times, and toddlers are demanding. Wacky little cavemen, asking for wacky big wants. I have days that run smooth. I also have days that test my humanity. Days that I truly understand the design G-d had in mind when creating children; they are so beautiful. It’s to protect them, from me, for when I lose my shit. G-d knows, I’m mid ROAR, and then they look up at me with those ‘get out of jail free’ eyes… and they do. They get away with so much, just as toddlers should.
Most days are very similar to each other at this stage of the game. It feels very Groundhog Day-ish. Wake up. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
I routinely wake up quite abruptly to the sound of the bathroom door slamming by one of my girls getting ready for school. I fantasize about removing said door and throwing it into a wood chipper. Forbid, they remember that the sleeping toddlers have ears like bats. I aggressively ‘SSHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhh’ at them, praying they abide so I can stay in bed a bit longer. It never works, and yet, I still do it, everyday, literal definition of madness. The door slams for the second time and consequently the twins are up, and they go from zero to sixty.
Ally will scream “MoooommyPapaaaaaa!” over and over, at the top of her lungs, until Ian or I come in there and set them free. I shuffle them both down the stairs while they simultaneously repeat their wants until I shut them up with bottles, yes, bottles. I know they are 2.5 years old but don’t you dare judge me. It’s a morning survival tactic. Now the race is on, and if my life came with a soundtrack ‘Flight of the bumblebee’ would be a wonderful choice for the morning segment. I have about 2 minutes until they guzzle down those bottles. It keeps them quiet long enough for me to shake off the fatigue, make my coffee (imperative), throw some dishes in the dishwasher (forget to start it), sweep the floor, put a load of laundry in (also forget to start it), choose clothes for the two of them and check my Whatsapp messages.
Thankfully, my four older girls are very self sufficient in the mornings, except for my incessant shush-ing, and my attempts at having them rethink their wardrobes enough to match the weather needs, they take care of the rest. They wake from their self-set alarms, prepare their own lunches, eat breakfast and get to their respective buses for school on time and on their own. It hasn’t always been like this of course. When I got sick, I didn’t have the strength to do mornings. Camille, at the time was seven years old, she too managed beautifully. They and I learned how capable they are, and since then it stuck. I am very proud of them.
Back to Mama daycare. At this point, the girls have left for school, Ian has gone off to work, and it’s just us for a bit. This is one of my favorite parts of the day. The twins are normally in their calm space about now, and they play really nicely together. I usually try and take advantage of this. I either cook, write for a bit, or do some photo-editing.
From late morning till the middles get home from school I have a constant flow of engaging happenings (feel free to comprehend this as a sarcastic notion, or not). I tidy. I convince the toddlers that even though the bread tore, the sandwich is still edible. I clean. I change Ally’s shirt for the umpteenth time because one drop of water touched it, which for her, is as if it was touched by the devil himself. I run errands, toddlers in tow. I cook lunch, fold laundry, give some hugs, change diapers, help with homework, kiss some boo-boos, referee, drama squash, and welcome the older two in time for dinner. This is the point of the day where I am less approachable. The little ones are cranky and tired, and so am I. I pull all my last energy together to push through those last hours. Dinner, homework, showers, pajamas, and tidying up (yet again).
And off to bed they go. And off I go to chill with my husband a bit and regain my strength for tomorrow to do it again. Truth is, I used to have more rules for myself parenting. But I’m not the same version of myself I once was. I’m 37 years old, 6 kids, and I have been through the ringer ever since these 2 souls thankfully joined our family. I know what it is to break, I am not super powered. In fact, I’m downright fragile at times. I know that I need to focus on self care to avoid falling underwater again. I need my sleep, and a moment to breathe here and there, so I can stay healthy and happy, to be a good mother, wife and human. So, they watch way too much Peppa Pig, their meals are whatever they need to be that day, they rarely have on matching socks, and on occasion I let them finish a food item that has fallen on the floor to avoid a tantrum. Sue me. One thing is for certain, my kids are loved, so loved. I hope they know it.
I only have Aliyah and Mateo all to myself for another 7 months or so until they start school. I try hard to remind myself of this. To remind myself of how they go from 2 to 14 years old in the blink of an eye. I know I will miss it. So for now, this is my hand dealt. Thank GD.