Spinster Mom

Your First First Day of School

I’m not sure how we arrived at this point. It seems like seconds ago that you were just two tiny nuggets of potential growing inside of me. And, yet, you’re closing in on three-years-old, and about to embark on one of the major milestones of life.

Your First Day of School. To be more accurate – your first First Day of School. From today, life will be different for all of us. For almost three years, it’s just been the three of us. Sure, we had occasional babysitters, but I have never before turned over your care and well being so entirely to others. In fact, it wasn’t even until a couple of months ago, when I had to fly cross-country to go house hunting, that we even spent a day apart.

And while we will still be together every night, and on your days off from school, we will not be each other’s entire world anymore – at least not as we have been until today. You have new teachers, and you’ll make new friends. The outside world will begin to influence you now. I can’t stop that from happening anymore, and that’s a little scary. I’m putting you out into the world, and I can’t control what the world offers you.

There’s a lot of good out there, but there’s a lot that’s not so good. If I could protect you from the bad forever, I would, but I know that’s not possible. And it’s not practical either. You need to learn and grow so that you can ultimately take your places in the world and be the strong, independent women that you are already showing signs of being.

It’s right, and it’s time. I know how fortunate I was to have these years with you – just us, together. Not everyone gets that. But it hasn’t been easy, and the 24/7 togetherness has taken its toll at times. You need some time away from me to discover yourselves (yes, even at such a young age), and I need some time away from you to rediscover myself (yes, even at such an advanced age!). It will be good for us, and our time together will be that much sweeter.

Of course, you don’t understand any of that now. You just know that you’re starting school. We’ve talked about it, you’ve had your trial day, and we’ve read books. You’re excited, even though you don’t understand how momentous this really is. And that’s good. Be excited. Be bold. Be the incredible little people I know that you are. Leave the worry and sentimentality to me. That’s my job. Your job is to be amazing people, and that’s already a job well done. Always remember how much I love you. That is something that will never change, no matter how much the world changes or how much you change over the years. My love for you is infinite, and that’s why I can let you walk in through those doors with confidence. When you walk back out through another set of school doors in a couple of decades, you, I, and the world will be better for it.

Hello Again!

So, yeah, my flourishing career as a mommy blogger once again went to "poopa!" as my now almost three-year-olds would say. As I said the last time I tried to reboot this blog, it turns out that actually caring for twins on your own takes up way too much time to write about caring for twins on your own! At least for me it has. But I'm stubborn and I keep thinking that I can make a go of it, so here we go again. Spinster Mom - take three. Third time's the charm, right?

Bedtime Stories for the Modern Baby - Repost

Another repost, this time from August 11, 2015. And remember, you can check out my old blog, Sister Kristen Wants a Baby, to read about my journey to becoming a single mom to twins.

I’ve always talked to my babies. Since they were born, we’ve had entire conversations. Granted, they can seem a bit one-sided at times, but I figure they’ll catch up eventually (or I’ll catch up with them – one or the other!). We also read books on occasion. I plan to read more to them as they get older (and we have an amazing library all ready to go), but let’s face it, they’re not following the story right now, and engaging with two eight-month-olds at once, while looking at a book, is kind of tough. I find it more effective to sit in front of them and play and talk right now.

That said, we have read some books at bedtime, and not long ago, while at my lake house, I found myself making up my first bedtime story. The room was pitch black and they were already having trouble falling asleep – I wasn’t going to make it worse by turning on a light to read a book!

I’ve transcribed the story below, and I think it reflects pretty well on the personalities of both my girls – and their mother! Enjoy!
“Once upon a time there were two little princesses (wait, why do they have to be princesses? Ok, fine, they're princesses). The two little princesses, Princess Jocelyn and Princess Hayden, were bored with sitting in their castle, so they decided that it was time for an adventure. While no one was looking, they left the nursery, escaped the castle through the back door, and headed for the forest.

They danced along happily in the forest for several minutes until they heard two voices calling for help. Following the voices, they soon came to a clearing. The first things they saw were two beautiful horsies, with huge feathery wings. Magical though the horsies might be, the two little princesses didn't think that they had been the ones to call for help.

Soon they heard the voices again and they realized that they were coming from a ditch at the side of the clearing. Peering down into the ditch, they saw two boys at the bottom. They thought they might be princes, but they couldn't be sure, what with all the dirt all over them.

When the boys saw the princesses, they called to them, "Get help! We've fallen off our horses and we can't get out of this ditch!"

Princess Hayden knew exactly what to do. She spun her bib around to its proper cape position and started forward, crying, "Don't worry! We'll save you!"

The boys laughed and Princess Hayden stopped short. "You can't save us!” the boys said. “You're just little girls! We're supposed to save you!"

Princess Jocelyn could see that Princess Hayden was about to work herself up to a full Category 5 Hurricane, so she crawled forward and pulled her sister back. She turned calmly to the boys and gave them her best Resting Baby Bitch Face. "OK, then," she said smoothly. "You stay there. We're going to take your horsies and go have adventures. Bye-bye."

At first Princess Hayden had been upset that her sister had not let her go full Hurricane, but now she laughed and waved (she had just learned to wave) to the boys. Then she followed Princess Jocelyn to the horsies and quickly mounted. She left her bib in cape mode because, after all, it looked so much better that way.

The horsies were very happy to be with the little Princesses now (boys were so, well, boyish!). They promised to take them on all the adventures they wanted. So off the Princesses flew on the backs of their horsies - first stop, the magical city of London!”

Stay tuned for the continuing adventures of Princess Jocelyn and Princess Hayden, if, that is, Queen Mommy survives the adventure in London!

Taking the Show on The Road (Or at Least to the Store) - Repost

During my efforts to revive my blog, I noticed that some posts had gone missing due, I suspect, to technical issues when last updating. This is one, from July 27, 2015, when my girls were just over 7 months old. So much has changed since then (especially the bedtime routine!), but I thought it was worth re-posting.

Also, don’t forget to check out my old blog,
Sister Kristen Wants a Baby, to learn more about my journey to being a single mom of twins!

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Shopping with twins is exhausting. Everything takes at least twice as long. Not because of the logistics of managing two babies, but because of the logistics of managing everyone's questions and comments about two babies! I don’t know what it is about twins and other multiples that makes people feel like they have license to ask all manner of intrusive questions, or make what they consider to be witty remarks. I have never once asked someone how their child was conceived or suggested that they might be done having kids. But every parent of multiples knows that you face these types of questions and comments every time you go out (and seriously, twins are not nearly as rare as the once were, so get over it!!)

Here’s a sampling of encounters from just one shopping trip:

Man 1 - "Twins! Double Trouble!"
Me - "Ha, ha, yeah." Smile politely.

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Man 2 - "Two girls! Wow! Two weddings to pay for! Better to invest in two ladders so they can elope!"
Me - "Ha, ha, yeah, that's a thought." Smile politely.

***

Saleswoman (after hearing me say, "We're going on vacation in a couple of weeks") - "You're lucky there's two of you. I don't know how single moms do it with twins."
Me - "Um, I am single."
Saleswoman - "Oh my God! So, when you said 'we' you meant you and the babies! I don't know how you do it."
Saleswoman (upon me mentioning my two dogs) - "You're crazy!"
Me - "So I'm told." Smile politely.

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Old Man - "Twins! Do you do everything in twos?"
Me - "I guess so, because I have two dogs too."
Old Man - "Do you have two husbands too?" Me - "Nope. None."
Old Man - "Oh!"
Random Woman passing by - "That's good. Smart choice."
Me - Try desperately not to laugh.

***

Old Woman - "Double Trouble!"
Me (see above)
Old Woman - "Are these all the kids you have?"
Me - "Yes, unless you count the two dogs."
Old Woman - "No, no. But I bet your husband loves the dogs!"
Me - (Huh? silently) "Yeah..." Smile politely.

This does not count the lengthy conversation at the Walmart checkout with the Mom, Kid and Grandma who were very nice, but very inquisitive, and were glad I gave my kids "normal" (their word) names, and not matching ones.

If I added all of the encounters I’ve had over the last several months, I’d have to talk about all of these: The guy in the restaurant who asked if I was breastfeeding. The many times someone has said, “You sure have your hands full!” The number of times I’ve been asked if they’re “natural,” or if I knew I was having twins (Seriously? In this age of prenatal screening?). If twins run in my family (they do – my dad was a twin – but not relevant in my case). Being told I’m lucky they weren’t triplets.

And of course, there are the many, many people who say (even shout from passing cars, “God Bless You!” At least for that one, I have a response ready. I just look at my beautiful girls and say, “He already has.”

The Storm Before the Calm

There are so many posts that I would have liked to put up in the three months since I last wrote, and I have spent hours composing them in my head. The problem is, as soon as I sit down at the computer to actually write them down, someone has a meltdown (OK, sometimes, it’s me). And since I am a single mom of twins, 90% of the time, the computer has to get shut in favor of a crying baby (or a certain needy schnauzer). Tonight I thought I’d try to take a few quick minutes to illustrate a classic reason my adorable little time-suckers keep me from writing. And that reason is BEDTIME.

Is there anything more precious than a sleeping baby? Is there anything more excruciating than getting that baby (or two) to that precious state? Here’s a sample of what bedtime looks like in Spinster Mom’s house at the 11-month stage. We start baths at 6:30, unless the girls have been refusing to nap all day and are miserable and cranky, and forcing Mommy to move everything up before she moves out, leaving kids and dogs to raise themselves. But, on most days it is 6:30.

I bathe them separately (to maintain my sanity and keep everyone from drowning), so one entertains herself in the pack n play while I bathe her sister and then we switch. At least that’s what I tell myself will happen every night. Most of the time, though, one screams bloody murder while I bathe the other, and then we switch. At least they like their baths, but I’m now trying to convince them that the rubber ducky needs water to live and thus must stay in the bathtub (otherwise, the water trapped inside gets everywhere while getting them dressed). I try a quick swap for a bath book, or two cups (Hayden likes banging things together), but they’re not easily fooled, and they watch me toss the ducky back into the tub with grave expressions.

Dressing is a delight because Jocelyn has decided that she must roll over constantly while being changed, like she’s stirring something and the batter will get lumpy if she holds still for even a second. Hayden is just starting to test out that little trick. But, once everyone is lotioned up and dressed, we go to the dining room for bedtime bottles. These are quite unpredictable because, rather than drink, Hayden often prefers to squeeze the nipple and spray formula around the room like a World Series champion with a bottle of champagne (shrieking with glee as she does). Jocelyn will snatch the bottle from me, drink, push it away, protest that it’s gone, snatch it back, drink, push it away, protest that it’s gone. . . And so it goes until I can be sure they’ve had at least enough to get them through the night, since we no longer do overnight feeds.

By this point, it’s probably around 7:15 or so, and it’s time to take them upstairs. Jocelyn usually goes first, since it’s a toss up between having her scream and cry upstairs, clinging desperately to the railing of her crib that’s closest to the nursery door, while I go back down for Hayden; or having her scream and cry downstairs, strapped into her high chair, if I bring Hayden up first.

Once everyone is upstairs, we turn on our ocean sounds, and our starry sky. Each girl gets her own personalized version of “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean,” while being rocked. The hope is that the other one isn’t screaming bloody murder while awaiting her turn. Kind of ruins the mood. Sometimes we read a book but they aren’t really at an age where they can focus on a book, so sometimes we just talk. Tonight, though, we read, “Moo, Baa, La La La.” Then pacifiers go in (smeared with teething gel if necessary), and each girl gets a thin blanket (a new thing we’ve been doing lately now that they’re older, because they like to scrunch up in them). Then the fun really begins.

Hayden is actually the one most likely to fall asleep sooner, but this doesn’t happen right away. She sings for a while, and often has a very animated conversation (I’m not always sure that it’s directed at me). While serenading the room, she plucks the pacifier from her mouth, holds it straight up in her hand and belts out her song a la Madonna in “Evita.” During this time, she is usually pushing herself around in circles and (a more recent development), flipping back and forth from back to tummy like she’s spring-loaded. On her tummy, she usually swims to the end of the crib, and then cries because she can’t go further and she can’t figure out how to turn over again (even though she’s done it ten times already). In the last couple of weeks, she has started to sit up and kneel, clutching the rails of the crib (something she’s picked up from her sister).

Through it all, I replace the pacifier, rearrange the blanket, remind her that she prefers to sleep curled on her left side, pick up the pacifier from the floor when she hurls it out of the crib in disgust, and curse a bit when she unveils her newest talent - the impressive new shriek she has been working on. She trots it out at random times (bedtime, mealtime, playtime, OK, all the time). It’s not crying, but just a loud, high-pitched screech, somewhere between a dolphin call and a dog whistle, that cuts through you with the searing intensity of a lightsaber.

You might think that Jocelyn has fallen asleep while all this is going on, but the truth is she is much harder to get down than Hayden. I tend to go back and forth between the cribs while each girl goes through her nightly ritual. For Jocelyn, it involves rolling over the instant I put her down on her back (I used to flip her constantly but I felt like a short order cook and gave up on it). The rolling used to end there, but now it leads to climbing and standing in the crib, usually crying. I pull her off the railing and lay her down, and I receive a small round of applause before she just starts it all over again. We go through this twenty times or more before she finally gives in and falls asleep (usually on her face). Occasionally, she mixes things up a bit and instead kneels at the backboard of the crib, testing it for weaknesses, looking for a secret door.

If I’m lucky, after about 15-20 minutes, Hayden will have fallen asleep – unless she decides to join Jocelyn in rattling their pacifiers along the crib bars, like prisoners with tin cups in an Old West prison. Tonight, though, she threw me a curve by falling asleep and then waking up and crying hysterically after only 5 minutes. Since Jocelyn was still in the throes of her bedtime drama, I didn’t really need that, and I’ll admit Hayden and I had words. Nevertheless, I took her out of the crib, rocked her a bit, stroked her hair and calmed her down. She cried again when I put her back in the crib and I stroked her hair some more. By now Jocelyn was close to finding her secret door, so I had to move to her crib, but thankfully Hayden seemed ready to settle.

This is when Jocelyn decided to introduce a bonus round – Guess Where the Blood Came From! She had a big spot of blood in her bed that I hadn’t seen before. I took her out of the crib and to the bathroom because I didn’t want to turn out the light and risk waking Hayden, who seemed close to going out. I searched and searched but found nothing, including no stains on her PJs. Finally, on the third pass, I found a tiny cut in her ear, which must have come from the dragon claw on her left hand that she won’t let me get anywhere near with the clippers. I cleaned the cut and then I just needed to change the sheets – in the dark, without dropping or banging anything, with Jocelyn crawling all over the floor (because if I put her in Hayden’s crib, she’d be sure to wake her up, and I was not rousing the Hurricane if I could help it!).

When I finally returned Jocelyn to her crib we had another ten minutes or so of flipping, climbing, standing, crying, searching for escape routes and drunken crawling around the crib before she collapsed in her preferred butt-in-the air position to sleep. I sat in the blessed silence for several minutes, checking my Twitter and Instagram feeds on my watch, waiting to see if the babies were messing with me. But, both girls stayed asleep, and at just after 8PM, I had to consider the night a relative success (we’ve gone through some phases of 2+ hours of crying from both of them before they would fall asleep). I crept quietly out of the room, in search of dinner and an adult beverage.

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