Dear New Bonus Parent,
Welcome to the wild world of weird parenting! I’m going to tell you some things that I had to learn the hard way. You see when I became a Bonus Mom I thought I’d be great at it and that it would be easy peasy. I thought this because my Bonus Dad (the kids all call him Grandy) made it look effortless. I know now that he just wears it well and had his own struggles along the way with my brother and I. Here are a few things that I know now. I’m sure I’ll learn more as they get older too.
1) It is hard being attached to a human that you didn’t choose and that your partner didn’t even want to keep around despite having kids with them. Even if you think the mother/father of your bonus kids is great, there may still be a part of you that wants them to go away. You may flat out hate them. Sometimes your Bonus Child who you love like your own flesh and blood will wake up crying in the night asking for Mommy and it will cut you to the bone. (The first time this happened I got her settled down then went to my room and cried. I’ve since learned not to take it personally.) Their parenting style may drive you insane. They may seem so perfect that all you want to do is throw things. Just remember that your kids are more important that your irritation and pettiness.
2) You may not have an unshakable bond with your Bonus Kids right away. I had it in my head that I’d love them with the fierceness of a Momma Bear right off the bat and when I realized that I didn’t I hated myself. The reality is, you need to give yourself time to get to know them and to get to know who you are as their Bonus Parent. Suddenly you have this human in your life who is still learning how to human and has gone their whole life without needing or wanting you. That’s not easy! Keep your heart open, keep trying, and be kind to yourself. I love my kiddos now just like that Momma Bear that I wanted to be, but it didn’t happen overnight and there were more than a few tears along the way.
3) They will help you to see the world differently. My kiddos are amazing! They teach me so much about love and having open hearts every day. They are so very much themselves that sometimes I have to sit back and marvel. Crazy Eyes does things like call tights “sock pants.” The Boy comes up with wild and crazy inventions. All kids see things differently than adults do but its interesting when the children have spent most of their lives being raised by another person.
4)You will have to share your spouse with another person from day one. I never imagined that my chosen person would already have someone that he loved more than the world before I came along. I of course anticipated that when I had kids that I’d have to share the attention but I didn’t expect to play second fiddle from the start. Once I got past the initial “Oh that’s a weird feeling” I was fine with it but its definitely not something I thought about.
5) You will have to accept that some “firsts” are not attainable for you. I wasn’t there for the kids first teeth or their first days at school. I wasn’t there to see their first birthdays or first Christmases. I may not be there for their first school dance or their first time driving. I have to be okay with that even though I hate that I’ve missed out on it. I remember being crushed when I found out that their Mom’s boyfriend had taken them fishing when I wanted us to teach the kids. The reverse is also true though. We get to be present for their firsts that their Mom can’t be there for.
Knowing all of this, I can tell you that I’ve survived so far. One day they may get mad and yell at me and tell me that I’m not their real Mom. That’s okay. They will always be the children that I chose even when they are evil teenagers. Don’t be afraid to talk to a friend about how you are feeling. Its okay to not love it all the time. Just hang in there New Bonus Parent. You are going to do great!
I often have to remind myself that my life is made up of millions of moments and not just the ones that I am living. Sometimes its for a beautiful reason. I feel myself rise above the scene that is unfolding and do my best to soak it in and take a mental snap shot. A little video to keep inside of my mind for those times when I don’t want to soak it in. For the times when I feel like I cannot go anymore.
In the hard times, I remind myself that my life is not just this moment and the rational part of my brain thanks God for not making me a person with the physical ability to smash things. Maybe in my next life I’ll have a better temper and get to live inside of a bigger body.
Rational Diana is glad I’m not big enough to smash things like The Hulk. Childish Diana wishes that she was built like a bulldozer. Mommy Diana reminds Childish Diana that she has to be an example of how to behave for the children. Teenage Diana flips Mommy Diana the bird and sulks off. Mommy Diana plays back a memory of holding her babies and reminds Present Diana that it won’t be much longer before she gets to snuggle them again today. No, I don’t have multiple personalities. We’re fine thank you.
I guess all this is just a reminder to you and to me that we’re going to be okay. Whatever your going through will pass and you will find some sort of balance again. Whether its a job crisis, a death in the family, or something as small as a stubbed toe, just hold on. Take as deep a breath as you can and try to find a snapshot from your day that makes you smile. Press that memory in between the pages of your life and take a look at it when you feel like giving up. Oh, and try not to smash things.
As The Twins approach their first birthday I find myself reflecting a lot on our journey. People sometimes ask me how I reacted when I found out we were having twins. I’d love to say that I reacted with grace and excitement but it was more along the lines of outright horror.
We weren’t trying for long at all when I got pregnant. Sometimes I think that it’s a good thing it happened so fast because I probably would have chickened out and changed my mind about trying if I’d had too long to think about it. I’m a little slow on the uptake so it took a coworker pointing out that my aversion to the smell of Dominoes was weird before I thought that I might be pregnant. (I’d been feeling shitty but starting a new job and getting a horrendous stomach virus will do that to you.) That night I took a test and cried with happiness when I aw that plus sign. We immediately called our parents and told them. I called the doctor the next day and scheduled my appointment for a month later. (New job = new insurance that didn’t kick in right away.)
It wasn’t long after that that the nausea started. ALL. DAY. LONG! I thought I was dying. It was so bad that I had to tell my boss. I was sure by that point that she thought I either hated my job or was a drunk. One of my most vivid memories is hearing my husband shout “I don’t think this is normal! You need to get checked out!” from the other room while I threw up for the thousandth time. Between heaves I indignantly shouted back that every pregnancy is different. A week or so later we went in for our first ultrasound.
Imagine my surprise when I was instructed to take my pants off! No one warned me that some early ultrasounds are done IN the womb. The Hubs of course thought this was hilarious and made several jokes about the probe. As the large screen in front of us came into focus I noticed that something looked weird. This is stupid but my first thought when I saw the two black pear shapes was that it looked like a pig snout. “Okay,” said the tech. “There are the two babies.” She then zoomed in on one. “I’m sorry what did you say?!” I asked. (I probably wasn’t polite but I could already feel the fear rising in my chest.) She smiled at me like I was an idiot and slowly said “there are two babies in there. You’re having twins!” I started crying. My husband started laughing. If I’d had pants on I probably would have run out of there. I don’t really remember much of the rest of the next couple hours. I cried happy tears when I heard their heart beats for the first time. Two heart beats. Strong and distinct and very much their own.
That’s The Conqueror there marked as A and The Hun marked as B. Before we knew there were two we affectionately called our baby “The Bean” because I felt so bloated. After this they were “Pork and Beans” for a while.
We took this picture as we waited to see my OBGYN. We knew our family wouldn’t believe us. If you look closely you can see the absolute shock in my eyes.
When we left the doctors office I was still in a daze. We called my Mom first. She didn’t believe us (nor did anyone else that we called for that matter). She told us later that when she got off the phone and it sunk in she cried too. My father-in-law had been telling me since My Husband and I first met that I was going to have twins. He thought it was such a funny joke. He refused to believe that I was having twins until we showed him the pictures in person. Then he thought it was hilarious.
Later that day I headed to the beach with my Bonus Mom and some of her work friends. They must’ve thought I was deranged. All weekend I kept bursting into tears. My Husband and my Bonus Dad spent the weekend sending me pictures of women with giant twin bellies and gifs of the twins from The Shining. I made one of the women take a picture of me in my swimsuit before my body got destroyed. I was sure that I was going to look like Jaba The Hut by the time I had our babies.
It’s been a crazy adventure ever since. Once the fear passed I was able to get excited and I thank God every day for giving me the two for one special. I was wrong that weekend as well, I didn’t end up looking Jaba The Hut and my girls show no major signs of being creepy…yet.
My Mom and I have always been close. Even when I was a shitty teenager and pretended to hate her for a while. (Its embarrassing how much you learn when you “grow up” and your head is no longer up your butt.) She is usually the first person I call if there is a crisis because she knows everything and she knows exactly how to calm me down. Now that I’m a Mom we are even closer, something I didn’t think was possible.
I spent some time this morning thinking about some of the things that she’s taught me over the years and I thought I’d share my favorite piece of advice. She’s told me this before almost every major event in my life and some minor ones that I was freaking out about. She may get embarrassed when I share it but I doubt it, she has a great sense of humor and clearly puts up with my crazy self.
She first said it to me before my very first dance competition. I’d overheard a dance mom from another group berating her child and it made me really upset. I was so afraid of messing up and not succeeding. This delightful phrase was her answer.
“Don’t pick your nose, don’t pick your butt, just smile and you’ll do fine!”
It makes me laugh every time. It reminds me that as long as I do my best then no matter what happens I can be at peace with it because I’ll know that I did what I could. It also conveniently applies to every situation. First date? Yep. Job interview? Yes Queen! Wedding? Of course! Emergency C-Section? Definitely don’t pick your nose or butt during that!
Life is too short to tear yourself apart over every detail and make yourself sick worrying. (Not that I don’t do both of those things.) Sometimes you have to remind yourself that 1) there is always something to laugh about (even if its just your mom telling you not to dig in your booty) and 2) a positive attitude will get things going in the right direction.
A while back I read the kids all of the posts that I’d written. The Boy made me promise that I’d write one about him. When I told him that everyone had a nickname instead of a real name he tried to convince me that his nickname should be “Naked Boy” because he doesn’t like to wear clothes. I told him that people would get the wrong idea and “The Boy” would have to do for now. After a few minutes of discussion he agreed and then gave me a kiss goodnight and burrowed into his covers. He’s usually like that, quiet and good natured.
His comedic timing is sometimes a surprise although he’s often funny when he doesn’t mean to be. Of my two older kiddos, he has the most energetic imagination. He loves to dress up and reinvent himself as various ridiculous superheroes. This weekend it was “Aqua Parrot!” He wore two capes which he spread out like wings, a stuffed spear around his neck/head that jutted out in front of his face like a beak (to make him look like a parrot and as a convenient way to carry his weapon), ninja turtle briefs, and cowboy boots. He also rode a giant stuffed parrot. (Only he could make this up.) He told us that he could fly around and make things blow up. Also he could go under water because he’s like Aqua Man. Another time he used his underwear like a utility belt and wore a bicycle helmet, goggles, and a cape. (Shout out to Hanes for making little boy underwear with enough elastic to hold a spear, a lightsaber, a tape measure and a walker talkie at the same time.)
He is obsessed with dinosaurs and Jurassic Park. When we told him there were two babies in my belly he told us that he hoped they were dinosaurs. You can imagine his disappointment when he learned that they were girl babies and not dinosaurs at all. He’s the only boy in a family filled with girls. I thank God all the time that he’s the oldest. I think if he was the youngest he’d be a spoiled brat. He’s mostly well mannered with some sass and backtalk thrown in there on occasion. He likes to help me cook and we watch “Pasta Grannies” on Youtube together. We’re low-key obsessed with pasta and how it’s made. We’ll try it ourselves eventually. We also like to watch Chopped reruns and argue about who is going to win.
At 6 years old he’s only a foot and a half shorter than me and can almost fit in my tennis shoes. He’s going to dwarf me in no time. Hopefully he continues to be a good kid. I imagine it will take some of the effectiveness out of my fussing at him if I have to look up at him to do it. He has a soft heart and gets upset pretty easily if you fuss at him. He likes to draw pictures and write notes for people to read later. He also likes to dance and is absolutely terrible at it. We encourage him anyway. I even taught him how to Vogue. When he’s older I’ll teach him that if you hold a drink in your hand and dance badly then people just assume you’re drunk and you can enjoy yourself without being bothered or needing a DD at the end of the night. (You know, the important stuff.)
Like his Daddy and Crazy Eyes, he’s quick to tell his family “I love you!” anytime the mood strikes. He sometimes drives me insane but what kid doesn’t? Quite often he is the unknowing instructor of my frequent “lessons in patience and love.” When we first met he was more interested in Daddy to pay me much attention but he’s come around. It makes me happy to know that, if God is willing, I’ll get to continue to watch him grow into a man. Let’s just hope that by then he wears more clothing, at least in public.
Sooooo I spaced and thought it was Tuesday all day on Wednesday! Hence the lack of blog post. Sorry about that guys! Mom Brain is real and it’s a total bitch.
How messed up is it that from a biological standpoint we’re given a tiny human (or two plus in some cases) to keep alive and then our brain says well this seems like a lovely time to take a vacation?! Agh! My memory was trash before and now trying to remember things is like me trying to throw a boomerang in a dark room. Maybe that shit will come back or maybe it won’t. Maybe I’ll give up on it coming back and I’ll unexpectedly get hit in the face with it and have to rearrange my plans. That’s what happened to me this week.
I had to move a training for work because I scheduled it for the same day as my Twins’ Baptism. It made me feel like a crummy Mom and a crummy employee/manager. I’ve been known to call my brain a moldy Swiss cheese. This time really failed me. I feel like being so forgetful makes it so much easier for me to get irritable and overstimulated. Maybe that’s the lack of sleep though, or maybe it’s both. I’m not sure. I just know that I’m tired of forgetting things.
I try to remind myself that if the entire family is clean, clothed, and fed then I’m doing okay. I try to force myself to slow down. To write things down. To tell other people. To set reminders. Oftentimes I still find that things aren’t the way I’d like. I get fussed at for repeating myself or forgetting to tell people things. (No happy medium when Mom Brain is around.) I hope my brain comes back. I miss feeling intelligent and a little bit organized. This too shall pass right?
But it’s time to feed the babies now. I’ll take solace in remembering that I need to do that. One step at a time.
I’ve come to believe that having children keeps you humble. You go along thinking that you’re hot shit and that you have it all figured out and then WHAM! KIDS! They present you with new problems and craziness that make you question both your sanity and skills among other things. And they continue doing it! Sometimes this overwhelms me because I remember that I have a whole lifetime of this ahead and four kinds to keep me in check.
Sunday morning I thought I was Super Mommy. “Look at me I’ve fed, diapered, and changed my kids and they are playing nicely in their playpen! What a wonderful Mommy am I!” (As I’ve said before, Past Diana is sometimes a naive idiot.) My children quickly put me in my place. Suddenly The Conqueror was crying. It quickly became apparent that we were having a poo disaster again. No problem I thought, she needs a bath anyway. Despite getting it on myself while trying to clean her up I remained upbeat. I even stayed happy through changing The Hun’s poopy diaper (another almost blowout.) I seriously don’t understand how such tiny babies can make so much poop!
I decided that since I could use a bath myself I’d get in the tub with them. They were happy and playing and with me in the tub they were less prone to slipping. Things were great….until they weren’t. As the girls giggled and splashed I looked down into the water and saw a cloud of pale yellow grow beneath The Conqueror. My brain took a minute to even register what was happening. Once it did I had to fight the urge to jump out of the tub in disgust. Instead I calmly pulled the plug and then refilled the tub with warm soapy water. They were unfazed. Mommy saves the day again.
A couple hours later they landed themselves in the tub for another bath. It’s amazing what kids can do when they have their backs to you. I caught them playing in a puddle of orange spit up. I’m not sure who did it but they’d painted themselves like the warriors that they are. It was so gross that I was impressed. This time The Hubs was there to help thank goodness.
Being a parent is a much nastier job than I anticipated. There is significantly more bodily fluid involved in it than I thought possible. Things that once made me gag are now mere inconveniences. They always seem to find a way to one up each other and test the limits of my strength. Their little smiles and giggles as I clean them seem to be their way of saying “Stay humble Mommy! Let us help you figure this life thing out! Our way is gross but it’s fun too!”