Sometimes a 6 month old can be so difficult to put to sleep, but then they start to do it for themselves. And a part of you breaks when you realize a part of them no longer needs you and then you begin to settle when it dawns on you that this is as it should be, always.
I don’t think I’ve ever analyzed anyone as much as I do my children. Every movement, every breath, every sound, can either bring joy, concern, or a general sense of confusion, when I have no clue what they want. I feel like I could spend all day watching them and still not know them entirely, especially because we have two. It’s double the watching! It’s been six months and we’re still getting to know each other, but they’re getting to know themselves as well and it’s a wonder to behold. There’s a sense of accomplishment evident in their eyes when they figure something out or frustration when their bodies aren’t quite caught up with their minds yet. I’m riveted with every expression.
People are inherently complicated. We have likes, dislikes, thoughts, emotions… Here’s what I’ve come to know in my limited time as a parent: babies are just small people with the same complexities. It’s intimidating as hell when all of that is going on and they have limited ways through which they can communicate it to you. I have trouble sometimes, and I have words at my disposal. Had I only noises, faces, and body language, I’d surely fail, though I must have done it once upon a time. I worked harder then, I suppose. Words made me lazy.
I’ve been a parent for almost 6 months and almost immediately any preconceived notions I had about it were thrown out the window because real humans are completely different from the theoretical ones I’d planned raising in my head and dreams. For example, did you know that you don’t know everything as a new parent, even if you know that you won’t repeat the mistakes your parents made? Or, that even if you do learn things along the way, which you hopefully do, those learnings are only transiently useful because babies constantly change the rules on you? Or, did you know that there’s no room for judgement and tons of margin for error in this thing we’re doing and we have to hope and pray that the daily trial and error we pursue in raising kids will be ever in their favor but when it’s not, that they’ll be more forgiving of us than we are of our parents? And, did you know that babies literally grow before your eyes and from one day to the next will change a feature or habit and you won’t know you missed it until it’s gone, but more than that, you’ll regret not having captured it enough in a picture or a video or just in your memory?
I jokingly said to Aly the other day that I wished I had a camera in my eyes, so that I could capture every moment and I facepalmed when I recognized what I was describing as memory, then sorrow settled over me because memories can be fleeting and I don’t have confidence in my memory’s capacity to retain every moment of this time.
Did you know that days are too short and too long sometimes and it’s never the one you want when you need it because these moments can’t all be frozen, nor would you want them to be because part of this crazy magic is seeing them change and grow? We joked the other day that we’re going to be a little sad when Arabella gets teeth because her toothless smile is so damn precious it lights up every room. But I have a feeling her smile full of teeth will be just as luminous as her Mommy’s.
I’m overwhelmed daily. Yes, because raising twins is hard, but more so because I couldn’t/wouldn’t imagine doing anything else. In the mornings, when I’m just stirring awake to the sounds of the baby monitor letting me know that Benny or Bella is ready to face the day and so we must all be, I take stock of my aching body. I feel the sting in my hips and lower back from the constant up and down of floor-time and transporting babies from one room to the next, feeding and burping two growing babies, and a general lack of sleep that my muscles and bones need to recover from all of that. I hear the crack in my knees and ankles from the countless trips up and down the stairs everyday, and I feel the ache in the shoulder I had surgery on just before the babies were born that isn’t quite fully healed because I didn’t finish physical therapy prior to their early arrival. Then, I plan my next 15 minutes. It’s usually the same. I make their bottles, set the coffee to brew and throw some water on my face before I check the clock to ensure we’re on time for the day to start as their schedule dictates. My legs carry me up the stairs but I’m beckoned by the sound of Aly lightly playing with the babies and little squeals of delight. I feel my soul light up when I think about the smiles I know I’ll get in just a moment’s time. This is my happy place. It’s aching and exhausting and hyper-scheduled, which is counter to everything I was before I was a mother but it’s phenomenal and it fills me in ways I didn’t know anything could.
This motherhood thing is painful and a panacea, it’s stressful and blissful, it’s challenging and rewarding. I went into it as someone I knew, in skin and a body that felt familiar and comfortable to me, and am seeing and feeling myself transform into something I didn’t know I could be, but feels like a better version of who I was.
On hard days, we look at each other and joke, “have kids they said, it would be fun, they said.” You know what, they were right… even on the hard days, at the end of the night, we find ourselves scrolling through the many pictures of them in the in-between moments when the day wasn’t so difficult.
Momming is weird because it demands so much of all of you, but you would give it willingly, even if it wasn’t necessary, if it meant that your child’s life would be better for it. It’s about self sacrificing but not sacrificing self because our kids benefit the most from the best of us, we’ve found, at least. It’s about an abounding and transcendent love for your children, your spouse and yourself because attention must be paid to all in order for life to reach equilibrium.
Six months has been transformative, to say the least. I’m daunted and excited for what lies ahead.