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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Just Breathe

I have discovered that there are two vital keys to surviving parenthood – constant prayer and taking frequent deep breaths. I have long been a fan of the quote, “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away,” however I never truly understood the full meaning of these words until I became a mother. You learn as a child to take deep breaths in order to calm yourself down, slow yourself down, or to think before you act or speak – a coping mechanism to get you through the tough times. I have learned over the past few years that there are many other reasons for taking breaths.

August 2009 – My first deep breath as a parent came as Tim and I confusedly looked at the computer screen displaying my sonogram results. Tim had a coughing fit, but for me, it was deep breaths. There was little conversation at dinner that night or on the way home, but there was quite a lot of breathing. Waves of disbelief crashed at our feet and with each breath we told ourselves that God would be with our babies and that they would be healthy. With every strange pain and unfamiliar feeling came an accompanying deep breath – leading up to February 18, 2010, when my water broke 10 weeks early and I was rushed to emergency surgery alone. I remember lying on the operating table, totally clueless about what was going to happen and the only thing I knew to do was take deep breaths.

Throughout our two month NICU stay, deep breathing was a requirement. There were deep breaths the first time we saw our little 3 pound miracles, held them, and gave them baths.  We would hold our breath through every alarm, during every reflux and brady episode, and every time the twins tried to breathe with no assistance, then let out a huge sigh of relief when everything turned out to be okay.

When we first brought the twins home, it was overwhelming to say the least. There were bottles to make, diapers to change, clothes to change (over and over), and many doctor visits. There was quite a lot of deep breaths in those days, which provided me with a time to pause and reassure myself that everything would be okay and that everything that needed to get done would. Back then, I thought that the greatest challenge in the world was feeding two babies at the same time – boy, did I have a lot to learn!!

I experienced another type of deep breathing on the twins’ first day of school. I knew that moment would be hard – there are songs written about it for crying out loud, but I guess no one can be fully prepared for the day when your child runs happily into a classroom, not “needing” you at that moment. I was thrilled that they were happy, but the backpacks and lunchboxes were one of the biggest reminders that they are growing up right before my very eyes. I no longer have little babies to swaddle and rock – deep breath.

Living with twin two-year olds who are potty training, or at least trying, who are exploring their boundaries and how to push them, there are numerous times each day that I want to run screaming down the street or hide in the bathroom clenching a stress ball in each hand. The twins haven’t done anything terribly wrong, but sometimes it is the little things that get me, such as pouring their snack cup full of goldfish or marshmallows on the floor for the third time that day, pouring the tee tee from the little potty onto the floor, or better yet, trying to drink from the potty bowl and then just as I grab the bowl to intervene, they pulled back so that it sloshed all over me. These are the moments when I find myself taking very deep breaths – which has become so common that many times I don’t realize I am doing it. I have to remind myself that they are two and that they are learning what is acceptable and what is not, each and every day. Many mothers of twins have told me that it gets easier the older that they get, and for a long time I bought in to that theory, but now I disagree. With babies and infants, the tasks are many and constant - sustaining their physical self. I will admit that many of these tasks I did with very little sleep, in a trance, and taking care of them took a lot from me physically. With toddlers the tasks are many and constant, but now you are sustaining the physical self, while also developing the emotional and social self. In order to do this properly, one must be fully present and engaged. I have found that being the parent of a toddler requires a lot, not just physically, but emotionally as well. It is much easier to make a batch of bottles then to teach children right from wrong, and the importance of loving God, their family and themselves. In the first year of their lives, I faced each obstacle with the thought that if we could just get past this, it would get easier. Now I know that is not the case. Don’t get me wrong, some things did get easier – they feed themselves, can somewhat dress themselves, and can entertain themselves for stretches of time. They are developing little people and they need Tim and me more than ever to be good role models and to lay a foundation that they will draw on for the rest of their lives. This is the greatest responsibility I will ever have and I pray daily that we will raise two healthy, God-fearing, well-adjusted, polite children. Please understand that I love and embrace this responsibility and feel blessed beyond words that God called us to be the parents of Brooklyn and Tayden. With great responsibility comes great reward, and I am rewarded each and every day in hugs and kisses and by the words, “I love you Mommy.” These are the moments of bliss that take my breath away.

As you can see, deep breathing has gotten me through many tough, scary, joyous, exciting, anxious, amazing, and loving times, and by reflecting on those breaths – I am reminded of the breathtaking journey I have been on – one that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world!

The twins absolutely LOVE school. They ask each day if they can go – even on the weekends. They are learning so many new things and I love to have little conversations with them to hear about all of it. Brooklyn tells me that she loves school and it makes her so happy and excited. Tayden loves to list his classmates and his teachers for me and he will touch his fingers while he counts (like Mommy does). They sing me many songs such as the Red Song, Jesus Loves Me Oh Yeah, and last night they taught me their prayer song that they sing at lunch time – PRECIOUS!!! I have started a collection of all of the work they bring home and even put up a cork board to display their most recent creations.

Now for some twinisms: the twins have started talking to each other a lot more and playing with each other a lot more. She calls him Tay Tay and he calls her Sissy. They have even created their own game where they throw Mr. Potato Head back and forth while saying, “Hot potato, hot potato, all about.” This is a mix between the hot potato song and the hokey pokey, which cracks me up. They will play it for ten minutes while Tim and I watch in awe. Any time one of them slips or falls, they will ask each other if they are okay. Brooklyn will say, “You okay Tay Tay?” Tayden will say, “You okay Sissy?” They are the best of friends and I love the relationship that they have. We got in the car last night to run a few errands and I asked what movie they wanted to watch. Tayden voted for a song video, but Brooklyn wanted Elmo Potty. The decision was made when Brooklyn stated, “No songs Tay Tay, we watch Elmo Potty.” Tayden responded, “Okay, we watch Elmo Potty.” If only all disagreements were that easy to solve. Brooklyn has learned to politely say, “No thanks,” when she does not want something we offer her, but she now applies it when she doesn’t want to do something. “Brooklyn, pick up your toys.” “No thank you!” “Brooklyn, go potty.” “No thank you!” We are working on the fact that some things are not a choice. Tayden wanted something the other night and I said, “What is the magic word?” He instantly replied, “Meeska, Mooska, Mickey Mouse.” (this is the magic word on their favorite show – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse).

The twins are excited about Halloween! We have been practice trick-or-treating with their plastic pumpkins. We let them try on their costumes, but then we put them away so that they remain in one piece until the big day. Brooklyn started crying the other day so I asked her what was wrong. “I want my Kallowink costume!!!! I be Abby Caddaby with my magic wand!!!!” I love Fall and am looking forward to the pumpkin patch, the family Halloween party, and our first true trick-or-treating excursion.

On another note, I got a new job. I applied for the Assessment Data Analyst pool at the end of last school year when Literacy Coaches were cut district-wide, but nothing came from it. I then got a call a few weeks ago to interview for the position at Oaklawn Elementary. I interviewed and was offered the position! Accepting the position was difficult for me. (I have not started yet.) I do not like change and am a creature of habit! I have been at my current campus for 9 years, so leaving is very bittersweet. I think of the staff as an extension of my family and I love the students!!! My principal mentored me extensively throughout my Masters internship and has continued to teach me so many valuable things over the years. She is a great leader and I feel very fortunate to have worked with her. I will miss everyone dearly, but I am confident that we will keep in touch. On a positive note, I have worked with several people at the new campus in the past and am very excited to take on the challenge of this new position. I will be handling all of the district and state assessments at the campus and will be responsible for delivering the data to the teachers and working with them to target areas of instructional need. My goal is to one day be an administrator, and I feel that this position will provide me with wonderful experience!!

God is so good! 

Cool rider

Brooklyn used her bike as a potty.  It does have nice holes for drainage.

Tayden found this in the garage and wanted to play.  Hard to believe that at one point, his feet didn't touch the bottom.

My first attempt at piggy tails - she loved them!!!