Monday, 29 October 2012

Allowed out in Public

Parenting Article November 2012 edition
an article written for another publication

Me and the cousin in Time's Square's bleechers

My twins turned five in October.  It has been a long five years that has also flown by.  I still remember, like a dream-like-state, that first year.  The endless nights full of sleep deprived hallucinations, and the days of feeling completely ill-equipped and under-qualified for this new job of parenting not just one new baby but two. My husband took four months off work after we brought them home.  We would take turns with who was in charge of which baby every night. Gabe, Bea, Gabe, Bea……you got a better night sleep if you had Bea except for the two weeks she was colicky… you were guaranteed a better night every other night.  They seemed to wake up within 20 minutes of each other for the night time feeding.  We would find ourselves in our regular spots every night, me on the big cozy brown chair that fit the massive twin breast feeding pillow and had the breast pump beside it and Mike in a little nest he created on the couch, each with a baby.  At the time these 3 am meetings were painful. Now I look back on them with sweetness. We watched the entire series of LOST during those late night clandestine rendezvous’, we talked, we bonded….and we cried a little all while feeding our new little ones.    

In the five years that have followed, everything has changed – not just my babies becoming school age kids but my needs as a Mama.  Gone are the months full of nights that need more sleep, or never getting to eat a meal while it is still hot, or the desperation to eek out a few seconds to shower to put on clean clothes jammies that are then spit up on at a record speed.  We have moved into a new state of chaos, one of tiny toys to step on, elbow high individuals that have awfully big opinions and a Mom that just needs to finish a thought without it being interrupted.  Yes the 2 ½ hours a day they are at school has given me a moment to breathe but as a freelance food writer, I have to fit an entire 8 hour work day into that 2 ½ hours….that and to be frank….having a moment alone in the bathroom without someone banging on the door has done wonders for my bowels.

All very much first world problems but I think it is universal that the mom is the first to sacrifice for the kids. We are parents nine months before our husbands. As soon as that second line shows up on the home pregnancy test and we put down our glass of wine, we are Mamas and how we carry ourselves in the world changes.  I happily made those sacrifices and would do it all again but (and I have a pretty big butt) the twins are now old enough that they are claiming some independence and that gives me some room to claim a little more of my space in the universe back.  Not just my space as their mom (the space that packs their school snacks and wipes the pee off the wall beside the toilet – I would like to blame this on Gabe and say that potty training a boy is gross but I have been doing this since I married a man that is 6’4.  I can only assume that the toilet is a very small target from way up there) but the ‘my space’ that loved to go to movies alone or spend hours upon hours wondering a museum.  The me that adores nothing more than to spent hours over dinner gabbing and drinking wine, enjoying every bite.

Sure my husband and I have had date nights and I have had many nights out with ‘the girls’ (no I am not talking about my breasts). I counted that we (my husband and me, not me and my breasts….although to be fair, they were there too) have been to 14 weddings since the twins were born….. which is crazy to me because I don’t think I even like that many people!!… but all these events were leashed in by the fact that we had kids to get up with in the morning. In the last 5 years we have had very few mornings to ourselves and that’s ok but it doesn’t mean I don’t need one.

My husband Michael has a standing, yearly, long weekend away with ‘dah boyz’.  Historically they camped but as they have aged, had more children and exhaustion has set in, they have resorted to renting a cabin……and I use the word ‘cabin’ very loosely. This is a monster of a house with a ‘games’ room and lake front property and I have always hated and resented him (jealous much?) on those weekends.  Lucky bastard I say. 

I always wanted one of these weekends but the friends that I would do this with just kept popping out babies like we have a clown car.  There was always someone too pregnant, a new born, a still breastfeeder, or a sick kid. We finally all gave up, knowing the kids would leave for college eventually…..

Then an opportunity came to join a cousin of mine while she was on a business trip in New York City.  It was just a seed of an idea but it grew…Porter had a seat grew into 5 days, 4 nights in the financial district.  It grew into another mom joining us who also hasn’t had a get away since her two were born.  It grew into an event I anticipated so much that it could never live up to the hype.  It grew into being the Most Perfect Weekend Mom Get Away evah!!

Now the details of this trip are private….I mean, what happens in NY, stays in NY!! (or is that Vegas?) and they can remove tattoos now but more importantly than what I did there… what I learned there.

I learned that I am still me.  Even after all this time of absolute focus and attention being on the lives of others it took less than an hour after the plane took off to slip right back into my narcissistic, self involved only-child me!! It was fantastic!!  To be reminded that under the ‘mom fa├žade’ I can still successfully be self indulgent, lazy, eat the occasional junk food, and day dream.  That I haven’t forgotten how to sit in a park with a cup of tea and make fun of people people watch without going through the check list of ‘to-do’s for the day.  That I actually let go of the fact that I knew my husband was probably feeding the kids too many grilled cheese sandwiches and not enough vegetables and that had to be ok and was ok.

I needed to learn that the kids are a bit older now and I can let go of controlling everything.  That my day is not longer run by 3 hour segments of feeds, pumping and naps.  That I can let go of the anxiety that having preemies left me.  That I can take a deep breath.

It was nice meeting this Emily person again.  She is funny, knows how to put on make up and loves to do shots of cheap tequila. She has some great heels that she has forgotten how to walk in, can stay up past midnight and if she takes her hair out of the mom ponytail it is getting pretty long. And she hasn’t forgotten how to sleep in. She is pretty cool and I think I’ll introduce her to the kids

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