This week has been a doozy – and for no particular reason. It’s just been a hard one. Maybe it’s because football is nearing mid-season. The grind is wound up and wearing on me. Maybe it’s because we’ve now completed the first six weeks of school. The kids are wound up and wearing on me. Maybe it’s because I’m the mother of twin two-year-old boys. The guys are wound up and wearing on me. Or maybe it’s because sometimes some weeks are just hard.
And if a week has been hard, then generally, that means that our Friday Night under the Lights was doubly hard (well, I guess with twins everything is always doubly hard), so maybe that makes this one quadruply hard. If that’s even a word. My spellcheck doesn’t recognize it and my number skills are more like deficits. When I tried looking quadruply up, the always wise and munificent Google – eager to predict and please — tried to give me quadrupedally as an option – from the word quadruped. As in walking with four legs – which honestly doesn’t fit our night either because the boys are NEVER walking during football games. They’re either being towed in their wagon to the stadium (thank you, Jesus and Uncle Chan) or they’re being hauled by yours truly up and down the stands, straddling and sliding down my hips like I’m the banister and they are Mary Poppins. And that makes us a sextuped — which doesn’t even exist. My spellcheck tried to change that one to sextuplet – which is some sort of computer land kernel of encouragement reminding me that things could always be worse and that I need to quit wallowing in self-pity. Which I will do… right after I finish my rant.
The doozy of a week all began with a carefully-placed, hard, little turd in my favorite bra. Neci, my old-lady dachshund with spiteful tendencies and great aim, was angry once again. This time it was personal, and it was directed at me. No doubt about it. The dung in the D-cup doesn’t lie. (No, that’s a lie. I’m scarcely a B-cup during PMS week, but I digress…) So, that was Sunday.
Next came Monday and my fellas fighting from the time we hit the threshold till the time I reached my threshold and broke out the iPad restrictions. They had thumped each other’s heads with backhoe blades and potty chair bowls (empty, hallelujah!) one time too many. No iPads always hurts me way more than it hurts them, though. Tablet time gives me time to myself. To do laundry or to do dishes or to do nothing (which is honestly what I really, truly need on any given Monday).
Then came Tuesday and my own stupidity. I forgot the boys’ after school snacks. Or rather, I forgot PART of the boys’ after school snacks. I had their juice boxes (which is good because I don’t think I could’ve creatively acquired apple juice). However, I didn’t notice that we were out of goldfish snacks (I keep a case-full of them in the passenger seat of my van) until I’d picked up the boys, strapped them into their car seats, handed over their juices, reached into the goldfish case, and… THEN I noticed. No goldfish. Nada.
Denying toddlers an afternoon snack is just not something one does. Ever. Like, Never Ever.
I had two choices: listen to the shrieking of my angry, hungry howler monkeys for the eight miles and twenty minutes it takes to get home or forage on the floor of the van for the flotsam and jetsam of previous weeks’ worth of feedings. There were plenty of remnants to be found, and I figured — while assuredly stale– they were still relatively germ-free. So foraging I went. Crawling on all fours, I became a true quadruped for that five minutes of shameless maternal scrounging. I spelunked through the cavernous undercarriage of bucket seats and hidden compartments in my Chrysler Town & Country (which comes with LOADS of them) and managed to procure enough to quarter-fill a couple of recycled baggies from my lunch sack. Annnnndddd the boys were satisfied. Mommy for the Win!!!
Until Parker dropped his juice box straw.
Nothing says toddler apocalypse like a juice box with no straw. I had to pull off the road and locate the missing straw in order to stave off the four horsemen and the breaking of the seventh seal of my last nerve.
If there’s one tiny tidbit of advice I can give to twin boy moms – well, any boy moms, really – never run out of snacks. Boys eat. A lot. From the very beginning. So you’d best become a walking pantry with wholesale-sized sets of snacks. But I’m also here to say that even when you’re well-supplied and they’ve been snacking the entire four quarters of a football game, they will still pick at the pulverized and granular remains of concession stand cotton candy straight off the bleacher steps — and I can guarantee you it’s not as germ-free as the aged, decaying goldfish in your minivan. But what is one to do? I’ve learned not to sweat the small stuff. I’m building their immune systems, one incipient bacterium at a time.
So during the game, I was dealing with a couple of lads strung out on Benadryl (for snot stoppage) and powered by lost-and-found crystallized sucrose — a combination with the mood-altering, stimulant qualities of bath salts. I had to keep them separated most of the night so they wouldn’t chew off each other’s faces. I was absolutely exhausted.
By the time I got home last night at around midnight, my brain and body felt like a hit-and-run victim. While soaking off the carnage of the night and perusing social media in the tub, I found an interview from one of my favorite authors of all time, Barbara Kingsolver. In it, she talks about her favorite phrase, “You can do this hard thing.” It became her mantra for her children as they grew and faced challenges. I really needed to see that because it reminded me that I’ve been given the challenge – let me rephrase – I’ve been gifted the challenge of raising a set of twins at fifty. And I can do this hard thing. I have already raised a set of girls (not twins, but still), and they turned out alright. Well, better than alright, if I may say so myself… so I can do this hard thing.
And speaking of my girls… Kingsolver’s article also shamed me into remembering the kind of week my girls have had. Bethany is a first-time mom with a teething almost one-year-old. He has had strange rashes, sleepless nights and mysterious projectile vomiting. Her week has been a tornado of trials and I live too far away to be of much help. And then there’s my oldest. Caitlin’s week has been a real and true hard week – a week of real and true struggles in a decade of real and true struggles. She is operating in Burns during this, the third month of her fourth year of five surgical residency years. It is one of the hardest rotations in one of the hardest residencies at one of the hardest residency programs in the nation. It is a physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually demanding rotation for her. Yet that is nothing compared to the struggles of her patients in the Burn ICU. They are so sick, so very critical. They themselves are undergoing arguably THE hardest physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain that exists on our planet. Four patients this week alone have died. Just yesterday, she lost one of her all-time favorite patients; one whom she had been gifted the challenge of working with, on and off, for four years. The death hit her so hard. It hit their whole team so hard. They wept and wept. But it was nothing compared to the patient’s family’s sense of loss — of their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain.
Yet another reminder – and this time not from Google , but from God — that there is relativity in all things, and that it’s time to pull up my mom jeans and quit my bellyaching and just plain do this damn hard thing.
So for all of you moms out there (twin or first-time or any-and-all-kinds), struggling with the juggling… for all of you teachers out there, chafing from the grading … for all of you football wives out there, going under from the upheaval of the season… for all of you surgical residents out there, defeated from doing daily battle with death and disease… for ALL of you women out there, doing your utmost every day to build a stronger, kinder, gentler, healthier, smarter, better world for all of mankind: we can do this hard thing.
We. Can. Do. This. Hard. Thing.
We can and we will.