How has time gone so fast?! Weren’t we just leaving the hospital with two tiny babies? Who are these toddlers living with me – clearly they can’t be mine. My twins are still wearing newborn sized clothes.
OH WAIT. They are mine. They are my beautiful, spunky, funny, silly, talkative, sweet, and sassy children. And they are two.
That’s right! L&H are TWO! And what a year it has been. I feel like so much emphasis and effort is put into preparing parents for the first year of parenthood – but then you get to the second year and it’s like WHOA. All of a sudden they’re walking (and with twins…they’re going in opposite directions) and running (in opposite directions) and talking. They’re not babies anymore. They’re PEOPLE.
As much as I learned in my first year of motherhood (which I talk about in last year’s post), I feel like I learned even MORE this year and worked harder then ever to keep up with L&H (because….did I mention twins walk/run in opposite directions?). I’ve had days where I felt like the best version of my mom self, and then I’ve had days when I’ve felt like the biggest failure. But in the end, we’ve come through year two wonderfully. I’m grateful L&H are healthy, thriving, learning, and yes, I’m even grateful they’re running in opposite directions. I wouldn’t want it any other way. Here are a few of the lessons I learned this year:
It Doesn’t Get Easier….It Gets Different. And You Get Better.
So much of the first year was spent getting encouragement from fellow parents – and twin parents – saying “hang in there! It gets easier!”. Which I’m sorry to say, is complete and total B.S. I vow to never say the words “it gets easier” to a parent. EVER. Because it doesn’t get easier. It just gets different.
Around the first year or year and a half, when L&H began to feed themselves finger foods and we dropped bedtime bottle and they went to one (sometimes THREE HOUR) nap a day — I was like YES!!! We’ve made it! But in that time, they also learned to walk and climb and pull every cord in the house and open every cabinet door – and suddenly I found myself thinking back to the quiet newborn days when I stumbled around in a sleepy haze but at least I knew no matter what those babies weren’t moving out of that pack n play.
So if a new parent was to ask me “will it get easier?” – I’d say no, but it will be different. It gets easier AND harder at the same time, because it seems our little ones are always one step ahead of us. But as a parent we get smarter, wiser, and most importantly more confident which will make every day better than the one before.
Toddlers Are Sponges.
This is the best and worst thing ever. In the best way, toddlers are sponges and just seem to soak up EVERYTHING. L&H are always trying to do things they see me do. If I drop down to do a set of pushups, there is H right next to me mimicking my motions. L loves to push the stroller around with a big grin saying “run like mama!”. The match my tone in the way they say certain words or phrases. They squeal with delight when they see a mail truck out in the real world – just like the one in their books at home.
From year one to two, it has been amazing to watch L&H learn so much from us, and the world around them. There is nothing more gratifying then hearing your child start to sing ‘twinkle twinkle’ to himself in his crib after you’ve sung it to him 35 times per day for the past two years. Or to have them come up to you at the playground and hand you a rock and tell you it’s a rock, knowing that you read them a book about rocks earlier in the week. Toddler brains are simply incredible.
But it goes without saying that as sponges, toddlers will repeat every accidental F-bomb that you drop no matter how quietly you said it. And they will repeat the silliest or most inappropriate things over and over as soon as they see they’ve gotten a rise out of you. And they will without fail announce at some point to a visitor in your home that “MOMMY’S POOPIN'” every time you open the bathroom door because you said that one time 3 months ago.
The Saying Should Go “Nap While The Toddler Naps”.
Toddlers. Are. Exhausting. And twin toddlers truly are a reason why I marathon train. Because I need stamina to keep up with them. That being said? I nap. When L&H go down for naps – I often take a cat nap myself. Honestly, I think I do it more now then I did when L&H were infants. Because by the time nap time has rolled around everyday, I’ve spent 6+ hours chasing the two of them around (and lest you forget…they run in opposite directions), talking non-stop to them, singing songs constantly, reading our entire collection of books several times, preparing two meals and coaxing them into eating two meals, loading them and the double stroller in and out of the car for errands and/or activities, playing toys and picking up said toys, breaking up fights, saying “please share!” “don’t bite!” and “we don’t hit” 100 times each….and on it goes. Plus, often on top of that I’ve run several miles with them in the double stroller. I need a nap just as much as they do! So what I’ve learned and encourage all other parents of toddlers to do is: take a nap every now and then. Or go to bed when your toddler does on some nights. No we’re not growing but we’re caring for a growing child who is exploring the world, testing limits and has the energy of 170 hummingbirds — and that is a BIG, tiring, wonderful job.
Toddlers Are All Different
I often joke that I have the perfect controlled social science experiment by having boy/girl twins. And really, I do! I love L&H equally, I care for them pretty much exactly the same (same diet, same milk, same everything) they have access to the same toys/books/opportunities, and are developing in the same home environment. And despite everything being similar, if not exactly the same, for both of them…..they have developed at DIFFERENT TIMES for different milestones. H crawled months before L did, and he also walked well before L. L is our little parrot and said many more words than H did at first. When one is picky at dinner time, the other often finishes their plate. It’s been the perfect way for me to experience, literally right in front of me, how different all toddlers are. They are all different. There is no exact age for when a toddler will learn to walk or talk or share (still waiting on that one here….) or do anything. There are ranges for a reason….and even some toddlers do things outside of those reasons.
Pick Your Battles.
One day my husband came home, and I said to him “I feel like I said ‘no’ 10,000 times today”. And truthfully I probably had. There are days (and phases) like that. But I took a great class over the winter this year, and the teacher helped me to see that I need to pick my battles. Yes, it’s annoying when H dumps a huge bin of toys on the floor…..but instead of telling him not to I’ve learned to just let it go, let him play and clean up later. L often is picky about her fork color at the dinner table (I know….right?! Toddlers are so odd). So sometimes if we (DARE) to give her a green fork, she’ll request a pink fork. There have been days when I say no….but then we have to listen to her fuss about it and it ruins our meal. So I’ve learned to just ask her what color fork she wants instead (almost always she wants pink) and switch it out. To some people this may seem like I’m getting pushed around by my toddler — and I wouldn’t disagree. But it’s just a battle I don’t feel like fighting because I’d rather enjoy our meal.
That being said, there are many battles I will not budge on like holding my hand in parking lots or on a walk around the neighborhood, when they go down for nap and bedtime (I keep their schedule as consistent as possible….if they don’t want to nap they don’t have to, but they have to be in their crib!), and what’s on their plate at mealtime.
There Will Be Good Moments, and Bad Moments.
In my year one post I talked about there being good days, and bad days — but I found in year two of parenthood, it was all about moments. Toddlers are SO up and down. We could be having the most wonderful day, but the second I serve water to H in the wrong sippy cup….he’ll lose it. But then moments later, he’s fine again – and drinking water out of said ‘wrong’ sippy cup. I’ve learned that it’s really important to not get caught up in those moments. I’ll often find myself thinking negatively after L or H (or both) throw a tantrum over something – but I’ve realized that usually most “bad moments” can blow over by ME changing my attitude and the mood. I’ll sing a song or put on music and dance — it’s a great distraction for all of us and helps dark clouds lift. A bad moment doesn’t mean a bad day. Just take a deep breathe and I promise, another good moment will come around soon.
Write Things Down
I have a $2 spiral bound notebook I bought at Rite Aid on my kitchen counter in which I keep a list of words, firsts, milestones, funny moments, favorite books, etc for L&H. I did the whole baby book thing – and I’m glad I did (it actually gave me something to do when I was pumping!), but I’m even more glad I got my little “memory notebook”. It’s not fancy, and if I’m being completely honest there might be a few half pages torn off at the bottom – both the work of toddler hands but also the need for a quick scrap of paper to write something down. But, it’s been so fun to capture tiny moments of this break-neck-paced life. The other day I flipped a few pages back and my jaw dropped when I saw how many more words L&H had at 22 months vs 18 months. Plus, I can’t wait to show them one day and let them see for themselves a peek into their past. My parents did a notebook for me and I loved seeing the pages (torn off from a similarly simple spiral notebook as mine) tucked into the pages of my baby book.
Another fun option for memory keeping is a one-line-a-day mom journal. I’ve kept a one since the day the twins were born and it’s the BEST to look back and say “OH! On this day two years ago we took that fun family walk to the farmers market. Remember?” The days and weeks are such a blur it’s so special having reminders of moments to look back on. I love especially that things that seemed mundane feel like treasures when we look back on them.
We (Still) Always Attract a Crowd.
Now that L&H are bursting with personality, we seem to draw attention to ourselves even more wherever we go. And “Are they twins?” is still my most commonly asked question. People love to ask if they have a secret language yet (sort of), are their personalities the same/different, and who is older. The lesson I’ve learned here is that twins are just as fascinating as toddlers as they are as infants. So I guess maybe I need to do a second edition of a Twin FAQ?? 🙂
Cherish Every Day….Moment….Second
I’ve said many times throughout this post about how fast time goes. It truly is a thief. It has flown. And for that reason I’ve learned to cherish every single second of every day. Even the ones that are hard – and boy believe me with two toddlers under our roof there are plenty of tough moments. Because no matter what kind of day it has been – good or tough – at the end of the day I always find myself scrolling through pictures and watching videos from our adventures earlier wishing the day had been longer.