Confessions of a Helicopter Mom

There are so many things I swore I’d never do once I became a mom. I never pictured myself as the mom who makes visitors wash their hands before touching her baby. I am that mom. Although I’ve never identified as a “germaphobe,” I used Purel so often during the newborn months that I developed eczema on my hands. I literally killed the skin on my hands for fear of germs. My perceived threat of RSV or the Flu was almost paralyzing.

As it turns out, I’m a helicopter mom. My natural instinct is to hover constantly to [try to] prevent every possible bad thing that could befall my girls. I can walk into any room and spot 9 different ways my kids could seriously injure themselves. Is that dresser bolted to the wall? What if they jump headfirst off the back of the couch? Did I cut this hot dog small enough? Can they reach that knife on the counter?  I’ll stop there, you get it.

Last summer, when the twins were about 9 months old, my husband and I were sitting on our front step with them. Faster than lightning, one of the girls put a rock in her mouth. I noticed it immediately, being the hoverer that I am, and took it out of her mouth. “I think we should let them eat a couple rocks. They’ll learn,” my husband said (obviously, he keeps this chopper grounded sometimes). We sat there a couple more minutes before it hit me – didn’t we recently spray weed killer all around our house? What if there was weed killer on that rock? I could barely sleep that night for fear that she had been poisoned. She was fine, of course.

It’s hard for me to describe the compulsion I feel to protect my kids, but that’s really what it is for me. It’s like an overactive instinct that is not helpful in reality. The good new is, I’ve identified this unhealthy tendency of mine and I’m working on it. I completely understand why being an overprotective parent is not healthy for anyone involved. I really do. My kids need to learn their own lessons and I’m finally realizing that those lessons will probably bring bruises or casts or illnesses with them. I also know that it is not even possible for me to prevent e-v-e-r-y-thing from harming them. The act of trying to absolutely protect them is likely very harmful in itself. And so, I’m doing my best to stay grounded because what a good helicopter mom would do is…not be a helicopter mom.

Belly Buttons

Recently, H noticed M’s belly button.  Usually when I’m giving them a bath, H will poke her little finger into M’s belly button and they’ll both giggle.  She never remembers her own belly button until I remind her.  The whole thing is ridiculously cute.

Sometimes I explain to them why they have belly buttons: that’s how I fed them while they were in my tummy (an oversimplification, I know, but they can’t even say “belly button” so….).  I go on to tell them that I have a belly button because that’s where I was attached to GaGa (that’s what they call my mom).  It got me thinking how crazy/awesome belly buttons are.  I have probably thought about my belly button (or anyone else’s) for a grand total of a minute in my whole life.  But then I had the twins and now I’m fascinated.

I worried a lot (A LOT) when I was pregnant.  Eventually, I had one realization that eased my anxiety the most: my babies would never be safer than when they were in my belly.  Floating around in there, sleeping, growing, and physically attached to me by a leash.  I accepted that there were plenty of things that could go wrong in utero, but there were more things that could go right.

I am always amazed at how the twins are their own people with their own personalities.  They never let me forget that they make their own decisions and that I have very little control over them.  Their little belly buttons are a reminder that I once did have some sort of control (they ate more Pop-Tarts during that time than I would ever allow now that they’re on the outside).  I don’t know why, but for some reason it’s incredible to me that we were once attached to each other.

Moral of the story is, you wouldn’t be alive if you didn’t have a belly button.  Thanks, Mom, for my belly button.

The Work Decision

I decided to start working again.  I started to miss it and I don’t want to get out of practice. I start next Wednesday!

[Sidenote: my twins are licking the floor right now.]

Even though I missed working, it was still a tough decision to make.  I went back and forth many times about it.  These past 16 months being at home have been the best time of my life.  Plus, I don’t have to go back to work right now.  We really have a good routine, and I’m a little nervous to throw off the balance by adding work to the schedule.

I’m fortunate to work for a small business (that I previously worked for) whose owner is basically the nicest guy I’ve ever met.   He understands that I have little kids and he doesn’t want me to feel like I’m missing out on them (and I actually believe him when he says that).

I’m only working part-time and I get to work from home (which is awesome).  That way I can listen to Bubble Guppies in the background while I calculate clients’ tax liability.  This could be the worst good idea I’ve ever had….

The Santa Lie

Christmas is my favorite time of year.  I have loved it for as long as I can remember.  I’m excited to see my kids’ excitement when they’re old enough to understand.

I just have one major problem: Santa.

I can’t understand the Santa lie.  I hadn’t given much thought to it until last year, which was the twins’ first Christmas.  We got them a couple of things and as I was writing their names on the packages, it suddenly hit me.  Is this gift from ‘Mom and Dad’ or ‘Santa’?  Right at that moment (and again this year) I started plotting how we could not do Santa in the future.  Sorry kids, those presents are from Mom and Dad; we shopped for them; we paid for them or made them for you; we wrapped them.  I want our kids to understand how those gifts really got there and, yes, I want them to say thank you to us – not an imaginary guy.

The one benefit I can see to perpetuating the Santa lie is that you can threaten your kids to behave at all times or poof! no presents at Christmas.  It still doesn’t quite get me there, though, because I feel like I could threaten them myself….  I’m probably naive to think that my kids will ever listen to me, but I’m a first-time parent, so I’m totally clueless.

Pretty much the only thing holding me back from going full-out truthful parent is that I don’t want my kids to ruin Santa for other kids.  I guess I have a couple years to figure that one out, but if anyone reading this has any ideas for me, or any reasons why Santa is a good idea, please send me a message!

Thanks for reading and Merry Christmas!

What the Hell is a Hatchimal?

A couple days ago, I saw a “Hatchimal” (apparently this year’s must-have toy) posted for sale on my local online yardsale site.  A small bidding war ensued.  ‘Tis the season.

When I first saw a Hatchimal on the Today show, I was like, “why are they talking about Furbies?”  Look it up – Hatchimals are a carbon copy of 1998’s must-have toy.  These Furby ripoffs are currently selling for over $200 on Amazon.  TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS?!  All I know is that if I spend $200 on a toy for my kid, they aren’t going to be allowed to play with it.  If they still want it after they understand they can’t touch it, maybe we can think about it.

I tried to think back to when I was a kid and what toy I would have paid a zillion dollars (of my parents’ money) to have.  I can’t really remember anything specific, which means I either: received it, played with it for a month, and then forgot about it OR it means that I didn’t receive it and I was not scarred for life because of it.  I choose to believe the latter.  [Tomagotchi’s were badass, though – I for sure had a couple of those.]

Let me be clear that I am not judging parents who are buying Furbies – I mean Hatchimals – for their kids.  It’s more of a glimpse into my not-so-distant future.  I am not looking forward to the day that my kids can make their own Christmas lists (is that bad?).  I hope, I hope, I hope I can talk my girls out of the latest Furby iteration in 6 or 7 years.  If not, I hope someone is auctioning off two of them (BOGO?).  Because twins.

A Blog About Blogging

Recently, an acquaintance told me that he’d read a few of my blogs and he thought it was “just alright.” I was taken aback at first, but also thought it was pretty funny. Then it made me think about why exactly I write a blog. Annnnnnd then I wrote a blog about it….

I think the main reason I share what I write is because I personally found blogs to be helpful during my pregnancy and during the first year raising twins. The firsthand experiences I find in blogs are reassuring, inspiring, informative, and sometimes funny. It’s so incredibly cliché, but I hope to be one of those blogs for someone else.

Another major reason I write is to make sure I don’t forget the difference between your/you’re or there/their/they’re or two/to/too, etc. A big part of my job for the past three years was corresponding with state and federal tax agencies. Since I no longer write official letters every day, I feel the need to practice writing. I’ve loved to write ever since I was a little girl and I’ve found this blog to be a good place for me to “stay sharp” and junk. 😉

This blog is like a journal of sorts, and lots of people told me they wish they’d kept a journal when their kids were little. I guess journals aren’t usually shared with the world and, believe it or not, not everything I write makes it to the Internet. My experiences as a twin mom are both unique and common to most parents, which makes me feel like I can share them without [too much] judgment. It’s never my goal to be “just alright” at anything I do. So if you’re reading this I hope you like it, or find it to be useful in some way, and know that if you give me negative feedback to my face, I’ll write about you faster than Taylor Swift sings about her ex-boyfriends. Boom.

“You’ve Got Your Hands Full!”

One year ago today, our girls were discharged from the NICU and came home with us. It was a super exciting and surreal day; I can still barely believe I have twins. There is a lot to love about having two babies and for me personally, it’s still fun (and sometimes amusing) to see people’s reactions to stumbling across twins.

By far, probably a factor of 10, the most common comment I hear is, “You’ve got your hands full!” Almost every person I pass in the grocery store says this. The next most common is “Double trouble!” Just yesterday someone yelled this to me from like 50 feet away. And a close third is some variation of, “My neighbor’s daughter is best friends with twin girls…no wait, I guess it was my neighbor’s daughter had twin girl nieces…that’s what it was….” I almost never know how to reply.

I can always tell when someone has a close relationship to kids when they go out of their way to open a door for me. After a year, I still am not that great at navigating my gigantic stroller through doors. I mean, most people hold the door for the person behind them, but when someone drops their magazine and crosses the doctor’s office to open the door for me, I know they must have been there before. I thank these people profusely and then vow in my head to always do this for other people for the rest of my life.

However, I know that in a couple of years when I see four matching feet hanging in a stroller, I am going to speed walk over and say, “I’ve got twins!” I don’t even know why I’ll do it, but I know I won’t be able to resist. I also know that when my girls are older and start to diverge in size and personality, I’m going to miss the excited look on strangers’ faces when they realize they’re looking at real life twins. I hope when I inevitably approach a stranger with a double stroller, she will humor me as I stare at her kids and reminisce about my girls, and then hopefully she’ll forgive me because I will absolutely hold the door for her.  After all, she does have her hands full!

Pinterest is Not Your Friend

The twins had their one-year pictures taken yesterday. It was kind of a cluster… (my own fault). We had them taken at our house because, for some reason, I thought it would be easier to contain them. It wasn’t. When the photographer arrived at our house (early in the morning because the twins wake up before 6 a.m. and need a nap by 8:30), she started setting up and we were just chatting.

And then I said the most dreaded words a photographer could ever hear: “I saw this thing on Pinterest…” I almost rolled my eyes at myself after it came out of my mouth. Long story short, none of the stupid Pinterest ideas worked out.

Turns out, one year olds are paralyzed by grass so all you need to do is put them on a small blanket in the middle of your yard and they freeze. There is practically an electric fence at the edge of the blanket that they won’t even think about touching. I stood right behind our photographer and played peek-a-boo with the girls and I think we might have even gotten some smiling pictures. (When I say smiling pictures, I mean one of the twins is smiling. You’re more likely to get a picture of a chupacabra than of both twins smiling at the same time.)

We were lucky to have a super patient photographer, who is actually a twin herself, which I thought was fun. I’m secretly hoping she send me some of the Pinterest shots so I can compile my very own Pinterest Fails. Also, I need to delete my counterproductive Pinterest (more like Unrealisticexpectations-terest, amiright?) account ASAP.

The Twins’ First Road Trip

One of the best parts of being a stay-at-home mom is making my own schedule. I decided that I should do more cool stuff like take a road trip with the twins in the middle of the week. And so we did!

Last week, the girls and I drove 350 miles to Hobbs, NM to visit my dad and stepmom. Before the trip, I’d never driven more than 100 miles with the twins by myself. I was a little nervous because New Mexico has long stretches of rural desert with crappy cell service.

In the end, the twins did great in the car and I think I have some good tips about solo road trips with [up to] two babies….

  1. Build up their tolerance before a long trip. The first time I made the 100-mile trip to Albuquerque with the twins (and without another adult to help), I was pretty nervous. We’ve done it about a dozen times since then and I barely even worry about a small trip like that anymore.
  2. Start driving during nap time. We left during the twins’ normal morning nap time. This is basically a no-brainer.
  3. Plan your stops. I am a planner by nature, so it just made sense to me to have pre-planned stops. Obviously I had to plan the stops to coincide with their feeding times, which was a little tricky considering there are, like, 2 towns between my house and Hobbs. Oh and if you’re driving with twins, I’d highly recommend Sam’s Club as a pit stop. Cheap gas, big aisles for big strollers, changing tables in the bathrooms (usually), and pizza that is basically free. Also, samples.
  4. Toys, toys, toys! I brought several toys and rotated them when we stopped. I am also a big fan of hooking their toys to their car seats with little rings or those pacifier clip things. If I don’t attach their toys to them, they just throw them on the ground (and I don’t play that game).
  5. Pack the stroller last! Make sure you can get to your stroller when you stop.
  6. Have a diaper changing station in the car. One of my biggest frustrations is getting the girls out of the car and into a restaurant or store and to find they don’t have a changing table in the bathroom (It’s a total first-world problem, I know). I am actually surprised when an establishment does have a changing table. For this reason, I always have a changing station in my minivan (reason #101 that minivans are amazing).
  7. Bring snacks (for yourself). I generally have snacks on my person, but it’s extra handy when you have kids in the car and cannot just quickly pop into a gas station. I’m pretty neurotic about, well, lots of stuff, but I’m especially crazy about not leaving my kids in the car. My co-pilot was a bag of food and she was a great road trip companion.

When it was all said-and-done, I felt like the twins and I had gone to a team-building event or something. We had a great visit with family and friends and I had a sense of accomplishment.

Solo road trip with baby twins… Check.

What Happens When You Call Poison Control

[I want to start this post by saying that my twins are both healthy and, thankfully, did not get lead poisoning from the following incident.]

A couple of weeks ago, I literally caught one of my twins red-handed (or should I say lead-handed?) eating paint chips.  Her hand was covered in slobber and inside her chubby little fingers was a long sliver of white paint.  I took it from her and swept my pinky insider her mouth.  Then I tried to not to panic.

As with most parenting fails, I only left them alone for a few minutes in their play room when this all transpired.  We just painted the room a couple months ago, but the paint they were eating was off an old phone cord.  I think the girls had pulled the cord off the wall and I wasn’t sure what kind of paint was on it.  To make it worse, as I studied the phone cord, it seemed like a lot of paint was missing.  Have they been doing this every time I go to the bathroom or make myself a sandwich?

I promptly got on the Internet to check the year lead paint was banned, which only increased my worries.  Our house was built 8 years before lead paint was outlawed.

I decided to call Poison Control.  It was sort of hard not to cry while I gave the lady our information, even though she was extremely nice.  She said I probably don’t need to worryif this was a one-time incident.  (However, how can I really know they’ve never done this before?)  According to her, eating one lead paint chip will not result in lead poisoning.  Before I hung up, she said, “Thanks for calling.  This is exactly what we’re here for.”

Just to be sure, I ordered a lead test kit and decided to order one for our water while I was at it.  Two days later, the tests came in the mail.  The phone cord was definitely positive for lead paint.  My heart dropped into my butt.  It was hard to believe because over the previous two days as I waited for the test to come in, I had convinced myself that there was no way it would be lead paint.  I knew the test would just confirm this.  It was shocking when they didn’t.  (Thankfully, our water was negative for lead (as expected), so that was good news.)

I called our pediatrician and we took them in the next morning.  The doctor ran a quick lead level blood test.  Both tests came back well below the safe lead level.

What. A. Relief.

Sometimes I think parenting is going to destroy me.  I’ve always been a worrier but the anxiety I have for my own babies’ well being is sometimes overwhelming.  I’m going to have to actively resist being a helicopter mom.  I wish I was more of a “dirt is good for them” kind of mom, but I still wash their pacifiers when they fall on the floor, I still get nervous around other sick kids, I still jump to worst-case scenario when they sniffle.

As I type this, my Baby B is looking up at me and coughing – her first cough!  I can’t help but notice there’s no place in her baby book to record that….  I know she’ll get over it and apparently it’s good for her immune system (that still doesn’t make sense to me – they need to get sick so that they don’t get sick?)  I’ll try to keep this helicopter on the ground by remembering that it will build her immune system (probably?) and will (hopefully) help me chill out when she gets better.