Being a mom is hard.
I know this because, from time to time, my friends ask me to care for their children while they’re away, and I know, from experience, that I don’t have what it takes.
Or, at least, I need a lot of practice.
When I say “a lot” I mean a. Lot.
This time it was my favorite set of twins — sweet, (almost) 18-month old baby girls who are just starting to toddle and are learning how to make letter sounds. While Baby Grace was enamored with the zipper on my sweater and saying “zzzzzzzz” after I told her that it was a zipper, sister Sophie was perfecting her walking technique. It seems to me that Gracie is intent on the fine art of words while Sophie is more inclined to learn useful skills — like walking. And throwing her food on the floor. And playing in the toilet. Ok, so Grace does join in on the mess-making. They both love reading stories and “helping” fold laundry, and they both get insanely jealous if someone else dares to sit on my lap. This afternoon, they both ganged up on their cousin and tried to push him off so there would be a spot for them.
For a few hours, I also had the cousin, the older brother, Sam, and then the other cousin showed up too. Like a good mom, I told the boys they had to go outside and run around for at least 15 minutes before playing inside. When they’d been out for 12 minutes, one of them came in and asked if it had been 15 minutes yet. I said no and they actually stayed outside for another 15 minutes. Score! When they came in again to play legos, I told them the rules are that the legos stay on the table so the babies wouldn’t have the opportunity to choke on them, and that if anyone shouted, they had to go outside for 15 minutes. I told them that if they wanted the privilege of yelling in the house, they had to pay for the privilege, and the cost is 15 minutes outside. (I’ve also told them that if they want the privilege of annoying another kid they’re playing with, they have to pay a quarter. Every privilege has a cost, and they need to think through it and decide if the benefit is worth the cost. For some reason, the privilege/cost idea seems to work with them.)
As I was cooking supper, the cousins left, and the uncle offered to take Sam for the night so I could focus on caring for the babies. I don’t have words for how awesome that was! Sam’s a flamboyant and rambunctious kid (whom I love to pieces), and I’m not sure how I would have fared with him the entire weekend. I’m sure it would have been fine, but two babies are definitely a handful all on their own.
The babies are so. dang. cute. They sat in their highchairs and gobbled down their dinner all the while saying, “mmmmmmm!” and doing the sign (baby sign language) for milk whenever they wanted a drink. They both asked for third helpings (growing girls!) and I was able to get one of them to do the sign for “please.” I’ve been working on the sign for “more” too, but they haven’t figured that one out yet.
(Side Note: We had gone to the park earlier in the day, and as I was pushing them in the swings, I would tap the babies’ knees or toes and I’d squeal “Knees!” or “Toes!” After the third time, Gracie reached for her knees and said, “nnnn-ee!” That’s my brilliant baby!)
Babies are such messy creatures. After their third helping of hamburger helper (I’m just that awesome at cooking hamburger helper….), they were covered from head to toe in cheese sauce, so they hopped in the tub and had a grand old time splashing around. As soon as I got them smelling like the sweet babies that they are, a friend asked if I wanted to go to the mall with her. Um…. yeah!
So I found the car seats and loaded them (and the babies) into my car and we were off. The babies loved it — except for the part about having someone they didn’t know trying to hold them once we got to the mall. Sophie was like, “I’ll walk, thank you very much.” But she didn’t want to hold anybody’s hand. Her thought process was, “If anybody is going to touch me, it’s going to be my Mari, and if my Mari touches me but doesn’t hold me, I’m not going to be a happy girl.” So Gracie got acquainted with my friend and I snuggled Sophie until we found a stroller at Herberger’s. They had so much fun grabbing at the clothes on the racks and feeling all the different textures. My friend’s little girl (age 5) wanted some play time with the babies, so we sat on a bench and the babies cuddled up to her and after a few minutes, they both started smacking her in the face. She laughed, which made them do it again — and again…. and again. It was quite entertaining to watch.
Then it was time to go. My friend put one baby in the car and her little girl wanted to put the other one in, and she did such a good job! She even tucked a blanket around both the babies so they’d be warm. I’m so proud of her! She’s going to be an excellent big sister some day! She was so conscious of the babies’ needs the whole time we were together. She told me she thought maybe they needed their diapers changed — and at that point, I realized that I hadn’t brought diapers. Whaaaahkkk! I’d be a terrible mother! And after the babies were buckled up and tucked in and the doors closed, Sophie started screaming her head off, and I realized I hadn’t brought pacifiers either. Whhhaaaaakkkk! Oh my goodness. Bad mom award!
The good news is that the babies had been freshly changed within 5 minutes of leaving home and they aren’t fussy babies. So as soon as I got in the car and started telling Sophie I was a silly, thoughtless grownup forgetting her pacifier like that, she was done crying. I fake-laughed, and both babies giggled. I fake-sneezed. Sophie fake-coughed in response. And Gracie laughed. They had lovely baby-gibberish conversations together in the back seat while I got a smoothie from DQ — and as soon as we got home, Grace saw I had a drink and she started in on the “milk” sign. She crawled up in my lap, and continued to do the “milk” sign. And then Sophie realized I had a drink and she joined her sister, crawling on top of me and doing the “milk” sign. I had just a little left, so I gave them the rest, and they were so happy. They laughed and said “mmmmmm!” and the second the first baby took a break to breathe, the other one went after the straw. It was really quite comical.
Then it was time for a little bite to eat (a few crackers), a fresh diaper for each and a nice, warm bottle and a cozy blanket to snuggle with — and just like that, they were out.
I swept the floor (for the third time since noon), cleaned the table and folded the laundry (cuz I’m such a good babysitter) and now, I hope I sleep. I’d feel better about it if they were in the same room with me.
I think I just turned into one of those co-sleeper people.