I guess this is a 2-part post: Attached – speaking of myself, and behind – speaking of my babies.
(In no way does this part of the post apply to today. Today I wanted to run from my home screaming and waving a white flag, to the nearest
liquor store ice cream stand. Today was unusual and therefore doesn’t count.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the “right” time for a parent to leave a child for an unspecified amount of time. It seems to me that as babies get older, there appears to be this pressure, a societal pressure, for a mom to leave her kids. Maybe for a few hours (just to get away and take a break), maybe for the evening (perhaps for a girls’ night), maybe for an overnight (romantic evening with the husband). Maybe for a weekend, maybe for a week…etc. This idea is clouded in the thought that a child who isn’t away from you enough will have dependency issues later in life, or at the very least, will be traumatized when that first time ever does come.
I believe that all moms (and dads of course) want to be a good parent; they want to do the right thing. And in our heads we have 1) our intuition – what our gut tells us, 2) what our mothers and MIL’s tell us – yes, it gets its own category, 3) what our friends tell us, and 4) what we see in the media. Frequently, all four of those sources are completely contradictory. But we make our choices anyway, and we sometimes judge those who’ve done something different. It’s hard not to do, I have to admit. I don’t see anything wrong with having opinions – not every parental choice made by others is something I would do, certainly. But judging is entirely different.
So that’s why I’m currently fighting the societal pressure that tells us new moms that we need to leave our children. Now – I’m not saying my twins shouldn’t spend some time with other people. They absolutely should. And they will. But they’re 8 months old, and this stage is temporary.
The truth is, 99.9% of the time (excluding today, which just ruined my 100%, damn.) I’m totally and completely satisfied at home, doing my job, being a temporary stay-at-home-mom. See for me, I know full well that this is something I will not be doing forever – in fact, it has an end date this summer. I’ve been lucky enough to take a full year off from work, and I’ve taken my new gig very seriously. I’m with my twins all day and all night. 24/7. And to me, my babies are still new. I still can’t believe I have them, after infertility and pregnancy scares. I don’t take them for granted for a second, and I also just enjoy what I’m doing. I find it fun to make toys and think up games, and watch the little wheels turn as my kids start to figure out their world. I enjoy the process. So I’m not in a rush to walk out the door.
I guess you could say I’m attached. Before I had these babies, I didn’t really have hobbies. I haven’t had hobbies since high school, when my hobbies were related to the clubs I joined in school – chorus, softball, band. But after that, everything else I’ve done has just been a filler – waiting to be a mom. So I no longer feel empty, and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life by staying home with my kids. This IS my life. This is what I’ve been waiting for, it’s what I wanted.
I do believe in maintaining relationships – those with spouses, with friends, with parents..with whoever. That is very important, and if it becomes necessary to leave the kids at home in order to complete that maintenance, then fine. But I’ve tried to convince myself I need to get out, I need to do my own thing, and I just can’t figure out what I would do. Run to Target and what, buy baby clothes? Write – about babies? Practice my photography on….babies? I’ve never been a drinker, I’ve never been a shopper. Parenting is my hobby.
This sort of stemmed from a new mom’s group I considered joining. I’ve been taking the babies to playgroups and enjoy it, so I found this new one and we all went to their “member social”. What I assumed would be at least 10 moms chatting about their babies and planning fun playgroups was actually 3 moms planning multiple mom’s night out gatherings and jewelry parties and complaining about their exes. That wasn’t about the kids – that was about the moms. And that’s fine – I’m not judging…I was just surprised, and it’s not at all what I am looking for. But for those moms, they obviously needed to leave their homes and their kids, often. And as I inquired about the things that would involve children, they started to look at me as if I had three heads.
I’m just not in a rush to walk out the door. I will have to, come August, and through the rest of my working days. I will NEVER have the opportunity to stay at home for this length of time again. It’s the one and only time. I’m soaking it in, I’m loving almost every minute. I’m attached. And though I’ve been questioning myself lately, I stand by it. I’m doing what feels right.
On a separate note, I’m a little concerned that my babies are behind. Now – I’m well aware of the cliche phrase, “Every child develops at his or her own pace”. I know. I also know that my twins will not go off to kindergarten in their current state. I know the changes will occur – that is not the question. But I do wonder if they are behind in when those changes happen.
Like I said before, we’ve been to a lot of playgroups lately. I read the forums and the blogs. I watch Kate Middleton’s baby play with those New Zealand babies (by the way, he’s super cute, but WHO CARES what toy Prince George stole from another baby?) All of these children are my kids’ age, 8-9 months. My twins will be 9 months next week, so we’re close. And they don’t do NEARLY what these children are doing.
My twins don’t really do much, to be perfectly honest. They don’t crawl, they don’t roll around, C doesn’t even roll over and B only does in his sleep. If they fall over, they are beetles on their backs, legs kicking. They don’t have a pincer grasp, they don’t stand up while holding onto things, they don’t clap their hands, wave good-bye, or understand peekaboo. They don’t show a real desire for “adult” food. Therefore, they don’t eat finger foods and when I try, they 1) can’t pick up the food and 2) if they happen to get a piece in their fingers, they don’t know to bring their hands to their mouths and eat it.
I’m just a little worried – again, not as in “will my babies ever do this?” Obviously they won’t eat pureed fruits and veggies forever. But it’s just…unnerving to be with other babies who are so, so much more advanced than my twins. It’s just a weird feeling – it’s hard not to question myself and wonder if I should be doing more.
That all said, they were born 5 weeks early. Okay, sure. But they’ve physically closed that gap, for sure (C is 20 pounds, B is 23 pounds) and other milestones have been reached. 5 weeks behind isn’t THAT much, is it?
Here’s what they DO do – they sit. They grab toys with their fingers. They lean way over to try and reach something. B jumps, and jumps, and jumps. When on his stomach on a hardwood floor, he pushes with his hands, forcing his whole body backwards. C has done this once herself, though she hates being on her stomach, still. C examines items closely – she’s currently obsessed with our cabinet doors. B laughs hysterically at the dogs. They respond to song. C gives kisses. B has a third tooth coming in (C has NO teeth still!). They babble. C finally puts the pacifier back in her mouth herself. They shake rattles. They laugh at each other, they cry when the other cries. They look real adorable when we go to playgroup and I put them in a sitting position and they sit next to each other, not moving the entire time, except to stretch out to reach for a toy.
So it’s not like they don’t do things, it’s just that – they’re so BIG, and they just don’t do much. I know, enjoy it now before they’re mobile..etc. But that phrase is similar to “enjoy the quiet on bed rest before the baby comes” – yeah…not so much. You can’t enjoy something that concerns you.
Anyway, is it 100% out of my control? And if not, what should I be doing to encourage these milestones, besides just more tummy time?