Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leave the House

Friday is the day I am home alone with all three kids. This can be great or it can be a horror show. Determined to avoid the latter, I suggested to Ada that we go to the library. Ada is almost always more fun when we leave the house. Something about staying home makes her clingy and whiny and (even when she is being pleasant) prone to asking me to play dolls, which I (parenting failure on my part, I know) hate. But really, what could be more boring? I am always trying to steer her toward games or legos or really anything but holding three dolls at once while pretending to take them to the park. Again. Plus, one doll's head tends to pop off unexpectedly, and I am always made to be that doll, so there's the added stress of playing while trying not to decapitate the toys.

But back to the day: getting all three kids out the door can be tricky, especially if (due to illness, say) Ian and Mira are not synced in their naps. And yes, the babies were out of sync, but it worked out anyway and once they were both up we scooted out the door. As expected, Ada was completely lovely the moment we went outside. We talked, looked for rocks, and avoided stepping on cracks all the way to the library. (As an aside, although a little put out that I would not let her pilfer a lovely river stone that caught her eye, Ada seems to understand why it is not okay to take "special rocks" out of people's yards. In addition to not stealing from my neighbors, this rule has the benefit of limiting the number of rocks that come home with us.)

On the way there, we passed a man sitting in his yard with a baby. We stopped to say hello and compare ages, and we entered into our usual conversation with strangers:

Man: Are they twins?

Me: Yes. Whenever you think you are having a hard parenting day, you can think of us.

Man: Wow. (Making small bowing motion) I'm impressed. I feel like one is hard!

Me (backpedaling): Actually, they are pretty good. It helps that I had practice with her (pointing to Ada). And she's a really good big sister.

Immediately I thought to myself, why am I such an asshole? Why do I need this nice stranger to acknowledge my workload? All parenting is hard, and why make him bow to my superhuman parenting abilities? I need to stop implying that things are so much harder with twins. I mean, they are harder in some ways, but there are a lot of ways in which just having one baby and a preschooler would be just as challenging. It really depends on the day, or maybe the moment.

Speaking of the day, the rest of the day Ada was a joy. After the library we popped into our local biscuit shop for eats. When we got home (just in time to feed Mira and Ian before they passed out) Ada decided she wanted to stay outside. So, fine. We agreed she could play on the porch or in the yard, as long as I could see her my perch in from the dining room. Ada is so good about this kind of thing. She played on her own for an hour while I got Ian and Mira fed, diapered, nursed and in bed. Then I went outside and we played until Mira woke up. Then we read books and hung out outside most of the rest of the day.  At some point I thought to myself that I needed to remember to tell Ada how much fun I had with her, what a joy she was to be around. (I did tell her that at bedtime, but I am not sure she actually heard me, as she was practically asleep when her head hit the pillow.)

You DO TOO like being outside 
Maybe the wrong photo for a post on the virtues of going outside.
He really does like leaving the house.

On Saturday, Ada was crabby, crabby, crabby. She insisted she could not go upstairs to get something from her room because she was afraid. She didn't want to be lonely. Never mind that it would take 30 seconds to run upstairs, grab the shirt and zoom back down, which was about one tenth of the time she took whining about the idea. Everything was a struggle, and it took all my will not to yell at her. Luckily some friends called and we forced Ada out the door to go see them. When Chris took the babies home for lunch and nap, Ada and I played in the park. Later that day I took Ada and a friend to a local art center, where they had a fantastic time. By the time the friend's parents came to get her at 8:30 that night, the girls had also built a complicated block and toy city, acted out a complicated story in which they were "super baby kittens" and eaten the (fantastic) brownies I made on a whim. So we were back in the "happy" category, family-wise.

balance beam

The main lesson for me is to leave the house. No matter how hard the kids make that, leave the house. They, and I will be the better for it.


  1. You've made something click for me. I've always been convinced that I simply have the wrong constitution for 24/7 motherhood and need an outside-the-home career. However, the only time I've been home with my daughters for extended periods is when they're sick and we can't go out. I LOVE my weekends with my girls, because we're out and about.

    Food for thought. Thanks.

    I think I'm just contrary. When people say, "Oh twins must be easier because they always have each other to play with," I argue. When people bow, I argue.

    You have a gorgeous family.

  2. Thanks for the reminder...leaving the house makes all the difference for us too! Sometimes I get caught up in milling around the house, trying to get one more load of laundry done, or just a few emails on the computer, or veggies chopped for dinner...and wonder why my kids are bouncing from the walls and driving me crazy! We no longer live in Portland, and now that we are in sunny Tucson I tend to open the door and tell my kids to go outside and play rather than hopping on the bikes for a ride, or heading to the park... But yes, a true change of scenery goes a long way for everyone.

  3. My daughter MJ had a sheer fascination with rocks. She loved them and made it a point to have one from every walk. At a certain point I had to say no more rocks. She was saving everyone in her room. This of course lead her to sneaking them into her pockets. Which lead to forgetting them in her pockets. Which lead to VERY loud laundry.

  4. I grew up in Denver where, like Portland, leaving the house was a necessity in the winter to avoid cabin fever. we got really good at bundling up, and even as an adult, I love the way cold air smells when it hits my face and the rest of me is warm.

    I feel the same way about my whiny HD. something about fresh air rejuvinates, and taking the 20-60 mins to actually get outside is always worth it.

    glad you had such a wonderful couple days with your big kid. enjoy our non-rainy-ness!

  5. Leave the house. That's my answer to everything. Even if we just go outside to look at the fire hydrant. Sounds like you are kicking ass and taking names with three. Rock on, nonlineargirl. I am impressed!