I always pictured myself as the mother of girls, yet here I sit with my 2 wee little men. At the first ultrasound, when normal mommies-to-be typically cry choked-up tears of joy, I stifled a tear for a different reason. The ultrasound technician had to be wrong. Deep down I thought I would be having a girl, yet that third arm in the picture seemed determined to point to a different gender. Fast forward 22 months, same office, same parents, with our list of 20 girl names and NO reputable boy names and we still end up with the same gender announcement and secretive feeling of disappointment. I know I should have felt overjoyed that the itty-bitty baby was healthy-- and I certainly was-- yet something in me wanted to dress up my little one in pink tutus and braid long blonde hair and have tea parties with stuffed Care Bears. But now that I have 2 boys I wouldn't trade them for 2 girls for all the castles in the world.
Well at least he is pouring water over his own head and not his brother's head.
My usual day includes zero mention of princesses, no glittery tiaras, and seldom do we have outfit-drama over matching hearted pants with sequined shoes, and that's a-okay in my book. Our day typically may include some tantrums as we place a black Pixar Cars t-shirt over his noggin unmatched by a pair of navy shorts daddy threw on him to stun even the most color-blind person, checkered socks picked out by T, bright blue shoes from K-Mart that match diddly-squat in our closets, and a larger-than-life camo sun hat. (Somedays I really do cringe at our fashionable ensembles worn to the park. I mean, is his future prom date watching from the monkey bars with disgust?) And though we may not have fru-fru activities relating to "American Girls" dolls, we do keep ourselves plenty busy. We pack in the fun with hikes where thorns scratch us up from picking blackberries, we stare at frogs wallowing in muddy water, and we put dirty rocks in our pockets for home-inspection. Instead of fights over chunky jewelry, Tristan steals his precious Minion away from his 10-month old brother who most times just stares at him in awe; though I know a day will be coming when my future line-backer will grab that Minion back, take down his bro, and show that he is not one to be trifle with. (As I write this, Tristan has just chomped Everett's arm because Everett chomped on his arm... the never-ending drama may be different from girl drama, but it still exists!)
A rare moment of brotherly hand holding... but it's probably more to keep Everett from his Minion toy.
I've heard that little girls with sisters have a best friend for life, but what of little boys? I hope they get past the biting and attempting to steal each other's snacks. Right now I am often caught in the middle as an unbiased referee so that they have minimal "ouchie" impact when knocking one another down to the ground just because one looked at the other's prized Hungry Caterpillar toy. And as the youngest is just now crawling and not even walking, I gaze into the future with some apprehension. If they can whomp each other this mightily now, what will they be doing to each other in a few years? Tristan's favorite phrases are "Evy out, Evy down, and Evy chew" which he uses when he wants Everett out of the swimming pool, down from wherever he is, and to stop chewing on whatever toy he has launched into his mouth. Tristan does not verbalize many words yet, but he graciously finds enough syllables to tattle on and to command the actions of his brother like a mini-dictator. To accompany his gutteral sounds and limited vocabulary are his many gestures of flailing arms in getting his brother to stop whatever fun he thinks he may be having. Yet they also have their special moments where they giggle together chasing down their cousin the dachshund who vainly tries to run away from their grasp. That's early bonding, right? Plus I know they are in cahoots on where they hide the peanut butter jars because I can never find a jar in the house. If conspiring with your brother over clandestine peanut butter jars makes a life-long friend, then so be it.
How could 2 such brothers be trouble with faces like these?
I love my little men, temper tantrums and all. It has taken me all summer to write one blog entry due to the need to stop every 5 seconds to assess wounds and redirect bad tempers. Plus it is hard to write an article about how much you love your pesky boys in the moment where they are choosing to take out all their unmatured fury on you and the sibling. I just hope they learn to love each other. Tristan does sing himself to sleep songs with his brothers name in them, but I am not sure if he is wishing happy unicorns to his brother in these songs or if he is smiling with an eerie sound of 2 year old vengeance. So even though I thought I wanted girls, God knew that I needed these 2 boys in my life. I suppose it will bring out more of the tomboy in me anyway, which I can totally deal with. And as long as I can continue doing the ever-tricky duty of keeping them alive and somewhat unmutinous from day-to-day and they learn to not poke one another's eyes and belly buttons out, then we will be a very thankful family just as we are.
Oh, happy family... or at least 3 of us since toddler-man often will not dignify us with a camera pose.
What qualifies a person for the M-O-T-Y (mother-of-the-year for those not fluent in motherspeak) awards? Sometimes I think I am a shoe-in for first place, and then there's every other day of the year. Do other mothers strive for this self-inflicted award only to fall miles short every time? Do moms of all walks of life have universal fail moments? Do other mamas read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and secretly rename it If You Give a Mouse a Black Eye and its sequel If You Give a Moose a Knuckle-Sandwich or is it just me? What a beady-eyed greedy mouse (and moose in the sequel) that just keeps asking for more and more and more, and I don't want to read it anymore and more and more. I think there may be mommies out there who occasionally crack and just aren't exactly that superhero the little ones may need, and maybe that is okay. I can't imagine it is the norm for swarms of kids to watch their moms bake with all organic ingredients as the mini-me toddlers pretend to bake next to them with real measuring spoons and used coriander containers. I realized since my boys have never seen me bake, their pretending to mix fluffer-nutter and cereal in a big oatmeal container is about as Julia Child as they are ever going to get. Truthfully, when asked to bring something baked to the church picnic, I bring Baked Lays. Does that make me lose my place in the good-mothers-hall-of-fame?
There are moments we do have the picture perfect family I dreamed I could someday have if anyone was crazy enough to ever marry me. You know those times, right? It's when the family is all blissfully trekking through the forest and glades yonder and life is just harmonious. It's that excursion where I actually did remember to carry along the treasured stuffed Octopus (pronounced Ocko-Boo if you're under 3) that Tristan needs or he will ask for it a total of 372 times per minute until we are home. It's the hike where where I packed snacks and extras for when he refuses those foods and, lo and behold, I even crammed in wet-naps to get the sticky strawberry fruit strips off his grubby little hands. Yeah, so the problem is that this scenario stays perfect for only 2 minutes. Then come those times when I realize my 7 month old has lost his shoe miles back, he is dangerously dangling out of the L.L. Bean hiking pack that we just fit perfectly to his chunky little body frame, and the toddler is all too curiously poking a dead animal with a stick. When did it go from serene and beautiful to "Look at THOSE parents! Who gave them a license to parent?!"
My 20-something version of myself never quite pictured me arguing with an infant as he tried to chew on my toes with his new razor-sharp chompers of doom. I also didn't know my blood could boil after spending 20 minutes peeling blueberries (have you ever tried to peel an actual blueberry much less a whole bowl full) handing them over to my little one and watching as they go in the mouth and directly spat out in record time. I didn't see myself ever bribing my children when the very intrinsic value of a quality life lesson just didn't stick in the noggins; for example, "Mommy will give you a sticker if you stop playing dead possum and walk to the car in an orderly fashion." And who knew I could wrestle better than "The Rock" when my toddler needed a diaper change and artfully practiced his dodging and bolting moves? I believe the neighbors have their eye on us, if not for an Academy Award nomination or M-O-T-Y nod, then purely for home entertainment value.
So my question is this: Will it get easier as my kids grow? Will I start to make sense to them someday and not be just that "wah-wah-wah" Charlie Brown parental unit voice when I tell them to do something? And at what age do they actually listen and stop testing the limits? I have 2 wonderfully loveable kids (one is the happiest baby on the planet for real) and even they stretch me beyond what I thought humanly capable. All this comes from a person working with children her entire life and makes me wonder how do the other Mommies in the Universe cope with the very thing that made them moms in the first place. Some days I feel like I am failing on so many levels and other days I see the excitement in the eyes of a little boy who just got his first pair of Incredibles Big Boy Underpants and it is all worth it. Is that the deal with parenthood? You just have to stick out the bad to get to the good... oh no, I feel an 80s sitcom song coming on. "You take the good, you take the bad, you take them all and there ya have, the Facts of Life, the Facts of Life." Thanks Tuti, Natalie, Joe, and Blair for those life lessons I so need to hear 25 years later. (Google "Facts of Life theme song" if you haven't the foggiest clue to my ramblings.) Now let me remember more of those inspirational 80s sitcom mantras as my baby pulls up lawn grass to chew and my toddler fixates on balloons tied to garabage cans instead of all the cool games and pony rides at the fair. And someone please remind me that I am doing my best to love these two little men, and that love is more important than any showcase of medals society may dish out.