We celebrated two with a fanfare of a birthday party, no theme other than good-old-fashioned-birthday – meaning we had balloons, birthday-themed plates, and two “cakes” designed from cupcakes. Almost all of the girls’ friends and neighbors came for a Labor Day cookout/birthday party. And good times were had by all.
But this isn’t a mommy-specific blog, where I ooh & aah you with all of my Pinterest-worthy aspects of our party. I love reading other blogs that do that, although I must admit that I can struggle with creativity-envy afterwards. Or I may be inspired by such blogs and Pinterest pins, just depends on where my heart is in a given day.
The twins becoming two has been a slow, ever-increasing process that began around 6 months ago as both the tantrums and the precocious nature blossomed. Now both aspects are in full bloom, which leaves me both laughing in delight and exasperated in anger in the course of a day (or 10 minutes). Many moments, it is wonderful to watch the way they will play together, yelling “Come find me!” and running away for her sister to chase her. They love their new sandbox on our back deck, and they end each day laughing and “talking” to each other as they drift off to sleep in cribs across the room. Other moments, I again feel the twin-pull that’s been present since birth. Of TWO very needy children in the same stage, wanting the same thing from their ONE Mommy. And I feel completely at a loss of how to respond. How do you triage the toddler who just got bitten with the toddler who bit her? The girls who are both melting down with fear or with tiredness or hunger and want to be held now while also expecting me to meet their need (of cooking dinner, for instance, or putting each down for a nap). I am faced with a sense of inadequacy in these moments. One that I should be used to by now, but which still feels hard. Maybe it’s more of a cumulative effect, building with each month, rather than one that goes away.
In one such moment, I desperately opened the Bible (rather than the cookie jar or Facebook or email), and this verse jumped off the page for me: “Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19) I’m going to take a big hermeneutical leap and jump straight to applying it to my life as a mom. I know that’s not the original context (persecution of the early Church was), but I think God who was present with those suffering Christians then also wants to be present to us when we suffer now in the self-sacrificial calling of motherhood. The frustrations of motherhood fit into this category of suffering according to God’s will. And so what am I called to do? Entrust my soul (what’s in danger of harm) to God, my Creator who is faithful. While continuing to do good. This is Christianity on the go. Spirituality that I can live with as a mom.
God says to us, “Keep doing what you’re doing. It’s good work. Yes, it involves suffering which will test and try your very soul. But I, who made you and created you, am faithful to care for you, strengthen you, empower you to continue to do good. Your suffering in the pouring out of your life for these little ones is according to my will for you. I who strengthened your Savior who endured this and more, will strengthen you also. By His very life – the life of Christ available to you, dwelling within you by the Spirit.”
I finally sat down to write this out because (surprise, surprise) I need to hear it again in this moment. The morning was lovely, I was able to get tasks accomplished after we played with a neighbor down the street, lunch was battle-free, and then naptime hit and they rebelled. My heart did so, too, in response. We are the same. We need the same Savior. My only hope for pointing them to Him is that I run to Him myself.
As a small comical ending, in reading “Your Two-Year-Old: Terrible or Tender?” (a developmental classic by Ilg & Ames), they concluded their book with some practical pointers that I recommend to myself and all of you fellow parents of two-year-olds. Doubly so, if they’re also twins:
THINGS TO AVOID:
1. Avoid any expectation that all daily routines will go smoothly. Even if you do your best, your child will not always cooperate fully.
2. Do not introduce any sudden changes in routine without warning or without some cushioning buildup.
3. Avoid any questions that can be answered by “No,” such as, “Do you want to have your bath now?”
4. Do not give choices when it matters.
5. Do not expect your child to wait for things or to take turns easily.
6. Avoid ultimatums, such as, “You have to eat all your lunch before you can go out and play.”
7. Avoid getting all upset by your child’s demands and rigidities. Try to see these behaviors not as badness or rebellion but rather as immaturity. Try to appreciate the wonder and complexity of growing behavior, even when it makes trouble for you.
8. Do not be surprised or upset at “No” or “No, I won’t.”
9. Do not take away or object to your child’s security blanket or favorite, bedraggled toy. Do not fuss at him when he sucks his thumb.
10. Do not expect your child to share easily with other children.
… and my personal favorite: 11. Do not be surprised if you are unduly fatigued at the end of the day.
Sound familiar, anyone? Yes, I see those hands! Though published in 1976, I’ve found it to be helpful in at least attempting to understand what’s going on with my 2-year-olds. Now, doing what they recommend as a result will take much more than my self-effort. See my thoughts on obtaining grace in other posts (and re-read 1 Peter 4:19).