Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Sick day

I usually love firsts. First smiles, first words, first steps... I've savoured every first three times over. But this one wasn't quite as much fun. Today the twins had their first sick day from nursery.

My poorly little mouse 

Poor little G seems to have taken the brunt of our latest tummy bug. M is grumpy and producing some, erm, interesting nappies, while other than one manic dash for the toilet and a lack of appetite, T has been pretty much her normal self. But G was been sleepy and emotional all week. She missed her beloved dance class on Monday as she fell asleep on the way home from gymnastics. The twins haven't had a daytime nap in about a year. On Tuesday, though, she seemed her normal self and headed off the nursery as normal. I figured we'd had a lucky escape.
Until 6 o'clock this morning. I woke up suddenly. Once I'd sucked the dribble off face and become conscious enough to form thoughts, I realised I could hear my eldest sobbing. G is a brilliant sleeper, and only ever cries out if she's poorly. I rushed (well, stumbled in a sleep-deprived haze, trying to force my arm into an inside-out dressing gown sleeve) into the girls' room. G was sitting up in bed.
'What's the matter, honey?' I cooed, stroking her hair. Her eyes were barely open.
'I'm not tired any more!' she sobbed, falling asleep in my arms.
Unsure of what else to do, I tiptoed back out of the room. But it only lasted 30 minutes.
When her cries woke me again, they unfortunately woke M too. 
'I'm not tired any more!' G wailed as I tried to sneak the two of them out of the room without waking the third one.
Exhausted but realistic, I headed into our bedroom to collect my slippers before heading downstairs. While I got a grumpy but resolutely awake M out of her sleeping bag, G crawled up next to her daddy and promptly fell asleep. She stayed there until 9am. Even when she came downstairs, it was only to drink and then throw up some milk, then fall back asleep on the sofa. When, T suddenly sprinted upstairs shrieking that she needed a poo, I knew nursery was out of the question.
I called in, then explained to the twins that they wouldn't be able to go back until next week, to make sure the other girls and boys didn't get poorly too. Instantly, they both sat up straighter.
'But I'm not poorly any more!' insisted G, her eyes still not quite managing to stay fully open.
'I won't be sick,' T added.
As bad as I felt having to insist they stayed at home, I admit I was pleased. We've finally turned that corner. Since returning from the Easter holidays, the twins have been really enthusiastic about preschool. They talk about their friends, and practically run to the door. G is still very shy with the teachers, but she managed to stand up and do a show and tell about her beloved Mickey Mouse, and is really coming out of her shell. T's shell is long gone. She bursts into that building full of smiles and showing off her dress of her hair, grabbing G's hand whenever her sister hesitates. 
I confess I still get a bit fluttery and can't quite relax and enjoy my time without them, but knowing they're not pining for me really helps. 

I can't help it. I just like being with these monkeys!

But today, they had to make do with Mummy. They coped well. G perked up a bit, and we managed to enjoy some time in the garden. They all passed out as soon as their heads hit the pillows, so I hope they're all sleeping off any remaining ill effects. I feel utterly shattered. Sleep-deprived, yes, but I hadn't realised how much a creature of habit I'd become. Wednesday afternoons usually mean dropping the twins at nursery, then hoping M goes for a nap in the buggy so I can do some shopping or grab a coffee. Having to entertain them instead felt very odd. 
I think maybe this will be my turning point. Nursery isn't just fun for the girls, it's good for me too. Having those few hours apart helps me be a better mum when we're all together. I'm more determined than ever to start really using that time for myself. Not shop for food or tidy or simply clock watch until I get my babies back. They've started to enjoy time away from me, and I should follow their lead. When they next head for nursery, I will sit down, relax and enjoy it... promise...

Thursday, 9 May 2013


Best friends... or closest of enemies?

Who'd want to be an only child, huh? No one to play with, no one to share with? Sounds a bit dull to me. Blissfully quiet though.
Recently, I've spent most of my time splitting up arguments and refereeing disagreements about, well, everything. Case in point, the walk back from the bus-stop we use to get to and from nursery. There are two options - 'the road way' and 'the step way'.
'Which way shall we go today?' I asked the other day.
'Road way!' shouted G.
'Step way!' screamed T simultaneously.
A stand-off ensued until I suggested we take turns in choosing.
'So, who will choose today, and who gets the choice tomorrow?' I asked.
'Me today!' yelled T.
'No me!' demanded her sister.
There is simply no way to win. Given a choice, they will automatically demand different things. Or the same thing, if that makes it harder. They battle over every toy, every space, every scrap of my attention. And they have extra competition too, in the shape of a bossy 19-month-old, who thinks using the phrase 'Excuse me!' means you can barge through anything - and anyone - you want without taking prisoners. T, especially, has lost all patience with being one of three.
'Me! Me! I have something to say to you!' has become a familiar cry.

 Sometimes, there just isn't enough Mummy to go around
And this little bundle of cheekiness doesn't help!

When I drop the girls at nursery, they always wander off to play hand-in-hand, best of friends, facing the world together. But back home, they are in competition for everything. It's exhausting. And their fights aren't even what I'm really sick of. The sound of my own nagging voice is almost unbearable.
'Don't do that! Stop fighting! Get off your sister! No, don't draw on that! Take turns! You need to share! Stop licking the window!'
I'm horrid. I signed on for the nappies, the sleepless nights, the wrecked body... I didn't know I was going to become a monster.
'God, all I ever do is tell them off,' my husband complained to me recently. 'I sound like such a grumpy old man.'
A grumpy old couple. How did that sneak up on us? Does it happen to all parents? And do you ever get to turn back into the easy-going, fun-loving human you're pretty sure you used to be? I'm beginning to feel sorry  for my children. If I'm sick of the sound of my own whinging, goodness knows how they feel. I just want to have fun with them. I want to be a playful, happy, laid-back earth mother. Just how old do they have to get before I have a chance at that?

Photos copyright SS Kelman

Friday, 3 May 2013

On My Own

The great thing about having twins is that they always have each other. G and T shared a womb, then a cot, then a room... They had a friendly face there when they started playgroup and nursery. They're best friends, confidantes and constant companions.They have a hand to hold and a shoulder to cry on. They're so lucky.

But the problem with having twins is they always have each other.

From the time they were a little bump, the twins have shared everything

I read recently about a fellow twin mum who's started having the occasional day where she drops just one at nursery, and enjoys some one-on-one time with a single child at a time.

This might seem like I shocking confession, but I had simply never thought of that.

I've spent the past three-and-a-half years ensuring that G and T are individuals. I didn't give them matching names, I've never dressed them alike, and wherever possible, I buy them different toys. But in my quest to make sure no one sees my girls as a set, it seems I may have overlooked someone Me.

They've always had someone to snuggle up to

It's been a great comfort as I've (reluctantly) sent the girls out to face the big bad world that even when they don't Mummy there, they do have each other. But I realise now that not only do they have each other there when Mummy's not around. They have each other there when Mummy is around. M gets some time with me when the girls are at nursery, but the twins have never really had me to themselves. I'm constantly saying: 'One minute, Mummy's just...' or 'I just have to finish this with your sister...' or 'I only have one set of hands!' My children always have to fight for my attention. Maybe it's time they didn't have to.

They soon became best friends

I had a small taste of singleton time with T when I took her to the doctor the other day to have her eczema checked. Now, my little T can't exactly be accused of being short on words at the best of times, but realising she had me to herself, she went into overdrive. She literally did not stop talking the whole way there. And I mean literally. She barely stopped for breath. She knew no one was going to interrupt her, so she made the most of every second. I heard all about every one of her favourite toys, we discussed nursery and teatime and Minnie Mouse. In the waiting room, she delightedly played in the toy house they have set up, making me (and an obliging other patient) cups of tea, and blowing me kiss after kiss. She loved it. And so did I. I didn't feel like I was neglecting anyone, I didn't have to stop her short or put her off. I could listen and play and cuddle just her. 

My only regret was that I didn't get to do the same with G.

My gorgeous girls make a cute picture, but they aren't a set!

So, I'm going to do it. I'm going to make a point of getting one-on-one time with all my girls. The twins have been loving nursery since they got back after Easter, so I may try just taking one at a time for a few days. Or, as that thought still makes me a bit shaky, I might line up Granny to watch a couple of kids at a time. The twins aren't a set, so I should stop treating them like one.

Having a best friend on hand every day sounds like a dream, but even the greatest of mates need a break from each other sometimes. And sometimes, a girl just wants her mummy all to herself.

Photos copyright SS Kelman (