My Top Ten Posts of 2016, My Least Prolific Year

Homecoming: 3 Car Pile-Up

My least prolific year! Woohoo! Let’s “unpack” this, shall we? (Ugh, what’s with that phrase lately?)

I began blogging in 2012, about a thousand years after blogging went out of style. Ah, yes, Melissa has always been a late bloomer. Since then, I have had up to 68 posts per year and up to 20,000 visitors per year. However, 2016 was a bit of a bust – in real life and here on my blog, amiright?

With a measly 18 posts during the calendar year, and a solid five months of zero posts at all, my brain got a bit backed up. As I have repeated ad nauseum, I cannot think if I don’t write. However, my blog did manage to rack up 13,836 views with 8,067 visitors for those 18 posts. That’s a bit scary.

What happened to me? Let’s see… Special needs. Check. Potty training twins. Check. Lack of napping. Check. Publicly admitting to an anxiety disorder. Check. And my brother moving in. Check. (I love that guy, and I love having him here, but adjusting to a larger and even more chaotic household changed the game a little bit.)

My top ten posts of 2016 were not necessarily written in 2016. (The all-time #1 hit remains unchanged – a 2012 classic.) So, here’s a little countdown of the most viewed posts in 2016…

#10: What Happened When I Made “Black Lives Matter” My Profile Picture the Day After the Election?

#9: Kindergarten These Days. Sheesh.

#8: When Only My Black Son Gets Assigned to the Wrong Family

#7:I Studied Abroad in Italy to Get Back at My Boyfriend, Part 2: Culture (Men) Shock

#6:My Birth Story: How I Almost Lost My Uterus, My Life, and a Twin

#5: How a Good Girl Accidentally Shaved Her Head and Got a Tattoo One Time

#4: “But He’s Black!” (A Day in the Life of a Transracial Family)

#3: Eight Reasons Why I Can’t Talk on the Phone

#2: How I Really Feel About Birthmothers

#1: So, What is IVF Really Like? (A Thesis)

However, my own personal favorites are usually the least-viewed posts. Funny how that works. They feel like art to me. Like a piece of art I made for my children. A snapshot of their beautiful little lives and their flawed mother. I think my top five favorite pieces (but not yours) of 2016 were:

A Valentine’s Chart: He Says, She Hears

Mothering My Child Named “Anxiety”

Having Twins is Not the Same as Having Two Children (The Parking Lot Double Tantrum Event)

Mom Math

I’ve Got to Pop That White Bubble (Or, The Rap Incident)

Say, that last post there reminds me of something: during the time that I wasn’t writing, to be fair to myself, I was learning a tremendous amount about transracial adoption, white privilege, and Black history. I’ve been listening, reading, and studying like someone lit a fire under my butt. Because, well, someone did. You’re going to hear a lot more from me in 2017 about racial injustice. If you don’t like that, don’t let the door hit you in the a$$ on your way out.

love you!

 

I Used to Be Good at So Many Things

And now I’m not.

I was a good caver. I was a good hiker. A voracious reader. I had a huge vocabulary. Took enough Latin that I could figure out most definitions just by the etymology of a word.

I kept a clean house. I was an excellent cook. I made things like Japanese hibachi and biscotti from scratch.

I made plans, like what beautiful thing to frame next and where to put it on the wall that would be oh-so-visually pleasing. I emailed and called people back. I made plans with them too.

Ice Bar, Stockholm

Ice Bar, Stockholm

I traveled. I drove across the country a few times. I lived in Italy. I visited Hawaii, Sweden, Italy again, Mexico (for one day anyway), Finland, and even Australia.

When something broke, I fixed it or replaced it. I bathed my dog. I think I even took her to the vet. I had beautiful flowers and planned which annuals I would plant each year. I grew vegetables in containers on the deck, and then we ate those vegetables. I watered things.

Now broken things sit in a pile on my counter for months. And then more broken things go on top of them. My dog is so filthy that even a two-year-old who can lick a doctor’s waiting room floor will pull away from petting in disgust.

Every flower and every plant dies. I don’t actually buy plants. My mother gives them to me as gifts, prepotted and beautiful, and I still kill them. (Actually, Twin B usually kills them. On purpose.) My houseplants look like skeletons.

I still cook every day, three times a day (because “triplets” do not go to restaurants), but the meal has to be made in under fifteen minutes. Many delicious and healthy things can be made in that time frame, but none of them is red lentil curry. I burn things for the first time in my life. I scorch pans. It’s not my fault. Changing two poops during cooking will throw anyone off.

caving

Can you tell why this maneuver is called “chimneying”?

I haven’t been caving in five years. I itch to get underground again, where no one can find me. I miss hiking – the real kind that takes all day and you have to pee leaning against a tree and you run out of water and you see heaven when you reach the top. I still hike, but it’s the kind with a triple stroller on a paved path, or the kind where you’re carrying twins and a diaper bag and groceries from the car to the house.

I miss reading. Desperately. I still read… Facebook. (Hey, it’s adult interaction, mmmkay?) I also read scary horror articles about how this modern world will poison and screw up my children. I read (quick) recipes and I read Lego instructions. I read IEP evaluations and drafts. Sometimes I even read a (chapter of a) parenting book.

My house still gets cleaned. When a kid spills, I mop. When a kid wets the bed, I change sheets. When a baby poops in the tub, I bust out the disinfectant.

I still plant and water things, if you can accept a cheesy metaphor about how I plant seeds of information and learning in my children’s brains. And then I water their brains.

I still fix things. When a toy four-wheeler accidentally becomes a three-wheeler, I put it back together. When the kids storm the baby gate right off its hinges, I repair it. When my child is sobbing, I hug him. And, when my kid falls off the deck, I call the doctor. I’m a fixer.

I still travel… if you count going Target for diapers (and for that cute dress on clearance that accidentally fell into my cart while three kids cried and whined). When we’re feeling really brave, we venture a whole one hour to the grandparents’ houses. Whew.

I still make plans. I plan to change my sheets and vacuum the steps and empty out the trunk and upload all my photos onto Shutterfly. Soon. Real soon. I do, however, make and follow through on plans every day to go to the park, the gym, and the playground.

I set the bar low, because I’m an Okayest Mom. It’s how I survive. I’m okay (pun intended) with that, but I do ache for my old life sometimes.

Calling people back? Caving? A decent vocabulary? Now those are just gonna have to wait.

***

PS, I was never good at driving a motorcycle. The motorcycle course remains the only class I have ever failed. I have decided I am a passenger in life. I love sitting on the back. That’s okay too.

I’m Just an Okayest Friend

I’m an okayest friend with extraordinary friends.

Some of my reasons for being an Okayest friend

Some of my reasons for being an Okayest friend

Both my family and my husband’s family have always supported me (sometimes even literally). But I also have this small mom tribe around me who have bailed me out of trouble a thousand times during this tumultuous time of life. I don’t have a lot of friends, but I have a lot of support. For this, I consider myself extremely lucky. Friends are not obligated to support me, yet somehow I have been the recipient of much more love than I have ever given. Unfortunately, I am sorely lacking in the payback department.

Recently, a good friend posted an article she liked about what it takes to be in her “mom tribe”, which made me think about my own mom tribe. I liked the article so much that I wanted to add to it. As two of my dearest members of my support team prepare to move away this month, I would like to dedicate this post to my mom tribe.

My closest friends in my tribe have exhibited at least one of the following traits:

You make me want to spill my guts. In one-sentence bursts between toddler demands.

You don’t say things like, “Kids love me!”

You don’t post selfies – with the exception of your profile pic, of course. We all need at least one selfie. And you don’t take gym selfies.

You tell me when I wear the wrong kind of shoes to the gym.

You make me pee a little with text one-liners in the middle of the night.

You don’t brag about your kids too much… cuz I’m sure mine are always gonna be behind.

Those times my husband is out of town and we are all sick, you might drop a loaf of bread or a box of cookie butter cookies or Pedialyte on my porch in a germ-free drive-by, even though you know I would probably never reciprocate.

One time, when we were all sick at Christmastime, you offered to come over and put all my ornaments on my tree. Because I hate that job.

You always lift my kid up to the throw a ball in the basketball hoop at the gym, even though you have four or five of your own kids to lift up.

You offer to watch my two-year-old twins when I’m in a terrible bind, even though you know I probably won’t reciprocate.

You don’t judge. We hear that trite phrase a lot, but you know that you don’t know what it’s like to be wrapped up in the Okayest Family anxiety/migraine/ developmental delay/ infertility/ almost died/ twin/ adoption/ transracial situation.  (Just as I don’t know what it’s like to have a husband deploy, or work on his second PhD, or have four or five or six or even two kids.)

We don’t clean our houses for each other. More importantly, we don’t apologize for not cleaning.

You have given us beautiful hand-me-down toys and clothes, even though you could have taken those items to the consignment store for cash. You pretty much gave me money out of your own pocket. I will pay it forward.

When I was super overwhelmed, you tapped me on the shoulder during church and said you were going to teach my Sunday School class of seven-year-olds. You would not take “no” for an answer. You demanded that I give you the lesson manual and march myself to an adult class for once. (I cried. With relief. In the bathroom. And then I went to the adult Sunday School to refill my soul.)

We don’t call each other, visit, or plan activities between the hours of 4-7 pm. It’s the unspoken SAHM rule. (Note: Germ-free drive-bys are permitted within this window.)

I get a little distracted from friendships sometimes

I get a little distracted from friendships sometimes

You don’t keep score. Of anything. Who called last, who gave more car pool rides, who offered to help… (Good thing, too, because I would lose. Every time.)

You didn’t care that time that I RSVP’d yes to your kid’s birthday party and then totally forgot to come.

You have offered to bring me dinner.

When I came out of intensive care, you had arranged a schedule with five weeks of dinners from church sisters.

You actually want to hang out with me sans kids, but you will settle for my three screaming toddlers. But you have responded to my pleas for girls night.

Two times, you brought me a donut.

When I was on bedrest, you arranged daily care for my toddler with different church sisters.

When I panic about a tremendous load on my shoulders, and message you a long rambling message begging for ideas to help me fix that problem, you respond right away. You don’t get mad when I don’t make time to write back to you, even though you made time for me.

You have caught a runaway twin of mine in a parking lot.

When my twins climbed out of their cribs and quit napping, you came over and laid on my floor and helped get one to sleep. (In case you don’t know, putting a toddler to sleep is NOT cozy and sweet like putting a newborn to sleep!)

When I tell you something I already told you, or I tell you about that cool new product that everyone knows about but me, you make fun of me instead of just nodding and smiling.

You ask how the kids are doing when you know they are sick/ have a big meeting/ appointment/ hard thing to do. I only hope I remember to ask about your sweet kids as much as you do about mine.

You have walked me through the IEP process and calmed my fears.

You have broken the Sabbath to watch my kids so I could break the Sabbath to attend a once-in-a-lifetime concert. (Not that I am condoning this….But, Bob Dylan? Jack White?)

No competition. Duh. If you have a cute party, I’m not gonna one-up you. I promise.

You tell me I’m doing good.

Why have you all done these things? You all make me laugh and you make me cry. You all hold me up. You all show true love and service through many of these things. This list is an amalgam of different friendships. I would be a lucky woman if I had even had one of these things happen to me from this list. You all know who you are, and I thank you. I can only hope that someday, when my kids are in school, and when I don’t feel so overwhelmed and wild-eyed, I will reciprocate. Or at least pay it forward. I only hope you can accept my apologies for not being able to reciprocate/pay it forward just yet… But I thank you for having faith in me anyway.

You all are not okayest. You’re amazing,

To the Other Migraine Mommas

wpid-wp-1436319915505.jpegI am no stranger to pain – I get tremendous migraines. All my life. My mom can remember me having headache pain as young as five years old. This is the one topic that I can’t seem to write about properly. Chronic pain is such a tricky bedfellow. Usually, I plan and memorize entire blog posts in my brain before sitting down at the computer to finally type them. I normally vomit up a blog post in one go, during naptime or at 5AM before the kids wake up. I always know what I want to say.

Not so with the migraine writing. I don’t even usually talk about migraines, much less write about them. It’s just too hard, or too depressing. Maybe I keep throwing away the blog posts about migraines because it is too difficult to capture. Or because I don’t want the pity. Or because I assume that you, my dear readers, could never understand. (*gasp!* Did I just insult you?! If you have migraines too, or other chronic pain, I apologize!)

I’m not a visual person. I’m a verbal person. (Obviously. I’m a blogger. Duh.) I can’t pronounce words until I can spell them. I have a ticker tape of my sentences running through my head at all times. I solve problems by writing about them on my blog. I even email my husband when I have hard stuff to say (and, bless his heart, he emails back). However, migraines seem to be the one thing that I can’t dissect with words. Maybe it’s because I can’t remember a time without them.

In my neurologist’s office, there are rows of framed artwork of depictions of migraines running down the length of the hall. Seeing those for the first time made me shudder. It was the first time that I felt someone had visually captured my pain. There were various paintings of dark, evil stuff. There were sharp colors and blunt objects and horror movie scenes. There was black and white. There were heavy burdens and twisted messes. There was isolation. Loneliness. Despair.

It was beautiful. Someone understood. Lots of people, actually.

Migraines are not headaches. They don’t respond to even the strongest addictive narcotics. They are not normal pain that a normal pain pill with a DEA Controlled Substance classification can fix. They cause vomiting, sometimes for days if the pain gets out of control, and sometimes I can’t see out of one eye. I don’t need to go into all the gory details, but after four days of that, I start to see how people could contemplate suicide. Or at least a drill in the head. (Don’t google that.)

People who experience chronic pain of any kind understand that life is not the same for us. We can’t do certain things, or go certain places. We can’t lead a completely full life, no matter how much we pretend that we do. Anyone with chronic pain can get downtrodden. The weight of any pain that is relentless – that you know will come back even if you control it – is exhausting. It messes with your head (no pun intended).

I could go on and on about this. Medications, trials, new medications, side effects, prevention, triggers, tricks, resources… but I don’t want to do that.

I want to talk to the moms who also experience migraines.

Anyone with migraines has my utmost empathy. But other moms with migraines (and other chronic pain) have my respect. No one but you all really know what I go through when I am trying to care for children while handling a migraine (poorly). I can see it in your eyes. I know.

You give away that baby lotion that has too strong of a smell to other non-migraine moms. You keep the lights off in the house during the day too. You have fixed meals for your children while taking a break to vomit and pray. You can’t take your migraine medication when you need to, because you have to be alert, for your children’s safety. You contemplate other medications with serious side effects and undesirable consequences, just so you can care for the children. You look into your biological children’s eyes and wonder if they could be having a headache today, because they are extra naughty or extra whiny. You pray that they have not inherited the 50% chance of this curse. You offer a silent prayer of thanks that your adopted child will never carry this burden. You can’t take your children to the park sometimes, because heat or sunshine might push the headache you have into a migraine. Poopy diapers (x twins!), which are normally a disagreeable nuisance, become almost impossible. You avoid playdates with another beloved mom friend because she may use a certain cleaner or a scented candle or an air freshener in her house. You have to gather all your courage to sheepishly ask the nursery leader at church to please consider not wearing perfume because it transfers to your babies. You can’t join the other moms at the indoor play area place because certain noise might be a trigger. You wish you could work in an office, because at least it would be quiet- but then again, it would be fluorescent, so nevermind. You calculate how many hours or minutes until your husband normally arrives and base your medication choice on that. You have called your husband and told him to come home from work early because you have done all you can do, but now you have to hole up in the dark and deal with this pain.

When he gets home and takes over, you have to let the pain in. You have to stop fighting it and face it. And it is a blinding pain. Searing. And it scares you sometimes, even though you have done this for thirty years. Your husband wonders if you have a low pain tolerance, but you want to scream that he would know just how high your pain tolerance is if you two could switch bodies for just two minutes. Your strong lumberjack of a husband would be on his knees – you know it. And you love him anyway and look into his eyes and once again offer a prayer of thanks that he doesn’t have to understand this pain. (Plus, being a spouse to someone with migraines is a pain unto itself.)

I'm in there somewhere.

I’m in there somewhere.

And yet, we manage to dress the children through all this. We fix them three meals and two snacks anyway. We take them places when we can. Break up fights. Clean up toys. Do some laundry. Change poops that seem to smell a hundred times worse than they really do, and it burns our brains. We pretend we’re fine and squint through the pain while we watch them play. We try to read another story even though the board book is a bit blurry. Our stomachs lurch when we hear their piercingly loud squeals of joy that would normally sound so cute. Our eyes literally water with the pressure, but we try to smile and build another Lego tower. We handle it. There.is.no.other.choice.

There is no one to help you. You are alone with your pain. But I empathize. I get it. You have my respect.

There is a special place in heaven for moms with migraines.

Okayest Mom’s Okayest Wish List

The Okayest Family

The Okayest Family

Okayest Mom is easy to please. I don’t have unrealistic expectations for Mother’s Day, or for any other day. Okayest Mom doesn’t know how to dream big. Therefore, I’m not asking for what I really want (which we all know is sleeping in and a day alone so I can binge-watch Netflix). Nope. Gotta get my head outta the clouds. If anyone asks me what I want for Mother’s Day, I’m gonna give them this Okayest Wish List.

To have a day where someone does not clock me in the jaw with their shoe, fist, head, or monster truck

To eat a meal without showing my partially chewed food while I yell, “Don’t talk with your mouth full!”

Not to hit my head on the van door

Not to step on a Transformer while I leap over the baby gate like a Olympian hurdler

Not only to go to the bathroom with the door closed (duh!), but also to go to the bathroom without anyone outside the bathroom experiencing Grievous Bodily Harm

To put away a little bit of laundry

To be on time to something

Not to get sweaty during the day

Not to experience the Tri-Cry (all children simlul-crying)

To sleep in until 7:00 AM – nothing outrageous like 7:15 AM or anything

To have no one poop (Yeah, you heard me. So what if that’s not healthy? They poop too.dang.much.)

Not to fix a meal ten minutes too late (No matter when I fix it, it’s ten minutes too late.)

To remain seated during most of my meal (I wouldn’t want to get greedy and expect that I would never have to get up…)

Not to allow any of my fears for my children’s well-being to escalate into unreasonable proportions in my mind

Not to get a headache

To see more smiles than tears

There. So reasonable. So okayest. We got this. What’s on your wish list this year, dear readers?

***

Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday for many of us, whether because of a loss of a child, or of a mother, or of a dream. While I am infinitely grateful for my hard-to-acquire and super-precious children, I have not forgotten how this holiday used to be one of the hardest days of the year for me. I have not forgotten you! Last year I posted one of my personal favorites, Mother’s Day Can Sometimes Feel Like a Bruise. I hope you like it too.

Inside the Brain of a Gym Newbie During a Workout

As you know, I am new to this whole gym thing. (My carrying-twins-injuries forced my hand.) Sometimes, sweating it out in a perfectly controlled environment gives me the giggles. Here’s what I am thinking while I’m working out:

Workout phrases like “ab cuts” and “ab ripper” need to banned from any place where females have recently had c-sections.

Boredom buster: I like listening to ridiculous 80s pop on my headphones while looking around to see which huge testosterone muscle guys are working out to that girlie beat. If they only knew.

Is it normal to collapse in a fit of giggles when a personal trainer shouts encouraging platitudes like “You do you!”?

Why does everyone under 30 have fluorescent sneakers? The rest of us seem to be sticking to neutral shoes. Note to self: buy fluorescent shoes.

I wish I knew why I am only making my left glute sore. I must be doing working out wrong.

Is my arm too skinny to wear one of those arm-band-phone-holders?

I am so used to yoga that I still feel like I should be gym-ing barefoot. I also never remember water. I was usually semi-upside-down in yoga, so water was always a bad idea. Note to self: Remember water. Remember shoes.

When my husband asked if I get “hit on” at the gym, I remind him that I’m a real catch with a wedding ring on one hand and THREE children’s daycare wristbands on my other hand.

Irony: the place where we go to get healthy is the place that keeps making my kids sick.

While feeling a twinge of modesty, I began to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t wear tight clothes to the gym. That was the day my long shirt got caught on the rowing machine.

Oh, this elliptical counts how many calories I burned? This will be awesome. I bet I have burned like 600 calories by now… or, okay, maybe just 12. I worked so hard to burn off that last sip of my kid’s juice with the backwash in it?

I had a Spinal Tap moment when the elliptical automatically turned my incline up to 11. I really thought it stopped at 10. How high does it go? Vertical? (“PUT IT UP TO 11!” … “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”)

Whenever I feel weak and stupid, I just look around and think, “None of these perfect people has had twins. How many people in here gained 80 pounds of twins, then sat around on bed rest for months, then almost died in childbirth, and then carried those twins around until her spine bent? Nobody, that’s who!” (Oh, except for the person working out right next to me, my twin momma friend/gym buddy…) Then I can hold my head up a little higher.

I really hope no one saw that one time I got my headphones stuck in a coat hanger.

Once I realized I was SUPPOSED to stick my butt out during squats, things started to improve. (They say it strengthens your lower back to stick that butt out during squats. I think people just want to see butts.) I did ballet as a kid and again in college, and I was trained to tuck that junk IN! If you stuck your butt out in ballet you probably got it smacked with a ruler.

Fake boobs?

I will definitely need more underwear and socks.

The catalog phrase “gusseted crotch for ease of movement” on workout pants is synonymous for NO CAMEL TOE. You’re welcome.

***

What can you add, dear readers?

Mom Secret: Gym Memberships are Cheaper than Preschool (and the Looney Bin)

I went to the gym yesterday. I feel like giggling when I say that.

Why does a thin girl who has never played a sport in her life, doesn’t know how to run, and can’t tell a treadmill from an elliptical join a gym? Well, thanks for asking. Let me tell you. All moms know this little secret: a gym membership is cheaper than preschool.

Also, the twins destroyed my body (no, not like that). But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Before I had kids, I had a good friend with five very small children, none of whom were yet in school. She worked out at the gym every.single.day. I asked her what in the world would possess her to be so hard on herself. She said, “Are you crazy? The gym is the easiest thing I do all day. This is the ONLY way I get a shower.” Huh.

Now that I have three small non-school-age children of my own, I see the light! I told my husband that we were gonna have to put the twins in preschool … or send me to the looney bin. However, this whole gym membership thing seemed like a more reasonable choice – even for me, the least athletic person ever.

I’m no slouch. I mall-walked four miles several times per week, while pushing a double stroller and carrying a kid strapped to my chest for months. I regularly trail-walked with a TRIPLE JOGGING STROLLER that weighed more than I did with the kids in it. And, I did yoga regularly for ten years before the twin pregnancy, so I’m not totally klutzy. But I have never played a sport … and the only way you will see me running is when my Hurricane Twin darts into parking lots. (My college roommate used to just burst into a run on the way to class, just as some people may spontaneously burst into song. She would burst into a run. I would not join her. She once asked, “Don’t you ever just feel like running?” No, no, I don’t.)

During this super long winter, I felt like a dog running in circles without enough exercise. Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer, always says that there is no replacement for “forward motion” for your dog. Going on a walk is so much better than running in circles in the living room. I’m going to make a leap here and say that the importance of “forward motion” applies to toddlers and moms of toddlers, as well as dogs. (Sorry to compare you to dogs again, kids!)

Mr. Okayest and I looked at several reasonably-priced gyms. I’m not a picky mom (duh), but some of the childcare places looked a little less than okayest. I didn’t exactly think I would be motivated to work out if the childcare facilities made me feel sad. My twin-friend joined a rather expensive gym that had the most amazing childcare facility I had ever seen. Skylights. Indoor jungle gyms. Mini-treadmills. Just kidding about that last one. And my friend swore that they actually cleaned their toys. And they had closed-circuit nanny-cams that you could watch while you worked out on the ellipticals (treadmills? I dunno). You could watch what kid hits your kid and then stalk his mom across the sauna. Just kidding. This was a place that I could imagine throwing my three kids in – until I heard the price. After hearing the price, I said “no thank you” for a whole year.

Then, we learned that the twin pregnancy had actually done some real damage to my spine. It turns out that carrying twins in your uterus and then carrying twins on your hips isn’t good for your back. Who knew?! The x-rays showed that adding 80 pounds to my 115 pound body was more than I could bear. I lost the weight, but I didn’t lose the damage. I’ve recently started going to doctors and physical therapy, but it seems that I have some permanent troubles. More muscle won’t cure me, but it will certainly help. (A little more muscle can only help with my day job, anyway.)

This back problem has also been making my lifelong migraines worse, and it’s all becoming a vicious cycle. And throwing my back out every couple of months (weeks) only makes life harder for my loved ones. My sweet husband and parents and in-laws have done more than enough taking care of me! I am so grateful for their help and so desperate not to need it.

I kept trying to get back into yoga, but my back problems would prevent me from doing the one thing that I knew would help. (Ah, the old familiar catch-22 of chronic pain…) Also, while I’m making excuses, let me add that the local rec center offered yoga at 8PM. In case you’re not familiar with being a stay-at-home mother of multiples, let me just say that 8PM might as well be 2AM. By the time the kids are in bed at 7:30PM, I am too tired to lift the remote or the phone. Seriously. (I made it there a few times over the last year, but it took superhuman strength.)

My twin friend and my husband both said that the only way the exercise was going to get done was if I took the kids with me. My twin friend and my husband both said that you couldn’t put a price on a gym buddy, or having time to yourself away from the kids. I said you can’t put a price on a closed-circuit nanny-cam that I could watch while I was on the elliptical (treadmill? I dunno).

I was terrified to go to the gym for the first time. I stalled for a few days. Or more. What do I wear? How do I maneuver three little ones into a new place? What do I bring? Where do I put my stuff? I had to convince Mr. Okayest to take me on a Saturday, to show me around, even though he had never been there either. (I have a weird quirk that going to new places alone for the first time makes me unreasonably nervous.) He helped me wrangle three confused kids into the childcare area. The good news about twins is that at least they always have each other.

Then he showed me the difference between an elliptical and a treadmill. He showed me which machines might be good for my back, even though I wanted to cry because I didn’t see any women on them. I’m only here for yoga classes, I said! I felt so self-conscious at first. Nobody looked like they were first-timers like me. Nobody looked like they had toothpick arms like me. And you know what else? Nobody looked at me, either. Nobody cares about me! They are just there to work out and get a break from their kids and fix their crooked backs.

And the best part? I got to watch my kids on the nanny-cam while I worked out. All three stuck together like glue. Often, they even sit in a circle, back to back, as if they are circling the wagons. “I’ve literally got your back, bro.” And the other best part? I felt great after working out… like I actually wanted to go again. Why didn’t you guys tell me I would like it?!

This whole gym thing won’t be forever. Once the kids are in school, I could switch to a less-fancy gym without the childcare from heaven. Plus, once I magically become a more athletic person, maybe I could ditch the gym and exercise on my own like Mr. Okayest. My okayest goal is to go once a week. Maybe I will get there more often, but we still have trails to walk.