I Have Ping Pong Balls in My Head

My heart deflates and swells a hundred times a day.

img_20151107_154642.jpgHave you ever had a moment when you felt like you were going to run out of the house screaming like your head was on fire because you couldn’t take one more second of toddlers? I have twin toddlers. They ask the same question, sequentially. Then I try to answer both of them at the same – because, after all, they just asked the same question – and it never works. Inevitably, only one of them will listen to the answer. Then the other one says, “What you say?” and I have to repeat it again.

Thus, I have the questioning of toddlers, in stereo, at all times. It makes me long for the good old days of mono. (Audiophile joke there.)

I’m tired in my bones.

They have quit napping. Did I mention that? For real this time. I have coerced and forced and reinforced naptime many times over, and I have always won every uprising and insurgence the twins have launched at me. Not this time. It’s been several weeks and all my bribes, threats, tricks, and separations have gone over like a lead zeppelin. (Audiophile joke there.)

I can’t write anymore, so my blog and my brain are suffering. And, oh, the irony: I finally get my oldest child off to kindergarten, and the twins decide that very week that they are done with naptime! There is no rest for a momma.

I have tried quiet time. It worked with my oldest child. Play with some toys and be quiet and let’s do this until kindergarten starts. But these twins turn quiet time into a WWE match. There is almost nothing in their room – no toys, nothing – and yet they manage to put holes in walls and perhaps in their heads as well. Twins always have an audience, and they love it.

I have tried separation. The Hurricane Twin gets the guest room. Then both of them cry. Forever. They don’t know how to live when they are apart.

I have tried separating the twins, but joining with one twin in the guest room. Hey, even though I won’t get my own time, at least I get some cuddle time with no questions in stereo, right? Hmmm. Not really. Heaven forbid I nod off… because I have been hit in the face with pants to wake me up. It is quite a window into the soul of whichever twin I am cuddling, but the other wails for his WWE partner/ audience in the other room.

wpid-wp-1425383125280.jpegMy soul is screaming for relief and I feel like I have ping pong balls in my head and I think I might run out of the house like my head is on fire. And then, out of nowhere, he snuggles into my armpit and says, “Don’t take my sunshine away,” and my heart swells within my chest and I feel like I might burst.

I guess my mental health will have to take a backseat to that kind of love.

Fireball of Change: Twins Breach Cribs

Four weeks and three days ago, my twins showed each other how to bite their binkies in half.

Result: Storing the nipple in their cheeks for hours; near-death experiences

Four weeks and two days ago, I broke my twins of their binkies.

Result: Crying for only one hour; sleeping through the night; asking casually for binkies once in a while.

Four weeks and one day ago, my twins breached their cribs.

Result: Massive hysteria; pummeling brother; WWF moves of leaping brother’s crib and trapping and maiming brother

Four weeks exactly ago, we turned their cribs into toddler beds.

Result: No more trapping of weaker twin; mass hysteria; hyena-like antics of spinning in circles; shrieking while literally bouncing off the walls; beating each other over the head with toys and shelves; crazy twin keeping sleepy twin awake at all costs; momma sleeping with both eyes open; no more napping

Oh my gosh.

Life as I knew it ended a month ago. As a “triplet” mom, I have a stranglehold on my kids’ schedules. Like most every mom, I only survive the day because I know I have nap time to recharge – mentally and physically. However, my job is a little more physically demanding than moms of singletons. As a result, I usually collapse in a heap as soon as I throw everyone in their bed/cribs and am too tired to even lift the remote. How would I fare if my twins quit napping?!

With the twins’ trick of turning the binky into a perfectly-esophagus-shaped choking nightmare, a fireball of change was unleashed on my head.

Only now, after our resolution, can I even begin to write about this ridiculous endeavor. For four weeks and three days, I was held hostage by this fireball of change. I was sleep-deprived and sanity-deprived. (Oh, yeah, so were the kids, but let’s be honest: I am talking about myself today.) I didn’t sleep at night and I didn’t recharge at naptime.

Pool noodle = no more thumps in the night

Pool noodle = no more thumps in the night

After sleeping with my eyes open for a while, the twins finally started sleeping through the night again. It took a lot of sleep re-training, a lot of pitch-blackness, and also a couple of pool noodles. Yep.

We removed all night lights. I think the darkness scares them enough to keep them in their beds at night. Remember that, folks: night lights are NOT your friends. Living in the dark dark woods without street lights, or even any moonlight, is your friend. (Also, don’t try this in June.)

And as for the pool noodles? Well, if you can’t afford the bed rails to keep your twins from falling out of bed at night, learn from the Master: take a saw to a one dollar pool noodle, and shove them under the sheets. (Just don’t let your kids see you changing the sheets, lest they think bedtime equates with beach fun.) They haven’t rolled out since.

Once they mastered sleeping at night, momma wasn’t quite so sleep-deprived, but I was still majorly sanity-deprived. They just could not calm down enough to sleep at nap. The freedom was too intoxicating. Who cares if they don’t sleep at naptime, you might ask? Can’t they just have “quiet time”? Well, let me explain a few things:

  • They were happily sleeping a solid 2.5 hours each until the day they bit their binkies apart, so it was obvious that they still need nap. My oldest son quit napping long before he turned two and he was just fine, but I kept putting him in his room for quiet time. This ain’t my first rodeo.
  • My Hurricane Boy, Twin B, does not know the meaning of “quiet time”. Even after our major childproofing, he broke the blinds, he removed wooden shelves from the wall-anchored bookcase and used them as weapons, and he broke a childproofing lock on his dresser drawer and then broke the drawer off the hinges. He is my tiniest boy, the one from the NICU, and he acts like the Hulk (only without the anger).
  • My twins were taking turns torturing each other. The wails of pain kept me running up the stairs constantly. I would find a new bite mark, a book (or wooden shelf) to the forehead, or a sad boy sobbing, “Brother no hit! Night night all done!!!” It was horrible, and it never got better.
  • My twins were keeping each other awake, but would sleep well* if separated.

*By “sleeping well”, I mean that both twins would nap just fine for anyone but me – including Daddy, mother-in-law, and even my friend Chrysta from church. (Bless that woman: she came over a few times just to pat the Hulk on the back and lie down on the carpet next to him, so I could have a break.)

Never, and I mean never, would the Hulk sleep for me in his own bed.

How do you think this makes a momma feel?

I used everything I had. I stepped back and dug deep into my poor swiss-cheese-holed brain to access my education training, my developmental psychology training, and even my church teachings. I prayed. I sobbed. I felt like a failure. I greeted my poor husband at the door with Crazy Eyes and Crazy Hair. Nothing worked on that Twin B.

It was like newborn days all over again. I had no control, chaos reigned, and I had no.idea.what.I.was.doing.

Kids were cranky and sleep-deprived. But momma was more cranky and sleep-deprived. I couldn’t write or blog, because naptime was gone and my early mornings were NOT spent getting up with my husband at 4:30 AM. My brain became an anxiety-ridden tangled web, where nothing went in or came out. My ideas got log-jammed. My wires got crossed. Writing helps me organize my thoughts. Without it, I was a wreck.

This weekend, we decided enough was enough. It is clear that I can’t fix this problem. I can’t make Twin B sleep without his crib, even though everyone else can. My mailman probably can. My dog probably can. I just can’t. He feeds off my anxiety that seeps out of my pores like fuel. My husband has the magic touch for both me and Twin B. Bless my husband: he never blamed me or shamed me about my inability to handle that kid. (He teased me a little bit…) We figured four weeks was enough time to know that Twin B was not going to adapt to this level of freedom – at least not in a way that I needed.

Twin B got Plan B.

He got exiled.

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We completely emptied out the guest room (which was formerly the nursery). We made a couple trips to Lowe’s and Babies R’ Us. We didn’t childproof that room: we Twin-B-proofed that room. We simply took everything out, locked it down, and left a mattress on the floor. Mr. Okayest helped him get used to his new nap room, and that’s that. The twins are separated for nap. They still sleep together at night.

This is totally a first-world problem. Woe is me! I have an extra room on hand in which to put my kid! I have noise machines to drown out the other kids! I have each child in his own room! I live in the woods, where it’s so dark! I am relaxing with a blog! I know, I know, it sounds ridiculous to any mother from any other country, or any other socio-economic status, or any other time period in history. Shut up, Okayest Mom, and be glad you’re not all sharing one little mat on the floor in one little room. I know.

And yet…

Now I can breathe. I can rest. I can relax. I can write. The world is back to normal…. At least until the next fireball of change comes.

 

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PS, Yes, I am totally aware that if I had abided by the Montessori method of putting my newborns on a mattress on the floor from the start, instead of in crib jail, that this whole fireball of change would have been prevented. I made my bed, and then I had to lie in it. Only I didn’t get to lie or lay or anything… oh, you know what I mean….

 

To My Husband: Why I Just Can’t Get the Redbox Movie Back on Time

1)      I thought you were gonna take it.

2)      I forgot it.

3)      I remembered it, but the kids were screaming and I had to skip it.

4)      You know I can only take them to an outdoor Redbox location, so I don’t have to unbuckle, lift, and re-buckle three fat children. And there were no outdoor Redboxes anywhere nearby!

5)      I swear I actually took it, but when I inserted it, the Redbox said, “This Redbox is full. Please wait until someone rents a movie, or find another location.” Seriously. This is a real message. Then it spit my movie back out.

6)      It’s Sunday! I can’t return it without breaking the Sabbath. Wait, if I return it to an outdoor location, then would that still be breaking the Sabbath? We wouldn’t actually be making anyone else work, right?

7)      It was truthfully just worth an extra $1.20 for me not to leave the house with the kids today.

Oh well, at least we are watching movies this year, right? That’s worth any price, right? Remember that whole first year of the twins’ life when we didn’t get to watch movies?

Also, would this be a good time to tell you that the public library sent me to a collections agency?