Maria’s and Mario’s new nicknames have to be the Clingin’ Twins.
I always wanted my kids to want to be near me and feel close to me but lately I have been wishing that they were teenagers and hating the thought of me coming around them. They are like those little finger puppets with magnetic paws that cling onto your finger or belt clip.
The neighbors down the street invited us to a birthday party for their twin 2 year olds at a trendy cafe/kids play area last week. Coffee and chit-chat for adults and play land for kids. The space had high ceilings, kid-friendly play areas, bouncy house, scooters, and some comfy furniture for adults to sit and talk. When we walked in, there were at least eight kids running around on all of the toys and play areas. I nudged M & M over towards the play areas, and they both clung to my hands. I had to walk Maria over to her friend and initiate conversation between them before she let go of my hand. Mario, being the clingiest of clingy, really never let go until we were fifteen minutes away from departing the place.
I know in hindsight that I tended (and still tend) to do too much for my kids. For example, if Maria wants a pen, I will get up and get it for her when she could just as easily retrieve it. Or when Mario wants a drink, I grab him the cup and pour the water. Now, when they were 1, probably appropriate. At ages 3 and 5, not so appropriate – or smart. And it is a heck of a lot harder to break them of this mommy reliance now versus at age 1. I also drop everything when they begin to talk to me or ask me a question. If I am talking to another adult, I interrupt that conversation to answer Maria or Mario rather than asking M or M to wait. Again, not the best route to go I have learned.
But, we live and learn, right? I need to consider the ten other attributes M&M possess that are wonderful and stop dogging myself about this one thing (something I tend to do a lot in motherhood as well as work, relationships, etc.). Nonetheless, I will have some different advice to give Maria and Mario as they raise their children (although I am sure I will spoil their children and do everything for them!).
Anyway, the mom who hosted this party is one of those moms who should wear a cape and the song “Supermom” be played whenever she enters a room. She feeds her kids all organic foods, she stays home with them all day and reads them books, plays games, does crafts. They know how to read and play music and count. I will never forget the day that Maria and I were over for a visit and Maria and Blake were drawing at the table. Maria spelled her name and I praised her for such an accomplishment. Blake, two weeks younger, wrote his name and an entire two sentences. I tried not to care but it produced a wave of guilt I had not prepared for that day. Should I be home with Maria? Should I feed them better? Should I read to them more and make them write more often?
These feelings descended on me again while we were at the party and Maria and Mario kept dragging me over to where they were playing so I could watch them. “Maybe if I would have stayed home with them, they would not be so clingy.” “They feel abandoned during the day so they cling with me any time they can.” And the thoughts kept going and going… And then a fellow mother approached me.
“How do you juggle it all between working and getting these guys out and home life?”
I turned to the mother, a “stay-at-home” mom, and replied “what I do pales in comparison to what you are doing.”
She replied “Oh, no, I could not see getting up and rushing to work and working all day and picking up the kids and making dinner and playing with them and getting them to bed – I would go nuts.”
I told her that I could not see getting up every morning and have a full day ahead with the kids (and no adults), kid activities to plan, refereeing fights, and staying at the house through the day.
We laughed. And agreed on a fundamental tenet. Our kids will be fine because we love them and care for them and hold them and kiss them. She is not the person that could juggle an outside job, kids, home-life. I am not the person who can “stay home” all day. So we both concluded we made the best decision for us, which in turn has to be the best decision for our kids. Yet, I inevitably second guess my decision when I see the mom swinging her kids on the playground at 1 in the afternoon – just as I am sure there are stay at home moms who watch me jumping in my car to head to work and second guess their decision as their toddler tips over the grape juice glass and throws a solid temper tantrum.