Updated: Mar 4, 2022
Not long after I told a dear friend that Hubby and I had said “yes” to bringing our twins home she said,
“You know, this is the time in your life that you may have the LEAST patience…”. Whatever else she said trailed off into oblivion as my brain was whirling with a multitude of thoughts of preparation that I just couldn’t reign in. I just remember thinking, “welp! I’m not sure I can pause long enough to ponder the real meaning of THAT statement.”
Turns out that was the most mountainous UNDERstatement I dare to admit. Maybe if I thought there was absolutely nobody else out there who could identify with me, I might keep that to myself. But so that other moms who might feel alone might possibly be encouraged I’m just laying it out there. It’s absolutely true!
At my age many moms are patiently reveling in all the cries, laughs, messes, and
making of memories with their little grandbabies… because at the end of the day they get to GIVE THEM BACK to their moms and go to bed peacefully without being woken at 2am – unless they have to pee or wake up drenched head to toe. Arrrrggghhhh.
I’m sure that this entire first year of having our twins home has been just plain survival. Just imagine how you might feel at 7 years old to be suddenly told that you are going to live with a new family forever. And then your mom actually carries through two weeks later. I remember my mom being frustrated when I was a kid, threatening to sell us to the gypsies. Of course, we knew she was frustrated, but we also knew she was joking. Our twins, though. Well, we’re not gypsies and we didn’t buy them. We just loved them and didn’t want them to end up bouncing around in foster care. Among other prophetic dreams, I had one many months earlier where I told a very wise old man that I’m trying to create a new legacy for these children. When He looked right at me and smiled, I realized I had just been walking and talking with God. I know without a doubt that this is what He has prepared us to do.
Some of our hardest days, I believe, have been so difficult because of my menopausal marbles messing up my capacity to think clearly. Seriously, I can attempt to say the simplest thing, like, “please put your dishes in the dishwasher.” Instead, it might come out, “please put your dishes in the bathroom”. 🤪 Yah, it's funny NOW. BUT it doesn't feel funny when you have already repeated the kitchen instruction three times and then one of the girls is doing the potty dance, so the second thought is “she needs to go to the bathroom”, and the word “bathroom” suddenly replaces “kitchen”. It’s like my mouth is speaking
without a brain. Then hubby is laughing, and then the girls are like, “Mom, why did you tell me to put my dishes in the bathroom?” OH MY GOODNESS, NOW THEY HEAR ME! (hand smack head)
Being frustrated with myself contributes to the stress that is already going on in the minds and hearts of our kiddos. If I’m already beating myself up over saying the wrongs words at the wrong times, or the right words at the wrong times, or no words when I should have had words, not listening enough, or not giving enough hugs, or not keeping all my papers organized and laundry caught up and dinners planned and…I just don’t have enough room in my mind and heart to just FIND JOY.
I’ve had many nights, after the kids are in bed, of putting my feet up while eating a large bowl of ice cream, maybe drinking a little spiked tea or Irish Cream on ice. I know that’s ok because I do need self-care. But I don’t want it to just ALWAYS be like, “ahhh, I survived this horrendous day, and this is the way it’s probably going to be, so now I’m going to indulge myself.”
Have you ever noticed how kind you are when you’re being watched, in comparison to when you think nobody is looking? It could be anything. Driving in traffic by yourself versus with a friend, borrowing afancy dish from someone versus using one of your old ones, responding to your kids at home versus when you are at Church, or reacting to “naughty” behavior of a child you are babysitting versus your “own” child at home. The thing that struck me is that Someone IS always watching. I’m NOT alone.
“My” kids ARE priceless treasures. They are NOT mine.. they are GOD’S children, and He is trusting me to LOVE and be patient, kind, and gentle with them.
So, I started a new experiment in kindness with my kids. Kindness, because it’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. It’s one of the fruits that I realized I was NOT exhibiting well. Actually sometimes maybe not exhibiting it at all. And my behavior rubs off on my kids. They were becoming bossy toward each other, demanding, impatient. Ugly. I’ve been ugly. (I don’t want to be ugly, please God, forgive me.) I got out my sticker books, index cards, packing tape, string, scissors, and sharpies in our kids’ favorite colors. I made Kindness Badges with a pocket on the back of each one and attached the string so the kids could wear their badge around their necks or leave them hanging on the pegs by the dinner table. The pockets on the back hold stickers. If one child does something kind for her sister or brother, she is not
allowed to give herself a sticker or ask for one. But the one she is kind to may put one of their stickers on her badge.
It's a beautiful thing to see your children offering to let their sibling go first to wash in the bathroom sink, or to pick something up off the floor that her sibling dropped, or to give his sister a hug when she hurts herself. It’s beautiful to see Kindness Badges filling up with stickers. It’s beautiful to see Twin 2 offering to have a “Sister-brother” day just to read to or play with her little brother and watch them giggle while playing hide-and-seek.
When Twin 1 wanted to join in the play with her siblings and it didn’t go the way she wanted while I was making dinner tonight, Her fuse blew, as usual, but instead of continuing to melt down this time she burst into tears. The kind of tears and sobbing that you would normally see when a toddler cries. My suggestion of taking deep breaths, pushups, jumping jacks, etc. did not break through. I suddenly felt that if I were her right at that moment, I might really need a very tight hug. I stopped what I was doing, turned to her and said,
“come here and squeeze me really hard”. She got up, wrapped her arms around me, buried her face in my stomach and squeezed almost hard enough to lift me off the floor. Any harder and my ribs might have cracked. LOL!
She prides herself on being strong like a lion, so I whispered, “whoa, you almost lifted me off the floor!” She forgot to cry, looked up at me and asked, “what did you say?” I repeated with animation, “you almost lifted me off the floor!” She grinned ear to ear and asked if she could squeeze me again. “Yes, just don’t break my ribs.” And then, as if a switch was just flipped, she asked to help me get the table set for dinner! Of course!
So tonight, instead of putting my feet up out of relief at having barely survived the day, I’m celebrating SUCCESS with a bowl of ice cream! Ha ha! My menopausal marbles don’t roll where they are supposed to on their own. I’m giving the Holy Spirit all the credit for lining them up when and where they need to be. That doesn’t mean I won’t get in the way and mess them up again, and for that I’m so very thankful for His Grapevine Grace. Tomorrow we get to celebrate sticker-covered Kindness Badges by baking and enjoying a Kindness Cake! Our kids are so excited! Praise God!