It gets easier?

As a parent of twins, people gravitate to you. Especially parents of younger twins. They want to ask questions, to be reassured. Especially the ones with the really young babies, deep in the sleep deprived world of that first year.  

They look at you with that very sleep deprived sort of desperation that only twin parents know. “It gets easier, right?”

What do I tell them? The truth?

Sure. It gets easier, in some ways.

And in some ways it gets harder.

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Their needs become fewer, you are not constantly making sure they are breathing, and regulating their temperature, and getting enough calories. No more worrying about how many minutes of tummy time, or whether you breastfed enough, or the guilt over the c-section and the formula. No more checking the monitor at all hours, wondering if you should turn them back to their tummy when they’ve rolled over, no more counting milestones.

It gets easier. Their needs are fewer. 

 
January 7: getting dressed in front of the heater
 

But there are new needs. They aren’t so obvious. They aren’t so much about keeping them clothed and clean and fed. Fewer needs, but bigger needs.

The needs become about their mental health, their emotions, their education, their social adjustment. Fewer. But so much bigger. So much harder to solve.

With a baby, when he cries, he's either communicating discomfort - he's hungry, or cold, or wet, or he doesn't feel well - or he's tired. All of these things usually have straightforward solutions.

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But with an older child, or tween, or teen, their problems are so much hard to unravel and diagnose and solve. The challenges are so much bigger. But so are the triumphs and achievements. They give back, they communicate, they affirm that you're doing it right. 

I think most of us delude ourselves that if we can just live through the sleepless baby stage, then we've made it, we're home free. And so that's why some of the other stages can come as such a shock. Everybody talks about babies, there is so much advice out there about sleep and feeding and such. But with each year of age, comes less advice. You are more on your own to navigate and figure it out. 

Parenting is a challenge, a learning curve, and a reward. 

Good sister

Oh the hard days. We all have them. 

My 10 year old daughter gives me her share of challenges lately. We're definitely in the beginnings of that tween phase, where we get a lot of new teenage behavior, plus the more childish behaviors are still there. It's like the best (worst?) of both worlds. 

There are days when I just don't know what to do with her. 

But just when I think I'm doing it all wrong with her, she comes up with things like this.

Her twin brother was having a really hard day. Autism gives you that sometimes. We were having one of those days with just lots of overwhelm and meltdowns.

For some reason he got it in his head that he should be getting mail. He checked the mail box and got very upset that there was nothing for him. So he slammed the box back shut and came in without the mail. From another room his sister apparently heard this. She came out and announced that she was going to get the mail, and I could tell she seemed a little sneaky.

When she came back in with the stack of mail she said, "Danny, there actually IS something in the mail for you". She pretended to thumb through the stack of mail, and then handed him an envelope. 

The envelope contained this: 

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Sometimes I Forget

I originally started writing these posts under a separate blog - one I called "Another Normal Day". I gave it that name because our daily life really does seem normal to me.  Most of the time I don't even think about the craziness of it.  It's usually only when other people point it out to me that I realize, yeah, this is kind of a lot.

Raising four kids, two sets of twins, and one with autism, is kind of a lot.

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My son seems normal to me.  I've known him since the beginning of ever. He is the only son I've ever had, so daily life with him is normal.  

And so I forget about the autism.  We just go about our days.  His little quirks and needs are just part of our life. It's the way we've always done. 

It's when we go out that it's put in my face.  Not because he calls attention to himself.  Not because of the reactions of strangers. He's pretty mellow in public places, so strangers really don't notice him.

But I notice.  I notice that he's not like the other 'normal' kids. 

When we see other kids playing on a playground and roughhousing, kicking a soccer ball around, or playing baseball.

When we are at the park, or at a museum, or at school, and everyone else is interested and active, but he sits away from the group, by himself, head down, headphones covering his ears.

When I see how other boys play and interact with each other and the world around them. 

When we go to a friend's house and he is more interested in the toddler's light up toys than the 9 year old boy's legos or swords or other more typical older boy toys. 

That's when I notice that our world is not like theirs.