There are two adults, two children, and two dogs in my bed. Only a corner of the comforter is covering me, and it’s poking me in the face. I awkwardly twist my sheet-cocooned body to see what time it is. 6:18. Might as well get up.
But I look over at the sleeping twins sprawled out between my husband and me, and I just want to stare at them. They’re never this still and I can’t stop looking at them. When did they become such long-legged kids? When their eyes are closed, I can see their baby faces in there, just like they used to look, all bundled into their swaddling burrito-blankets. God, I just love them so much.
And then they wake up.
And it begins.
The daily fight.
They fight me on something having to do with getting dressed almost every day. Today, someone wants to put her pajamas in the dirty clothes hamper but I want to keep them out to wear again tonight.
She cries. She screams at me. I have to put her in time-out while she’s stark naked. I feel like a terrible mother.
The twins push the 2-year-old the second she walks into their room and she cries. I try to comfort her and discipline them at the same time and they won’t say they’re sorry and one of them runs away and slips on the hardwood floor and bangs her head and now she’s crying too.
Everyone is sad, or mad, or naked, and I’ve only been awake for 20 minutes. I feel like a terrible mother.
Now it’s after breakfast and they’ve started whining about watching TV. But today is nice and I just want to get them outside to play. I’m trying to clean up the kitchen and I say “no” to TV. One kid yells, “Well then I will sit on the couch and wait for Daniel Tiger FOREVER!!!”
I threaten time-out and never watching TV again, but the twins have suddenly started to fight with each other so they don’t hear me. They’re fighting about whether Olaf or Kristoff is the 2-year-old’s favorite Frozen character, and when the 2-year-old says, “I love Sven!” they yell “No you DON’T!” at her and she cries.
They are unkind to each other and disrespectful to me. I feel like a terrible mother.
They fight me on going outside. On coming inside. At lunchtime, at naptime, and of course, at dinnertime.
Why does everything have to be such a fight? Why can’t I just accomplish one task, smoothly, from start to finish?
I hate conflict. It makes me feel squirmy and anxious. Before I had kids, I avoided it as much as possible. But now, as a parent, I don’t have a choice. I refuse to be the kind of mom who can’t say “no” to her kids. So I’m faced with constant conflict.
The bedtime fight, at the end of a long, tiring day, is usually the worst. They don’t want to go upstairs. They don’t want to be the one to go pee first. They want different pajamas and to run with a toothbrush and to read the longest book we own back to me after I’ve finished reading it. Twice. Because twins.
And yet, at ten o’clock at night, when they should be sleeping but they’re still awake and they ask if they can sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s bed, I say yes. It may not be comfortable, or conducive to romance, but the truth is that I love it. They will not be little forever, and they won’t want to snuggle with us forever.
The fight is exhausting, but when I offer half of my pillow to my little girl and she tells me she loves me, there is nothing left to fight about. I know it will start all over again tomorrow. My body hurts just thinking about it. Right now though, the house is quiet. The girls are quiet. They smell like strawberry shampoo and I love them so much.
I feel like a good mother.
At least until they wake up.
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