It’s not only miraculous to have multiples, but to muddle through long and draining days and nights keeping them fed, clean, happy, and out of harm’s way. I spend a lot of time thinking,”Man, do other parents have to do this crap, too?” So, I compiled a list of some advanced parenting skills we, the parents of three toddlers, have developed in order to fully, uh, embrace, our situation:
Operating Completely Silently
We’ve become streetcorner-quality mimes. We can read lips from across a room. We know the exact pressure to put on the microwave door that will close it, but without the loud bang. We can pick up (and snack from) a bag of tortilla chips with the concentration of a surgeon, and we watch everything on mute. Well, do you want one of them to wake up?
Sorting Clothing Immediately Upon Visual Inspection
This shirt fits that one. This coat only fits the other one. These socks haven’t fit him since January 24, but we could probably get away with putting them on her for a little while. These pants are too long for Michael, but they fit his waist, and they’re the right length for Matthew, but they don’t fit his waist. I’ve been trying, as well, to fold them using only the power of my mind, but have, as yet, had little success. I will keep trying.
Making Meal Decisions Based Entirely on the Food’s Physical Qualities
Pudding? No. Soup? Forget it. Oatmeal? Are you crazy? Meal decisions are based 100% on the texture of the food, and the potential disaster caused by large quantities being tossed (dripped, or splattered) about. We don’t (or at least try really hard not to) eat anything that a) spreads, b) melts, c) will dry to a crust in someone’s hair, or d) cannot be easily extracted from a crevice (body or otherwise). Dry toast, anyone?
Conducting All Important Business in the Car (Or, ahem, Minivan)
I do everything from make doctors appointments to yell at various companies’ Customer Service departments from the car. My husband and I also comparison shopped, price haggled, ordered, and paid for appliances over the phone. Why? The children are restrained, and, if luck is with us, asleep. Want to get trapped in a terrible combination of Keep Away/Telephone and cultivate an incurable migraine? Sit down with a pen and paper and try to make a few important calls in the comfort of your living room. I dare you.
Successfully Managing The Whine/Moan Quotient
As a mother of twins, multiples, or just a crapton of kids, it is imperative to know and have the ability to navigate life utilizing the Whine/Moan Quotient. What’s the Whine/Moan Quotient, you ask? Well, it’s the ability to estimate the time it will take, based on the type, volume, and quality of grating noise coming from one child, to affect or otherwise engage up to and including all of the rest of your children. Example? I know Michael’s come-get-me-from-the-crib cry will disturb another sleeping child in no less than ten minutes. Matthew’s I-don’t-want-to-take-a-nap whine will not affect Michael’s nap unless he escalates into the No-Mom! No, No-Mom! I’m-really-not-having-this-nap-thing scream/cry combo, and it will not affect Maggie’s nap at all. And I (and, hopefully by now, you) know that any noise out of Dear Maggie’s mouth is going to disturb not only man, but also beast, almost immediately. The upside? All the running is good for the calves.
Eating on the Run
Why, sure. I ate. I had two handfuls of snack mix, some waffle leftover from Maggie’s tray, and a sip from that glass of water that’s been sitting on the counter since Tuesday. Aren’t I going to have dinner? Well, what do you think I’m doing here, in the window, with this pint of Ben & Jerry’s Frozen Yogurt?
Knowing Which Mess Belongs to Whom
I wasn’t going to go there, but here I am. Want to know who pooped? I can tell you from across the room. Not proud of it, but it does save time chasing and sniffing behinds. Puddle of juice on the couch? That’d be Matthew. Shredded paper? Michael. Cats cowering in the corner in the fetal position? Maggie. Diapers strewn all around and written on? Michael and Matthew. Bam. Never any need to figure out who did it. We already know.
This job is a bit like being the lifeguard at the public pool. Except much more stressful. We’re not dealing with the Butcher, the Baker, and the Candlestick Maker here. We’re dealing with Drinky, Cannonball, and Don’t You Touch My Hair. All at once. This is an advanced skill, which I don’t recommend you try unless you own a wetsuit and are CPR-certified.
Knowing Everyone’s Limits
How long can Matthew be amused by the television? An hour. Two if he’s refused to nap and is exhausted. Michael, without food? Like ten minutes. Maggie? Her bottle? You’re already late. You develop this uncanny ability to be the most proactive parent alive, anticipating your children’s needs like the concierge at a boutique hotel. More hot towels? Yes, sir. Here they are, sir.
When someone asks me if I have superpowers, I always answer no, but I guess the true answer is, yes, probably a few. None of them would exist, though, without my children. If not for them, my superpowers would be limited to being late for work every day, making a mediocre cup of coffee, rising at 11 whenever I could get away with it, and beating people at Canasta online. So, I guess it’s a fair trade. Except for rising at 11. Man, does that sound good.