Saturday, August 15, 2009

Two's Company

The older two have been away visiting their grandparents in the USA for two weeks now and I'd like to say that we have all been missing eachother terribly. Truth is that we've only telephoned twice, once to see that they arrived and once this week. Ryan and Andrew are having the time of their lives and barely have time to make it to the phone. "Mom? AGAIN? Didn't we talk to you already?!" No word yet from my parents on how THEY are holding up, but the kids are in paradise.

Damon and I, in the meantime, are having a second honeymoon. We have two pre-school age kids and it is heaven. Easy. Piece of cake. I've never had three kids, so I know nothing about three being a crowd, but two is definitely company. What a breeze!

Two is, in my mind, definitely the sane amount of children to have. Although noone has ever accused me of being sane. With one kid you have to get used to having to pay constant attention to someone other than yourself. Although, in my case, she was such a joy, that it really wasn't all that hard either. With two kids you have to learn to divide that constant attention into more than a single focus. Life-changing but also doable. By the time you hit three you are on a constant merry-go-round and my guess is it just keeps spinning faster the more you add on.

The trick would be learning to keep your balance.

It gets even trickier once a couple of the kids are in school. Then come the endless appointments, the school projects, the bake sales, the swimming and music lessons, the soccer, baseball, horsebackriding, dance. (Rock-climbing, judo, karate, Irish dance, violin, choir, theatre.....add your own here.) While none of my KIDS are overscheduled or under stress, I certainly am. Homework sucks. Group projects are a nightmare. And baking isn't a problem but volunteering at the damn event certainly is. I like most of our afterschool activities, having cut out the ones that don't suit us as a family in the past two years, but it is still an exhausting schedule.

The biggest problem is that we never have time to just BE anymore. We have an hour or two before the next appointment. Or we have to wait an hour - or two - for someone to finish up her homework. Homework kills the independent spirit and should be outlawed. Period. If they can't teach it on school time, don't shove it onto our free time at home. Period.

I really needed this summer break.

The boys and I spent twenty minutes checking out a caterpillar in the park in Stuttgart the other day. The same amount of time we spent in the bathroom in the Natural History Museum and the total amount of time we made it through the Dinosaur Museum. In between bathrooms, museums and caterpillars we just walked through the park singing songs and looking at things. Going on a bear hunt. Running foot races. Feeding the crows our bread. Doing ABSOLULTEY NOTHING on OUR OWN TIME with absolutely NO OTHER PLACE TO BE. Commitment free. What a luxury.

It also helped to have only two children, in the same age range, to entertain. No seven year old complaining that he would rather be playing soccer. No nine year old slouching behind complaining of boredom. In reverse, I wasn't having to entertain two three year olds during an hour long dance or judo class.

More importanly, no guilt, that you aren't meeting the needs of at least half of your family all of the time. (Never mind the husband and dog; one can fend for himself, the other is allowed on the figure out which is which.)

Regrets? None at all. But having two away is teaching me a lot about how I want to go on from here. Life doesn't HAVE to end when you have kids, even twins. It's not the kids that are killing me, it's the demands and obligations we pile on ourselves after having them. F it all, I want to spend more time looking at caterpillars and less time selling coffee at the kindergarten picnic.

Not to care what others think and do my own thing, aka Ralph Waldo Emerson. Do I think I can do it? Not at first - I am a big wimp - but I am certainly going to give it a try.

I may not be able to slow down the merry-go-round, but at least I can learn to enjoy the ride.

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