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I walk behind them picking up their legos, cleaning up their goldfish that have left a trail to their next destination, their next adventure. After the ninth meltdown of the day I find myself crying with them; wondering if I will survive. I am the proud mother of 3-year-old twins. I am also the very tired, and often frustrated mother of 3-year-old twins. The day they broke me is also the day they changed my life.
I remember it vividly … it was Sunday afternoon and these two tiny humans that I created broke me. I never thought toddlers could hold so much power over me but they do. It was a day that my husband and I had been arguing (I will never admit to a perfect marriage, but it’s our perfect imperfections that keep things interesting). The twins were having one epic meltdown over another and it was over some serious stuff. My son wanted a drink of milk so I handed him his milk which makes me a terrible parent. Epic meltdown. My daughter wanted to wear her winter hat and winter boots outside (it’s 85 degrees out) I said no so I’m a terrible parent. Epic meltdown. The back and forth meltdowns went on for what seemed like an eternity. I just finished cleaning up the 4th pair of poop filled underwear for the day (my son’s not mine) and it wasn’t even noon yet! I was at the end of my rope, the fuse had been lit and I could feel myself starting to explode and then it happened. My daughter had picked up her miniature box of froot-loops and flung it all over the floor after she had been told countless times to stop making messes. She looked right at me like “ha ha” look what I just did and I don’t care. In the next few seconds I unfolded a series of events in which I’m not proud of but damn it felt good! I walked over to the cabinet, picked out my own miniature box of cereal, came into the living room and just started dumping it everywhere; grabbed my diet coke sitting on the counter and shook it up while simultaneously flinging it all around the room. It was invigorating and in those few seconds of my own epic meltdown I felt free! Then, the look in my family’s eyes caught my attention. I sat down and cried harder than I think I ever have in my life. I thought I was losing it; I needed help.
Hours passed before I quit crying, before I brought myself back to reality. It was in that single moment of clarity I realized my kids had broken me. You see I always tried to keep it together. I always tried to make sure everything was clean and neat and well kept because it made my life easier. It made me feel like I still had a sense of control in all of this chaos. I work from home full time while also being a stay-at-home mom. My husband is also a part of this crazy gig. He works full time and when he’s home he takes over so I can work. It may not be the picture perfect family, but it works for us right now.
While trying to maintain this painted perfection in being the best mom possible by doing all the things and also trying to be the perfect wife, and trying to run a business wearing all the hats solely on my own I realized I forgot one thing. I forgot to be present. I forgot to take care of myself. I forgot to take time to laugh. I forgot to take time to make messes. I forgot to forgive myself for my mistakes. I forgot to remember that it’s all going to be okay.
The years in their childhood are so short. They are every bit of crazy, but they are short. I remember talking to my husband the other night about potty training and I said do you realize that as excited as I am that our kids our almost out of diapers; the next step is teaching them how to tie their own shoes. They are growing up fast. They are needing me less and less and although I am so proud of both of them for their independence and strong will to do things on their own I know their time of needing their mommy for the little things will soon be over. Sometime over the next year or so will be the last time they ever ask me to pick them up. The last time I will ever carry them and hold them. I never know when this day will come but I know it’s coming soon. So, that crazy day in September will always be etched in my mind as the day my 3 year olds broke me; but it will also be the day that a new me emerged … the day I chose to be present over perfect.