Trust me, the irony was not lost on me that yesterday, Mother's Day, I was needed all day while the girls' mom went to work. Instead of being stuck at the house all day, however, we spent the morning wandering around the historic area. For a few hours, I became one of those super-moms with the SUV-sized stroller, chasing after a pair of toddlers, getting cooed at when the girls were waving and babbling prettily, getting dirty stares when they were screaming because heaven forfend I actually make them sit in the giant SUV-sized stroller. It was weird. Normally I lope through the historic area, occasionally being recognised by one of the interpreters, but for the most part, invisible, free to people watch and Washington-gawk to my heart's content. Now, suddenly, I had perfect strangers coming up to me gushing "I just wanted to say HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY. You're doing such a super job!" No joke. I actually felt slightly bad when I had to explain the two blonde-haired blue eyed babies were not my (red-haired, green-eyed, bare left-hand) offspring.
The girls were good for most of the day. I'm learning things that every parent knows, things like: Kids have no empathy. They have no idea how their tearing up at the slightest thing drives adults wild. And they have no vocabulary, no ability to say things, so they cry. Frequently, but not for long periods of time. And the more time I spend with them, the better I get at heading off the thunderstorms. And my God are they smart. The older girl was humming a song and a few minutes later I realised she was singing the alphabet song, with approximately 40% of the letters right...the rest might have been Russian or something. And she's TWO. Bravo.
Nicki, on the other hand, was not feeling very good yesterday. So after picking up half their lunch off the floor (S1 wanted an apple, bawled when I cut up some pieces for her, insisting on "eating the big apple!", threw the pieces on the floor, nibbled on the remaining half and then threw it on the floor, indicating the meal was OVER), changing not one, not two, but three poopy diapers, I decided it was naptime. Tears all around. But I got them into their cribs. S2 was out immediately, having run around the Governor's palace several times, but S1 cried and cried. And cried and cried. I took her shoes off, said "night night!" and went downstairs, swearing to the heavens above if she was still wailing like that in fifteen minutes I'd go get her but only if God promised to remove my uterus in the meantime. Ten minutes later she was babbling quietly, before the fifteen minutes had passed she was asleep and didn't get up for another two hours.
See? I wanted to say when I shook her awake. I told you you needed a nap.
And so I learned another valuable parenting lesson, although I'm not sure what that is. Probably somewhere along the lines of "when you've have enough, it is okay to put the child in a safe place and take some time for yourself." Possibly it might be something like "Nyquil! Proof that God loves parents and wants them to be happy!" I also learned the cure for fingernail chewing is...poopy diapers.
While the girls were asleep I cleaned up the kitchen--swept up the rest of lunch, emptied/filled the dishwater, washed up some pots, ran a sponge around the counter... I couldn't let Mom come home on Mother's Day to two fully-recharched toddlers and a sinkful of dishes. And besides, if I was going to co-opt Mother's Day, the least I could do was share in some of the drudge as well. When the girls got up there were decidedly less tears and more sharing. They were waiting by the window when Mom pulled up, cheering when she got out of the car. I think I begin to understand now why people have babies. They are loud, annoying, demanding and incredibly time consuming, but they're also trusting, beautiful and, let's face it, kinda fun.