Category Archives: Twins!!

My twins are seven.

photoMy twins are turning 7 this week which means I’m turning 85 because there is nothing like having twins to warp-speed the aging process. I used to think of myself as one of those sprightly, energetic, fashionable moms who did crafts with her children everyday. These days I’m more like a withered old crone dragging her worn-out uterus behind her. Crafts, I shake my arthritic fist at thee!

The good book says children are a blessing from God but it forgets to mention that children are also full-time janitor duty. Yesterday while folding a bazillionth load of their laundry I found myself muttering: “Only ten more years, ten more years, maybe eleven.”

But then this morning, my twins came barreling down the stairs AT THE CRACK OF DAWN, pulled out boxes of markers, canisters of crayons, reams of paper and camped at my feet to draw and draw and draw. I mean, I wish they would sleep longer so I could drink my coffee and journal in peace but they were so adorable that I was like: “Awwww, can you please just live with me forever??”

This morning I went back and read-through the posts I’ve written over the last seven years and I found myself laughing aloud and tearing up, so happy that I’d chronicled these memories.

Here are a few funny and entertaining highlights from raising twins:

…”You really must break into song because children are easily distracted by the sound of music. Granted, your middle-schoolers might skedaddle to the produce section while you yodel through the meat department but your little ones will gape at you with shining eyes. Your heart will suddenly explode with the unabashed epiphany that nobody —NOBODY—can be The Best Parent to your child except you.”

“We wanna look like each other because we’re twins!”
“But girls! How about we give your teachers a break and make it easy for them to tell you apart?”
Blank stares.
Matching bobs and bangs for all. Plus lollipops.

 

The twins have entered the tattling stage and come running to me with various tales of woe. “You know! You know! You know Jorie marked on the wall!” Before they figured out tattling, they bit each other. I think tattling is an improvement.

 

Five little heads all bowed in prayer and Daddy nursing his gouty ankle and Mommy scratching at her psoriatic foot, that’s when I realize: the twins gave me the gift of letting go. Being free. Embracing imperfection. And truly knowing, for the first time in my life, that love really is just like the Energizer Bunny. It goes on and on.

 

The other night I was jolted awake by Something Sinister breathing near my face. I sprang from the bed doing my best battle-ready, Kung Fu kick. HI-YA! It turned out to be nothing more than a blanket-draped toddler, standing in silent vigil next to my bed. Weirder still, my war yell did nothing to startle her. This is the Phantom Baby who has made a game of getting up at night: Look at me hiding behind the toilet in the pitch dark! Look at me crouched up like a tiny ball on my sister’s bed! Look at me breathing in your face at 2 a.m.!

 

The twins are 2.5 years old. To celebrate, they decided to dip my hairbrush into the toilet bowl the better to smooth each other’s curls. They were also thirsty. And apparently, toilet water tastes mighty fine, thank you very much. At this point, I fully expect to be awakened at 3 am by a police officer at our front door saying our toddlers were found at the local sushi bar, chatting it up and throwing back shots of apple juice.

 

Things hit a new low a few days after Barf Week when I realized I’d been stepping over the same spot of dried puke for 10 days. I’d been cleaning up vomit for so many days that I’d lost track of everything. I’d forgotten how many days since I last showered. I couldn’t remember when I’d last brushed my teeth. My scalp ached from being in a permanent pony-tail-bun.

 

You haven’t truly parented until you go out to eat and your twin toddlers start yelling: “F$#k! F$#k!” in unison while you try to explain to the waitress: “FORK! They mean FORK! You know…TO EAT WITH!”

 

I’m just gonna quit buying actual toys. Turns out all kids really want is a drawer full of tupperware, some twigs, a few rocks and an armful of hair accessories. Oh, and shelves full of books—for pulling off the shelf, of course. 

 

Having twins forced me to let go of lotsa things I once believed were necessary to our happiness. In many ways, we live a much simpler life now. I mother my children and I write. My kids go to school and maybe play one sport a year. To my great surprise, life is better this way.

 

Problem: no swim diapers. So, the twins wore regular diapers under their bathing suits. It worked fine for the first ten minutes until we noticed they were staggering around, screeching and slipping like like half-drunken sailors. The sodden weight of their soaked diapers were like anchors strapped around their waists. Joss kept slapping her bulging belly and shouting: “BUTT! BUTT!”

 

The twins began walking this month. Until I bought them their first pair of shoes. This confused them, like Mom, why did you put blocks on my feet? They started walking like high-stepping horses, lifting each foot really high and setting it down with a huge CLOMP!

When I think about the ordeal of premature labor, emergency C-section, NICU, leaving the hospital without my babies, bringing my twins home and the first year of their lives….I’m amazed at what we’ve been through. There were times this past year when I was completely overwhelmed. It all started the day I had my C-section and the babies had been whisked away from me. I lay awake the entire night, worrying about my babies, feeling so empty. I had grown so accustomed to feeling the babies move inside me. That whole night I cried, threw-up, prayed and cried some more. I’m so thankful that the NICU was not the end of our story. There were other precious babies in that NICU–so many with weeping mothers like me–and some of them did not survive. Today, I remember and say a prayer for these mothers and their children.

 

When was the last time you felt loved?

Today. 12:35pm. I’m lying sick in bed with a head cold and my twins are loving me by bringing helpful things like a broken doll’s head, a sticky penny and a picture that says (roughly translated from the text below): “Mom, you forgot to finish the story, Mom.”

photo

She’s right. Last week, I was telling them a story about twins who were lost in the woods–and I said I would finish it the next day. But I never did. I’m thankful for sick days and letting my children love me. And for reminders to finish the story.

Tell me: when was the last time YOU felt loved?

Princess-Free Zones & Fundamentalist Parenting

Muddy TwinsMy twins love playing Princess dress-up. They also love playing in the mud, playing with their brothers’ Legos, counting beads, stacking Tupperware, collecting rocks, throwing said rock collection in the pool, baking, wrestling, making “art sculptures” out of pool toys, painting, bike riding, peeing in the bushes, playing soccer, eating donuts, eating tomatoes, playing hide-n-go-seek and playing Let’s Get Married.

Now that I think of it, they play Let’s Get Married at least once a week. I might need to create a Marriage-Free Zone. You know, because I don’t want them growing up thinking MARRIAGE is THE ONLY option they have as girls. *wink*

Look, I just can’t get worked up about this new trend in enlightened parenting; aka. Banning Princesses. I just don’t see the reason for getting all fundamentalist about it.

If a little girl is an entitled, spoiled brat with a raging case of Princess Virus, it has little to do with pink tulle and tiaras. But it has everything to do with spoiling the child.

Here’s where I confess I’ve also purchased Barbies for my daughters. GASP. GAG. BURN ME AT THE FEMINIST STAKE.

Still, I understand the concern: conscientious parents don’t want to raise helpless little princesses who naively believe Prince Charming will ride up on his silver steed and whisk them away to a Happily Ever After. I get it. We want daughters with pluck, tenacity and courage.

But Banning Princesses isn’t the way to accomplish this. By banning princesses altogether, parents unwittingly create a greater desire for it. There is nothing more delectable than forbidden fruit.

I’m not denying our society is experiencing a glut of spoiled, entitled kids. But I am saying it’s tempting to look for an easy target: ah! Cinderella! SHE’S the problem! OFF WITH HER HEAD. Oh, wait. I’m mixing my fairy-tales.

My point is, it’s far more difficult to examine the ways parents spoil their kids. I’m pretty sure spoiled children existed long before Disney Princesses. And spoiled children will continue to wreak havoc on society long after Disney Princesses have bitten the (pixie) dust.

That said, there’s a difference between allowing your daughter to play Disney Princess dress-up and turning her entire life into all-princess-all-the-time. You know what I’m talking about: the little girl whose bedroom looks like a Princess exploded all over the walls, curtains and bedspread. The little girl whose parents actually call her Your Royal Highness. The little girl who just can’t understand why the world doesn’t come running at her every beck and call? Yes, that’s what we call Princess Excess.

And Princess Excess is just the other side of the Princess Banning coin.

In other words, Disney Princesses aren’t bad; excess is.

Here’s an idea, read The Brother’s Grimm fairy-tales with their bloody-toed step sisters and eye-plucking-out-crows. And then soften the blow with Disney’s Cinderella and all her adorable, singing mice and bibbity-bobbity-boo-ness.

Moderation, friends, is what good parenting is all about. At least, that’s what my fairy godmother told me.

Doe-a-deer has a puh-china

My five year-old twins learned a new word from a friend. Puh-china. They had many thoughts on this word: what it is, where it is and also, that one time? When they fell? On their bike? They hurt-ed their puh-china. They were deeply amused when I offered the proper pronunciation.

“Vuh? Like van?” they crowed, cracking up in hysterics. “Nooooo, Mommmy! LIKE YOU EVEN KNOW!”

“I didn’t learn that word until 4th grade,” my 8th grader drolly remarked.

My how times have changed. Oh, for the days of yore when the most scandalous word my little kids said was the “s” word; you know, stupid. It’s funny with a big family because younger siblings seem to grow up so much faster than the older ones. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but when the twins busted onto the scene they stole the show. And our dignity.

Time was, we sent out annual Christmas cards and enrolled our kids in All The Proper Activities. We did Mommy n’ Me and weekly library trips and flirted dangerously with that thing called cotillion—which, I later realized was just a fancy way of saying “table manners.”

But the twins’ arrival in our lives heralded a new season. Or, rather, became a harbinger of doom for our highly Orange-County-ified parenting egos. It was a necessary death, I can see that now.

Still, it was a slow, death-by-a-million-little-embarrassing moments—like when your twins start shouting PUH-CHINA! in Trader Joe’s at four-fifteen in the afternoon while all the Responsible Parents are picking up their gluten-free kale and raw quinoa for a properly whole-paycheck dinner, followed by a side of cotillion no doubt.

NOT THAT I’M COMPARING MYSELF.

Actually, comparison was the first thing to die. Mainly, out of sheer exhaustion. Something had to give and, frankly, I just couldn’t worry about what other parents thought of me anymore. Not even when I got passive-aggressive mass emails from Room Parents wanting to know if Those Parents Who Haven’t Volunteered Yet could be troubled to bring in a container of disinfectant wipes and, p.s. teacher’s gift money is past due! #SaveOurSchools #ForOurKidsSake

When I was feeling particularly undignified, I bolstered myself with poetry, particularly the words of Elizabeth Bishop whose poem, One Art, is about love lost but never mind that. I appropriated it to my own means: dignity lost. Because “the art of losing isn’t hard to master;/ so many things seem filled with the intent/ to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”

It’s no disaster I began repeating to myself in grocery aisles, in church pews, in the company of parents with 2.5 children.

And you know what? It’s really not. It’s really not a disaster when one of your twins—the melodramatic one—throws herself upon the floor of Peet’s Coffee and wails about wanting a MABLE-NUT-CONE!

Because she’s absolutely right: maple-nut scones are delicious and as you scoop her up and waltz out of the coffee shop you can whisper in her ear that yes, life is terribly unfair but it’s also bursting full of wonderful things like free sunshine, raindrops on roses. And whiskers on kittens! BRIGHT COPPER KETTLES AND WARM WOOLEN MITTENS!

This is the second lesson in mastering disaster: you really must break into song because children are easily distracted by the sound of music. Indeed, the way I see it, the butcher’s case at Albertsons is aliiiiiiive with the sound of doe a deer, a female deer.

Granted, your middle-schoolers might skedaddle to the produce section while you yodel through the meat department but your little ones will gape at you with shining eyes. Your heart will suddenly explode with the unabashed epiphany that nobody—not nobody, Mama!—can be The Best Parent to your child except you.

Yes, you with all your quirky, undiginified ways because in the end, all they really want is you and I’m not sure why it took me five children to figure this out but the Universe works in mysterious ways, so they tell me. And yes, sweetheart, doe-a-dear, a female deer has a puh-china. I think. I don’t know if that’s the official name, use my iPhone to look it up on Wikipedia.

Oh, that’s another dignity loss/disaster. Screen time. When my Big Kids were little, I was all about the limited screen time. The restrictions. The rules. The reading of books before the watching of PBS and educational movies, so help me Rhonda. I was so progressive back then, dammit.

I miss my old, progressive self like I miss my size zero jeans. Which is to say, not at all.

[SIDEBAR: Because what IS a size zero, exactly? Is that like Coke Zero for denim—all pretending to be Diet Coke but with sucky taste and 1,000 calories of self-importance? Last time I checked, being zero wasn’t all that great. Being zero meant being nothing and I’m not nothing, I’m something. In fact, I’m the most important something to my kids, stretchy yoga pants and all. But I digress.]

What I really want you to know is that I had a long, responsible discussion with my twins about puh-chinas. We discussed all the necessary things and I made gallant promises to re-up my classroom volunteerism, master the art of losing my dignity and also, introduce them to quinoa. Who knows? I may even enroll them in cotillion–because CLEARLY we needs some manners up in here.

But when the twins asked me why boys have “lines” coming out of their bodies, I said we can wait until they’re in 4th grade to discuss that. After all, there’s only so much disaster I can master.

Divorce after twins

Sunday breakfast: phone calls, coffee, perusing the newspaper

There is a land of the living and a land of the dead
and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.
–Thornton Wilder 

Looking back, I can see how blindly optimistic I was–as if willpower alone could rescue and restore us to sanity. I never once imagined we’d be taken down by the slow, inexorable crushing: months of sleep deprivation and twins born on the cusp of a devastating economic downturn, the strain of raising five children on one income and the ongoing process of recovering from our cult backgrounds.

I guess I just didn’t think divorce could happen to us. That somehow, we’d be different. We’d overcome. After all, we’d escaped our childhood cults and forged a new life for ourselves. We’d beaten the odds. We were the exception.

There’s a reason, I think, why people refer to life Before Twins and life After Twins. Giving birth to multiples–especially on top of three other children–is the kind of shocking life change around which the whole of a marriage seems hinge. At least, that’s how it’s been for us.

“The twins run the show now,” a neonatologist told us when our babies were still in the NICU. He was amused, chuckling. I remember thinking: yeah, right. I’m already a mom of three. How much more intense can it be, really?

Answer: way more intense.

I had heard the anecdotal horror stories about marriages falling apart within five years of a twin/multiples birth. Four years after our twins were born, I suddenly understood.

Last summer, I asked my husband to move out. I was exhausted. We were both exhausted. Burned out. I didn’t have the will to carry on anymore. The prolonged crucible of raising twins had exacerbated all our other issues. At the time, I could see no way through except quitting.

But the greatest act of courage is to love. I heard that line last night in Smokefall, a play at South Coast Repertory. Something in that line sank deep into my soul. This play was the story of a family–a pregnant mother of twins whose husband who could no longer bear the crushing weight of life. And so he disappeared one day. It was the story of a family over several generations. It was poetic and plebeian, heartbreaking and humorous. It was a story of leaving and staying, of the moments that define us and bind us.

And like all good art, this play reflected life back to me. It inspired me. It helped me remember. The greatest act of courage is to love.

My husband and I, we stayed together. By daily grace we are staying together. Last summer was our rock bottom and it’s been a long, slow, moment-by-moment recovery. But it is a recovery.

We live in these daily moments and by being present in them–by living the pain, by facing our pain instead of seeking escape–we are finding a very present grace and a refined-by-fire love.

There are moments like a Sunday breakfast–the twins flipping through the coupons (look! Mama! orange juice on sale!), husband answering a phone call from one of his employees, my ballerina wandering in all groggy and tired from her week dancing in NYC, our sons playing with the the dogs–these moments we remember.

In the end, these moments are all we have–the moment in the arbor where the rain beat/ The moment in the draughty church at smokefall/Be remembered…. –T.S. Eliot

Every day is the choice to live courageously–to love by word and deed–to cross the bridge between life and death. The bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.

Twin Synchronicity

 

“Would you like to try different haircuts?” I asked.

The girls gave me blank stares.

“You know, like maybe each of you has a different look?”

Nothing.

“Ok, well, see. Jorie has to have bangs because she already cut them herself. But Jossie, maybe you don’t want bangs?”

Jossie looked at Jorie. Jorie looked at Jossie.

“Nooooooo,” wailed Jossie. “I wanna be like Jorie!”

“But Jorie’s bangs were accidental,” I explained. “Remember? She cut them herself with the kindergarten scissors.”

“Yeah, but I didn’t do that!” Jossie said. And then giving Jorie a very bossy look, “Cutting our hair is not how we use scissors, riiiight, Jorie?”

“Jossie! Don’t be mean!” Jorie shouted. “I already said sorry for cutting my hair!”

Jorie folded her arms over her chest and stamped her foot. “Jossie’s being the boss of me again!”

“Whoa, girls, whoa,” I interjected.

“But Jossie keeps saying how I cut my hair and I already ‘pologized for that!”

“I know, sweetie. It’s fine. All I’m saying is that you get to keep your bangs and Jossie can do something different with her hair.”

“No! No! I wanna be like Jorie!” Jossie said. “I want bangs, too!”

Jorie broke into a huge grin. “We wanna look like each other because we’re twins, riiiight Joss?”

“But girls! How about we give your teachers a break and make it easy for them to tell you apart?”

Blank stares.

And then:

“But I wanna be like Jorrieeeeeeeeeeeeeee.”

Matching bobs and bangs for all. Plus lollipops.

The funny thing about twins

I read with interest the National Geographic article on twins.  The portrait gallery featuring sets of identical twins was particularly compelling. Although the article addressed identical twins specifically, I found many similarities to my own fraternal twins.

Most people cannot tell my twins apart. Even my mom mixes them up. Their preschool teachers often remark that the only way they can tell my twins apart is if I dress them differently. A few months ago my twins tricked their teachers into thinking they were the other twin and spent an entire day in opposite classrooms.

To me, my twins have always looked very different from each other–which is funny since before I had twins, I always had difficulty differentiating between other twins I knew.

Still, the similarities are remarkable. They both like wearing the same clothes on the same day. I’ve tried to switch things up and present different outfits but then they both decide they want the same outfit and argue over who gets to wear it. It’s just easier to dress them the same.

Ever since they were babies, we’ve called them the Synchronized Poopers. As soon as one goes, the other follows shortly thereafter. They often get the urge at the same time and have to race for different bathrooms, yelling: “I gotta go poo-poo!”

When they were about two, they called each other the same name: Jorie. Except it sounded like this: “Jo-wee.” I’m not sure if they thought they were the same person but they both answered to Jo-wee. Now Jasiel is very clear that she is JOSS-EEEE-ELLLLLL.

They both love to sing although Jorie sings off-tune with vibrato while Jasiel can keep a tune and likes to correct Jorie on the lyrics. Their biggest argument right now is about the proper way to sing “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”(yes, they’re still singing Christmas songs around here): “No, Jorie, you don’t sing ‘he’ll go down in his-STOR-Y until the end! MOMMY! Jorie is singing the END FIRST!”

Whenever they play House–which is usually everyday–Jorie is always the parent and Jasiel is always the baby. Or the pet duck. Sometimes I’ll hear Jasiel calling, “Mama! Mama!” and when I answer she says: “No, not YOU, Mama. Jorie-Mama.”

Jasiel is very articulate and uses words and analogies to describe her feelings. A few weeks ago she got in trouble with Daddy and when he was putting her to bed she said: “My heart is very sad because this is why I’m not smiling.” Daddy kissed her and she smiled, “Now I’m MORE happier again!”

Jorie relies on body language and facial expressions to relay her emotions. While Jasiel loved watching the live-action Peter Pan movie (and narrated it as it went along), Jorie’s face looked terrified most of the time and she ended up hiding under a blanket.

They’ve recently entered the tattling stage and love to come running to me with various tales of woe. “You know! You know! You know Jorie marked on the wall!” Before they figured out tattling, they bit each other instead. I think tattling is an improvement.

Disciplining twins is a challenge because they are so attuned to each other that even when only one of them is in trouble, the other one cries as well. Last week when Jasiel fell out of the window, Jorie’s screams were just as loud. But they also get in far more trouble than my older children ever did. We’ve come to call it the “Gangster Effect.” They are co-conspirators who enable each other. The mischief they get into together is a hundred times worse than if they were alone.

They’re always obsessively interested in what the other one is doing. Despite being in different classrooms at preschool, they still bring home similar projects and if one of them starts making world maps, the other one decides to do it, too. They’re forever checking to see if they are getting the exact same outfit, hair accessory, dessert, snack, etc. And if one of them gets something the other doesn’t, it’s a massive, epic meltdown. Still, I’ve tried to wean them off this by occasionally dressing them differently–if only a little different.

The one thing that always remains the same, though, is their deep, abiding love for each other. What an incredible gift: a best friend for life.

My twins are four.

My twins turn four today and I wish had something profoundly mother-y to say but the reality is that I’m still so damn tired from giving birth to them that the only coherent thing coming out of my mouth is: “Where’s my flannel nightgown and my hot toddy?”

Clearly, I’m 34 going on 92.

In other news, Matt has gone completely gray. He also has gout.

I, on the other hand, seem to have developed a rabid case of psoriasis on the tops of my feet. These psoriatic patches function essentially like a mood ring–except that my actual skin changes color with my emotional state.

Which has brought Matt to oft repeat the refrain: “Don’t bother Mommy or she might break out in psoriasis!”

It’s also led me to shake my foot at anyone who dares interrupt me while I’m taking a shower or using the toilet. “Do you see this foot?” I say. “This foot? This psoriatic, suffering FOOT? If you so much as bang down the door while I’m pooping, Mommy’s foot will explode with psoriasis!”

Guilt is a great way to get kids to behave. I highly recommend it. Or else you can just explain in graphic detail everything that happens when kids bother their pooping, psoriatic Mother. Believe me, they’ll go running far, far away….”in heathen darkness dwelling! Millions of souls forever will be lost!!”

Whoa. Why, hello, crusading hymn from my fundamentalist past. You know how some people burst into Broadway songs in their daily life? Well, I burst into Hymns from the 1800′s. I know. It’s weird. And not in a cute way.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Guilt! GUILT! That’s what we’re talking about! It sure does come in handy.

Take for example the other day at dinner when the madding crowd was pounding the table with their forks and demanding “MORE MILK!” and “BUTTER! BUTTER FOR MY BREAD!” I spied a little happy face carved into the table. Just a very wee, very faint, very intentional happy face carved into the table.

I decided to do the only rational thing and promptly fell out of my chair.

I rolled around on the floor, weeping and gnashing my teeth–and also noticing how my tiled floor that once was white as snow, now has grout as black as ebony.

The children gathered ’round me as I sobbed.

“What’s wrong with Mommy?”

“Is Mommy dying?”

“Who? WHOOOOO carved a wee little happy face into my table?” I wailed.

“Oh, great,” said Matt. “Here comes the psoriasis.”

One of the children started weeping, too, which was a sure sign that he was the guilty party. So, I stopped wailing and we had a Come-to-Jesus moment where we all acknowledged our sins, apologized, kissed and then passed around LifeSavers. Wild Cherry Communion, if you will.

That’s when the twins reminded everyone that we hadn’t even prayed yet for our food. The way they announced this was by yelling at the top of their lungs: “WHAT THE PUCK?! WE DIDN’T SAY ‘BLESS US, OH LORD!’”

“Did you just say ‘what the puck’? With a P?” asks Daddy.

“Yeah!” shouts Jorie. “Mommy says it all the time!”

“She does!” chimes in James. “Mommy says ‘puckin’ this and ‘puckin’ that about everything!”

I take a moment to carefully examine my psoriatic foot. I have no idea what they’re talking about. No idea, I tell you. None.

“Now, Mother,” says my tween, “you are aware, are you not, that PUCK sounds very similar to a dirty word?”

I nod. I scratch my psoriasis. I’m aware. I’m a euphemistic cusser. I use, as my fundamentalist father used to say, “minced oaths.”

Guilty. Guilty as charged.

“Dad-dy! Daaaadddy! We didn’t say BLESS US, OH LORD!” Jorai reminds us again.

“AND DESE DIE GIFTS!” yells Jasiel.

So we all snap to attention, fold our hands and belt out the heartiest prayer you’ve ever heard. After we’ve finished eating dinner.

Which, of course, is the totally perfect to give thanks, with the food all warm and full inside your belly and five little heads all bowed in prayer and Daddy nursing his gouty ankle and Mommy scratching at her psoriatic foot.

And that’s when I realize: the twins gave me the gift of letting go. Being free. Embracing imperfection. And truly knowing, for the first time in my life, that love really is just like the Energizer Bunny. It goes on and on.

Happy Birfday, Twins!

The mall is trying to kill me (I’m serious!)

I stink at clothes shopping. It just totally overwhelms my ADD brain. There are too many options, especially when it comes to little girl clothes. I’m always in awe of moms who are able to put together color-coordinated, matchy-matchy outfits PLUS accessories like hair-bows and frilly socks.

Where did they learn this skill? How are they able to pull matching pieces of clothing from completely separate merchandise racks? I simply don’t have this skill.

I do, however, have the skill of screaming AAAUUUUUUGGGHHHHH!!! while wandering aimlessly through racks and racks of clothing. This embarrasses my children to no end. They know what’s coming next: me yanking random pieces of clothing off the racks and throwing them helter-skelter into the cart, running at top speed toward the front of the store yelling: EVACUATE! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES! WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIIIIIIIE!

My oldest daughter has taken to holding my hand and gently guiding me through breathing exercises while she picks out the outfits for all four of her siblings.

While I follow her around, I start muttering things like: “If only this LAME store would turn DOWN this LAME music I might be able to concentrate on this IMPOSSIBLE task!”

“Mother, just breathe,” my daughter tells me. “And please stop chewing on your hair.”

This is why I like shopping online. The online store just automatically suggests matching pieces like shirts, leggings or hair accessories. And then you can save your basket and come back later. None of this standing around, hyperventilating and wondering if you’ve chosen matching outfits at a reasonable price.

My daughter, however, seems to thrive in stores. Yesterday my mother took her shopping. They were gone for FIVE hours. When they arrived home I was all: How did you not DIIIIIE?

Five hours inside a mall is pretty much my worst idea of torture. To my daughter, it’s bliss.

I can’t understand how GOOD things happen to her in the mall. Whenever I go into a store, something awful is bound to happen. Take, for example, the last time I went into Old Navy. I thought for sure I would find something perfect for my twins (I always go in with high hopes!).

SIDEBAR: Yes, I often dress my twins in matching outfits because honestly? If I find ONE matching outfit, I’m not going to spend any more time trying to find ANOTHER matching outfit. I’ll just buy two of the same! BINGO! END SIDEBAR

And guess what? I FOUND SOMETHING AWESOME! I did, I did. I found two ruffly little skirts. And I was all: “YAY! I’m finally mastering this impossible skill called Clothes Shopping For Little Girls!”

But then I washed them.

AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED:

That’s it.

I’m convinced the mall is trying to kill me.

How an ENFP cleans house

The twins watch Food Network with me and have decided they want to “be Ina!”–as in, Ina Garten of Barefoot Contessa fame. To quote Ina herself, “How bad could that be?” Not bad at all, I say. So, I let them “Be Ina” all day today. They made oodles of mess. Stirring, pouring, water, cutting pieces of paper into the bowl, spilling all over the floor. A glorious mess. WHICH of course, needed to be picked up–at some point.

And unless I am on some kind of strict schedule with a VERY LOUD TIMER to keep me on track, this is how I do my housework: pick up something in one room, dust a shelf in another, empty half the dishwasher, fold some laundry, remember to reply to an email, check calendar and realize you have a dentist appointment for the kids in 10 minutes, dash off to the dentist, flip through Better Than Your Home magazines at the dentist office which makes you feel like a total-worthless- piece-of-crap, vow to do better, stop by the grocery store on the way home, buy enough vegetables to feed a stadium of people, announce to everyone that we’re going on the EAT SMART DIET STARTING NOW!, research how to roast vegetables, watch a Food Network show, fall in love with butter again, rally everyone for a massive cooking spree, make a huge mess in the kitchen, pop the cork on some red wine, unload the other half the dishwasher, do a spontaneous art project with the kids, take the puppy outside to play, notice the spots on the floor and decide to scrub ALL downstairs floors, go all crazy sweeping and urgently mopping, get all happily distracted with hubby who thinks you are quite amusing, tidy up the bedroom afterwards (ahem), finish mopping, take a shower, read the newspaper while brushing teeth, fall into bed dead tired.

Nothing much got done. But then again, we DID make several glorious messes.

I call that a successful day.