When Kevin said he wanted to go back to Coachella this year, my first thought was, "OHHHH SHIT." I'd never single-parented the babies, so this felt an awful lot like having to put my money where my mouth was and actually, you know, be a responsible MOTHER.
The thing is, back when the beans were only a couple months old, I'd be so tense every time Maria left, because being alone with them scared me a little. They were so tiny, and I was afraid they'd both need me at once and I wouldn't be able to deliver. My time was all about trying to make sure they wouldn't get hungry at the same time, and praying they didn't need to be held simultaneously, or begging a friend to come over and help keep me sane for the evening. It was like crisis prevention, and it was exhausting. I couldn't imagine ever feeling ready to be around them without Kevin.
You know, all those stupid parenting books are bad for your brain. Somehow they make you feel like once your kid is placed in your arms, you have all the answers. You know their cries, you know their needs, you know them intuitively. But that's all crap. It's like being expected to speak fluent Spanish just because you've had Univision available on your cable system. Sure, you and the baby have been living together for nine months -- or, you know, seven -- but you are still strangers to each other on the outside world, and you need to get to know each other. The love is there, but the familiarity isn't. And that's okay. So for me, it was not only about establishing that familiarity, but admitting to myself that it didn't make me a bad person that I couldn't always tell which high-pitched cry meant Dylan was hungry, and which one meant he was bored. This shit takes time, and no matter what people tell you, babies don't have that big a variety of noises at first. I love Baby 411, but I kind of wanted to punch it when it told me there were easy ways to distinguish between cries. Because the other thing all the books tell you is that every child is different, and since Baby 411 hasn't met my twins, Baby 411 can't tell me what they sound like when they're starving versus having a nightmare.
Somewhere, the tide turned. I'm not sure when, exactly; I only it realize now, when it hits me in waves that I'm not as nervous as I used to be. But as they got bigger and stronger and a bit more interactive, I stopped feeling like I needed constant backup. I did get to know them, a bit, and they got to know me. It helps that they can entertain themselves and are experiencing the world in a much larger, more alert way. So even if Liam crawls over to me and starts wailing because he notices Dylan is being fed, I can distract him by making him laugh, or wiggling my toes, or directing him to another toy. They don't spit up as much. They don't seem as helpless. They're strong and funny and curious, and although that comes with its own set of worries, they're not as terrifying to me right now. But now, they're tiring in a different way -- and I'm much more comfortable and confident being alone with them.
Having said that, the weekend was wallpapered with people who'd been wanting to hang out with the dudes. I am blessed. It exhausted me so much less, having these great people actually WANT to play with my dudes and make them smile and hold them so that I could wash bottles or unload the dishwasher or take a shower. But even with pals around, it did feel different, knowing that for long stretches I was still The Boss and the ONLY Boss. I was the only line of defense at night, if they woke up-- and they did once; Dylan is cutting a front tooth -- and in the mornings. And I earned Rock Star status by taking them to the doctor on Saturday by myself, using the side-by-side double stroller, leaving Liam inside it while Dylan had his checkup (everything is fine; we just thought he might have a throat or ear thing, but he's all clear). Liam got mad, because he was hungry, so I fed him a bottle with one hand while bouncing Dylan on my knee with the other, or holding Dylan while using my foot to move the stroller back and forth. But we made it, and that felt really good, because my initial reaction was, "I can't take them to the doctor BY MYSELF." Guess what? I totally can, and I did.
I wish I hadn't let having children scare me about being a parent. Maybe I'd have ventured out with them by myself a bit earlier. But like with anything, you have to grow into your role. And I think I'm settling into mine. Which is great, because it's just in time for the dudes to start learning to chew food and/or put random stuff into their mouths, which means their choking risk is about to go up one-thousand percent. So I can sit back and enjoy this place I've found myself in, but I can't get too complacent because shit's about to get REAL. Again.