This piece was originally performed at Write Club Chicago 2 years ago. What's Write Club you ask? Click that link to see the majesty that is Write Club. Thank you, Ian.
Whose babies are these and why are they smiling at me? These two tiny lunatics swaddled in their baby straight jackets. I think they want something from me. You grab them both and arrange for simultaneous feeding and smiling all while willing the coffee in the next room to somehow appear in your hand. Take a moment to once again realize as you do every morning, these are your babies and you have the honor of being their mom. How the hell did that happen? I don’t think I’m qualified to do this, am I? They’re just babies, geez. You’d think you held their lives in your hands or something.
The guilt of being a twin mom is that you usually have to put one down in order to deal with the other one. It’s hard to give one your total attention when there is another one who needs your total attention as well. On every level, it can weigh on you. Whatever you do, don’t start thinking about how you will pay for college and how you will be 50 when these babies are just 10 years old. DO NOT think about going back to work next month because holy hell it rips your heart apart to think about that.
Shake it off and use this time while they are entertaining themselves to smell your stink and realize you have about 7 minutes to get in there and make it happen. Strap one in the jumperoo while you shower so he can eye you with the look of a really cute stalker who wants to gum your face off. By the time you're done you can hear his sister in the other room. The threat level is about Defcon 3 right now, and you can let that shit rise to a 2 before you really need to take action.
"Why is there red lipstick all over these babies all the time” you wonder to yourself as you smear more on your teeth and kiss that baby’s head. Pick up the baby in jumperoo as he on cue, spits up into your clean hair and dress. Perfect.
All you want is for them to sleep a bit and give you two minutes to yourself but then you miss them when they're not crawling all over you - biting and sucking and clawing and pinching and caressing and drooling and laughing - Christ - the laughing. You can feel them even when they aren’t there, like phantom babies possessing your body as their personal wonderland.
We have to get out and do something. Anything in order to interact with other adult humans and get these babies out of the house. Do not trust yourself to stay home alone with babies more than one day a week. While they laugh at all your jokes and pretty much think you are the prettiest coolest lady on the planet right now, you cannot be trusted to stay with them alone all the time. Or else you get the crazies. The angries. The resentments. The "I am the only person who has ever done "this" and I am doing it all wrong oh my god, look at his penis! Is it supposed to look like that? Did it look like that yesterday?"
Grab that diaper bag that you are so prepared with always having whatever you need for the end of the world zombie attack, because you WILL get stranded somewhere and need more milk and water and blankets and toys and cats and energy bars and extra clothes and plastic sheeting and because it is the end of the world, a flask and a pack of smokes to go out with a bang. IT COULD HAPPEN. And you will be prepared, god dammit. And, bonus, built in feeding sources also double as floatation devices.
Secure the lunatics into their car seats and thrash them into walls in the stairway all down the two floors in the building. The babies think it’s like bumper cars. Because babies believe anything you tell them. Suckers. Your neighbors shake their fists angrily at you as you wave cheerily in return.
Sanity is back after going out, even with the bitter comments from some folks, most people are very kind and just curious. You realize once again there are great men and women out there who really want you to succeed as they want to succeed themselves. The Facts of Life song briefly runs through your head and you wonder what Mrs. Garrett would say. Today, you’ve fed and changed and played and showed them the world while you got to talk to other adults. Hopefully not too many people saw your floatation devices in the process. Deem that day a success, even if you all lost your shit a couple times, you still did it.
And hey, it’s almost 5:30. Almost time for our favorite Daddy Superhero to get home. And you know what? It's been a great day. Almost every day is lately. Even the bad days. Because I get to be a MOM. And besides sobriety and finding real love with a life partner, it is the greatest thing I've ever had the gift of feeling. My heart is tender to the touch in their tiny hands.
Did my mom feel all of this once upon a time? All of this panic and stress and worry, the overwhelming love that cannot be expressed except through crying and laughing and gratitude? She must have. She held me in the palm of her hand with all the awe filled love and tenderness I hold my babies with now. When I got older, she had the courage to stop enabling me. She watched her sweet baby killing herself while becoming a terribly sad and hopeless alcoholic, helpless to stop it. She did something I don't know that I could ever do. She let me face consequences after trying everything else to help me. I lost everything. I was homeless, penniless, and several times in jail. I destroyed her more times than I can count. Yet, she loved me enough to not bail me out. She let me fall to the depths I needed to alone, in order to get my shit together. I hope I never have to be that kind of mom that she is, but if I do, I only hope I have half the strength she did when faced with a life or death decision for her child. She was selfless. Looking at these babies, these living amends to her, I don't think I'll ever understand how she did it. But I owe her everything.
Today I get to be a MOM after battling alcoholism and infertility. It still sounds so strange. I am a MOM. To two tiny little people who look to me for everything. I only hope I have the courage and wisdom and staunchness of character required to be their MOM. Not just the cutesy, fun, day to day silliness of having little babies, because while great, I know the tough stuff is coming.
I don’t care how you feed your babies or if you have them sleep on the back porch just to get away from the crying for a bit, or how much FUCKING TUMMY TIME YOU DO, because that shit sucks and everybody hates it. We are all in this together and we need to support each other. So, hi, my name is Katy and I am a mom. (pause) Hi. I am doing the best I can here. Just like you. I fail often. I fall on my face and get back up only to be stronger. I know when I am right and admit when I am wrong. I lead by example. Can I be truly selfless like my mom? I hope so. I hope I am ready when shit truly hits Defcon 1 and there is a call to arms. May these arms be loving and firm. The strong steadfast yet somehow flexible arms of a MOM.
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