It Shouldn’t Feel Wrong to Admit I’m Alone and Happy in Hawaii

Hawaii Surf... Ahhhhh

Today, as it has for the past two days, the calendar on the wall in our house says Mama Away in blue magic marker.  “Mama go Auntie” my kids would say as I rehearsed with them that I would be leaving and when I would be returning.  I never expected my newly two year-old twins to get how many days I’d be gone, or even that the blue marker means mama is away and the green means mama is here.  The big takeaway was supposed to be mama WILL be back.

“Mama go Auntie” is toddler for me flying to Hawaii to sing in a close friend’s wedding.  Because that’s why I’m here, to sing, right?  It would be wrong to disappoint a close friend.  I’ve found myself doing a lot of rationalizing over the past weeks when the topic of my trip has come up.  But I’ll tell you the truth – as I sit here in a quiet hotel room listening to waves crash outside my window.  I am not here on some kind of mission of mercy, to throw myself on the sword, leaving my babies to fend for themselves with no one but their totally capable father, as well as grandfather, grandmother and babysitter.  I am here because I won the fucking twin mommy lottery.  At the perfect time, just when I need it most, just when I thought I was going to explode with restlessness and tedium, a close friend asked me to sing in her wedding in Hawaii.

Two days ago I walked through the airport all alone, boarded a plane for a ten hour flight, which I spent deliciously, luxuriously unplugged and alone.  No internet, no phone, no patients, no demanding toddlers, no husband wanting to know why I’m so “prickly” lately.  I can remember 5 hours into the flight, after I had done a crossword puzzle, napped, and read, thinking to myself how happy I was that I still had five hours left.

The last time I rode a plane without toddlers was before my pregnancy.  It felt completely unworthy of comment at the time, even inconvenient.  You would think I would have been eager to arrive in Hawaii, but the funny thing is I don’t think Hawaii was even real to me at that moment.  All that was real to me was time.  This long, delicious stretch of uninterrupted, unplanned time with no demands.

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Tuesday’s Discussion of Jessica Valenti’s Why Have Kids

Valenti argues that complete maternal love and maternal instinct are overblown concepts used to promote the idea that mothers should be sacrificial and expert on all things related to their children.

To what extent do you believe in maternal instinct and the idea of all-encompassing maternal devotion?  In your experience are these concepts mostly societally-generated or do they ring true to your experience or that of people you know?  If you believe they are part of an un-natural societal ideal, what function does this ideal serve?

For me, these concepts mostly do not ring true.  I have definitely had great instincts about my kids at times.  I often feel like I know why they are acting a certain way, what they want or need, and notice things others don’t.  Having said that, there are also many, many times where I feel totally perplexed by them.  I often feel other mothers are aware of minutiae about their kids that I would never pay attention to, like how many times they poop.  I also feel my husband has many moments of great instincts about our kids that I’m oblivious to. If I tend to get it right most often, it’s only because I’m with them the most.  But I would say my husband is a close second, and could easily have “the best” instincts if he were with them more than I.

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Baby Brain Made Me Do It (True Mommy Confessions II)

If I wasn’t a person with unusually high self-control who tends toward over-thinking and extreme caution, I’m quite sure I would have left my husband or at least be cheating on him by now, and my only excuse would be “baby brain.”

What is “baby brain?”  Before having children, I would often hear new moms referring to “baby brain,” mostly when they were forgetful.  I read that mothers actually lose brain cells in the more logical, memory –oriented parts of the brain and gain them in areas related to emotion and instinct during pregnancy.    But it wasn’t until after my babies were born and I was well into severe sleep disruption that I had my first full-scale encounter with “baby brain.”  For me it was an awkward sense of being unable to think.  The only comparison I can make is with feeling like you can’t breathe.  It is only when we feel short of breath for some reason that you are suddenly aware of trying to breath.   I would have the distinct sensation of having to actually try to think, usually with poor results.

It was particularly apparent in the area of memory.  I could only hold onto a thought for a few seconds, and then it would just be gone.  I would be aware of some mental empty space, but I just couldn’t get it back.  I would think, ‘I need to clean the bottles.’  I would lose it.  Then I would go through the same mental process I had just gone through in the first place.    The babies are crying, it’s feeding time, they must be hungry, there are no clean bottles, I need to clean the bottles.  Then I would lose it again and start all over.

For months I blamed this on the cognitive deficits that have been well documented in the sleep deprived.  Adequate periods of REM sleep are required for the brain to function optimally, and I was sleeping 2-3 hours at a time.

At the end of that sleep deprivation period, I felt my first urge to make a grave error in judgment.  All of a sudden it came over me – the powerful, undeniable urge to buy a house in the town where I grew up (a place I would normally NEVER want to live).  I took it so far, we were under contract before my husband sat me down and got it through my head that we couldn’t afford it.  A few months later the whole incident felt utterly surreal.  I could no longer understand those powerful feelings that left me driving around in tears looking at houses I couldn’t buy while my babies napped in the back seat.

It is now just about a year later, and aside from some temporary bouts of insomnia, my sleep is normal, but my brain is most certainly not.  There was the sex-crazed phase in the fall when I became super-horny.   I then decided I could no longer stand being in the closet, and needed to out myself as a pansexual.   Urges to make grave errors in judgment also continued, including the very strong desire to respond to my husband’s and my marital stress by having an affair with a woman.  In my defense, I did become pregnant again four months ago and miscarried, so my brain has been hit by a double whammy.

So what the heck is going on up there anyway?  Sometimes I think they should make public service commercials to warn women.  “This is your brain…  This is your brain on hormones.”  For me the hormones were like some kind of trippy drug that exaggerates everything.  That combined with having been cooped up for so long, first going through a nightmare infertility situation, then pregnancy with twins, bed rest, and childbirth.  All those parts of me that had been hiding out, de-prioritized while all my energy was focused on trying to make my kids, and then trying to keep them alive, were suddenly screaming, ‘Hey, I’m still here!’  Take that cooped up brain and bath it in a cocktail of sexually-charged, impulsivity-driven hormones!  By the time my babies were born I was like a caged animal ready to claw her way toward a martini and a hot piece of ass.

These are the things they don’t tell you.  And it looks different for every mom.  Some have no sex drive at all but experience a burning desire to become a scuba instructor.  Some decide it’s time to follow their lifelong dream of riding motorcycles, or obtaining multiple tattoos.  I’m not saying these urges aren’t real, (I certainly take seriously my desire to be out of the closet), but they are, at the very least, heightened.  How can I be sure whether a given hormone surge is a good trip or a bad one!  I feel all I can do is use caution and wait until I’m certain my brain is back to “normal” before making any sudden moves.

For most moms though, from what I have witnessed, the most dramatic aspects of baby brain, those that might entice us to cheat on our husbands, embezzle money, becomes strippers, etc., go deep underground.  I don’t believe new moms lose their identities simply because they are so wrapped up in their babies.  I think giving up our identities is a reaction to the frightening degree to which our selves are screaming for attention, louder than ever.  Already feeling neglected by the time our babies are born, and driven like motors by brains bathed in hormones, sleep deprived, and perhaps having shifted around some key neurons from the logical to the emotional arena, our brains are screaming for us to be wild.  The screaming is just as loud as the screaming for us to pro-create (screaming that for many of us became deafening somewhere after age 30 to the point where we would have flushed our doctoral degrees down the toilet and eaten our left arms to get pregnant).  The same brains that made us crazy with the desire to parent are now making us crazy with the desire to be everything else we are!

Armed with being an extremely anal, over-controlled person, I found myself able to dabble in real estate transactions and hang out at gay bars fantasizing about lesbian affairs with relative confidence that I wouldn’t do anything I really can’t reverse.  My guess is a lot of other women, who perhaps allow themselves healthier levels of personal freedom, fear these impulses so much that they drown themselves out all together becoming ultra focused on the their babies.  This prevents any problematic mischief from occurring, and has the added benefit of helping us fit the societal image of the devoted mother who is in a state of complete bliss in early motherhood.  Thus, we can squelch temptation at a time when society is telling us we should be desperate to rock our babies to sleep, not desperate to run out of the house dressed like a hooker with a flask hidden in our bang-me boots.

There is one aspect of baby brain I have not yet touched upon.  Dissociation is a clinical term related to trauma.  When human beings experience trauma, in order to protect ourselves, we split ourselves emotionally into different parts.  The most extreme example would be someone who actually develops alternate personalities that do not remember the trauma.  More simply, anytime you realize you’ve arrived at your destination without having been conscious of the drive there you are dissociating.  In essence one part of the brain does not know what other parts are doing.

Let’s be real people, motherhood is traumatizing.  Yes, it’s natural, the most natural thing in the world.  And yes, it’s traumatizing.  Ask women to tell the stories of their attempts to get pregnant, their pregnancies, their birth experiences, and the first year with newborns.  Find me the woman who doesn’t relay a single traumatic event.  Then there are the intense feelings and images from our own childhoods that come flooding back in ways we may or may not be aware of.  Finally, simply becoming a mother is a traumatic assault on the self.  Having our lives go from all about us, to all about another being is a massive, jarring alteration of consciousness that even the healthiest among us will be utterly thrown by.

Further, we are offered no cultural context or preparation for this assault on the self.  As we look around, we see other mothers denying, whether consciously or unconsciously, that they are experiencing trauma.  For some, the denial is blatant.  They are experiencing postpartum depression, their marriage is falling apart, they have urges to hit their children, they scream and lose patience, but they show up at play-dates appearing totally fine and together.

For others, the denial is hidden, even to themselves.  They no longer experience a self, thus shielding themselves from the trauma of losing it.  That part of them has been split off, dissociated, and all that is left is the devoted mother part.  These are the mothers who offer the biggest mind-fuck to those poor fools among us who are actually painfully aware of how fucked up we really are right now!  But these women’s selves will re-emerge, and they will do so with a vengeance.  We can only go underground for so long, and imagine the trauma of realizing one has been keeping herself in captivity for one, five, ten, or even twenty years!

So what’s a girl to do?  I used to joke that I wished there was a pill to turn off that insanely powerful part of my brain that suddenly, at 32, informed me that having children, something I’d never wanted, was the most important thing to do in my life.  But there is no pill.  Our brains are sophisticated and complex, but ultimately ruled by instinct.  It is that same survival instinct which makes our neglected selves run wild after the brain finally gets that baby it so desperately desires.  After all, we need that self to be strong and healthy in order to help our babies thrive.

The best we can do is be real with each other.  Let’s be real so that those women whose brains can’t think about anything but baby understand what they are signing on for.  Let’s normalize that “baby brain” is more than just a little forgetfulness.  It is feelings of depression, or wanting to flee, or almost making, or sometimes actually making grave errors in judgment.  Let’s normalize thinking 30 times “I need to make the bottles” but never actually doing it.   Dissociation means literally one part of the brain can’t communicate with another.  Let’s tell each other the truth about messing up with our kids and having to go back and weed out what part of our own baggage made us do it.  Because facing our demons, admitting we are flawed and trying again and again to do better… that is parenting.

If there was space in our cultural and in our collective consciousness for selves that are traumatized, battered, confused, bewildered, and also perhaps more passionate and creative than ever, perhaps we could free those women who have gone underground.  Perhaps we could all find a little more balance.

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Mommy Attention Span

I sometimes still prefer time with non-mommy friends even now that I’m a mom, and “Mommy Attention Span” or M.A.S is one of the reasons.  M.A.S. occurs when one loses all capacity for attention other than toward ones children.

M.A.S is not to be confused with “baby brain” or the way parenting generally slices and dices one’s neurons until there is nothing left but a soupy mess of incoherence.  No engaged parent can think straight!  We are always splitting our attention and it’s hard to concentrate with the responsibility for another being’s entire life on our minds.  BUT the little attention we can muster has to be able to shift.  Mommy Attention Span occurs when we try to squeeze attention to everything and anything else in between reacting to our children’s every move.

I understand when you are trying to talk to another mom, there are going to be interruptions.  Clearly, when someone is in potential danger, hurt, starving, or about to eat a small, non-edible object it requires mom’s attention.  But little ones are going to want attention anytime they can get it.  If I’m trying to talk to a friend about something hard, or even something inane, why does the fact that baby brought you a toy, drooled, or made loud noises, demand a response and break from your attention every time?

Example number two.  Moms are endlessly complaining about how they have lost the freedom to go to the bathroom by themselves.  This loss of freedom results not from the condition of parenting, but from… “Mommy Attention Span.”  Don’t get me wrong, moms (and dads who spend a lot of time at childcare), give up many freedoms, often including the freedom to put one’s own needs first.  But unless your kid is in some kind of peril, shut the door and go to the bathroom!  My kids have yet to set the house on fire or kill each other during the time it takes me to pee by myself.

In part, my feelings on this topic may come from having twins.  When you have twins, the illusion that you will be completely attentive to your baby and meet all her needs is immediately shot to hell on day one.  There’s something about two sets of little hands on each knee and two little mischievous faces looking up at me that says ‘no, this is not acceptable or necessary while I pee, they’re going to wait outside from now on.’  Are they slightly miffed when I shut the bathroom door in their faces?  Sure.  But two seconds later when I come out, they have forgotten all about it.  Who says we don’t have a right to a minute or two of attending to our own bodily functions?

Where did we get the idea that a good mom is endlessly attentive?  And what messages are we sending our children?  I’m sure on one level we believe we are equipping our children to have high self-esteem and feel like they are fascinating just by being them.  And indeed, it is critically important to reflect back to our children who they are in an accepting manner.  But not every minute!!  The truth is, they are not endlessly fascinating, and giving them the idea that they are could harm them.  There are going to be a lot of metaphorical bathroom doors slammed in their faces and they’re going to have to regroup and deal with it.

Children (and adults) need to be self-entertaining.  They need to be able to tolerate times when they are not being enjoyed just for being them.  That’s why our kids desperately need us to let them develop on their own.  They need time to explore their environment, and I’m not talking about a house full of loud, colorful, over-stimulating toys.  Leave your kids alone with a few Tupperware containers and pick up a book.  They will thank you later when they can read a somewhat long paragraph without becoming unfocused and wondering where the flashing lights and pictures are.

I believe for some of us, our relationships with partners and friends are suffering, and our connections to ourselves and the outside world are too.  The combined cultural notion that we should both want to be around our kids all the time, and want to be attentive to them all the time leave us with no way to connect with other adults.  Then, feeling cut-off, uninspired, under-stimulated, and just plain bored, we beat ourselves up for not loving being cut-off, uninspired, under-stimulated, and just plain bored.

Being attentive to children can be delightful, but often it is work… plain and simple.  We do it out of love, the same way we listen to our partners go on and on about aspects of their work we don’t fully grasp, or the way we listen to an elderly parent describe the daily happenings in the hallway at their nursing home.

We don’t expect to derive the ultimate pleasure from these activities, and thus we don’t attempt to do them 24/7.  We intersperse times when we ourselves can be heard and stimulated.  We need those times!!  So moms… if another mom, or a partner, or anyone comes around and your kids are safe and have basic care, give your attention to that adult, and for the love of god, accept theirs, you need it!  Give yourself some precious moments for you.  Be “selfish.”

Your children will thank you when they can sit in a classroom for hours out of the day tolerating not being called on or paid attention to.  They will thank you when they can be that partner who listens to someone talk without turning the topic to themselves.  They will thank you when their boss provides constructive criticism and they’re not thrown off balance because they believe everything they do is fascinating.  Your daughters will thank you when they learn that being a mother means your kids are your top priority, but not that you have to make them a priority every minute.  Moms, you still exist!  Let your daughters see you exist.  Let them see you ignore them now and then so they can learn that no role, even mother, should be powerful enough to erase them.

Copyright 2012 All Rights Reserved.

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True Mommy Confessions 1

These are the things no one says. 

I am tired of the color of the playroom walls.

Crying makes my organs moan and my brain ache.

I leave my kids in their cribs as long as I can get away with.

I miss leaving the house whenever I want.

I need a nap.

I need a drink.

Sometimes I wear earplugs.

I’m not always that interested in the things my babies do.

I miss laying around in bed for no reason.

Sometimes I wish I could go on dates, or at least go out, get tipsy, and flirt with people.

Breastfeeding is incredibly hard and takes more endurance and will than anything I’ve ever done (and I have a freaking PhD, wrote a dissertation, cared for my mother for 18 months while she died of a brain tumor, and spent 3 months on bed rest).

My favorite times are when I read books or write.

I am stubbornly refusing to give up my identity, Mommy is just one of many names I call myself.

Often friends and relatives are more excited to see my babies than I am.

Often friends and relatives are way more excited to see my babies than me.

Feeding babies solids is boring, not to mention messy.

My kids want to play with me, but I’m writing this blog.

When my daughter crawled for the first time, I was vaguely aggravated.

I bathe my babies as infrequently as I can get away with.

I spend a lot of time surfing the web looking into events I can’t go to.

I am jealous of my single friends.

I am relieved when anyone else is around.

I frequently feel paralyzed by the terrible, blinding fear that something will happen to my babies.

Still… I have no regrets.

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Breast Pumping, House Hunting (Not My Mom Part 2)

Hard to Believe this was real...

About two months after my twins were born, (while I was still pumping breast milk 8 times per day, never sleeping more than 2 hours at a time, walking around in nothing but a nursing bra, forgetting to eat, still recovering from surgery), I decided it was time to look at real estate.  I went online and found a house in the town Seth and I had talked about moving to someday, when we could afford it.

Two days later, I was dragging Seth, the twins, and Grammy and Grampy on a 45 minute drive to see the house.  I didn’t need to see it, I was sure we had to buy it, I just needed to convince them!  You are probably thinking, well of course you didn’t convince them.  But those pregnancy hormones must be contagious, because there they were, Grammy and Grampy entertaining the twins in the car, while Seth and I checked out the house.

We almost bought that house.  Then there were several more weekends of house searching, breast pumping in the car, in the bathrooms of cold, empty houses, babies screaming in the faces of real estate agents, forgotten diapers, two of us looking at each house while the other two watched the twins.

You think that’s crazy, let’s talk about keeping my house ready to be shown to potential buyers at a few minutes notice; pulling a shirt on, throwing boppy pillows and blankets down the basement stairs, my breast pump and nursing supplies shoved in the closet, spit-up stains on the couch covered by throw pillows, Seth moving two jumperoos, two baby swings, two bumbo seats, two everything into the garage, as I run out the door, twins in hand, fleeing from any germs the visitors might be carrying.

Then there was the Lysol-ing of the house afterward.

And then we REALLY almost bought this other house.  This time in the very w.a.s.p.-y, very white, but oh so fucking adorable (laden with big old trees and gorgeous colonial homes) suburb where I crystallized my identity as “the only democrat in the class aside from the teacher.”

Oh how those teachers ate up my anti-death penalty diatribes and feminist rants.

(I remember this one kid wondering aloud in AP Government how women could be in combat roles in the military because “What if they get cramps or something when they’re on their period?”  Oooooo, did he wish he was dead by the time I was through…)

Anyway.  The house was a money pit.  It was so big compared to our tiny two bedroom cape cod, and close enough to the universe of our price range, that in our deluded, sleep-deprived insanity, we convinced ourselves we could afford it.  Then when we found out it needed completely new electrical wiring and plumbing (only a tiny drip came out of the faucets), that it had a flooding problem and asbestos.  We proceeded.

This all sounds perfectly crazy now, but oh, at the time, how I yearned for that house!  Of course it wasn’t the house at all.  I was yearning for my mother, for my own childhood, for something known.  It is amazing how even if we know our mother did a lot of things wrong, in those first months when the shock of profound responsibility and feelings of profound incompetence set in, we go right back to what we know, for me even down to the neighborhood!

Somehow picturing my kids going to my elementary school, playing in the playground where I played, watching their friends get brand new SUVs when they got their licenses, and claw each others’ eyes out to get spots at ivy league schools was incredibly comforting.  Rationality and logic be damned.  My kids had to live in that house, whether it meant eating beans from a can every meal, and their parents divorcing as they caved under the financial stress.

This may sound hyperbolic, but I’m quite certain that house would have ended my marriage.  Not more than 4 months later my depressed, desperate shell of a husband left his high paying big law job for a lower-paying one that would allow him to be the involved, present father he desperately wanted to be.  That house would have meant a life sentence at a job that was sucking the life out of him, and my kids growing up in a world where that salary would have meant more than almost anything else.  But that wasn’t us.

As I sit here in my tiny cape cod, my twins upstairs in their shared bedroom, in my scrappy little liberal, gay-friendly, cute but by no means manicured town, where various grad student neighbors leave the occasional old couch out of the front lawn to rot in the elements, I thank god that my husband had the clarity to back us out of that deal.

So new moms, beware.  This is not the time for decisions more critical than which type of bottle to buy.  I wanted that house down to the very fiber of my soul!  The pain I felt when I had to admit we couldn’t do it, so inexplicable now, left me crying for weeks.  The loneliness, the terror, the utter and complete self-depravation of new motherhood would all be erased if I just had that house.

I wasn’t just like my mother, I was my mother, a woman whose house was literally the most important thing to her.  I’m sure SHE had thought her family would be fine as long as we had the right house, but my kids would have something infinitely better… Seth.

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Maybe we are all Undercover (My Husband Does Do That, Part 1)

There were wonderful mommy play-date moments where I felt like, wow, they get it, and believe me, no one who doesn’t have twins gets having twins.

(Don’t tell me your one and two year olds are “just like twins!”  Don’t tell me you were “supposed to” have twins.  The fact that your aunt’s secretary’s dog lives in a house with twins does not make you get it!  You do not have twins!  Goodbye.)

But a lot of the time in the midst of such gatherings, I felt this ill, empty kind of feeling as though large chunks of my identity had left the building.

Of course I could relate to topics like getting your twins to sleep (please, for the love of God!), dealing with teething, when to start solids, etc.  They may not have been riveting, and yet, I found myself hanging on the every word of those more experienced mommies… until about 6 months rolled around and I started to have this nagging feeling that… this just isn’t all that complicated… and this nagging desire to, oh, I don’t know, talk about something other than our kids for the love of fuck!

This one night, I attended a twin mommy’s night out.  It was AT A BAR – swoon!  I was so excited, I thought, ok, now we’re actually going to get to know each other, the mommies will be loosened up, away from their babes, bring on the slightly inappropriate, sexually suggestive adult conversation.  FAIL.

I remember at one point wanting to stab myself with my fork when they moved off the topic of what’s the best minivan, to a lengthy discussion of how to find baby socks that fit right.  I actually lost the will to drink.  It’s then that I started looking around at these really quite lovely, but not very interesting moms, and realizing just how white, rich, and straight they really were.

There were many other play-date topics to which I couldn’t relate, my personal favorite being why our husbands suck (and let me assure you, some of these husbands really and truly did suck quite hard).

Now don’t get me wrong, my husband can be an ass.  Then again so can I.  Of course I fight with my spouse.  But the truth is, (hushed whisper) I like my husband.  He is a fantastic husband.

But okay, not everyone has the perfect marriage.   It was the gendered aspects of the husband complaints which eluded me most, husbands not “helping” around the house, never “watching” the kids, not “letting them” buy jewelry, etc.  Really?  Am I living the in the 1950s twilight zone?

I was only willing to do marriage if it was going to be the same deal for my husband and me.  The traditional wife/mother role seemed like a much better deal for a potential husband than for me.  I guess it didn’t occur to me that others wouldn’t feel the same.

And who wants to be a total asshole and sit there repeating, “My husband does do that,” and adding obnoxiously, “My husband cleans more than I do.  He’s a much better wife than I am. ”

Then again, am I really even there if I just sit and nod and sip my white wine?  I feel like I’m “passing” in a way. Not in a way that could be clearly labeled, but in a more subtle, and yet poignant way, I feel closeted

I long for the day when I can find a way to be out and proud, but I’m not even sure what to come out as.  There is no magic word for my lifestyle, or the collection of identity bits that make me up.  I find myself wondering if we are all really undercover, looking at each other from inside our closets thinking she’s just a little too normal.

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Postpartum… Party?

Ahhhh..... bed rest.

My twins were four months old. Prior to their birth I spent three months on bed rest, and the four months before that too nauseous to do much. The months preceding those, well, those were spent in the panicked whirlwind that overtakes an aspiring mother when she is told that she will never have biological children. So a few shorts months into motherhood, I had had it, and came to the very ill-timed conclusion that I was ready to party.

Remember college? I am still not over it. If I could go back right now, I would. Oh the debauchery I never engaged in, and oh, the sex I could have had! Where were my priorities?!

So during late-night breast-pumping sessions, and after the twelfth diaper change of the day, I found my mind engaged in this fantasy about, well… partying. Where could I go, and most importantly, what could I drink when I got there? After all, partying really isn’t partying when one is tiptoeing around the house so as not to wake two newborns, rummaging through the remains of bygone barbeques for leftover alcohol. Besides, the one thing I needed more than a drink was to get out of the house!

Some friends were not quite down with the whole baby thing yet, and others just didn’t seem that keen on partying “quickie”-style in between breast pumping sessions with a ragged, un-showered shell of my former self, still recovering from surgery and sporting some nasty stomach rolls and baggy maternity clothes.

Dang! What’s a girl to do? Enter mommies. Kindred spirits who would surely comprehend my unflinching desire to run away and pretend that we can, in fact, go back to college, even for just two delusional hours between feedings.

Thus began my love affair, (and eventual disillusionment) with Mommies. Mommies truly are amazing (even despite being at times mind-numbingly boring). How do they do the things they do? Hell, how do they do anything on that little sleep? And most amazing of all, most incredibly, inhumanly amazing are the twin mommies, many of whom, going it almost entirely alone, devote their every waking hour (and there are no sleeping hours) to the care of not one, but two needy babies.

I had felt “gotten” by these twin mommies in ways that had literally saved my life during a trying, frightening pregnancy, and four months of sleepless twin hell. They taught me almost everything I knew about the logistics of being a mother of twins, as I read hundreds of their posts on our twin mommy yahoo group during my bed rest.

And so I began to attend my new version of “parties” – the playgroup. Yes, our kids were only 4-5 months old. It was us who need the play, we were ravenous for it! So we packed up our double breast pumps and pumping pillows, we gathered our millions of children and their tons of gear, we squeezed all that crap into our Saturns (um, okay, that was just me, for the rest, it was mini-vans) and whether we’d showered yesterday or last week and whether our hair was brushed or not, we met up for some much, much needed girl talk replete with plenty of laughter, and just a little alcohol (shhh!).

And if in my desperation, I left some basic and rather critical aspects of my personality out of it, so be it.

Bottoms up, I would play the good little mommy, for now.

Copyright 2011-2012 All Rights Reserved.

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Undercover in the Suburbs

I never wanted to get married.  I never wanted children.  I was sure I could have a wonderfully succulent life without these instruments of the patriarchy, and I’m certain I could have.  Okay, in all honesty, I still thought boys were icky well into my twenties, so it was downright hard to envision marriage and children would ever happen to me anyway.  Thus while my feminist ideals were entirely sincere, they also helped me avoid being disappointed.

Somewhere in my mid-twenties, I walked into a clothing store in New York City and fell in love with a girly pink dress with just a teeny bit of lace trim around the bottom.  Instead of squelching my desire as I normally would to quell the inevitable cognitive dissonance attached to such urges, I walked out of there wearing the dress.  Screw the fact that I didn’t have the right shoes or bra to go with it, or anywhere fancy enough to wear it.  My mother had just died a few days before, and I was feeling a bit like a snow globe whose little white bits had gotten all shaken up, and it was yet unclear where they would land.  I wondered who I would be without my mom, who would I be if I wore this dress, who I would be with all these contradictory parts of me floating around in a little glass orb…  Was I suddenly just like all the other girly girls or a tomboy enjoying one aberrant evening in my new pink dress and sneakers?

So here I am seven years later, and my whole life feels like that dress.  Definitely what I wanted, but also not me.

This blog is about feeling like a radical and looking like a soccer mom.

This blog is about maintaining one’s creativity in a cookie cutter world, and being a smart girl at a time when everyone seems enamored with idiocy.

This blog is about feeling not quite conventional, a bit too eccentric, not straight enough, and way too feminist to hang with the other mommies, but not quite out there enough to take my kids and move to some kind of collectivist commune or join that lesbian separatist movement after all.

This blog is about being a mom of twins, as if I didn’t already feel like a freak!

This blog is about trying to live a holistic lifestyle without relocating to a giant bubble on the moon where no one has ever heard of McDonald’s.

This blog is a tribute to the love of my life, a true partner in every sense.

It is about sustaining an egalitarian marriage while systemic barriers force us into traditional roles.

This blog is my anthropologist notes from a culture that is both mine and yet deeply foreign.

This blog is my answer to such frequently asked questions as “Where’s your minivan?”

This blog is my study on whether to speak up and say my husband DOES do that, or just smile politely and pretend I’m also living in the 1950s.

It is about wanting and not wanting and trying to reconcile all the different parts of myself.

This blog is about acknowledging that I love my kids with a kind of passion like nothing I’ve never felt before, then admitting that the endless days of repetition are turning my brain into a pile of poo-poo, and that I skip out the door on my way to work.

This blog is about who I will be as wife and mother, and who I will be apart from a wife and mother.

This blog is my coming out party, and my attempt to figure out which closet I’m in anyway.

This blog is about waking up one day, undercover in the suburbs, trying to reclaim all those little pieces of myself, and watching to see where they will land.

Copyright 2011-2012 All Rights Reserved.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2012 Lyla Cicero