Friday, February 06, 2009

Me Me, the World's about Me

The title of this post comes from a song my sister used to sing when her children were being particularly selfish or self-centered. I sing it for my kids, too, but it doesn't seem to work.

So, you want to know more about me? Of course you do! My friend Wendy sent me some interview questions that I really enjoyed answering. (By the way, I tried to find a picture of me that didn't include at least one child without success.)

1. On your bad days, the ones where you get really frustrated, what do you do to help yourself unwind?

One thing that's been helping me lately is reading to the twins at night. They are finally old enough to understand chapter books instead of just picture stories, so I've been reading lots of Junie B. Jones stories to them. As I lie on one of their beds reading, they gather around and usually Joey and Michael and sometimes Lillian wander in the room to laugh and giggle and enjoy it too. It's so unifying to be there laughing over the funny voices I make, to get to the end of a chapter and have everyone beg for just one more.

Once the kids are in bed, then it's my time to relax. I like to read or go to my favorite online forums or search out news stories I'm interested in. About every six months or so, when I really need to get away, I escape to Barnes & Noble, where I scour the shelves for interesting titles, pick up half a dozen books, skim through a few of them, then settle in to read for an hour or so. Did I mention I read a lot?

We don't have TV, but we do check out DVDs from the library. We're allowed two non-fiction and two fiction, and while the fiction I choose is usually for the kids, I really enjoy the non-fiction. I watched one last week about building the Panama Canal and another about Yellow Fever. I recently watched The Sound and Fury and was perplexed at the choices made by two loving families about their deaf children.

And maybe it sounds trite, but I find solace and rest in studying the scriptures each evening before I go to bed. I've been reading Finding Peace, Joy and Happiness by Richard G. Scott lately, and while it's a heavy, dense read, I've grown a lot from the insights in the book. When I put my problems into the perspective of eternity, I find myself less frustrated and more content with the daily challenges. Ultimately, I know that what I am doing is important and valued, and I want to do it well. One of my biggest sources of frustration is my own failings and mistakes. I really want to be perfect and I'm not, plain and simple. But as I spend some time in quiet reflection, I find the strength to do better the next day.

2. What's the funnest thing you and your husband have done together?

Funnest? I don't know. I think all of our vacations as a family have been a blast. We pack our days full to overflowing -- what's not to like about Disneyland, Sea World, and various museums? I really loved our last Arizona trip over Christmas. Hiking the Petrified Forest with our children was a lot of fun.

Most adventurous was definitely our tenth anniversary two years ago, when DH's parents were in Armenia and generously paid for us to visit them. I'd never been outside the U.S. before, and traveling internationally was a thrill. We took our 6-year-old son Joey and our 6-month-old daughter Eliza with us. On our way home, we stopped in Paris for three days. We had a fabulous time.

Most amazing to me was how valued and appreciated a baby was, particularly in Armenia. Everywhere we went she was admired, adored, and cherished. Families there are very small because of limited income and opportunities, so babies are rare and precious. From the moment we got off the airplane in Armenia, we were overwhelmed with people who wanted to see Eliza. The security guard checking our passports called to all the others in his office to come and see the baby. Beautiful, wrinkled old women dressed in shawls would approach us, touch Eliza's toes and exclaim that she must be cold (they bundle their children up in three layers of clothes even in in the sunny spring!). Women passing us on the street would giggle and point at my husband who carried Eliza in a Baby Bjorn. At a restaurant, while I was holding Eliza and trying to eat, the waitress asked if she could hold her, then took her off to the kitchen to show the cooks! Everywhere we went, I was humbled by the realization that I was privileged to have what these people valued above measure -- a child.

3. What advantages and disadvantages are there to having twins?

Disadvantages for the parents -- there's nothing like having two-year-old twins, especially if you're blessed, as we were, with two very high-spirited, determined children. They both wanted the same toys, they both were prone to kick and scream and throw tantrums to get their way, and both tried us to our limit. There's also synergy with twins -- they put ideas together that most single toddlers wouldn't even think of or try. They feed off each other's most negative aspects and come up with astounding ways to destroy their mother's sanity.

The biggest disadvantage of twins, however, is the high-risk pregnancy. Thankfully, we were blessed to have healthy 38-weekers, but I know many who were not so lucky, and I read enough during my twin pregnancy to know all too well what could happen. Half of twins are born early and many are handicapped by prematurity. Many moms spend most of their pregnancy on bedrest, either at home or in the hospital. Sometimes one or both twins will die. When people tell me, "I always wanted twins" or "Oh, I wish I had twins," I don't think they are really aware of all the scary things that can happen with a twin pregnancy. The human body is not really designed to carry more than one baby. While I feel blessed to have healthy twins, and I wouldn't mind another set later on, I really don't think people should seek out twins.

Disadvantages for the children -- It is really tough when you're going through your toddler "Me Me Me" stage to have a twin who is going through her own "Me Me Me" stage. For identical twins like mine, there's also the problem of having people confuse you with your sister. There are also less playdates with people outside your family and I imagine as my girls go through their school years there will be issues of making friends outside your twinship and maybe even some jealousies between the girls about who is doing better in school or on a particular test or who got invited to what birthday party. Some twins (not mine, thankfully) also have issues of dependency, where they rely on the support of their twin to an unhealthy degree.

Advantages for the parents -- On a twins forum I visit, a lot of parents with just twins get annoyed by people who say, "I have kids x months apart so I know what you're going through." They get mad both because raising kids close in age is not like having twins and they get upset because they are convinced that raising twins is much, much harder than having kids close in age. I try to simply point out that both situations have lots in common -- both are difficult, frustrating, demanding, and very rewarding. Having done both, I can honestly say the hardest parenting I ever had was the time when my twins were about 18 months until they turned 3.

But truthfully, there are many ways in which raising twins is easier than having two kids close in age. They're both at the same level, so you can more easily sit them on your lap for a joint story (rather than nursing one while reading to her older sister). And there are some things that are simply assembly line functions -- spoon-feeding two babies doesn't take any longer than spoon-feeding one, for example, because while one is swallowing, you're giving the other her bite of food. Tandem-nursing is a whole lot easier than nursing a baby while trying to make a peanut-butter sandwich for her older sibling. And as they grow old enough for activities, you can bring them both at the same time for preschool, gymnastics, or whatever, rather than having to make arrangements for two different age groups.

And once twins are past their trying twos and threes, they can be a lot easier than just having one. Allison and Sarah have developed a depth of compassion that astounds me. They are close friends and empathise with each other in a way a single child cannot fathom. At this age, my girls almost never fight and when there are arguments, they are just as likely to solve them alone rather than need me to intervene. They share more easily than other children.

Advantages for the twins -- I have yet to meet an identical twin who didn't say wonderful, positive things about her experience. One grown twin told me last week that there is no better way to grow up than with a best friend. Honestly, some days I look at the friendship my twins have and I'm a little jealous. I wish I had a friend that close, someone I could call and would immediately understand what I'm going through. Allison and Sarah love each other and their relationship will be a strength to them as they meet challenges in their lives. As I said above, they learn early on in their life to empathise and share, lessons that will bring them great joy in the future.

4. What would your "perfect day" be like?

Hmmmm -- I have really simple needs. My perfect day would be one in which my children are getting along, my house is fairly clean, dinner hour goes smoothly, my husband and I find time to talk, I exercise, and I get to work on a project I enjoy. I consider that a great day. If I feel well-rested and if just one person would say "thank you" for something I did for them, then the day would be nearly perfect.

The best part about my definition of a perfect day? I actually have them a couple of times a month!

5. Is there anything that you've always wanted to do but haven't been able to yet? What is it, and why?

Yes and no.
Most things that I really want to do I can enjoy in small measure now.

I like school and was able to finish my degree three days before Lillian was born. I suppose at some point, I'd like to go back for an advanced degree, but in the meantime I really enjoy learning on my own.

I really enjoy teaching and I get to do that in my home.

I like to write and here's my blog to prove it.

I enjoy art, and while I can't paint or take classes right now, I can play with photoshop and digital scrapbooking.

I'd love to travel and see the whole world someday. While finances and family obligations keep me from that dreamed-of trip to Egypt or China, however, I have gotten to see a lot of beautiful things in my own corner of the world and better yet, to share them with my children.
I wish I had more time for friendships and social things, but I have several close friendships that enrich my life and I'm sure as time goes on, I'll find more time for friends. I wish I had more time to serve people outside my family, but even though my time is mostly focused on the 9 people who live in my home, I still find ways to support and help others.

So yes, there are things I really want MORE time for, but really, almost everything I really want to do I can enjoy right now, just in smaller doses.

Do you want to play along and get interviewed too?
Here's the directions:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me," along with your email address if I don't have it (or a link to your blog where I can post a comment with questions).
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Feel free to leave a comment even if you'd rather not be interviewed yourself -- I love comments!


Joy For Your Journey said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog. I am jealous you have seven children, including twins. I always wanted more than my five and I always wanted twins. I have two friends who have two sets each, and that just seems so unfair! :-)It was fun to read your interview. You sound like a wonderful mother and a good friend.

Betty Jo said...

That's an awesome interview Christina. You have the most beautiful family! I hope today is one of those perfect days for you. ♥

swedemom said...

I just loved your answers. And it just makes me happy to know you. You know what's funny, I never knew that applying for the teaching job at the Seminary would bring me such a wonderful friend. I received many blessings from that job, but your friendship has been one of the nicest blessings.

I think it would be fun to be interviewed.

Jacki said...

So fun to hear more about you and your life. I am really enjoying blogging with you- wish we lived closer though! Our BYU days were too short.

famr_4evr said...

Thank you so much for sharing about your twins. We are going through the early toddler stage. It is great to see someone who can see the great things as well as the hard things. It gives me hope after a day like today to know that it will get easier. I don't wish it away, but want to find ways to make it through and become a better mom.

I too would be happy for an interview.
Thanks, Suzanne


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