Mindfulness is the active and ongoing process of bringing one's self back into the present moment and all that it entails - physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally.
This weeks Mindfulness:
Testing Our Tolerance: Life with Twins
People say that God gives us only as much as we can handle in life,
But I think he gives us just a little bit more than we can handle.
Not as an obstacele, but as an invitation - to grow.
The twins are here!
One word to describe the last two months with the our new little ones: NONSTOP.
It’s been freaking madness. It’s incredible, and incredibly challenging.
Two babies is a lot. I don’t think I realized that it isn’t just two babies moving to one rhythm. They don’t function as a pair. They are two babies who act and need completely independent of one another. They function on their own schedule, without regard for the other. If they’re hungry, they’re screaming. They don’t care that their sister needs to eat also, or that my heart breaks hearing them cry while they wait. They don’t know what sharing is! One stops crying, the other starts. One finally falls asleep, and don’t ya know the other one is uppp!!!!!
It’s like trying to coordinate, well, newborn babies!
Someone told me while I was pregnant that with twins everything increases exponentially. And yeah, okay obviously. But I get it now. It’s two naps, two feed times, two sets of cries to figure out, two collections of behaviors to get to know l, two personalities to understand, two relationships to build, two minds to nurture, one million challenges, and two little beings that will live two totally different experiences that I get to be witness to.
Then comes the real life challenges, doubled. Maya went to the NICU the day after we brought her home, and I was torn. Where was I supposed to spend my time, with my daughter in the hospital or with my daughter at home needs to be fed every three hours? We get over that, and Marcella was diagnosed with a coloboma of her Iris and retina. The top of her vision in her right eye will be cut off. She won’t notice because it will always be that way, but I know. Although it won’t affect her day today life much, I wonder if it will affect her ability to play sports or engage in other activities. I mean I had normal vision and sucked at sports anyway, but I just want her to be equal to her sister!
That’s been a big challenge for me already with twins: trying to keep everything even. Who was in front of the stroller last? Who gets to eat first? Am I holding Marcella more than Maya? Am I talking to one too much? I know that it’s more for my own peace of mind. I know they don’t keep track - yet. However, he idea of them feeling sad or left out already hurts my heart.
I want them to always be on a level playing field, but they’re two separate beings traveling through two separate experiences. There will be discrepancies. They will be completely different problems or the same problem at different times. They will each be good at different things at different times in life. I have to be mindful of that. I have to let them at times flourish and other times fail - individually. I have to be okay when they’re not even all the time in everything they do. It will probably be harder for me than them. And I hope they use that to their advantage.
Of course, it’s more than the multiplicity that makes twins so hard for me. It’s the test to my tolerance that I struggle with most. I really have worked hard to build my patience. I’ve had some real success - accompanied by some blunders for certain. But along come thing 1 and thing 2, and it presents a challenge like I’ve never experienced. It doesn’t just require double the patience, it requires multi-patience. I mean 7 different kinds of patience and understanding going in two directions at one time. It demands a diligence that has never been asked of me. It’s fantastic.
Having two babies has been the most challenging event in my life so far, and I am learning so much about myself and my limits. It’s making me look hard at the discrepancies in how I think I show up or want to, and how I actually show up in the world. I see when I get impatient, when I’m present, when I snap, when I want to cry, when I’m just tired or hungry too. It’s making me see myself wholly - good and bad. It’s testing my tolerance, not just of the babies but more so of my practice.
The last few years I learned that patience is a practice. It is cumulative. We aren’t just born patient or impatient with no hope of growth. We have to choose patience. We have to choose understanding. It’s an active and ongoing practice that requires attention and maintenance. But it is possible to grow your patience, that much I know for sure. The more you practice, the easier and more naturally it comes. You’ll learn to master that split second before you respond in a situation, and you’ll never have to show up in a way that doesn’t accord with how you want to show up in the world.
I used to hear parents scream at their children in public, drag them out of stores, even curse at them, and I would be so afraid that I could become that parent. I was afraid that I would lose my self so much in my own impatience and frustration and not even realize that I was being that parent.
In practicing mindfulness, I mean actively practicing and not just reading or saying it, you learn to keep life in front of you. You’ll find that there is a split second in between any event and your reaction to it. So long as you’re aware of yourself in the event, you can catch that split second and choose your response knowingly and carefully.
All the challenges will pass. Another family friend told me to enjoy everything now because it won’t be like this forever. They won’t need to be rocked to sleep forever. They won’t even want to be held forever. They won’t need to eat every 2 hours forever. We won’t have our middle of the night time together forever. They won’t fall asleep on my chest so I can’t get anything done forever. So enjoy it now. And just like that, everything about the struggles shifts.
They say God gives us only as much as we can handle. I suppose that's meant to help us believe that we are stronger than we think when we face a challenging situation. I believe God graced John and I with twins not because we could handle it, but because we can’t handle two babies. But guess what - we do have two! So we're riding along this new learning curve. We're figuring it out along the way, learning how to manage everything. There are no shortcuts or bail outs. Sometimes, it isn't so pretty. We make a mess of things often, but we're chugging along. And how lucky are we. It's the luckiest thing that has ever happened to us - the luckiest, and the hardest. Having twins wasn't an obstacele, it was an invitation - to grow. It's making us better and stronger and more patient.
And so it goes. Life is one long test of our tolerance. Life happens, and we learn to adjust. Everyone's path is different, some tests more challenging than others. Something good won't always come out of your situation, but something good can come out of any situation if you set forward to make it happen. The world is not working against you. The world is forever working in your favor. If it seems like the universe is giving you more than you can handle, it just may be so. However, it isn’t meant to break you down. Rather, it is meant to guide you to growth - to help you become invincible. It's guiding you into whatever it is you are meant to do.