May our growth game be strong
She looked like she felt helpless.
As I took my place in line at the Kroger Pharmacy window, I assumed the elderly lady in front of me was her companion — the older of the two holding one toddler, while the younger woman wrestled with another toddler in the cart basket.
The elderly lady handed off the toddler she was carrying on her hip, then turned to me and said, “Lord, I don’t think I ever would’ve been able to take care of two at one time.”
Ah, yes. Helpless was the look on that young woman’s face. Tired. Maybe even a little desperate. The elderly lady had helped her navigate the pharmacy window with twins.
It’s been seven years since I was in her shoes, and while I sometimes still feel tired and helpless — like, the week before Christmas when three of the five of us were down with the flu and strep, thus my position in this pharmacy line — it pales in comparison to the way I felt when I was her, trying to care for two babies at one time with nary a clue how.
At that moment, I marveled at how we’ve grown. All of us.
My husband, the world’s best stepdad who was christened into biological fatherhood with two babies, not just one. He doesn’t know what it’s like to have a child any other way (“Just one must be a piece of cake!” he once said), and yet when faced with the reality of multiple babies on his first go-round handled it like a rockstar.
Our twins, who somehow survived this chaotic period in their parents’ lives (and possibly a couple of drops on the head) to become healthy, happy, intelligent little people.
Our oldest, Matthew, who I’m sure questioned our sanity on multiple occasions but maintained his laid-back, helpful, sweet nature through the entire ordeal.
And then there’s me. I survived. There were days I wasn’t sure I would. Having two babies at one time is an incredibly wonderful, emotionally draining experience. Two times the snuggles, two times the hugs, two times the laughs, two times the screaming, two times the sickness, two times the neediness, two times the everything-good-and-bad-that-comes-with-new-babies.
I joke when people ask me how I did it that I have no idea, that I have blocked most of that time period out. It’s pretty close to the truth. It was grueling at times, but I wouldn’t trade a single minute — even those I don’t remember, like the one my sister-in-law recently recalled in which she once walked into the babies’ nursery to find me sitting in the floor in tears.
Things are so different now. In every definition of the word, our family has experienced tremendous growth in the last seven years. The most obvious is our growth in number and size — that little boy who started kindergarten the year his brother and sister were born is in full-blown puberty and now looks down at me. The twins operate independently, for the most part, doing all of the things in daily life themselves that once took both parents to manage.
In one way or another, we’ve all developed. Matured. Bloomed. Physically, mentally, emotionally and professionally. Growth.
We’ve placed importance on building friendships and a network of people who love the same things we do and whom we can support mutually. My husband and I have both taken leaps of faith in our careers that allow us to be more flexible and devoted to the needs of our children while also pursuing the work we are passionate about. That, in turn, has allowed us to grow our skills and knowledge and invest our time and talents in community activities we believe in.
These investments in ourselves, our family, our friends, our community — they’ve come back ten-fold in helping us be better parents and professionals. And all of this, I feel, has paid dividends to P&P, where I’ve been lucky to be for the last 18 months. It has helped me be a better writer, designer, creative director (I’m now a creative director!) — more confident in my abilities than I have ever been and more eager to learn and experience new things. My hope is that my personal growth will equal business growth in 2019. That’s the goal.
Have you guessed what my word of the year is yet? Smiling. Yep, it’s growth. May there be so much more of it this year.
And what of the young woman at the pharmacy counter? I smiled at her with the smile I used to dread seeing on other twin mothers’ faces. I couldn’t help myself. In that moment, it had all come full circle. Though I know what she was thinking when the words escaped my mouth — What good does that do me right now? — I said it anyway.
“I promise you it gets easier.”
And it does.