Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Irish Twin Phenomenon

Technically, Irish Twins are two children born to the same mother from two separate pregnancies within 365 days of each other. The term is intended to be derogatory, which is a total bummer, me being quite Irish and all. Interestingly, it's pretty much become American vernacular to use the term to define any two siblings who were born less than two years apart or so. You know, the ones that are so close in age that they really look like they could be fraternal twins but you're just not quite sure.

My "Irish Twins" are exactly 14 1/2 months apart. Over the last three years I've discovered just how common this really is. Just about everyone I meet for the first time either knows someone who had little ones close together or perhaps has a sibling so close in age. I even worked with someone who was born on her sister's first birthday.

But the best of all is the chance to meet a mom with her own Irish twins, especially a pair that's still little. The conversation almost always goes like this:

Her: How old are your kids?
Me: 3 and 4 (or insert whatever age they were at the time)
Her: And how far apart are they?
Me: Fourteen months (I leave off the 1/2 so I don't sound like a nut to someone I've just met.)
Her: Oh, mine are 15 months apart!
Me; Oh, so you KNOW!

Always, it always goes down that way! There's rarely ever even a deviation from the script. We instantly bond because we both KNOW. We know about the two years straight of lost sleep. We know about the assault on your body from back to back pregnancies and nursing. We know about the infinite, infinite diaper changes. We know about the ease with which contagious illnesses spread and continue to circulate. We miss our bodies, our husbands, our short term memory and our sanity.

But...we also know so much more about how to do it all better the second time because we just did the very same thing a few months ago. We know what to buy and what not to buy. We know how to get two babies and ourselves ready and out of the house in the time it takes one husband to shower and shave. We know how to maximize the space underneath a double stroller and can pack in everything you or I would need on any given Target run. And we know that hand-me-downs are a precious thing, regardless of gender. 

The best part, though, is that we also know how two siblings can truly love one another. We know that they can and will develop their own version of twinspeak (and can probably translate). We know how much one child can miss the other simply from being apart while sleeping at night or naptime. We know that empathy develops far earlier than textbooks claim. We know that these two little souls will be eternally tied to one another in a way that only they will fully understand.

Some days I look at my children and wonder what they will be like when they're older. Will they stay this close? (I know they will.) I wonder if there are more babies in our future. (My kids would make a great big brother and big sister.) But I just can't imagine tipping the balance of this perfectly unplanned little family.

Monday, September 5, 2011

a preschool prayer

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for your guidance, wisdom, and perfect timing. Thank you for the teachers, parents, and children who will walk through our doors tomorrow and throughout the week. Thank you for the gift of community and the opportunity to serve. Thank you for the leaders who have prepared me to do this job - and I mean every single one of them over the past 37 years - because there have been many!

Please bless the teachers. Give them a beautiful voice so that the children will want to listen. Grant them empathy so that they may feel each and every moment of hurt and moment of joy so that they may make each child feel special. Grant them wisdom and creativity and enthusiasm so that the children will love to learn! Grant them patience, because, well, you know why...

Please bless the parents, Lord. Let them feel comfort in leaving their most precious gifts from You in our care. Grant them rest so that they may be refreshed during their time away from their children. Grant them relationships, Lord, as children's friends so often turn families into friends.

Most of all, please bless the children. Give them a sense of self so that they may develop their own amazing, unique personalities! Grant them the development of language so that they may understand and communicate with their new friends. Grant them healthy, strong bodies so they may grow and play and learn! Grant them self control so that they may learn and not keep others from learning. Grant them peace so that they may not be afraid, Lord. That's a tough one, but You did not design our hearts or minds to be fearful. Above all else, Lord, let them feel LOVE. Let them feel Your arms wrapped around them through hugs and kind words and fun! Let them feel LOVE everywhere and in everything we do!

Thank you for this privilege, Lord. I have answered Your call and know that these are high stakes, but I am up to the challenge. We have spent a lot of time together this summer, Lord - probably more than we ever have - and You have prepared me well. Thank you for trusting me. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Very Fair Trade

It occurred to me on Wednesday night that I am the mother of two preschoolers. Cliche warning: How did this happen? They were babies just yesterday. Like, I'm literally still catching up from the back to back years of sleep deprivation.

The reason I came to this realization is because Wednesday was parent orientation for my children's preschool. As it turns out, not only do I serve as mommy in this case, but also as the director of their preschool. The beauty of this is that I had the honor of being a big part in the planning of this preschool as it's brand new. Planning for any educational setting is a privilege, but I can tell you there's a whole 'nother element of special involved when you're planning such an important thing for your own children.

However, I screwed up. In talking with my husband, we decided that he would watch the kids while I attended (read: gave a presentation to 30 families) at the orientation. Surely I knew everything there is to know about the preschool policies and procedures and could relay any necessary information to him on any given occasion. Good enough.

All was well until the end of the night came and both of the kids' teachers handed me the welcome letters and "getting to know you" papers for me to fill out on my kids. Technically, I missed their open house! After my presentation, the parents went to visit the classrooms to get the details and paperwork from the teachers. I was peeping into each room to make sure everything was ok and covering the t-shirt table. 

A few tears later, I gathered myself, prayed, and here's what came to me: I may have missed this milestone, but I get to be there for every single day of preschool ahead! I've missed so much in the first three and four years of my children's lives because of working full time, but I'm about to receive a greater blessing than I could have ever even thought to plan for our family! Good thing not ALL the planning is left up to me!

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Pics to follow! :)