What Comes After a Threenager?

Having kids is kind of like being on a rollercoaster, where you are equally excited and terrified. Having twins is kind of like being on that same rollercoaster, but you’re blindfolded and the person in charge of the controls decided to go home early; While you’re still riding. Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.

As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, parenting is hard work because once you master a stage, they move on to the next one. At this point, you’re left confused, trying to understand this new phase they’re in and feel like you’re back to square one. Well, twins are tricky because there are two personalities from two different people who just happen to be the same age. So finding what works for both children is twice as hard.

The biggest challenge I face with having twins is remembering to give them their own identities. It’s a lot easier for parents to do this, when they have children who are different ages. Distinguishing between my oldest Raine, and one of the twins is easy. The age difference allows the natural separation of tasks, rewards, discipline, and overall expectations of the children. It’s harder to do this when there are twins because since birth, they’ve been seen as a pair..

The ultrasound shows baby A and baby B, together in one picture. When they are babies you do tasks in a row one: change one babies diaper, then the next, feed one baby, then the next. It’s almost like a survival mechanism. Our brains have us doing things as if we’re on an assembly line. Then, they start walking, talking, eating solids. etc. and you continue doing things one after the next, like clock work. They share birthday parties, toys, snacks, and then one day.. The mombie routine stops working. This happened for us around the age of two.

Those terrible two’s as they call them. They weren’t so terrible quite honestly. it was really a lot of fun, but this is when “NO.” became a frequent word in our home, and they stopped doing things just because we wanted them to. This was just the beginning. The next tricky phase was when they turned three, and boy did we have Threenagers. They questioned EVERYTHING, started having attitudes, started disagreeing with the other purely because they could. For example: I used to be able to put on a tv show or movie and they both liked it. At three, they would both pick different shows and wouldn’t agree on anything. This was the beginning of their cry for individualism. Behold: The three year old teenagers.

So, you’re probably wondering… what come’s after a threenager? Yes, I wondered too. Well for us, the twins changed two major things.

  1. They started fighting. Not just arguing, like full on WWE fighting.

2. They stopped wanting to nap. So mamas be prepared for them to fight you HARD on this one.

What else comes after a threenager? I wish it was as simple as making a list but truly each child is different and I’m slowly realizing there is no preparing for this motherhood thing. There are no magic hacks that make it all easy (sorry probably weren’t expecting that!) We all are walking our individual paths with children who are unlike the one before them or after them.

Now, I’m not a total airhead when it comes to parenting, but my social work/ psychology skills only get me so far with my own kids. It’s like all the courses and real- life experiences just weren’t enough. I had to really look inward for this answer and this is what I came up with.

I needed to stop two things:

  1. Lumping them into the same category: “The babies” or “The twins” wasn’t cutting in anymore.

2. Embracing their differences not fighting them. They are such amazing little humans.

After doing these two things, (pretty recently, I must add) I have really come to know my own children on a much deeper level, and it’s so much easier navigating our way through the day.

Jax is headstrong, but when you get on his level, make eye contact, joke around, and just love on him, he tends to respond better. He’s so silly and loves to dance and sing. He’s very talkative but also picks up on stuff really quick. He has a huge heart.

Rowen is adventurous, brave, will try anything once, loves to help, is relatively quiet, but takes in everything you say, and she’s so smart. She also loves her brothers very much and is always around when they need her.

It was so unfair to just assume because they’re twins, they would always do things together, or always want the same things. Though this journey is still in the beginning stages, I just love seeing what has come after one, two, and three, with twins. Now that they are four, and are no longer threenagers. Now that we’ve entered into yet another unknown territory, I can tell you with certainty what comes after a threenager: more doubt, more tears, more anger, more frustration, a whole lot of love, and tons of grace. As with each stage before these are the only things that are certain, these are the only things we can prepare for.

Whether you’re a mother to triplets, twins, multiple children of different ages, or just one child, never try to fit them into your box. Always let them grow as much as they can, in every way that they can. Even if it makes you uncomfortable, even if you don’t understand, or even if it isn’t easy. Allow them to be whoever they want to be, because believe me, it will be absolutely amazing.

-Gyspy Hearted Mama

It’s just one of those days.

Have you ever had a day that started out great but slowly progressed into insanity? Well for me, today was one of those days.

Today is my mother’s 61st birthday and I thought it would be a great idea to bring all three kids (without my husband) to her house to celebrate. First mistake. We woke up early and decided once we arrived, to walk down to the beach before it got too hot. Second mistake.

It was a really hot day today in Southern California, so probably not the best idea to bring an 8 year- old and 4 year- old twins on a long walk (we usually walk but today we went extra far.) Now during the walk it was still cool, and down by the Beach we caught a nice breeze.

Since we woke up early, the kids didn’t eat anything. Third mistake. Naturally, once we arrived near the marina they were hungry. We stopped at a coffee shop and had a snack, but they noticed the arcade and ice cream shop next to us, and wanted to go in. (Of course we picked the coffee shop next to these places, fourth mistake!)

The walk back home was long and the sun had come out, it was hot. We stopped under each tree with shade, and eventually made it back to my mom’s house. The kids took baths and had brunch. They relaxed on the couch and watched a movie. We ended up staying for a few more hours after this. They had so much fun with grandma that day, that I let them skip nap/rest time. Fifth mistake.

By the time we got home they were exhausted, we all were. It was also that weird time of the day where it’s too late for a nap but too early for bed.

Now I’ll fast forward to the worst part of the day. You know when you see something about to happen but your body won’t move quick enough to stop it? Well, I said “Let’s go brush your teeth,” to my four year- old son, and I see him slowly scoot off the bed. It was almost like a jump scoot where he was in the air, a bit off the bed for a moment. In that moment, he went up and sat down right onto my MacBook. Sixth mistake. I said ”Watch out for my computer!” But it was too late. It was like watching something terrible happen in slow motion.

I heard the crunch next. I couldn’t bear to look at it. I just started to tear up, (mama clearly needed a nap today too!) Now I could say this was my seventh mistake of the day, but I won’t.

I don’t often cry in front of my kids, but I did today. I think it’s good for them to see their mama is human too. It’s good for them to practice empathy and feel for others. All three kids looked at me in shock. Truly, I don’t think they knew what to do. They stood there in silence for a little while, then they spoke. They all said ”it’s okay mommy!” and gave me hugs. My son said ”I need to pay attention next time mommy.” Talk about some serious self- awareness! I love seeing my kids act like decent human beings, I love when they’re kind, I love that they are remorseful, I love that they genuinely care about others. That’s the important stuff. That’s the stuff that makes me remember no matter how many mistakes I make and no matter how rough the day gets, I’m a good mother and my kids will be alright.

Yes we all have days that suck, that are chaotic, that are stressful and hard. Those days are the really important ones to have though. Because those days are the ones that make us appreciate the hell out of the good ones.

No, i’m not fine.

One of my absolute favorite movies is Sex and the City 2. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the first one, but there’s some serious brutal honestly portrayed in the second film. My favorite scene, is when Charlotte’s daughter Lily, wipes her icing- filled hands on her mother’s skirt after being ignored. As you can see, Charlotte is trying to talk on the phone, bake, hold a crying toddler, and focus her attention on her older daughter at the same time. Rarely as a mother, are you only doing one thing at a time.

Charlotte's house in SatC 2-Elle Decor

Though I can’t relate to having red icing handprints wiped on a vintage cream Valentino skirt; I can understand the exhaustion, and frustration that sometimes comes with being a mom, and trying to do it all. The end of this scene is her screaming at her daughter for ruining the skirt, and then going into the pantry “for a time out,” to hide and cry.

As a mother, the authenticity of this scene is so very appreciated, and something desperately needed in society. I’m asked all the time, “How are you?” or “How are the kids,” and my answer is always “Great,” or “Fine,” and it simply isn’t the truth.

I’m not allowed to say “Mommy lost her shit today and screamed at everyone,” or “I had to turn Netflix on for the kids, before I went insane.” That simply isn’t acceptable. We are supposed to be happy all the time, and enjoy every second with our kids, but that’s a lie. You hear alot of “They’re only young once.” or “enjoy every second, it goes so fast.” Now this is true, the years go by very quickly, but sometimes the days are very long. This is the part that’s gravely misunderstood.

Just because I don’t want to hear my name shouted 3000 times in a row, or I get upset when I have to clean up spilled beverages for the tenth time today, doesn’t mean I love my kids any less. Needing alone time doesn’t mean I want a life without them. I’m not taking time with them for granted, if every moment of every day isn’t a wonderful experience. This is life, and sometimes it’s really really hard. Some days I feel like an amazing mother and my kids are complete angels, and other days I am counting the minutes until bedtime, so I can breathe and feel like a human being again.

In the movie, Charlotte is well off, has a nanny, and is still overwhelmed with her kids and life. It just goes to show, this parenting thing is hard for everyone at times.

Image result for charlotte and miranda at the ends of movie 2

By the end of the movie, Charlotte can relate to, and empathize with Miranda a lot more; Who is usually blunt, a little pessimistic, and doesn’t sugar coat this parenting thing. I always thought, (before having kids) that I would be the Charlotte. I’ve realized (three kids later) that I’m the Miranda, and I’m damn proud of it.

I have to remind myself sometimes just how much I have on my plate. I went from being a mother of one to a mother of three. That was a huge adjustment on everyone, but especially as a mother, it was just tough. It wasn’t in my plan, but it was in God’s.

That being said, parenting isn’t a “one size fits all,” kind of thing. I have to navigate my way through it, the best that I possibly can. My journey through parenthood/motherhood will look a lot different than yours. I kind of think that’s the most beautiful part about it all.

So, I won’t apologize for the mess. I’m allowed to get upset, I’m allowed to cry. It’s okay to not love every moment, despite what others may say. We don’t have to always be great. It doesn’t have to always be perfect. No, i’m not always fine, but that’s okay.

-Gypsy Hearted Mama

Self Love- Why it’s so important to me

If you glance at my Instagram page, you’ll see a variety of posts. Food, my kids, funny memes, my husband. my dog, places I’ve visited recently, etc. One thing you’ll notice almost daily is an inspirational quote. The quotes include topics like: Being your best self, chasing your dreams, and TONS and TONS about self- love. What people don’t realize though, is that I need these posts for myself, more than anything. I’d love to say that I’m just SO INSPIRATIONAL…. but no.

In high school, the need to fit in was almost unbearable. I had a very negative view of my body type and hated having curves. This wasn’t something that developed overnight, either. I had boobs in elementary school and hated the attention brought on by developing early. This hatred of my body stuck with me, and in high school, I developed an eating disorder. This is something I kept very private, and most of my family doesn’t even know. This is not something I am proud of, but something I feel is important to share.

I remember thinking to myself: It’s time to lose a few pounds. The problem with this idea is this: fewer pounds do not equal more love. Try explaining that to a high school girl. Yeah, you see where I’m going with this. So, I started to lose weight. The number on the scale shrunk, and my happiness level raised. Or so I thought.

It started out very harmless. Eat fewer calories, workout, and notice a difference. But, there’s always that phase where you plateau. It was during this time, I decided to just lower the calories a little more, and then a little more. It got to the point that I was consuming around 400- 500 calories a day, sometimes less. Then I became ADDICTED to the scale, weighing myself daily.

There are two major problems with dieting as a teenager:

  1. Your emotions are ALL OVER THE PLACE. Those hormones are wild, and it’s not the time to be experimenting with your weight, I was definitely not mature enough in my thought process to be doing this.
  2. You are not in control of much at this age, so even an ounce of control gained is addicting. When I realized I could “control” how much food I ate, or how much I could weigh, I spiraled.

Because of the two things mentioned above, I added myself to an online community of other people who were also dieting excessively, mainly teens. In this online group, people would post “goal pictures” of celebrities like Nicole Richie, or other extremely thin people. You could post about how hard your day was and how little self-control you had, or how you lost more than your goal weight the previous week. Then, people would encourage you too keep going, and support you through it. Looking back, I think what a great way to network with like-minded individuals on your weight loss journey, though it also had a huge issue within it. These teens were supporting each other’s eating disorders. The encouragement became toxic. Supporting not eating enough, making yourself vomit, and even giving tips on how to hide the disorder from your parents. You could even have a “PARTNER” who would email or text you and that was your accountability person in a way. It was through “networking” in this group, that I became bulimic.

Bulimia was way easier for me because I could eat, and eat a lot. I didn’t need to feel bad about eating too many calories in one day or having to go out and eat in front of others. This was way easier for me than eating small amounts of food, or none at all. I was bulimic for about two years, but this habit stuck with me for far longer than that. My self- worth was always associated with the number on the scale, and how I looked on the outside.

My weight fluctuated over the years, and of course pregnancy/having kids/breastfeeding can either really help or hinder weight loss. My body changed a little after having Raine but I bounced back very easily. The birth of the twins was completely different. I began impulsively eating when they were little. It comforted me to binge. If I was overwhelmed, stressed, tired, sad, etc. I would just snack. Emotional eating became my newest disorder. I’m currently the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life, and very uncomfortable in my skin. I won’t sugar coat it. I deal with a copious amount of stress, and my safe place is still with food. Weight loss is still a goal of mine, but I also have not put it at the top of my list, because I just can’t. This may seem like an excuse to some, but to me, it’s a chance to practice loving myself at any size. I think it’s pretty great.

I wish I could say eating disorders magically go away, or the distorted views about body image disappear, but it’s just not that easy. I try every day to be as kind to myself as I can. I post those inspirational quotes, I don’t fight compliments from my husband or others. I try to see myself through the eyes of my kids, who adore me (and could care less about what size I am!) I pack on that self- love all day, because for me it’s crucial.

I look at my 4 year- old daughter and i’m terrified for the world she will grow up in, that puts so much importance on the outside of the person rather than the inside. I hate that she will ever have to worry about that. There is one thing I know though, and that is that I will fight as hard as I can, to have her see herself in a different way than I saw myself. So now, I tell her how smart she is, how funny she is, how kind she is, not just how beautiful she is. It’s so very important to tell our children this. It’s so important to tell ourselves this. Let’s change the way we view our looks, as if they’re an accomplishment. We need to do better.

I look forward to finding ways to be healthier, not skinnier, because I refuse to let my worth be determined by my weight.

-Gypsy Hearted Mama

Courage and Grace

I recently became aware of a concept i’d never heard before, and it’s quite interesting. I’d just left a job fair with some classmates, and we were having lunch, discussing the day. All of us were intimidated by the options open to us, felt unprepared, and were really just trying to make it past finals, to graduation. None of us had our heads one hundred percent “in the game,” and needed those beers a little more than we were letting on.

I can’t remember who started the conversation, but we ended up in a discussion about frauds. I knew I felt phony to the max. My life was all over the place, and yet I was being groomed for a helping profession. I felt I was the one that really needed the help, most days. During the conversation a friend of mine said “Yeah, it’s pretty normal to feel this way, it’s called imposter syndrome.” I was intrigued, and urged her to go on. I could sit here and give you my take on this phenomena, but I think it best to give the official definition, so here it is. Imposter syndrome: A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

A fraud. How could I, a soon to be college graduate, Magna Cum Laude, wife, mother of three, mother of twins, sister, aunt, friend, daughter, be a fraud? But I was a fraud. I was the first to help a friend stay positive, to help my kids work on breathing techniques, to post an inspirational quote on Instagram, as if that’s all it takes. On the inside I was filled with doubt, criticism, and fear. I had little belief, and wasn’t giving myself grace. I know that now, and as much as I wish I could rewind the clock back, I feel that life always has a way of giving us lessons. Sometimes over and over again until we get it. I could continue on the “safe path,” and never think twice about it. Or I could live fearless and with great courage. I’m choosing the latter.

Let me try to explain this a little better. Years ago, my dream was to become a columist for a newspaper or magazine, then it was to become an editor, content writer, copywriter, and lastly author. Noticing a trend? Well, that imposter syndrome ran so deep within me, that I didn’t do any of those things. I was telling others to follow their hearts, take risks, life their best lives, all the while, not being authenic in my own life. I’ve had teachers ranging from fifth grade to college, complimenting my writing, and encouraging me to take it further. Yet, I didn’t see it for myself. I’ve lived in fear for so long, covering it up with excuses. “This is a safer route, this earns more money, this will help more people, this will provide benefits, this will make my family proud etc. All the while, not having enough faith in myself to do what makes my heart happy.

So while I can blame this “syndrome” for part of the self- doubt, it’s just not enough. It’s up to me and you to change that (yes, you’re reading this for a reason!) This will be the year I write my book. It won’t happen overnight, but there will be chapters finished. There will be action taken. I refuse to let anything or anyone determine my worth, my future, or my impact on this world. Who says I can only do one thing? Who says I can’t exceed at many different things? And who says I have to listen to the people who are saying it?

I urge you to have courage in your own life, expecially in those areas you are holding back in. I encourage you to try new things, fail and fail again, until one day you succeed. So, here comes the part again where you give yourself grace. What I mean by that is allow yourself to mess up, make mistakes, and still love yourself enough to keep going. Don’t second guess your purpose. Let’s quit feeling like imposters in our own lives, and start living unapologetically in our truths.

-Gypsy Hearted Mama

The NEW Summer Bucket List

In my last post, I mentioned how my eldest son Raine, came home one day from school, with a copious amount of excitement. His class had created a “summer bucket list,” and he was eager to share it with me. Unsurprisingly, his list was full of activities including Disneyland, Legoland, Knotts Berry Farm, visiting his cousin in Pennsylvania, and a trip to Chicago (to see Jojo Siwa in concert…yep, really.)

Of course, my first instinct was to panic. I knew there was no way we would be able to do all of these things before the summer was over. I also knew, between summer sports, camp, vacation bible school, etc., we would be exhausted. AND I knew, my main goal for summer break was to live at the beach and veg out with netflix marathons (sorry, just being real here!)

So, how would I break this news to my sweet faced mini bff of mine?

I hate letting him down. Then I thought back to my own childhood. I was one of five kids in my home, with a stay at home mother. There was no way we would have done even one of the things on Raine’s bucket list. It just wasn’t even an option. But, summers were always fun. My siblings and I spent most of our summer days playing outside, swimming, and coming home when it got dark, filthy from the carefree adventurous day we’d just had.

I realized it isn’t about WHAT you do, it’s about WHO you do it with. My cousin Raven would choreograph dances for us to learn, all the neighborhood kids would play football in the field together, and my siblings never left my side through each summer, which made those memories that much sweeter. My summers weren’t great because they were jam packed with events, they were great bccause of the people I was fortunate enough to have in my life.

I sat Raine down, discussed his list, and explained we should create a “family bucket list,” so everyone could contribute to the list. He loved the idea. We incorporated items of his list, with the new one, and it turned out great. We still have plans to go to Legoland and Knotts, but added things like beach day, making popsicles, arts and crafts, and water gun fights.

I’m confident this summer will be a great one, because i’m so very blessed with the best family a girl could ask for. I also know that Raine will have a great summer, because he is extremely loved, and all the money in the world couldn’t buy that.

-Gypsy Hearted Mama

Mom Guilt

As I near the end of my educational journey (for now) I have thought quite a bit about time. For some reason, time is the one thing, no matter how hard we may try, that we can’t control. Everyone says: “Enjoy the time you have with your kids, because before you know it, it’s over. ” As a mother, you want to soak up every moment, but get caught up in the craziness of everyday life.

For the past five years of my life, that’s been school. I would be up early, gone all day, and studying late. The hours of prepping, reading, and attending classes really adds up. Then adding internship into the equation last year, really took me away from my kids. I was shocked thinking that, for all of the twin’s lives’ and most of Raine’s life: I’ve been in school.

I was so relieved thinking about the evenings I won’t be gone, the late night studying sessions that will be over, and how my life will become much simpler. Then, a friend of mine who is in my program at school and also a mother, opened my eyes to a different situation. She explained she’d be taking the summer off, and not immediately entering the workforce. Her reasoning: this is the last summer she will have before her work career will truly start, and wanted to spend it with her kids, one last time. Instant mom guilt. Though I knew this was not an option for us, as we are in the process of moving, getting another car, and having three children in private school, I felt the mom guilt hard.

As much as we all like to act confident in our choices as parents, that guilt sometimes creeps up on us and there’s no denying it once it’s there. I’d dedicated so much time to my education, and now my career would be the focus. Was I selfish? Would my kids turn out alright? All these questions flooded my brain, and I became overwhelmingly sad.

The mom guilt won’t just go away. Even when speaking with my mother, she recalls moments in my own childhood, and you would think it just happened. Not that it was 20+ years ago! So, no, I don’t think there is some magical formula to give you time back, or even extend the moments you wish you could now. I do think though, that we have to make the most out of every moment. My goal from here on out, is to enjoy all the time I have left with my babies. It’s to forget everything else that is going on around me, and just be present when i’m with them.

Raine made a summer bucket list that he shared with us at his classroom open house, and I decided to create one for our family. Some things on there are big, like amusement parks and day trips, but other things on the list include making popsicles, seeing a drive- in movie, visiting the aquarium, etc. Because, even though I will be employed full- time, I will also have my evenings back, my weekends back, and enjoy holidays with my family as well. Refocusing my energy on being thankful for the memories we will be able to make together is the solution. I want to truly relish the time I do have left with my children, as children. I look forward to this summer, as I will be entering it with a grateful heart and an excitement about sharing these moments with you.

-Gypsy Hearted Mama