Love in a Time of Toddlers

hugs

At dinner I look over at E to find her craning over sideways in her highchair, toward D, making her lips into a kiss.

I’m in the kitchen, chopping something at the counter, and I feel two little arms hug my knees. I look down to find E and hug her back.

M wakes up crying from a nap. When I lift her from her crib she squeezes me tight. I hug back.

Holding both twins in my lap I give them each a kiss on the head. M looks at E and leans over to give her a kiss. E kisses back.

Seeing a cat at a friends’ house, M tries to give it a kiss.

We’re reading a book, Panda Bear Panda Bear, What Do you See? M leans down to give the water buffalo a kiss, and E kisses the lion.

We’re reading a book about shapes. M gives a kiss to the square.

At first, seeing that, I feel disheartened. Maybe they don’t really understand.

But on second thought, I think that square feels better.  I think they know about love.

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How Blogging is Like Birdwatching

bloggingbird

When I first met D, one of the first activities we took up together was birdwatching. I remember so vividly the first time we took a bird walk in Prospect Park, Brooklyn. The guide led us through parts of the park I’d been to many times before, but this time it was like we were exploring a brand new world.

We were walking slowly, stopping to watch for movement in brushes, listening intently. And as a result we were seeing things I’d never seen before. Red bellied woodpeckers with their brilliant red hoods and bold striped backs, hopping up the sides of trunks, handsome cardinals calling from every shrub, outrageously adorable titmice and nuthatches. It was the same city, but it was as if we’d stepped through the looking glass. I’d discovered a parallel universe.

Blogging, for me, has been a similar experience. For the past year I’ve been somewhat homebound. The first part of the year I was on bed rest at the end of a difficult twin pregnancy. After the twins were born, getting two infants out of my third-floor walk-up didn’t make leaving the house much easier. Needless to say there hasn’t been much birdwatching in my life lately (a gang of starlings landed on the windowsill this morning, and plenty of gulls drift overhead, which I do appreciate).

Then came blogging. I started this blog on a whim, at someone’s suggestion. I like drawing and writing. But it’s happened again. Suddenly here I am in a conversation with a writer and mother of twins in Tipperary, Ireland, and with a woman who does it all with twins, a toddler, and two dogs in Toronto. I thought about Christmas traditions with the most likable mom ever in Colorado, vicariously cleaned out my house with a photographer of pure, perfectly-titled photographs in Derbyshire.

And then there’s the man who loves painting oils of the old west, and a French woman raising a daughter in Brazil, the family living off the grid in Oregon, and even people here in New York City drawing beautiful pictures of animals, painting their claw foot tubs pink just a few miles away in their own universe/apartments. Every time someone “liked” a post it was a ticket into some new universe I never knew existed. The world keeps getting bigger. It’s a good feeling.

People With No Kids Don’t Know

People With No Kids Don’t Know

Okay I don’t like the title of this one. I don’t think there’s some big division between people with and without kids. But this video cracked me up. The whole part about “getting out of the house”? So funny. Though I thought things were supposed to get easier when the babies get older, not more challenging! 😦

Anyway, a little YouTube entertainment for a lazy Sunday.

This little piggy went to market…this little piggy is cute.

This little piggy went to market...this little piggy is cute.

These babies have adorable feet. Actually, they have many adorable attributes: feet, cheeks, noses, bellies, bottoms. They are great big bundles of adorable. And that’s not to mention the cheerful voices, or their smell of baby shampoo and milk, which of course you can’t sketch.

“They are so amazingly cute,” D said to me yesterday.
“Yeah.” I agreed. “But then again, how do we know? Maybe they’re actually just fat and drooly and not cute at all.” D laughed, and we looked at each other for a minute.
In any case, they’re the most beautiful babies we’ve ever seen, though I’ll admit we’ve got stars in our eyes.

Faces in a Blurry Sea

The babies are slowly learning how to use their hands. If you hold something in front of them they move their arms very slowly in its general direction, looking as if they are struggling to control new mechanical arms. When they do finally manage to get a grip on the desired object, eyes crossing in concentration, they will usually toss it immediately onto the floor. Otherwise they will very slowly and deliberately bring their arms, while still gripping the object, in the direction of their mouth. As one hand approaches their mouth the other usually joins, and it is the hands, not the object, which makes first mouth contact. They then suck on the hand while still maintaining a grip on the object, looking thoughtful. And that’s really a day’s work right there.

What a strange feeling it must be, to slowly discover that you have a whole body, and then learn to use it piece by piece. How did they conceive of themselves before, if not as a body? They have been focused on faces for months, but I think it is only now they are discovering that those faces don’t just float in a blurry sea.

Yesterday M was lying in my lap. I turned to look at her, caught her eyes and she startled. I looked away again, then looked back and she startled again. Something is taking shape in her mind.

At the same time, their learning to connect to their bodies is giving me a strange feeling about mine. How strange that arm control is something we must learn. How adeptly I now control these arms, this skin for my mind to live in.