Where hard work meets delight


You know you have toddlers when strangers’ comments start to change. It’s not “Oh, they’re precious,” or even, “You’ve got your hands full,” so much as it is “I bet they give you trouble!”

And it can be true. When they’re fighting over a toy, they shriek a piercing shriek at the top of their lungs, at the same time, that sometimes makes me yell over them to be heard: “WHY ARE WE SCREAMING?” till I remember I’m the grown up and can just separate them. They’ve even started screaming at each other from one high chair to another, which baffles me. I feel like I spend my time alternating between Official Book Reader and Animal Sound Maker, and hockey referee. And don’t get me started on trying to get them into a stroller or car seat they don’t want to be in. They also really do run in opposite directions whenever they’re running away from me, and not only do they understand what I say now, they also understand how to disobey.

But with the new understanding and communication also comes a sweeter relationship than ever. They can express a different level of happiness and affection. Sometimes one of them will just stop in the middle of playing, grab my face with her little hands, and say, “Mama! Mama!” Or hold out her arms to cuddle, or hold up a baby doll for me to kiss. They are so tender and sweet when they’re not fighting. They love to swaddle their baby dolls and push them around in strollers and pretend to feed them, and any time they hear a real baby cry they rush toward the sound like they’re ready to help.

They also love each other so much. The first thing each of them says when she wakes up, whether it’s from a nap or a nightmare at 2a.m., is “Sister! Sister!” They get baby strollers and snack cups for each other and make sure the other has a pillow when we “shake our sillies out,” Raffi style. And sometimes while we’re snuggling at bedtime, one of them will stroke the other’s hair or rub her back. It makes me even happier than when they’re snuggling me.

So yes, it can be difficult. There are days when I’m still counting the minutes till it’s quiet, and just want to set them on the couch with the remote control while I go read a book. But it is the best kind of hard. They’re sweeter than I could have imagined, and even the grumpiest days have moments of delight that, at the end of the evening, wipe the slate clean of all but the sweetness, and make it more than worth it.

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