The Evolution of the Date Night

Last night our big kids were both out having a sleepover. What did that mean for Caleb and I? Date night! 

Thinking back, it occurred to me how much the definition of “date night” has changed over time. Life sure is funny that way. 

Date Night Before Kids:

Anytime you get dressed up and get out of the house – dinner, movie, party…

Date Night After Baby:

Anytime you drop baby off with Grandma and Grandpa to get dressed up and go out – dinner, movie, party…

Date Night With Two Kids:

Anytime you drop the kids off with Grandma and Grandpa. Now, the date includes things like – getting groceries and running errands. You may start arranging a paid babysitter for those “special events” – the movies, dinners and parties (as they are all now planned well in advance). 

Date Night With Two Kids and Twins:

Anytime the big kids are out of the house. 

This was us last night. What did we do? Went for a walk with the babies, stopped at Subway for dinner (because why would we cook for just the two of us?), came home. We put the twins to bed, poured a glass of wine, queued up Netflix (more specifically, House of Cards), and cuddled on the couch with a blanket, leaving our phones upstairs. 



We still have amazing people around us who will take all four of our kids (no paid sitters yet), so don’t get me wrong, we still have our specially “planned-ahead-of-time” dates; those special events – usually revolving around a birthday, anniversary, or something work-related. But it’s just… different.

I know date nights will continue to change as our children inevitably grow – into adolescents… and then teenagers (yikes). 

*Envisioned Date Nights with Teenagers:

I’m reminded of the television sitcom, “The Middle.” If you haven’t watched it, you should. I can’t help but relate to the mom’s character. It’s great comic relief, poking fun of the not-so-fun parts of being a middle-class parent. 

In one episode, it’s Valentines Day and the parents decide to go out for dinner (their kids all have plans of their own). In one way or another, each of their kids need them for something and by the end of the episode they’re sitting in the restaurant along with their 3 children – date night turned family night. And they realize – they wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Funny, life is. Looking back on how our date nights have changed, I only wish I could have had the perspective I have now, in those moments back then. I suppose I feel this way about everything. 

If only I could have the perspective on life that I will have when I’ve reached my 80s, granted I get to see them. If only I could have that perspective NOW. How differently I’m sure I would be living my life… my everyday. I’ll never be able to say it enough: Life is funny. 

We Made It.

A year ago today, I was laying in a hospital bed with my arms wrapped around my belly. The contractions were coming every 10 minutes and I knew today would be the day. I was unusually calm. I had seen enough moms roll through the Antepartum Unit, and I remember that feeling of panic that would overtake the room as their babies would come too soon. I had spoken to the neonatologists – the experts, who went through with me all that it would mean for my babies to be born at this time – all that they would need to survive. No expectations were given, only odds, as these babies all have a mind of their own. A lot of unknown. But, here I was, calm. As I hugged my belly, I leaned down and told them, “if you’re ready to meet me… I’m all in.” I knew my body was no longer the place for them. They needed more, something I couldn’t give.

Fast forward to today, and here we are, a family of 6. As I write this, my babies are tucked up in their beds, having their morning naps. Completely content and asleep, they are telling me they are happy, and have everything they need. There is nothing more comforting in this world. It has been a wild ride to say the least, but as I look back, I know how blessed we have been through the whole thing.

The missing pieces of our family’s puzzle have arrived, and they’ve let us know it.

Our Henry – born at 1:35pm on this day last year, weighing only 2 lbs. 15 oz.

Henry

Our Henry – now, weighing 15 lbs. 4 oz.

Henry

Henry is a firecracker. With piercing blue eyes and 4 adorable teeth, he’s a heart-melter. Although, the last thing he feels the need to be, is a heart-melter. Our busiest baby, Henry is much too busy to snuggle up and flirt – he’d much rather flash you a toothy-smile from across the room. He’s always on a mission, places to go people to climb. Our explorer, Hailey calls him, out to conquer the world. He has been meeting his milestones all ahead of schedule, and before his brother – something we weren’t sure would happen after his PVL diagnosis (see article here: Periventricular Leukomalacia). This is still something “on the table”, to see how or if it will affect him, and he will be followed closely until about age 3. But, there’s no arguing, he’s perfect.

Our Ethan – born at 1:45 pm on this day last year, weighing 3 lbs. 7 oz.

Ethan

Our Ethan – now, weighing 14 lbs. 12 oz.

Ethan

Ethan is our soft-hearted soul. Taken along for the ride after Henry’s water broke, we maintain that Ethan would have been much happier staying inside my belly for as long as he could. “The serious one”, Ethan has heart-wrenching hazel eyes, and the same 4 teeth as his brother (although, his smiles are still “gummier” than his brothers… gotta love them gummy smiles). He is mama’s boy – and I’m so thankful for that. Our resident “ham”, he will stare at you – waiting for eye contact, and then proceed to either play peekaboo or tilt his head to the side in an attempt to “look cute”… anything he can do to get you to smile. The bulk of his first year has been spent by my side, perfectly content to be within my line of sight, with a hand on my knee or an arms length away. It’s been just recently he’s started venturing out with his brother, the two of them becoming quite the pair – if Ethan’s not with me, he’s with Henry.

My boys

Today, I’m a mom of 1 year old twin boys… a mom of 4 beautiful children. Wow. How lucky am I?

Parenting is the strangest phenomenon. To feel THIS much love for something … it’s overwhelming… and to feel THIS much love for 4 somethings – it’s unreal. I have to pinch myself everyday. Being a mom has been the biggest challenge of my life. But I can’t think of a challenge more  rewarding than this. If I’m going to sacrifice anything in this life, let it be for them, my kids. Then I know it will be worth it.

I am so thankful to have been chosen to be the mother of these two amazing boys. They have taught me so much about strength, perseverance, sacrifice and love in SUCH a short year. I am anxious and excited to see what’s in store for them next, hopeful to be along for the ride for as long as I am able.

Here’s a song that I heard on the radio the other day, and basically burst into tears as I instantly pinned it to my love for my kids… It sums up everything that I feel about them. As a mama, we choose to put our kids first, whether we realize it or not, it’s actually a choice. A choice I would make any day of the week. I’m NOT perfect and my kids will know this. But I’m here, looking to learn from my mistakes. I know I’m unprepared for what the future holds, but I’m willing to take it as it comes in the best way that I can. When my children think of me when they’re all grown up with children of their own – whether I’m around or not – I want them to think of love. Above all else, I want to leave a “lifelong love letter” to my kids.. and not just the hug/kiss, tell them I love them kind of love… the hard kind – the doing what’s best for them as much as it hurts me kind of love.

Happy birthday my smart boys!

I love you more than you or I will EVER be able to understand!

Want to read our story from the beginning? Start here: pProm with Twins

Week 24

Let me persuade you to follow my example and take a turn about the room – I assure you it’s very refreshing after sitting so long in one attitude. – Pride and Prejudice

I do not like Mondays. Mondays are my LEAST favourite days. After “relaxing” all weekend (and by relaxing I mean – only leaving the house when I want, not when I have to) you are thrown back into the weekly grind of it all. My kids are no exception. School days take a lot out of them and we all pay for it at the end of the day. As excited as I am to get them off the bus and hear all about their day, they are significantly less so. The short walk from the bus stop to the house is (3 days out of 5) spent mediating an argument or two… or five.

My saving grace? We’ve started a ritual before entering the house after school. When we are having a mood – feeling grumpy, sad, mad – we make a point of leaving that bad attitude outside. Me included. We think up the most elaborate, silly, exaggerated way possible for us to pull that attitude out of us and get rid of it forever. This includes, but is definitely not limited to, shaking it out of our hair, throwing it as far as we can, spitting it out, smashing it or stomping all over it. It’s done wonders (for me too – it’s amazing how much better I feel after jumping around and being silly). Our afternoons have been completely transformed. Does the attitude occasionally slip inside with us? Naturally. What do we do? I send them back out to get rid of it all over again.

Here’s hoping we all have a great week – week going not so great? Try to leave it outside.

Anxious Child – Anxious Parent

This weekend will be a big one for the Fricker household.

News Flash: Hailey is going on her first-ever friend sleepover. And I couldn’t be more terrified.

Worry Time

She’s slept away from home plenty of times – one of our closest friends has been taking her for fun sleepovers for as long as I can remember. But that is someone I trust, she trusts; a second mom.

Hailey is THRILLED. She has been counting down the days, the hours, the seconds, until this thing begins. Me? The panic is starting to set in. All of her closest friends from school will be there. She’s been telling me non-stop about all of the fun things they plan on doing. But, my mind is racing – what if? what if? what if? And this little girl… alone and afraid in the dark… is all I can see.

Hailey has endured enough for the little old soul she’s always been. Our transition to Calgary was surprisingly the hardest on her. A lot of insecurities have since surfaced and continue to do so.

It started with school. She never wanted to go. Her Kindergarten year – the kicker being, her mom was working right across the hall, and her brother, hanging out with a bunch of 2 year olds a couple of rooms over. Terrified eyes turned to tears, and she spent the bulk of her mornings trying to pretend to be “ok”.

Then came bedtime. And we quickly realized this was becoming a problem that wasn’t going to go away without a fight. If it was a school night, she would be afraid to fall asleep because she didn’t want to have to wake up and go to school. If there was a special event coming up, she would keep herself up afraid that she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep, and be too tired to enjoy the special day. If mom or dad had to go out at bedtime, she would worry we would never come back. If she couldn’t hear us downstairs as she slept upstairs, she would worry we had left her alone.

It definitely affected her socially. At playdates and birthday parties, she would panic at the thought of me leaving her side, bringing herself to tears. The worst part about it was that she knew she was different than her friends. She felt differently than they did, and she hated it. She just wanted to be like them.

In the beginning, I would say things like, “don’t worry Hailey,” and, “why are you so worried?!”. It drove me crazy. But I’ve learned not to ask those questions anymore and as impatient as I still feel about her worries, I will never say those words again.

We were at our wits end, with a professional’s phone number at my fingertips, when I came across this book – “What To Do When You Worry Too Much – A Kids Guide To Overcoming Anxiety” – by Dawn Huebner.

Everyday we would set aside time (15 minutes of strictly, “Worry Time”) and work through this book with Hailey. It opened my eyes to an anxiety-ridden world. Together, we turned Hailey’s worries from these abstract, nonsensical thoughts into a Worry Monster that we were determined to shrink.

Hailey’s learning to separate her worried thoughts from “the truth” and can pin them against each other to overcome her anxiety. We do a lot more asking – and a lot less telling. The questions have changed too… from “why, Hailey?” to “what is worry telling you?”, “is it true?”, “is that really going to happen?”.

At school, she’s started taking the school bus. There is something about it that’s made everything easier. She needs to make the choice to walk away from us, rather than us walking away and leaving her. The bus driver is waiting for her to get on so they can move on to the next stop, she doesn’t have the luxury to dwell on her worries.

At bedtime, she’s started using the intercom on the phone to call us if she was ever concerned that we weren’t there (a safety behaviour that I’m a little worried could end up doing harm..).

Socially, we’re back at the sleepover. She is becoming a lot more confident when it comes to play dates and birthday parties, although she still rejects more invitations than I would like her to.

Up until now, we have been taking small steps. We are learning to expect these worried thoughts and are gearing up to deal with them head on. We’ve been lucky. We have only come CLOSE to looking into professional help, although I know that may be in the cards for us in the future- it will always stay on my radar.

This sleepover doesn’t seem in keeping with our “small steps”. It’s a leap, a bound even; one I’m not ready to take. But Hailey sure seems to be… And after all, that’s what really matters…right?

Here’s hoping I can get through this sleepover without having to pull out any of Hailey’s worry-squashing strategies… for myself.

Update: After a lot of positive self-talk – Hailey did it. She had a fabulous time – and I quote, “the best night of my life.”

Week 23

I have not the pleasure of understanding you. – Pride and Prejudice

As a parent of four children (officially – I’ve counted them several times over. I assure you there is still four of them… as much as I keep pinching myself), you’d think I’d have it all figured out. Right? Maybe? Not really?… Not at all.

The most incredible thing about being a parent, is not in what you teach them, but in what they teach you. It is easy to compare them to each other, to yourself, to your siblings, to your parents… they have so-and-so’s eyes, but with such-and-such’s spirit… and I have no idea WHO he gets that HAIR from… it’s fun even – to guess who they will turn into as they grow old.

The amazing thing about it is that, ultimately, they will be like no one else, they will be them, an individual.. and that makes it so challenging.

Each one of my children needs me in a different way. Yes, yes, fundamentally they all need me the same. But, fundamentally, if every child needed their mother in the same way as another, there wouldn’t be an entire section of the book store devoted to parenting. There would be one book. And it would be easier (note: I did not say easy… I said easier).

As I get to know each of my children, I realize more and more how much I won’t be able to understand them. I have my own scope, vision, point of view that keeps getting in the way. The minute your children are born – heck, the minute your children are conceived – you begin to develop this “understanding” of who you think they are going to be. But it’s not who they are or who they will become… and that’s the hardest.

This week, instead of wishing for the pleasure of understanding, I’m hoping to let go and spend my time ignoring my misconceptions and appreciate the little people I’m getting to know (dare I say, searching for and living in the serendipity of what I am learning). I wish the same for all of you.

Here’s my amazing husband…
…dreaming up the lives of each of our precious ones.