Whispers and Shouts, An Interview with Dawn
I grew up down a small gravel road in Idaho and since college have relocated to the “Evil East” as my dad calls it. Since I became a mother three years ago, my life has, of course, changed dramatically. Like it or not, (and I do like it) I now necessarily am first and foremost Mom. My twin three year-old boys are my life. I stopped teaching high school English when they were born, and though I still am a teacher to my boys, it’s much different than teaching hormonal, sarcastic teenagers a few hours a day—I’m teaching constantly-changing little people who still wet themselves and depend on me for everything 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I pour all that I have into it and I love it. I feel blessed to be able to stay home with them while my husband works. Our family lives in the suburbs of Washington DC.
What made you choose to begin your blog? What topics do you often write about? What posts happen to be your favorites?
I kept entertaining people with stories about the boys in person and on Facebook updates. I had quite a few people suggest that I start a blog to more fully document the boys’ adventures and my adventures living with them. So, when they were nearly two years old, I started my blog. Most of my writing fits into three categories: humorous chronicles of raising kids (specifically twin boys in a small house) helpful stories of day trips for kids in the DC metro area, and more serious, life-perspective issues.
A couple of my favorite posts are:
What is your favorite part about having twins and what is the most tiresome part about having twins?
I think the most tiresome age with the twins was when they were infants before they were sleeping through the night. My mom was able to stay with us for the first month after they were born, and I don’t know how we would have survived without her. Fortunately our boys started sleeping through the night at three months old, so we didn’t have it as bad as many parents do. As far as the most tiresome part about having twins—it has to be the constancy. Even if one naps, the other one might not. And when they are awake, they are a united force, always curious, always pulling each other into fun (or trouble). Sometimes there isn’t much time to regroup.
Twins can be pretty expensive! What are some ways in which your family tries to save money?
We got most of our baby supplies from generous friends, family, or Craig’s List online. We have some friends who have twins a few years older than ours and they’ve been great about strollers and highchairs and things like that. We’re not picky about having matching furniture or clothes for the boys. We have older nephews who give us hand-me-downs, and I have an aunt who loves to buy the boys clothes. We honestly don’t have to buy much in the way of clothes for them. When we do, I often go to a local consignment store or Goodwill. The kids go through clothes so quickly that even if we could afford to buy all new things, it would still feel like a waste to me.
What is your biggest challenge being a mom?
My biggest challenge as a mom is the fact that I have epilepsy. It means I can’t drive, which complicates a lot of things and takes away some of my independence and control. We bought our condo in a great, walkable area, so I have quite a bit of independence—certainly much more than many, with the DC metro buses and trains, but there are always things I wish I could take my boys to that I just can’t. I also live with more risks than many other moms. My boys have their own phone mounted on the wall and know who to call if I have a seizure. Even though I only average about two seizures a year, we have to be prepared for if I do have them. The last one was when I was alone with them.
What are your top 5 tips for all moms?
1) Take advice on milestones babies “should be at” with a generous grain of salt. Each baby is so different, and unless your pediatrician has some sort of serious problem, don’t give too much heed to other moms.
2) Encourage your kids to do things on their own as soon as they can. (Feed themselves, clean up toys, etc.) It’s a total pain at first but it is important for them to take ownership and develop that desire for independence and desire to help. I think kids whose parents do everything for them too long are raising kids who could become needy and highly demanding. Besides, it is so much easier on the parents to have kids who can dress themselves and clean up after themselves!
3) Decide with your husband and caretakers what course of discipline you will take with your kids, and be consistent. It is ridiculously difficult at times, especially with twins, but it pays off. You’ll also have happier kids who know their limits rather than testing them constantly to see what mood you’re in that day.
4) Talk your babies. Even when they’re tiny, they are learning so much just by hearing. There are studies that have shown that kids who are not talked to by their parents take longer to learn to talk themselves.
5) Play with your kids. Model pretend and imaginary play, and show them how to play with others. If you just put them by toys or by the TV, they will not develop their imagination the way they will when you actively engage them on a daily basis—even when they’re tiny.