About two weeks ago I was saying to my almost 1 and a 1/2 year old twins, “No more biting, please be nice to each other!” You should have seen the looks on their faces. The boy looked like he might roll his eyes at me and the girl wiggled her shoulders almost as if mocking me. “Sigh…”, I thought. I said it again and then watched in disbelief as they gave each other a kiss and a hug and then Henri offered Aurora his snack.
I was flabbergasted! I ran to my husband and said, “Alex! Oh my gosh! They can understand what I’m saying!” He gave me a funny look and said, “I knew that, of course they can understand us.” I dropped my arms that had been wailing about in excitement and thought, “Hmm…what have I been missing?”
After this I paid close attention to how they reacted after I said something. To my bewilderment and surprise I began noticing about 20 different words coming out of their mouths that I hadn’t noticed before. Before, this all sounded like gibberish to me. I realized I have been wrapped up in feeling overwhelmed by the fact that like diabetes, being a parent is a never ending job without vacations and to quote my husband, “24/7 on call duties”. Being a parent to two of the same age feels more like crowd control and less like parenting. It’s tricky reading a book when two little people want to be in the center of your lap. Cleaning up 6 meal messes a day seems pointless. Mediating between two children who have an attention span of 5 seconds feels impossible. Brushing teeth while one kid is trying to get into the toilet and the other is about to fall into the tub makes me want to pull my hair out-mostly because it happens every day. The same part that is so hard about diabetes is the hardest part about raising twins. If it’s not one, it’s the other. In other words, it’s a nonstop type of hectic. You may not have twins, but you know this well.
It’s not a good rut to fall into, feeling overwhelmed. It usually means one reacts to situations with more impatience, emotions, and thoughtlessness. And it means one can miss important or meaningful moments throughout the day.
I thought about how this can be applied to our diabetes management. I remember a time, years ago, when I was nonstop overwhelmed by my diabetes. Every minute of every day I was caught up in just surviving. Just like one might if they were thrown out into the jungle. Only instead of worrying about tigers or snakes, I would worry about passing out from a low blood sugar, or having my legs cut off one day, or going blind, or not being able to have kids, or not passing the biology exam because of all these worries not letting me concentrate! When my blood sugar was low I’d overeat sugar and when high I’d give too much insulin or not even figure out how much I needed, I would just give a random amount in a rage of fury. If I didn’t like the number on my meter when I tested I would mentally throw my hands up in the air in despair. The way I do sometimes when my twins are pushing my sanity to the brink.
Eventually I stopped feeling so overwhelmed by every little thing having to do with my diabetes. I was calm enough to think more clearly. I would notice trends in my blood sugars and insulin usage. I came to realize that not being overwhelmed increased my focus. This really helped my overall diabetes management.
I suspect paying more attention to this will also help my overall parenting skills, too. Just today, instead of assuming the kids wouldn’t help me with cleaning the house (because ya know, they’re so little) I tried to see if they’d get into something.
I was amazed again when they got into picking up their toys and cleaning the windows with me. Obviously they can’t clean windows too efficiently but, the thing is, they were entertained and an hour of the day went by smoothly. And just like with diabetes, few hours go by that way. So it was a big deal :)