Parenting is an ongoing lesson in compromise. Through the months of pregnancy, visions of quaint wooden toys and nicely decorated rooms dominate. In the early months of parenthood, carefully steamed vegetables and low-sugar baked goods are produced. Complete control over wardrobe choices are possible. A schedule can be set.

As the toddler years take hold, a sudden shift takes place. All of the plans that have been made go out the window. And, if you layer in the desperation for entertainment that a global pandemic provides, it’s another level of compromise altogether.

After successfully revealing one hand-me-down Mr. Potato Head to the delight of the twins, I recently purchased a second-hand collection of Potato Heads. It’s an amazing purchase, and I don’t regret it. We now own 8 additional Mr and Mrs Potato Heads and even a baby Potato head, and the various accessories. This collection takes up an entire large diaper box. In use, it takes up the whole living room, the hallway to the front door, and halfway up the stairs to the bedroom. There was a time that I claimed to be a parent that would never have a home full of “plastic crap”. That me no longer exists.

I do try to keep the kids from eating too much sugar or processed foods. That was once a reality, and it is now an aspiration. Working full-time and parenting twins is a crazy challenge in normal times. Now it is a reality show-worthy hot mess. And so on Thursday the twins ate boxed macaroni and cheese for lunch and frozen pizza for dinner and probably too many cookies. And jello. I promised myself we’ll get back to quinoa and steamed broccoli next week.

Television is a godsend. I don’t know how to get the twins to stop asking me for attention while I’m making the aforementioned mac and cheese, other than putting on their 80th daily run-through Humpty Dumpty videos. 

The twins like to wear certain things. One wants the shirt with the cat on it, one wants to wear the rainbow pants. One likes socks, the other doesn’t. I don’t fight any of it. I don’t have the energy to overcome the will of a set of two tyrants with very strong ideas. In this sense, it’s not even a compromise, I’m completely surrendering. Besides, we’re not exactly going to visit the queen.  

Lately it seems most of life is a compromise. If we’re not compromising with our kids, we’re compromising with responsibilities. It’s not possible for me to do a great job at work, and keep my kids happy, and make time for self care, and have a clean house, and do some yard work, and manage my bills, and blow dry my hair and get a good night’s sleep. I can do some of that, but definitely not all, not without help. 

And so compromises are made. Large boxes of plastic crap are purchased. We eat too many cookies. The living room is a mess, I don’t do yoga and my laundry piles up. So long as I keep reminding myself of our priorities, survival without guilt is possible. Besides, the kids already love cookies. They have their whole lives to discover an appreciation for broccoli.