Friday, April 30, 2010


This post is dedicated to Mindy Kennedy. 

"Wondering how to sleep for the first time without my mom in this world. The quiet makes my brain go in to overtime with so many wishes. How I wish I'd told her how much she meant to me every single day. Don't hesitate, tell your loved ones as often as possible and then more!" - Mindy Kennedy 4/24/2010

We often can't imagine such loss until it is there in front of us. Is there any solace to be found in the death of a loved one? There is religion, spirituality, meditation and prayer. There are letters and pictures, memories and laughter. But it is the love that continues to reside in our hearts that will carry us through each day.

I know the argument exists that you can say 'I love you' too often and that it loses its meaning in repetition. I disagree. It is the last thing my girls hear at night before I close the door to their bedroom. And I tell them every chance I get. The moment need not be special or unique. I even ask that silly question if they know mama loves them? As I get older, those words flow easier. I'm no longer shy to tell my friends, extended family, or even my coworkers. 

Life - and death - will do that to a person. I lost my beloved aunt Mary Lee just over one year before I learned I was pregnant with twins. My heart has ached so many times wishing that she could have met these muses of mine. She taught me how to stop and smell the roses, which becomes much more difficult amidst the chaos of raising twins. I remember being 11 years old, lying next to her in our bathrobes atop the picnic table behind our house, watching the stars on a summer night.. I've thought of that moment many times since her death, and wondered if I told her that I loved her enough while she was alive?  

"When someone you love don't lose them all at once. you lose them in pieces over a long time. Gradually, you accumulate all of the parts of them that are gone. Just when the day comes - when there's a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that (s)he's gone, forever - there comes another day, and another specifically missing part." - A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

Friday, April 23, 2010

Division of Labor

I don't often mention my husband in my posts. It's not that he's not here - it's just challenging to see him between our double work week, overlapping sleep schedules, household obligations, childcare pick-up and drop-off, and the fuss muss of raising children. And it's difficult to speak to him over the cacophonous squeals and incessant, outlandish demands of two toddlers. Nevertheless, I've had the thrill and honor of watching him morph into an exquisite father.  

My husband and I have always been superb partners - balancing one another like yin and yang. There's no drama. When one of us is anxious, the other is the voice of reason. And that has carried us well into parenthood.

Apparently, parents of multiples have a higher rate of divorce. My hubby and I were the couple that would shock friends, family and acquaintances by joking about renewing the "contract" of marriage from year to year. However, when a child (children, as it were) was discussed, we knew we'd be re-upping for 18+ years. We both come from divorced families and that strengthened our desire to remain intact. (That, of course, remains to be seen). But each milestone represents a victory. The first year of marriage, the settling into a new house, neighborhood and joint schedule and then the shock, confusion and stress of unexpectedly expecting twins.

pre-children, at "The Office" in Cabo

We are the type of couple that embrace our individuality, but come together as a family when it counts. For as many vacations as we take together, we take separately. We're like two helium balloons that seek their own path, but ultimately end up huddled together in the same corner.

We've always divided the chores around the house. But having children adds a whole other dimension that reaches into all aspects of life. First it was the night-time feedings; he calmly negotiated the 3AM, while I did the 11PM and 7AM. When the girls refused to sleep, we would each take a twin - me in the guest room, he in our bedroom - then compare notes in the morning. We alternate bedtime duties. Our house is like a factory, where my husband and I run the gamut of duties. I'm accounting and janitorial, he is maintenance and operations. We both do production and each have an unskilled apprentice that creates more work for us.

It's a revolving door of trade offs - I'll take the girls to the store if you clean the kitchen. I'll sleep in Saturday and you sleep in Sunday. It's all about b a l a n c e.

We must have set the proper tone on our wedding invitation with this quote: "Marriage is an intricate, intimate dance and nothing matters more than your sense of balance and your choice of partner." Well said.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Initiation, Part Deux

This is what suspicion looks like.

Now that I've pledged this fraternity, I'm learning there are hazing techniques that make me uneasy. And I'm told it only gets worse from here.

My sweet "Baby B", Tristyn Mae, had bilateral inguinal hernia surgery last week. Three mornings before the surgery, my calm mommy confidence betrayed me. I panicked. I got that queasy feeling that takes over and burrows inside your brain like a dung beetle. I fought the urge to pick up the phone and hastily cancel the surgery. All it took was a simple inquiry from the daycare mom to bring me to tears, blubbering on her shoulder like a toddler myself, feeling silly and berating myself for overreacting.

The surgeon told me himself that he's performed 8,000 of these surgeries and I know so many other mamas that have dealt with far worse. 

In the course of my sedulous online research, I read that inguinal hernias in females are somewhat rare, but can be caused, in part, by prematurity. This too, messed with my head because I have neatly filed away the prematurity/NICU experience and have cheerfully (perhaps ignorantly) moved on from that chapter. I was disappointed and shocked to be forced to revisit the fear and inevitable, absurd guilt that came with delivering the frail human cargo from my womb too soon.

I found solace in the amazing mothers (of singles and multiples*) that surround me. I voiced my vulnerability and they responded with such compassion and wisdom that I was once again wrapped in that warm blanket of confidence - that my precious little girl would endure.

What struck me throughout this process is that I'm continually exposed to new layers of indoctrination that frighten me to no end, but that other parents have forged before me, and happily embrace those that follow with their positive outcomes and unwavering optimism.

I keep a crumpled fortune cookie in my purse and it never fails to prove true: "Your road will be made smooth for you by good friends."

I received it while I was pregnant with my girls. Natch.  

*This post is dedicated to Giselle, the bravest (and only) mom of identical triplet boys that I know! Thank you for your support and guidance.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Twin Quintessence

This *picture speaks a thousand words to me. It captures the quintessence of (my) twins. In case you didn't notice, behind the contemplative Tristyn is her indignant DNA clone. I don't recall the circumstances that led up to this snapshot in time, but this is a common occurrence in our household.

As alike as they are, they are like yin and yang.

I call it the rule of twins. If one is screaming, the other is calm. If one is focused on a task, the other is distracted. If one is hysterical, the other is nonplussed.

I commented recently on a picture posted by a fellow twin mommy blogger where one twin is posing eagerly in the seat of a firetruck and the other is watching tentatively, and inadvertently reflected in the side of the firetruck.

Twins are constantly being labeled based on characteristics, actions and perceived talents or skills of their twin. If one twin is social or talkative, the other must be shy and reticent. One simply must be "the outgoing twin" or "the spirited twin". Non-twins are rarely branded so impetuously.

Out of all demographics, female identical twins have the highest incidence of eating disorders. Why? Because they are always being compared. Even a seemingly benign comment like "she's the bigger twin" (meaning taller) when heard hundreds of times throughout their lifetime grows like Cancer in a young woman's fragile self-image. 

I took a recent video that illustrates their differences perfectly. Tristyn is engrossed in her play dough creations, and then Jaeda comes streaking through the room to announce that she wants to be a Ballerina! Then scampers off...

There I go. Comparing them again.

I've heard that twins will "split the difference" for developmental milestones, but that seems too convenient to me. It is certainly the case with my girls - if you want to view it that way...

The bottom line is that all children exhibit different characteristics from day to day and month to month, and twins (identical or fraternal) are often unfairly labeled.

Even by those of us who know them best. :-/

*Thanks to Kim Hayes for the use of this photograph
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