Sunday, May 03, 2009

Twin thoughts

With the girls 5th birthday fast approaching I've had some deep moments of reflection, regret, happiness, sorrow, joy, and general contemplation. 5 years ago I had no idea what I was in for, and I now know that unless you've experienced it yourself you can't come close to understanding what it's like to have two totally unique individuals growing up in your home that just happen to have the same birth date. Wondering if I'm doing the right thing often keeps me up late at night, and in this case caused me to get out of bed at 2:00 A.M. to record some of these thoughts, incoherent as they may be.

When they were first born, and even to present day, I had many people tell me how much alike they looked. I never saw that. To me they always looked very different, starting with their weight. They were born a whopping 2 lbs. apart. Sam was 5 lbs 5 oz while Riley was 7 lbs 7 oz. Until this year they maintained that weight difference within half a pound. For the first time they are the same weight and height, but I think that this is about to change again. They were both blonde but Riley had a nice head of hair while Sam was nearly bald. They both had riveting blue eyes but Riley's were a deep cerulean blue while Sam's were more of a penetrating steel blue. The list of visual differences goes on and on. I could understand other people's confusion though, they didn't know them like I did.
The differences go beyond appearances though. I can see them across a playground and know by the way they run which one it is. More importantly though, I know who they are with my eyes closed. I know when they creep into my bed in the morning which one it is that has curled up on my left and which one on my right by the way they snuggle. I know whose hand I'm holding just by the feel. I can pat a tushie or rub a tummy in the dark and know just who it belongs to. I can tell the difference by the bend of their ear, the curve in their nose, or the line of their lips. They're unique from the shape and feel of their heads down to their cute little toes, one set chubby, one long and thin.

The way they interact with the world around them is also very different and ever changing. I could never say one is dominant, aggressive, outgoing, quiet, shy, or withdrawn. I can clearly say that they each carry these traits within them, and they come out at the most unexpected times. One moment one of them will walk right up to a new person and say, "Hello. Do you want to play with me?" The next day it will be the other one to perform this miracle of childhood. Is that to say they're interchangeable on any given day? Never. Even with the same act, they handle it very differently. One will generally jump right into the center of any social situation and soak up the energy of the moment, the other is more comtemplative, will observe and evaluate before making the same leap. Other times Mommy's coat tails are not quite big enough to hide behind. Many of my friends have come up with cute monikers to describe the differences. I've been unable to do so. Thier names seem sufficient and we often use them to describe something such as, "That's so Riley" or "That's a Sam-ism" I know this is a no-no in the electronic world.

The most challenging part of this whole journey was not learning these things about a child, but learning them about two people who just happen to be the same developmental age at the same time. It's very different than learning it about one child at a time, not to lesson that experience by any means. Having raised a single child, the unique difficulties (and joys) of having two simultaneously have become clear. With one child there is a focus, a purpose, a challenge. With two children the focus is often split, the purpose unclear as it shifts from one to the other, and the challenges are exponentially multiplied. Trying to help them each grow as individuals, give them each the attention that they need, and teaching them how to live together yet be strong when they are apart have all become parts of this wild trip. For those of you with multiples you know that it stems from the first days trying to meet their individual needs for food, sleep, and clean diapers to learning to clap, crawl, walk, and use the potty to preparing them to face the world as individuals. Teaching them to share, to empathize and to sympathize with others but usually starting with their sibling who also didn't understand these concepts and had to learn. The big question that applies to any parent however, is, "Have I learned more from them than they learned from me?" My answer would have to be a resounding, "Yes!" They have taught me so much about who I am, and what's important to me. I thought I knew this already, but I have found that there is still much to learn.

As any parent out there, I can't yet tell if I'm having any level of success in encouraging them to follow their own path, or if they are the successful ones in making me believe that I have any control over it at all. I can only hope that together all of us will come out of this roller coaster ride of childhood with satisfaction, eagerness, and anticipation for the next adventure.

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At 05 May, 2009 12:44, Blogger heather said...

this is a sweet love letter to your girls. thanks for posting it. and apparently since i missed other recent posts, congrats on having a good noggin and 5 years o'bloggin!


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