twins

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When Twins are TWINS

First, they were TWINS. Then, they were twins. Now again, they are TWINS.

I have two seniors this year, you guys. Two. Twins. That means 2/3 of my children are launching. I get to play the roles of double the proud mama and double the sad almost empty nester.

There was a time, ages 0-4 or so, when I looked at the two and thought TWINS. Everything was crazy-fun-double. Double diapers, double flu, double stroller, double diaper bag, double breastfeeding (good thing we’re designed with two for that), double naptime, double bedtime kisses, double giggles.

Then, from ages 5-17, it mostly felt like I imagine any other family feels with two kids close in age. They were the same age, so we still had double birthday parties and double parent-teacher meetings where I couldn’t be in both classes at once, and other twin parenting foibles, but for the most part, I didn’t feel that same double whammy of TWINS. I felt the single, massive double whammy of being a mom of two.

But.

Graduation day looms. In significant ways, graduation day has already passed. The twins were recently home for the final break, their last time in Djibouti as ‘children’ living under our roof. But the official graduation day is later, in July.

And now, I’m feeling it again.

TWINS.

Of course, we will feel it when we look at the university bills, although again, that feeling and the financial amount is similar to having two kids close in age.

But when it comes to them moving out, moving on, taking the next big leap…I’m telling you, its TWINS.

At first it was a double hello and a double addition to my life. This time, it is a double goodbye and a double subtraction.

I know, I know, they aren’t disappearing, they will still call and visit (or else!) But still, they are moving out. As they should. As is appropriate and good and I’m so stinkin’ proud of them.

But two at once…

We didn’t ease into this parenting thing and we aren’t easing into the empty nesting thing. And I’m feeling it.

I know we still have one at home, okay? Just to be clear. But back in the days of pregnancy, people said going from two children to three is a shock to the system because the kids outnumber the parents. And the kids outnumber the number of hands of one parent.

No one told me going from three children at home to one would be equally a shock.

People talk a lot about twin pregnancies and twin toddlers and twin temper tantrums. No one told me anything about twin graduation ceremonies. Its almost as if, if you survive the early years in tact and with joy, you can almost forget you have the unique blessing of raising twins.

NOT TRUE.

People say, “Twins, lucky you, one pregnancy and one delivery and two babies.”

Not true.

I am lucky. I’m lucky I get to be the mom to these two kids (plus another!). That’s where I lucked out. I did not luck out on delivery day or during pregnancy.

I was sick enough for two pregnancies, got enough stretch marks for two, went on bedrest for two, and delivered through two distinctly different body orifices. Yes, one was born vaginally and one was born via c-section.

Like I said, we aren’t about doing things the simple way.

People say, “Twins, two for the price of one.”

Not true.

At least not when it comes to university tuition.

People say, “Twins, launching two at a time is a great transition for them.”

Not true.

Okay, maybe true. For them. Maybe, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask them. They aren’t going to the same school and they’ve had to wrangle for our attention while filling out applications at the same time and FAFSA passwords get mixed up and things are confusing.

And anyway, great, if it is great for them. That’s awesome. But its also sad for me, for us. At the same time, yes, it is double the joy. I’m so excited for what is next for our kids. They’re ready. All this mixed emotions. No one told me graduation would feel so much like a swirly for the heart.

Sometimes I’ve wondered if I’m being overly dramatic, if sending kids to university isn’t such a big deal. Then I listened to a podcast and a mom said that when her daughter didn’t respond to texts or phone calls after two days, she and her husband drove to her daughter’s campus and found her to make sure things were okay. This daughter was at a school twenty-five miles away.

I’m sending my kids to schools a 30-hour flight away, 7,670 miles away, give or take. On a continent they have essentially never lived on. Two kids. I don’t think I’m freaking out, this blog post is nothing. Maybe I’ll show you my freak out later, maybe that will remain private. We’ll see how brave I feel later, how vulnerable I want to be.

In any case, I think I’m allowed a period of transition and that period involves sadness and loss.

Times two.

Is Parenting a Real Job?

Quick link: Get a Real Job

This month Brain Child published my essay about my encounter with a strange, angry woman sixteen years ago. I have never forgotten what this woman shouted at me or the bizarre circumstances in which we met.

Officially I am a stay-at-home mom. Meaning, I am a mom and I don’t have a ‘real job’ in which a salary comes every month from a boss or in which I have to report to anyone. At the same time, whenever I call myself a SAHM my family protests.

Twins

I am a freelance writer. I have been an English teacher, a manager of micro-enterprise projects, a language tutor, personnel manager (basically meaning I am responsible for making sure staff who come to Djibouti to work with us learn how to function and thrive), cultural consultant, small business developer…I could spin the many things I’ve done any number of ways.

But, when the twins were born, I really was a SAHM and mostly what I did was: stay at home. Anyone with twins knows how in those early weeks and months you are lucky if you shower or eat or sleep. Here’s what one lady thought about my choice.

Minnesota winters are brutal on stay-at-home mothers with young children. It is so hard to get outside. Slippery sidewalks, slushy roads, kids who take twenty minutes to get bundled up and only then announce, “I have to pee!”

The winter my twins were infants, I felt nearly suffocated by the early darkness, the cold, the isolation. I needed to exercise and to get out of the house. I started taking the twins to the Mall of America. It was a thirty minute drive on a non-snowy day and the mall had four floors, each an entire mile in circumference.

I never shopped, we couldn’t afford anything but diapers and the basic groceries that supplemented our WIC coupons. I walked. The mall was free, warm, and not my house. It had that white noise background that can (sometimes) soothe anxious babies. In the middle of the day it was filled with two kinds of people: other stay at home moms who were empathetic and equally desperate, and elderly people also out for a non-slippery walk. The elderly were my favorite because they loved seeing infant twins. Their comments and smiles would remind me, in the haze of those sleepless months, that my children were precious and cute and treasures.

So we walked…

Click here to read the rest of Get a Real Job

*photo credit

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Dear Friend Who Just Had Twins

Quick link: To the Mom Who Just Had Twins

I love, love, love when friends tell me they are having twins. When I had my own twins, I was the first person I knew to have twins. I was also one of the first people I knew to have even one baby, so I was slightly totally overwhelmed. But now, now that my twins are 15 (!!!) years old, I get to respond to twin announcements with all the joy of a mom who made it (barely) through the first few years and who really loves twins.

It is exhausting, it is so, so hard. But it is also so, so good. Just like with any baby, one, two, or more at a time. Here’s a little ditty I wrote to encourage this mom in particular, and others, that they can do it. They are warriors. They are tired. They’ll make it and they’ll even thrive, all of them.

Twins

Were you as shocked as I was when you heard the doctor say “twins” as you looked at the scan? I thought my baby had two heads. Turns out, there were two babies in there, each with a head all their own.

You’ll never forget that moment, though — the surprised joy and the overwhelming fear of it all. The truth is, you might forget a lot about what it first felt like having twins — especially in the first two years — but you won’t forget the very first moment, of meeting them both.

I should probably warn you now that people will say all kinds of hopelessly ridiculous things to you about having twins. Like them being “2-for-the-price-of-1.” As if double the morning sickness, double the diapers, double the stretch marks, and double the university educations are some kind of deal.

Just smile. You know better already; even though you have just given birth…

Click here to read the rest: To the Mom Who Just Had Twins

*image via Flickr

Coed Twin Birthday Parties. Yikes.

Quick link: The 4 Gender Stages of Coed Twin Birthday Parties

More twin fun for you this week, this time at Brain Child. I got the last variety of twins in the graphic, the kind I wanted. Though I wasn’t a person who ‘wanted’ twins or even thought it was a possibility, once we found out there two in there, I wanted the pink/blue variety.

Twin Birthday Parties

I love celebrating my kids. I don’t love throwing birthday parties. I am not into complicated decorations, cute themes, or goodie bags. I like baking and eating cake. I like playing games and staging competitions. So, I love twin birthday parties. Two-for-one.

I have boy-girl twins. Once in a while I considered throwing two separate parties on consecutive days but that simply seemed too daunting and in the early years my twins shared friends. I prefer the utter chaos of one fantabulous afternoon to the never-ending exhaustion of back-to-back sugar highs. Two cakes but only one day of raucous fun. Two easily definable teams for game time. You know how people tell mothers of twins when we are pregnant with them that this is such a great deal? Well, when it comes to birthday parties, this finally pays off. My twins have had a total of twenty-eight birthdays but only half that number of parties. Score!

I have now quit throwing birthday parties for my twins. They can have sleepovers or can hang out with friends and we’ll have a family celebration on our own but no more big parties, they’re too old. However, in the earlier years even as we lumped all the kids together no matter their gender, I had a thing or two to learn about parties, kids, and especially twin kids and twin parties. One of the main discoveries was the four gender stages of coed twin birthday parties…

Click here to read the rest: The 4 Gender Stages of Coed Twin Birthday Parties

A Letter to My Twins

Quick link: 5 Things I Want My Twins to Know

Over at Babble today with some words for my twins. They already know all this stuff, I think. But maybe they don’t. Kids absorb more than I imagine they do sometimes and less than I imagine they do at other times. In either case, now I’ve written it out, at least some of the things I want to tell them. Here’s what I told myself as they were turning thirteen: From a Mother of Teenage Twins to Herself, Thirteen Years Ago and some more fun with twins: Parenting Terms and What They REALLY Mean for Parents of Twins.

Sometimes I don’t really feel like the mother of twins, at least not anymore. When I had twenty+ diapers to change a day and had to carry groceries plus two babies in carseats or a double stroller up to the 22nd floor of our apartment building or had one kid screaming in my arms and one kid screaming and pulling at my leg, I felt it. Oooh boy, I felt it. But now, I feel like a mom. A mom of this particular family. It doesn’t feel so much like ‘being a mom of twins’ or ‘being a mom of Third Culture Kids.‘ It feels like being a mom to these particular three kids, in our particular Jones family way. I love it like that.

twins

When I found out I was pregnant with twins we started telling people right away. I will never forget the responses. They ranged from laughter and joy to blank stares, and one person even said, “I’m sorry. I’ve never known twins who both did well in life.”

Others jumped right in with advice like, Never refer to them as ‘the twins.’ Or invasive questions like, How did you get them? Did you do in vitro? Do you want twins?

Apparently pregnancy, especially a multiple pregnancy, allows people to say whatever they want.

Well, I have some things of my own that I would like to say, but not about twins. Instead, I have things I want to say to my twins.

Read the rest here: 5 Things I Want My Twins to Know

Hey, who else out there has twins? Just curious.

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