Smith is now 22 months old. So is his twin brother Sheppard. My little boys, who absolutely control my time-table for everything are sneaking up on being two years old. And that is just ridiculous, and I am serious. I keep meaning to write about them more, about the details they bring into life. Details. Millions of them. Keeping breakable things high, making chairs unclimbable, closing windows enough that they won’t fit out of them, finding a way to keep an oven door shut, putting hundreds of tiny cars into one box and keeping hundreds of plastic animals in another, deleting cookie monster from their song playlist but adding Korean pop sensation Psy, knowing that the air conditioner should be set at 78 degrees for nap but 72 for night sleep.
I mean. I could just fill an entire library with the details. But the bigger things, they are the things that fill me up.
An entire day can be lived with Sheppard and Smith, with these two and I can end the day feeling like I’ve had no time with either of them. This is the crux of my struggle in the twin mama world. I do feel like I’ve got the logistics down, to keep them happy and to keep them safe. But I also think that if there were only one of them, he might know his mama a little bit better. He may know what it feels like to be held more and stared at more and hugged more. He, alone with his mom, might know what it feels like to relax in her lap without being placed aside while his other demands something different. If there were only one baby, he would likely have slept on my chest more and been taken more places. Because taking one baby anywhere is pretty easy but taking two is mostly impossible.
As Sheppard and Smith’s mom, I feel like I’ve been able to grow and stretch to get to places emotionally that I’ve never had to live before. I’ve had to learn that if a baby is safe, sometimes he has to be left to cry because the other baby isn’t safe, and needs me more. I’ve had to get pretty zen with the sound of a lot of noise around me. Much of the noise is heartbreakingly cute – the “Mama!” and astoundingly accurate sing-song of fake words mimicking conversation. I love that noise. But then there is the other noise, the “NO!?” that comes with a brother wanting what a brother has, and then the crying in stereo that would be better if I weren’t a primal being, programmed to not be able to choose a favorite son. If there were a favorite, it would be simple. I’d just give him the toy, the book, the plastic whatever. But usually I’m just standing there, dumb. I can’t choose. So I try to offer other things until one of them bites. And that takes a while.
If there weren’t two.
I wonder more often than I would like to admit if I would have been a better mother if I’d had only one baby at a time. I also can’t help but think they need more from me. More hugs and kisses and uninterrupted staring into their eyes. It’s possible that I just need more of that. I wonder if Sheppard may trust the world a tiny bit more if he felt more security and love from his mom. I wonder if Smith wouldn’t have such a hair-trigger from laughter to tears if he didn’t have things he loved constantly taken away by his brother.
It’s hard to know. Of course there’s the other side.
Sheppard would not laugh so heartily, with his full big belly, if Smith weren’t around to be his clown. Smith wouldn’t be such a kissing bandit, ready to slop some love on pretty much anytime, if Sheppard weren’t his willing participant to be practiced upon with millions of kisses. Bedtime would maybe be a struggle, or a sad thing, if they went in alone. But instead, they run to their cribs, kiss me away, and play with each other for a good 1/2 hour before they fall asleep and after they wake up.
They play together at the park, then separately, then back together. And when one notices the other has migrated somewhere else, he always checks in. They answer to each other’s names. Smith still refuses to say his own name, and when prompted to say “Smith”, he says, “S-S-S-SHEPPARD!” That’s his favorite joke. He does it every time.
It’s the game that most parents play. I could/should be a better parent. If the situation was different. If I had more money or more time or didn’t have to work or could escape to work or was healthier or had more energy or had a better haircut. I mean, I think we all do this? We all wonder if we’ve done our best, and know that we could probably do better with different more customized circumstances. I will always feel that these two – Sheppard and Smith – deserve more than I give them. I feel the same way with Roan though. So I guess it’s just my primal hard-wiring, to have my love for my kids holding hands with my feeling that my overall score is about 7 out of 10. Which, just like most things in life, is going to have to be good enough.