Friday, July 2, 2010

Day's End

I ended today, laying (lying? I never know for sure) on my porch swing with Marin, watching the fireflies and bats, and smelling her sweet scent. She smells like apples and bread and... baby powder (?) and oatmeal. I think. It's hard to describe.

We both dozed off- it was late; 10ish- and then we roused ourselves, and I carried her into the house. Then I asked her to walk so I could carry a basket of clean laundry upstairs, and she happily agreed, but only if I'd lead her by holding her hand, because she "was asleep" and therefore couldn't "see anything".

She easily settled into bed, and then I called my husband, who was driving home from an adventure with Kate and Joan. I talked to both of them about their day (there was swimming! with a teen aged cousin!), and I was so happy to hear about it all. But they were squabbling back and forth- nothing serious; just the normal- and I had to pretend that Kate didn't tell me that Joan swam without a life jacket, because Joan wanted to tell me that herself, and...

Well, and that's when it hit me. I never got a peaceful night on the porch, lazily watching the summer creatures, with the older two. Because there were TWO of them, each on a constant vigil to ensure she was getting her due attention.

It's the plague of twinhood, for sure, the never being able to be just ONE. I mean, we do make an effort to do things with them individually, but the score-keeping that goes on! And the one-upping! It's exhausting. The path of least resistance (and the most peace) is to treat them as a two-piece unit that must be equally tended.

I am not proud of this. I, in fact, cringe to write that sentence. I don't want to treat them as a two-piece unit. And yet...

I remember when they were newborns... I would nurse one of them, and she would fall asleep in that perfect, heart-squeezing way that only newborns can do. And she'd be all curled on my chest- damp and comfy and softly breathing- and I'd want more than anything to just hold her like that until she woke.

But I couldn't. Because her sister needed to eat.

So I'd pull her off my chest and reluctantly either settle her elsewhere or hand her off to David so I could repeat the process with her sister. And then her sister would fall asleep, but I couldn't just cuddle her either, because either I needed to pee, or I needed to eat, or the other baby needed me now.... And if I *did* manage a few extra cuddles with one or the other, it never felt quite right. It felt either unfair or like someone was missing.

The prevailing feeling of those early days was that there wasn't enough of me to go around. Even though there was, technically. Everyone was being fed and bathed and changed and loved. But my attention was constantly being torn in two places.

And dividing my love and affection between my twins is very different that dividing my love and affection between one of the twins and Marin. It's something about being at the same age, and having the same needs... Marin's needs are so different from theirs, that it's easier not to get into a "IT'S NOT FAIR" contest with her.

I've comforted myself by saying that what they didn't have in undivided attention from ME (or David, or whomever), they made up for by having this really special twin relationship. I do believe this to be true, in many respects.

But as my youngest dozed in my arms tonight- lightening bugs twinkling in the yard all around us (and her elbow lodged firmly in my ribcage); me with no place else in the world I needed to be- I hoped upon hope that what my twins got (and continue to get) from me is enough.

Man, I hope it's enough.


Sarah said...

If it's any consolation, I kinda think all moms feel like this when they have two kids close in age, twins or not. I remember constantly feeling that way about Eli- guilty that I couldn't just sit and snuggle with him, enjoying his babyhood as I had with Addy- because as soon as his many needs were tended to his sister was desperate for attention of her own. She was still a month shy of two when he was born, and while I thought that was plenty of space, it turned out she was still a baby in a lot of ways. That first year of Eli's life was filled with guilt and being torn between my two babies. I am really hoping this time around the three year gap (and my toddler being potty trained!) is going to make a difference and that I won't feel quite so pulled and like I'm short changing all my kids.

Marie Green said...

My twins were 3 1/2 when Marin came along, so she was OBVIOUSLY "the baby"... so I didn't run into feel like I couldn't care for the bigger kids when I was cuddling her. They were big enough (and it probably helps that they had each other) that they were off playing while I cuddled her.

So I think with your 3rd baby, Sarah, you will feel less torn. I hope so, anyway!

Kelsey said...

Gah, I'm not sure my opinion counts for much, but I wish I could fully convey to you how entirely positive I am that you give all your girls way, way, WAY more than enough of all the important things. Love, time, attention, space... I suppose it could be difficult to know that from far away, but I feel like I do. Maybe it is the family time you talk about, or maybe it is the smiling, happy children I see in your pictures. Photo after photo of what childhood should look like. And sure, none of us share photographic evidence of the uglier moments when we aren't are best, but I'm still whole-heartedly convinced that your balance sheet comes out way ahead.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

I can only imagine how that would feel with two the same exact age. I have totally felt torn so much with my two who are THREE YEARS apart. I still feel that way often. I can't fully be in the moment with one because the other one is bleating in my ear or teething on my shin or whining in the corner about how she NEVER gets what she wants or some such nonsense.

It sounds like the one who suffered the most in your equation is probably you. Your time and attention and energy were always being pulled in two directions. They got what they needed, you maybe didn't get what you needed- to enjoy it enough? or just rest for a second in between switching gears?

Your twins so clearly get so much from you (and from each other).