Twins: 27 months

My sweet babies are suddenly toddlers who climb walls and turn full bowls of food into the floor. Knives, hot surfaces, and sharp corners lurk everywhere.

When Avery was two I famously (within my audience of one) went back to work to avoid the unavoidable. I spent that year driving like a maniac between the office and childcare but also wearing clicky shoes and doing Ashtanga yoga on my lunch hour. So this round of toddlers is really the first time I’ve lost every last drop of myself.

As one twin mom put it: The first year is hard, the second year is chaos, the third year is mind-melting. We are solidly into the third year and, sure enough, my brains have turned to goo.

I often wonder which is better – to have had a single baby before twins and know what to expect or to have the twins first so you are used to doing everything twice and get the blissful benefit of ignorance. I try to coax myself out of this form of punishment. Less thinking, I say. More breathing.

In this phase of parenting, The strategy is to spend 90% of the day strategizing on how not to lose my mind and 10% of the day being amazed. Eirik looked out the window at our neighbor’s house last night and said, “Wow! I see light!” It was his first sentence.

I have never experienced my children as going through “the terrible twos.” Two-year-olds are great as long as you don’t mind maximum danger and children who don’t respond to a thing you say. These babies grab life by the horns. They are never bored and they are never boring.

The brothers have started to have back-and-forth conversations. It happened for the first time when they saw a bug on the window pane:

E: “A bug.”

T (nodding in agreement): “A bug.”

E: “A bug…”

T: “A bug…”

In the same foot-fall, I turn to homeschool for my daughter and all of my gold-star minutes disappear. I am with all of the children, all of the time.

People comment on the sheer volume of young children I have. Strangers banter, “You’ve got your hands full!” Acquaintances confess, “I couldn’t imagine…”

The kids and I eat macaroni and cheese with hot dogs for lunch. I put Avery on an episode and try to put the brothers down for a nap but they are yelling made-up words at each other and blowing raspberries and it is all far too hilarious for sleep. Instead, the babies will remain un-napped and we will all suffer. I make chicken and dumplings for dinner and count the hours to bedtime.

At a distance, people understand that parenting young children is hard. But when I try to talk about the overwhelm inherent to this experience, the anxiety I feel trying to keep them all safe, people mostly say, You’ve got this! and keep walking.

Thank-you for your pluck. I would thank you for some universal childcare but in the meantime I’ll probably ask my doctor about Xanex.

Twin damage to the house has become a real issue. They started by dismantling the heater and electrical outlets (no screwdriver necessary!). Then they climbed up onto the counter to bat the pendant lights into one another. Then, they moved on to attack the framed art, sheetrock, and finally, the plumbing. I am trying not to start every text thread to my husband with such inspiration as, Good news! I found out where the water is coming from!

Question: Where is their mother while all of this is going on?

Answer: With another one of my children.

There is never enough supervision to go around. Clearly, caring for this crew is a two-person job. In my wildest dreams, it is actually a three-person job: one adult to be with the children, a second to cook and clean-up, and a third to be off doing something. We could rotate. Want to co-parent with me?

It helps to have a small house. I can almost always see or hear them. When I can’t, I can smell them.

I try to fix some broken things before my husband gets home and it is making me handier around the house (another life-long dream fulfilled because of and for my children). But a problem fixed or a mess cleaned are projects rendered invisible. I have to draw my husband’s attention to it. “I need a cookie,” I say. Then, I show him the thing that is not broken.

Wait it out, you tell me. It gets better. Nothing last forever. But everything, by definition, is getting better or worse. Even this moment is better or worse than a moment five minutes ago. Nothing is static. Nothing stays the same.

I get in touch with a friend who has the same constellation of kids but who is three-years ahead of me in mom-time. “How is your chaos?,” I asked. Has it gotten any better?”

“No,” she says. “I wouldn’t say better.”

My family is nothing if not chaos, but it is mostly good-natured chaos. Maybe one day I will look back on this sorry excuse for sanity as the best of times.


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