By: Amber Leventry
My twins and I sat on the porch the other day and chatted. There were about five different topics running at once and I was volleying between each as I sat in the middle of two very curious and talkative toddlers spewing random thoughts and questions. Before I could reply to one subject, a new one was mentioned, and much like grabbing kisses blown from one person to another, I snagged their words and lovingly brought them in. Our words probably didn’t make much sense to anyone who may have heard them, but as we waited for the other mama and big sis to get home from work and school we were having actual conversations.
This is big and finally where I want to be. I have longed for reciprocal exchanges and mutually beneficial relationships between myself and my twins. Yes, smiles, coos, broken sentences, and silent interactions have benefited all of us over the last three years. But for me, the sweet spot of parenting has just started. Ben and Ryan, my second and third children, are about to have their third birthdays.
The first year of their existence was survival, the second year’s goal was sanity, and this last year has been a test of patience. When they were born, I became a part-time stay-at-home mom; when they were 18 months, I became a full-time stay-at-home/work-from-home mom. I haven’t loved it. In the beginning, I didn’t really like it. I loved my babies, but missed being out of the house and away from them the way I had been with our firstborn. I struggled with loneliness, internal pressure to be an awesome mom, and the external pressure of meeting writing deadlines each week.
These struggles still linger, but they usually do not overwhelm me the way they did 18, 12, or even six months ago. The biggest thing that has made daily life with twins easier has been their age. I never want to wish their childhood away, but last year my partner and I often talked about how we couldn’t wait until they were older. I don’t know when it happened, but, much like looking out the window and realizing spring is finally turning into summer, my ability to fully enjoy my twins seemed to bloom overnight.
They do not need constant visual supervision—it’s best to not leave them unseen for too long, however. They can get their own tissues—though still demand one of us to wipe their noses. They can open doors—and lock them too. They can put on their own clothes, shoes, and jackets—more or less. They can tell me why they are mad, sad, or frustrated—still with crying, but now with words. And praise to all things good, they are each potty trained. Every little step toward their independence has literally shed two tiny humans from my body. My skin and nerves have had the chance to renew themselves. The shift in needing me less has allowed me to take better care of my own needs. And when mama can take of herself, everyone wins.
The terrible twos, the year of whining, tantrums, and needing to do everything by themselves even when they can’t, is coming to an end. I honestly can’t say what I will miss. But for all of the things I won’t, I am less exhausted and frustrated. I am not constantly irritable when my partner walks through the door at the end of the day; I don’t feel resentment or the desire to run away from home. And when she asks how our day was, I can honestly tell her it was good.
I am getting to know my twins as individuals and their personalities give me energy rather than drain it. Oh, I know three is not the age of glitter, unicorns, and rainbows, but so far in my young parenting career, it has been my favorite. It was when my daughter hit her creative stride, when I saw how sweet and empathetic she is, and when the bond between us became so tight I feared the love I had for her would suffocate me.
I can feel it with Ben and Ryan too. Ben is goofy and funny and has the same sweetness as his big sister. He is also our most active child, but it was hard to see this softer side of him with all of the block throwing and oven climbing. Ryan is confident and thoughtful. He knows exactly what he wants and will stop at nothing to get it. It was so, so hard to learn from him and see his insights through all of the crying and outbursts as he tried to be understood. He is our most intense child and I am more empathetic because of him.
The lawn needs to be mowed again, pollen has coated every surface in the house, and my boys and I will go to the park at least twice this week, where I will worry less about their safety and more about pacing how fast I drink my iced coffee. And then we will sit on the front steps of the porch and talk about our day. We will sit on the other side of the gate I installed to keep them safe and contained because this is the season of newness and growth; this is the season of being three.