Slice of Life

I brought her animal crackers wrapped in a paper napkin. She wanted the lights off, the door open. Mary Poppins was on the Kindle, Zach’s headphones on her ears, a cup of water on the bedside table next to her. She was propped in bed with multiple pillows, snuggled under blankets as the first snow of the season fell outside her window. As I walked out of the room, words that had resonated with me earlier came back into focus: “I can’t protect you from the world, but I can make sure that home is your safe place.”

Late Friday night I returned home from dinner with girlfriends to find Wyatt still awake. I scooped him up and he flung his arms around my neck. “I was sad,” he said. As I carried him up the stairs and back to bed, this quote rattled around in my tired brain: “Millions and millions of years would still not give me half enough time to describe that tiny instant of all eternity when you put your arms around me and I put my arms around you.” –Jacques Prevert

Mia was upset when I wasn’t chosen to chaperone her class on a field trip earlier in the fall. As I was tucking her in to bed, her voice caught in her throat when she said, “I’m going to miss you tomorrow.” When I pointed out that her best friend’s mother was going to be on the field trip, I said, “That’s like the next best thing.” She said, “But you’re my first best thing.” And I was once again reminded of the sweet spot we’re currently inhabiting.

During Luke’s preschool parent-teacher conference, I glanced down at the notes his teacher had written as we were talking and saw this: “Wonderfully sweet disposition. Loving and kind.” I knew this, of course, but sometimes when you’re steeped in the everyday routine with twins — maybe especially same-sex twins — their individual lines blur. But this boy. He is sunshine and shadow; a buoyant bubble that trails my most mundane days. I’ve always thought of him as our bonus baby, the one who came along for the ride, and I often think of the line from Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible: “But the last one: the baby who trails her scent like a flag of surrender through your life when there will be no more coming after – oh, that’s love by a different name.”

There is no structured essay here, no profound lesson, no parallels to be drawn, no moral to the story–only these slices of life that I want to hold onto. And maybe, just maybe, this will be enough to get me writing here again.

Made of stars (a love note)

How is it that you sleep through thunderstorms with raindrops as heavy as tiny cannonballs, thunder as loud as a forest of ancient trees felled with one swift thwack? And yet the moment I creep in…you must feel a shift in the molecular structure of air, added weight in the darkness, a breath separate from your own.

Mama.

A whimper, as though you had been expecting me all along. Just as suddenly, you topple over onto your blanket and your eyes close. I slip out, restoring the molecular structure, subtracting my weight from the dark space, leaving you to the lull of a forest collapsing.

twin boys

Tell me the story of a girl who grew up to be a queen, a giant, a mother. Speak to me of flat-footed marches two-by-two down hallways, of snowflakes falling onto outstretched mittens in moonlight, of fingers that trace my ear as we slow dance to a bedtime lullaby, of palms streaked yellow from dandelions offered at my feet, of fingernails caked in the earth of summer, of I-love-you whispers traded under blankets, of pockets stuffed full of treasures and smiles laced with mischief.

twin boys

Tell me a love story.

mom and twin boys

Tell me how two boys with starfish eyes and pirate smiles appear at the queen’s door, and the moment their hands fall into hers, she becomes the star-filled night, bestowing her light on the path her boys will tread.

twin boys

Tell me how the star-filled night becomes the sun — a giant — capable of slaying dragons, foiling the huntsman, deceiving the witch. Tell me how the sun becomes a ray of light that touches the temples of her boys and warms their skin.

twin boys

Tell me how that light becomes a mother who shines the porch light to call her starfish-pirate boys home. And when her boys lean in for a kiss, she whispers “I love you” into their parted lips so the words might travel deep into their bellies and they’ll have food for years, even when the porch light grows dim, even when the star-filled night feels unimaginably far.

twin boys

Tell me how thunder shook the queen from sleep, so she tiptoed into the room of her slumbering boys to watch them dream. For never is it so clear that they are made of stars than in the half-light of the moon.

 

Uh-oh, Help, Charge it

Early last month I spoke to our pediatrician about Wyatt’s speech, or lack thereof. I also expressed some concern that he didn’t really pay us any attention. He didn’t respond to his name. He was more independent, more in his own world than Luke. I told her that Luke loves animals and books and trucks, but where Wyatt was concerned everything was a bit more muddled. She suggested a hearing test.

We didn’t do the hearing test, deciding to wait a little longer. “They are twins,” I reminded myself. “Not clones.”

Here we are, six weeks later. He’s talking. He’s connecting. He loves books. He loves machines and things that move. He especially loves the Kindle.

11 Months + 1 Year

Twins 11 months

I took this picture on May 19th last year, the boys’ 11 month birthday (back when a turn of the calendar constituted a new milestone). As I recall, they were just beginning to take first steps and I spent my days watching them step and fall, get up and repeat.

Step, fall, get up, repeat.

They slipped, bumped heads, hits corners, and collided when momentum took on speed without brakes, but still they would get up and do it all again. Perhaps knowing that if they just kept trying, kept putting one foot in front of the other, something miraculous would happen.

Now they charge ahead without caution or boundaries, unaware of danger or perpetrators or objects moving at a speed capable of ripping apart our world in seconds.

I both love and fear this stage.

twin boys

I feel like I’ve spent the last 11 months + one year in survival mode, and on what is metaphorically the eve of their second birthday, I’m wondering when exactly my babies became little boys.

I’ve been wandering into their room late at night to watch them sleep. I put my hand close to their noses or gently rest it on their bellies to be sure of their breathing, just as I did when they were infants. Once upon a time, one crib held them both with room to spare but now they look like giants stretched across separate beds.

The thing about raising twins is that rituals and routines become more like assembly lines, which causes everything to happen lightning fast, and this has maybe been the most difficult part for me — the surrendering of a sense of authenticity, of an organic flow to our days, always having to choose who needs me more in that moment. There’s a kind of freedom, a sense of luxury, that comes with a singleton that I didn’t even notice until I had twins.

But then there’s something else too.

These boys speak their own language, something secret and exclusive (or maybe it’s Turkish). They converse mostly in gestures and laughs but every now and then I catch them chitchatting in their native Turkish and it catches my breath, knowing the moment is rare and fleeting. The other day our new neighbors came over with their two year old boy. As we were talking grown up talk, I turned around to see Wyatt and this little boy engaged in a back-and-forth conversation (turns out he speaks Turkish too). Pretty soon Luke wandered over and joined their conversation. And it really was a conversation. The little boy would say something and my boys would wait until he was finished before responding. And the more I watched, the more it became clear to me what my boys were saying: “Look, we like you and we’ll hang out with you, but mess with my brother and it’s over.”

I’ve always said that I might not be able to give them all of me but I gave them each other. To finally witness this bond take shape makes me realize that assembly lines or not, we’ve always had our own little luxuries.

Twins with straws (and water)

Bendy Straw /ben-dee straw/ noun

A flexible plastic object that, when combined with a small cup of water, will provide at least 10 minutes of free entertainment until water is dumped and highchair tray becomes a water table. Use your time wisely.

See also: “Winter is killing me slowly”

straw + water = entertainment

In other news, I’m taking this fabulous blog course by Holly Becker of decor8. The course runs until the end of the month so posting will probably be lighter until then. I have a lot of ideas about what I want to do with this space, but I need some direction, inspiration and cheering on to get it there. So far, this course has been bananas* in all three areas.

*Bananas /buh-nan-uh z/ adjective

1. slang for crazy good

see also: a tropical fruit that’s bananas in potassium

Oh hello, Monday.