So Linus and Ambrose hit 23 months last week, and now when people ask how old they are I say "almost two" and the people can't tell, but I'm mentally shaking my head in disbelief and high-fiving myself with congratulations at the same time.
It was a BIG deal when our twins turned one, but two feels even bigger to me. I think it's probably because to me, babyhood is two years long. Even though my babies are walking and saying a lot of words, they're still irrational and they cry whenever anything is wrong and they want to be on me and nurse all the time and gah. It's exhausting.
There were many many days in my twins' second year where I sat on the floor with them while they crawled on me, letting them nurse when the other one was distracted for a second, trying to keep them both happy and busy and there was SO MUCH of them. So much baby, and sometimes I sat and sobbed at how overwhelmed I was by the touching and the noise and the need.
One time I told my sister Branwen that I never expected God would send ME twins, because surely He would know that would be too much for me. And Branwen, who loves me a lot, and who is gentle and kind and good to me, said, "Well... yeah, neither did I."
She loves me, but she also knows me. And she wasn't insulting me, she was acknowledging reality. No one who ever saw me with one baby would expect that God would think I could handle two at once.
I am not Mom Enough for two babies. I'm barely Mom Enough for one at a time. It's the truth.
And yet, here's the paradox: I have nailed this Two Babies thing. In my own way, at my own pace, with lots of tears and flailing along the way, but I have nailed it.
It feels good to say that.
I know I've annoyed people before by being too negative about the twin thing online. I don't mind about that - other people annoy me and it's not on them; human relationships just work that way - but it has made me pause and wonder if I'm doing badly by myself or my kids in some way with my attitude.
But you know, I don't think so. I love Linus (in the front in that picture) and Ambrose fiercely. I enjoy them: they're cute and sweet and funny as any toddlers I've ever known, and I feel lucky to spend my days with them. But I don't think I have to love their twinness to love them. They themselves are God's gift to me; their twinness is God's gift to them.
I have busted myself for these babies just as hard, just as lovingly, as I did for my other two. The nature of their being twins has made it physically impossible for me to meet all their needs as quickly and fully as I wished I could, but they have lacked for nothing. At 23 months, they're still nursing (once a day - our compromise because I was ready to crawl out of my skin but they love it so) and I regularly carry them one on each hip (because when they both want me, how can I decide between them?). I've done my best.
(Not that those particular things are necessary to be a good twin mom. They're just symbolic for me personally.)
There are still moments in every day when I inwardly feel the difficulty of having two babies. Right now they fight over me every day while I'm trying to put them down for their nap. I'll wait it out, maybe, or eventually give up on the dream of being able to lie down with them while they drift off like I did with their siblings at this age. In the meantime it is terrible (they bite) (each other) (and me) and long-suffering Lauren gets lots of texts from me about nap purgatory.
This will pass, though, like the other things have. (For instance, at 22 months they finally started sleeping through the night consistently. WIN.) And what will remain after that is my sense of victory, which is no little thing.
Well, but more importantly, what will remain in that Ambrose and Linus are Ambrose and Linus, and have been since the (my) mind-blowing moment when one embryo split into two. They share a genetic code, they shared a womb, they've shared me. And those second two things have been hard on me and I'll never pretend otherwise, but man.
Not only are they, like every baby, worth their existence for their own sake, but my twins' twinness is worth it so that they can have each other. I'd do it again in a second just for that.
I was never going to be Mom Enough for two babies, because on my own, I was never Mom Enough for even one. Grace always has to fill in the gaps. And I guess someone who could feed a crowd of five thousand on a few loaves and fish can make one little mother stretch to cover two babies.
I'm still discovering and processing all the ways that stretching has made my life better, but ultimately it's not about me. We have twins, but even more than that, they have themselves.
Last month Linus had to go to the doctor and the entire time he was gone Ambrose was agitated and kept bringing me his shoes and coat and pointing at the door. He wanted his brother, and once Linus came home he was happy again.
And the other day my niece took a toy out of Ambrose's hand and made him cry, and as he stood there sobbing Linus came running across the yard to comfort him. He put his hand on Ambrose's back, and then they were standing there together.