Last Saturday, my oldest babies turned seven.
Mothering is such an indescribable calling. There are few things in life that make you feel protective, proud, defeated, overwhelmed, terrified, joyful, tearful sadness, frustration, fear, doubt, regret, and fierce pride all within a few hours. I can’t believe that I have been a mama to four such amazing little people for seven years now. They have been some of the longest years of my lift, yet they have flown by at the same time. The twins were the beginning of me, the person I am now, and I will forever be thankful for the ways that they have changed me. I didn’t know, before becoming a mama, that you could completely forget yourself in caring for another.
I have more regrets with the twins than with my other two kids. I wish I had been more attached to them. I wish I had listened less to popular wisdom. I wish I had worn them when they were sad and colicky. I wish I had picked them up sooner when they cried. I wish I had worried less about my house being clean. I wish I had been present more and lost in what-if-land less. I could go on and on, but I won’t. You can see that I clearly have a lot of regrets when it comes to my firstborn babies. And it’s true, I really do. I constantly worry that I ruined them by doing things “wrong” when they were babies. I look back and see so many moments of detachment, and I wonder if they know that I love them. That despite all of the things I did wrong, I love them just as much as their sisters (who I parented “better”), that I would do anything for them, and that I want to spend their lifetime showing them just that.
I grew up with the twins. I learned that the world didn’t revolve around me and my wants or whims when they were born. I learned the hard way that it’s easier to give in and move on than to lament and cry and shout over things gone wrong. I learned that you do, in fact, survive without a shower every day. I forgot what movie theatres and restaurants were, and I learned to make do with laundry piles as tall as myself. I learned to accept help from sources I didn’t want to accept help from, and I learned to function on very little sleep.
I think it’s all been worth it, though, these last seven sleepless years. Because I also learned how beautiful it is to see your child accomplish milestones you didn’t think they would ever accomplish. I learned to laugh at cheerios strung from one end of the kitchen to another. I learned to balance toddler twins on my knees while I breastfed a baby. I learned to sleep at ridiculously weird angles with three small people wedged in strange positions around me. I learned that a baby can cry for 15 minutes while waiting for you to feed a sibling and be just fine when you are finally able to pick them up and dry their tears, kissing them as you do so. I learned that I can stomach cleaning up vomit and poop after all, even when it is spread all over a Jenny Lind crib with little, tiny, crevices. I learned that I can remove stains from mostly any surface, and that if I can’t, the stain will only serve as a reminder of some funny, unfortunate event later on.
I have learned in the last seven years that all you need is Borax and a Shop Vac to soak up an entire carton of farm fresh eggs from your new-to-you Pottery Barn rug. I have learned that all you need is a bread knife to saw a bar off of the aforementioned Jenny Lind crib to free your sons stuck leg from between two of those beautiful bars. I have learned that cribs are a waste of money. I have learned that my furniture doesn’t have to match to make a beautiful home. I have learned that Friday nights are for cartoon movies and popcorn and snuggles to calm everyones nerves after a long week. I have learned that an entire weeks worth of chores can be accomplished on the weekend, if need be, and that that is completely acceptable. I have learned that a child can lock me out of the car and a locksmith will free him at no charge! I have learned that Dillard’s department store will completely shut down if a child is missing, and that their security guards will console you when you are sobbing after finding said child.
I have learned more than I could ever put into words from my children, and it all started with my sweet, tiny, twins. They have had a mind of their own from the beginning, starting their life before anyone thought proper, and defying odds day after day. I can’t wait to see what the next seven (and so many more) years holds for us. Happy Seventh Birthday, Avery and Cade!