Today the girls got on the bus to go to school for the first time. It’s not the first day of school, but it’s the first bus day of school. Before the heavy doors swung closed, I caught a split second glimpse of them settling into those tall seats I remember well. I don’t know if it was the way they held hands as they climbed the big steps side by side, or the terse, irritated mood of the driver (seriously?), or just the fact that I had put them on a huge moving vehicle without seat belts, but when I returned to the house I couldn’t help crying a bit. Another Moment, another move towards adulthood – check.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m thrilled with their growing up. Lately we’ve been watching home movies of when they were small, and it brings me right back to all the work having twin babies was. It was truly a full-time job! Never mind the feeding and changing and clothing and napping – with twins you are always torn in half, walking the high wire balancing act of making sure each gets enough (fair?) attention. And as my mother likes to remind me, twin girls are a special brand of challenge. No one gets to corner the market on “I’m special because I’m different” – at least not at first. Instead, that becomes one of their chief developmental tasks – how do I make myself different (and hopefully more special) than that person over there with whom I’ve been since the womb? A challenge indeed, especially if as a two year-old you measure your specialness by the amount of attention your poor exhausted mommy pays to you versus the interloper.
But as I watch, I’m also struck with the joy I had. In every video, I’m exclaiming with glee over some seashell one of them brings, or the rapture of a first apple, or the way one has wrapped a scarf around her head to make a new hat. I’m almost always singing, encouraging their one-foot-stomp dancing or baby jumps or dumping pool water on the dog. When I watch their toddler selves, I well remember how fun it was, and I realize now that’s because it was simple.
Please note: I did not say easy. It was not. But it was a different kind of difficult than it is now. Then, it was physically demanding: lack of sleep coupled with the seemingly endless energy of two little girls equaled a bone-weariness I’d like to never feel again, thank you. Now, it’s emotionally and mentally draining. Not just because they’re smarter than me (or think they are…and sometimes are), but because they are growing up so fast. I know every mother says that, but honestly, it’s true. You think no time has passed until you realize Emily’s foot is now longer than your hand, or Isabel has the dance moves of a 15 year-old (Lord help me). Wasn’t it only last week when we just figured out Blue’s Clues? Wasn’t it yesterday I was struggling with the huge Snap n’ Go stroller in Target? Wasn’t I just pureeing their organic carrots??
As it turns out, no. That was years ago – YEARS. You know intellectually that “time flies when you’re having fun” (and even when you’re not), but emotionally you’re just not prepared for the lightening speed of acceleration it acquires when you have kids – or at least I’m not. And so today, I was hit with another Growing Up Moment – one of those ones you muse on when you’re rocking a baby after the 3am feeding, but never really think will happen. The only antidote I can think of is the old “enjoy it while you have it” advice, which again works intellectually but fails (at least for me) to fully encapsulate the pure sweetness of watching them become themselves. So maybe I’ll write more about them…like the home movies, writing about them (and the me I am now, or was with them then) might be the missing piece I need to bottle every moment and keep it forever.
At least the good ones, anyway.