The twins will be thirteen months old tomorrow (don’t even get me started on how ridiculous it feels to write that—thirteen months! THIRTEEN!), and I’ve spent the weeks since their birthday reminiscing about my first year with them. Reflecting on motherhood is both my favorite pastime and a torturous indulgence for me, one tinged with joy and nostalgia, with pride in my children and regret over my own parental shortcomings, and with an ever-present sense that I am missing something . . . because no amount of remembering or reflecting or recording can fully encapsulate the enormity of my feelings about my kids and my role as their mom. I’ve felt these emotions with Charleston, and they’ve doubled down on me (see what I did there?) now that I’m a mom to twins.
This past year (plus ten-ish months) has been dominated by an overarching sense of shock: shock that we conceived twins, shock that I was able to carry them nearly to term, shock that their delivery veered so exceedingly far from the plan, and—the biggest surprise of all—shock that we’ve managed to keep them alive for more than a year. Other parents of twins have told me that the first year is a complete blur, and while that isn’t entirely true for me, I do still feel somewhat buried under a blanket of disbelief underscored by a subliminal fear that this miracle of having twins is too good to be true and might be snatched away at any moment.
I don’t mean to paint too rosy a picture of their first year, because there are aspects of it that were really, REALLY hard (not as hard as I anticipated, because I had excessively low expectations, but hard nonetheless). And those things haven’t gotten any easier simply because Kali and Sully crossed the one-year mark. Double the babies has meant double the diapers, double the meltdowns (both theirs AND mine!), double the parental concerns and exhaustion, and double the time spent on not-so-fun parent-y things like cycling through clothing sizes and keeping up with baby books.
Being a mom of twins has meant loosening my standards and relinquishing a lot of what I think motherhood should look like. I’ve had to become the type of mother I never thought I would be: a mom who lets her babies cry themselves to sleep (in their own crib, no less), a mother who relies more on a stroller than baby carrier, a mom who uses disposable diapers instead of cloth, a mom who occasionally spoon-feeds rather than dealing with the hassle and mess of baby-led-weaning, a mom who lets a child cry instead of swooping in to help because doing so would set the other child off and I don’t have the arm space or the bandwidth to comfort two children at once.
I hope I have also become a mom who lets herself off the hook when life is imperfect. And I absolutely have become a mom who has more grace for other parents whose parenting journey looks different from my own.
This year was arguably less difficult for me than my first year with Charleston, simply because I was more experienced. But it brought a lot of challenges that were never on my radar as a first-time mom. There has been grief woven into these past thirteen months as I’ve mourned the impossibility of so much that I loved about parenting just one baby: cosleeping, and peaceful marathon nursing sessions, and baby wearing everywhere are simply not optional with twins. Due to COVID and quarantine, we also had to say goodbye to many of the adventures and memories we hoped to make with Kali and Sully in their first year.
As I step back to reflect on this year with Kalinda and Sullivan, it feels unfair to even mention the challenges, because they are minuscule compared with all that I gained. Kalinda and Sullivan are healthy, happy, and thriving despite my many parental missteps. As individual children they are each more adorable and wonderful than I could have hoped for or imagined, and together they are more marvelous than I ever could have dreamed. Seeing them giggle and play and interact with each other is surreal and awe-inspiring and all sorts of miraculous.
I still pinch myself every morning when I walk into their room to see TWO faces smiling up at me from their crib, and at night when I watch them snuggle into each other as they sleep. My heart swells with gratitude as I watch them laughingly chase each other down the hall, or play peek-a-boo around the chair in their room. I am overwhelmed with a sense of rightness every time I swoop TWO babies into my arms and they each nuzzle into my chest.
These months of parenting them has been empowering and rewarding, and I am immeasurably humbled and grateful that God gifted me with the overwhelming privilege of being their mom. Being a #twinmom might be difficult, but being mom to Kalinda Joy and Sullivan Luke is the easiest, most natural thing in the world.