My fraternal twin sons, Tex and Miner, turn one today. Exactly a year ago, when I gave birth to them via C-section at St. Joseph's Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, I posted a list of life truths I'd like to teach them as they grow. Today I post a more philosophically advanced set of lessons they've kindly shared with me. Thank you, my beloved little wild-chimp-like, sometimes cheerful, sometimes hysterically inconsolable, but always chubby and cherubic boys. I'll be back in the room in five minutes, so don't start your squealing!
The Comfort of Strangers
Since y'all were teeny tiny -- when you were born you weighed about five and a half pounds each and had to stay in the NICU (neonatal intensive care) one week till your blood sugar evened out -- you've been flashing big, brave grins at people you don't know. Each time I invite another cool grad student to babysit, you fall in love with her singing voice or cool tattoos. You smile at her so she'll fall in love back (it works). I appreciate the way you've recently tried to make me feel better by clinging to my neck before a non-family member fills in for me, but it's simply not necessary, really. I know how much you love me -- you know I love you more -- and you've both made me so much happier, and less grumpy, that I now say hello to plenty of people I pass on the streets of Baltimore, and I thank you for this newfound openness.
The Value of Friendship
When you two find each other in a room, you often laugh hello and scramble to climb on your brother's back. I'm in awe of your camaraderie. Before you guys were born, I tended to socialize maybe once or twice a week with people other than your dad. As a writer, I'm prone to want to spend a good amount of time alone; I need to do that in order to get my work done. But since you came around, I have accepted so many invitations for play dates and walks and lunch outings (including you two), and even though these events do pull me from my coveted work session now and then, they also fuel my creativity and help me unwind. In addition -- as pleased as I am that you arrived on the planet after I pleaded silently to the stars and sometimes asked the sky out loud, "Can't I become a mom already?" -- infant twins require a shit ton of labor. Having kind friends around on a nearly daily basis has enriched my life immeasurably and eased your parents' workload considerably.
Fine Motor Skills
Your dad and I are not technically skilled: Learning how to install your car seats was a challenge. But you're both getting good already at picking up apple slices and cheddar bunnies and other things I give you to snack on -- you remain obsessed with unplugging electrical cords. You scoop up my cell phone hourly and set to work. (Please stop. Please. Really, stop. Don't cry -- come on.) Are you mechanical geniuses? Compared to me, maybe. However, I'm gaining some ground. Each time I change your diaper, Tex, you twist like a tornado and buck like a bull. I chase you naked around the living room; once I tag you, it's like I've caught a flying fish, and yet -- no doubt inspired by your inborn agility and evolving finger-rific dexterity -- I find that I can fasten the diaper like a pro in 10 seconds flat, whether you're standing, sitting or kicking my teeth in. Miner, I can still nurse you in tandem with your solid brother -- one boy on each thigh, one noggin in each hand--even though you, sir, weigh 24 pounds. Boys, you are my edifying Jedi masters.
The Irrelevance of Time
Formerly, I worried if I ran late to a meeting for work. I'm type-A -- more on that when you're older -- and don't typically break deadlines or promises, especially if there's a paycheck involved. However, since you got to town -- since you started waking me up at random intervals in the night to watch cartoons or sit around and nurse and tell jokes in pig Latin -- here I am blowing off meetings or showing up half an hour late without brushing my teeth. Maybe my co-workers and superiors are similarly inspired by your laissez-faire attitude. "She's got twins -- babies," I hear them say as they look over at me with complete forgiveness -- and maybe a dash of horror.
A Cell Phone Is Not a Toy
Tex and Miner, I know, my iPhone is a huge temptation. It glows. You've sent a message to my boss and deleted my own messages to my editor. Water under the e-bridge. I get the draw of the machine. When you touch the screen, new worlds open up -- but these worlds are not worded well quite frequently, not half as well as your amazing storybooks. What I'm saying is that I can learn from you here, too, or at least from the baby guidelines I've imposed. "Drop it," I should tell myself. Because the cell phone is pretty stupid, except as a way to document cool moments photographically and be able to dial Poison Control when your babies swallow acrylic paint. (Swear to you two: The week I spent without my cell after I left it on the hood of the car -- because I was feeling a tad sleep-deprived -- was one of my most memorable.) Let's stop obsessing over the cell together. Deep down, wouldn't you rather read Dr. Seuss?
The Joy of Texture
You guys love to pet the kitty cats -- and pull their tails, which is not okay, as I've explained -- and I get it! I like to stroke your hair and your scalps and your arms and legs and backs and tummies. Are you made of velvet or what? You're welcome for my not yanking your silky hair. (Anyway, I'm sure you'd bite me same as the cats scratch you.)
The Pain of a Human Bite
It's so Dracula-derivative to bite somebody, and it just plain hurts. You know that because you bite each other and scream bloody murder. So please, please, please stop biting my shoulders and fingers -- and for the love of God, no more nipple-biting. It's not right, you guys. Besides, it makes me think you should be weaned, like, this very minute. Time's ticking fast anyhow. Is that what you want: A birthday weaning? Sounds like a post that could go viral.
The Power of Food
When you're hungry you scream till I supply the milk or yogurt or organic bunny cracker things you're seeking. Similarly, when I get hungry -- which happens all the time thanks to nursing and running around on mom duty -- I need to remember to sit down and enjoy a snack. By the way, thanks for making it possible for me to consume 3,000 calories plus every day without gaining weight (#nursingmommetabolism). Want to try a bite of my double chocolate chip ice cream? Thought so.
The Pain of Sleepiness
When you don't sleep well, let's be honest: You are such colossal a-holes (irrational and rude). Likewise, when your dad and I can't get a decent night's rest, which is common these days, we are more likely to criticize each other, ignore each other or just fail to share any life-boosting positive energy. Still, you might note that, no matter how sleepy we get, we do not bite each other.
The Beauty of Sunlight
Tex and Miner, sometimes you wake before six shouting gleefully at your mobiles. Your father and I believe it would make more sense to keep on resting; one or both of you disagrees. This choice hurts Mommy and Daddy in one respect. The early light is so hot. Our eyes ache like a boxer's. We have to tumble downstairs before we've had a chance to comb our hair or pee. But then you guys -- you're usually both awake after the house comes to life -- start to talk to each other. You squawk like the most exuberant birds describing the way you each see the first morning light. Once the coffee hits our veins, Daddy and I can open our eyes fully. After a second cup, the sunrise looks beautiful for a moment. We sit on the floor and play with you as you continue to squawk. If we're both awake, we may squawk, too. Yes, we may sigh in between, but I tell you this: Without your sound effects, without your blessed presence, we'd never notice the early colors of the day, how like a Cezanne, and there's no way in hell we'd smile at them.