Monday, March 31, 2008

Identically clingy

I knew I was in trouble about a week ago when Matthew stood up in front of me, lifted his watery blue-gray eyes to meet mine and then raised his arms with that sad, lonely, needy look.
That look was familiar.
I remembered it from my oldest son when he was about 15 months old and from my daughter at about the same age, and I knew it was only a matter of days before Jonathan raised his arms with the same pleading, heart-breaking gaze. They seem to hit these emotional milestones together.
I was right and now I am exhausted.
They have reached the age of separation anxiety. Not the don't-leave-me-with-someone-else-or-I'll-cry-my-eyes-out-and-make-you-feel-like-a-bad-mom kind. I'll think we'll get away without experiencing too much of that. They have each other and they seem to take comfort in their relationship whenever I leave them.
This is worse. With the other kind of separation anxiety, you can be pretty sure that after you've been gone for five minutes, the caretaker will distract them and they'll forget all about you until they see your face again and remember that the show must go on, restarting the tears they had put on hold.
This is the I-want-to-be-in-mommy's-arms-24-hours-a-day-and-don't-you-dare-pick-up-my-brother kind. I get nothing done and neither is ever happy unless I manage to stay out of sight. If they can't see me, they are content. They play well together and are thrilled to be dumping their toys bins, throwing blocks and pushing chairs around the kitchen.
But when they see me, I am surrounded by desperate arms and a moat of tears. If I pick both up at once, they start to wail and cry and push each other away. If I am holding one and the other even comes near, the tears flow from the baby above and the baby below.
I can't win.
I either walk around with a baby on one hip, trying to dodge the other for a while until it's time to switch, or I hide out altogether, penning them in the living room and peering around the door way to check on them occasionally.
I've asked other twin moms how they've handle this, but the only hopeful answer I get is that they grow older each day and that everything will get better as they age.
I know. I know.
I don't want them to grow up too fast and I am flattered that they need me so much, but can't we just skip a few months here? Turn clocks ahead a little just past the separation anxiety stage? I'm even willing to move right into tantrums. Even the really loud, embarrassing ones.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Ear aches and fevers

I was wrong when I guessed that Matthew had a weaker immune system than his twin brother. This time Jonathan is the more sickly one.
Both boys have ear infections (in the same ear), but Jonathan has more congestion than Matthew along with a fever of 102 degrees. Matthew has no fever.
Matthew has regained his weight from his earlier illnesses. At the doctor's Monday, he weighed just two ounces less than Jonathan at 26 pounds, 14 ounces.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

To dress alike or not to dress alike

A new mother of twins recently vented her anger on an online bulletin board.
She had expressed her desire early in her pregnancy to always dress her babies differently, yet her mother-in-law continued to give them gifts of matching outfits. She wondered whether anyone could help her get her point across.
"This is something I have strong feelings about," she wrote. "I do not believe they should be dressed alike. No offense to anybody out there who does it, this is just my opinion."
That was me 14 months ago.
I was determined never to dress our guys alike, especially since they were identical. Coordinating outfits, I could handle. But nothing that fully matched. I wasn't going to be that person and they were not going to be those kids.
Then one day it happened.
I dove into their dresser to search for an outfit. I had planned to take them on errands and I wanted to make sure they wore the same weight clothing so that each would be as warm as the other. The easiest solution was clothing that matched.
Guess what? I did it and nothing happened.
They didn't start answering to each other's names. They didn't eat with each other's hands. They didn't confuse their feet or fingers or their toes with the other's. Matthew still seemed to know he was Matthew and Jonathan still seemed to know he was Jonathan.
It was a miracle.
What really happened is that I learned to relax. I don't stress out about the fact that they rarely go anywhere separately. I don't get worked up when someone mistakenly calls them by the wrong names. I usually dress them differently, but every now and then, if I am in the mood or if I am out of clothing, I dress them alike.
I give them plenty of space to develop their individuality, but I don't force it on them. Matthew and Jonathan already have personalities that are as different as night and day, so why should I interfere?
By the time they are three, or maybe even two, they will develop preferences and they will assert them. One day they will demand different clothing. Another day they will get great pleasure out of dressing alike. The choices will be theirs, not mine.
And I will do my job.
I will listen to my two very different little boys.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Summo boys

I was clearing the dining room table the other day when I heard double giggling from the living room, the kind of giggling I usually hear when Matthew is about to attack Jonathan. I raced over, expecting to hear sobs any moment.
Instead, I found the two of them rolling around on the carpet, wrestling and laughing. They kept it up for several minutes before Jonathan ending it by sitting up. Matthew respected his signal and crawled away.
A new stage has begun.
(I could only catch the tail end of the match with the camera. Here, Matthew is tickling Jonathan's tummy.)