One year ago today, Kate delivered twins.
My girls are 1.
We were cleaning and blowing up balloons and getting gift bags together for all the minnows who will be tromping through our house. Today we'll be picking up cake and ice cream and thawing and throwing chicken on the grill.
"All this work," Mom said, "and they won't even know it's for them."
This party is not for the girls.
It's for us.
Here's a column I wrote for the paper I write for, the Greeley Tribune, that ran in my Tuesday slot. Or you can just skip to the picture below:
Some would have called me anal before the girls were born.
I preferred the term “organized.”
No matter what you called me, one thing was certain. I did not like the unexpected. I loathed it, in fact. I preferred to plan out my life as if it were a to-do list.
So when our ultrasound technician said to us that we were having twins, I was in immediate denial. Our technician assumed we knew, of course. Who doesn’t know they’re having twins at 21 weeks?
“Please tell me you’re kidding,” I said to her.
She wasn’t kidding.
I took the news about as well as someone who doesn’t like surprises can take it, meaning when Kate’s doctor came in to confirm the news, she was initially more concerned about me.
Once Kate, our toddler, Jayden, and I celebrated that night with a dinner that mainly consisted of me staring blankly into the menu and saying “Huh?” a lot to our waitress, our lives melted into the kind of chaos that you normally see in a “Family Circus” cartoon. You know, the ones that feature the mother in her bathroom with a boiling pot on the stove, laundry, four crying kids, the dog with a dish in his mouth, and an electrician at the door.
The twins hadn’t even arrived yet, and we had to move Jayden to the smaller bedroom, paint his room red and blue, paint the girls’ room pink, gather a whole lot of dresses and pink onesies and get another one of everything, including another swing, another crib and another stroller, this one built for two.
When they were born, we learned what the term “sacrifice” really means. I sacrificed my time in the mountains. We sacrificed friendships, some of which have never recovered. We sacrificed sleep, some special time with Jayden and, at times, our sanity.
Most of the time, we felt like single parents, constantly feeding and changing and carting a baby around.
Kate and I learned to work together, much more than the vows say you will, and yet we had two periods where we fought every day, long and hard. The problem, of course, is that there was too much work to go around.
Any infant is hard. But parents usually can take shifts for midnight feedings, diaper changes and making sure the little one doesn’t crawl off the staircase. Shifts don’t exist when you have twins.
When you’re raising infant twins, when one parent takes a break, any kind at all, the other pays for it dearly.
So now we find ourselves breathing a sigh of relief come Saturday. The twins will turn 1. Every parent I have talked to who went through what we went through has assured me that it gets easier after the first year.
I’m hopeful because the first year was not easy. In fact, it was the hardest thing Kate and I have ever done. In fact, it still is.
But it’s changed me. I’m more relaxed now. It’s not a cliché. I mean, you have to be.
When you have a day like I did three months ago, when Allie had a poop that exploded out of her diaper and went all over the kitchen floor, and Andie was doing everything in her power to play in it, and Kate was at Target, well, you learn that little surprises like that aren’t really problems. They’re funny.
Every day, like that day, holds something unexpected. Some still call me anal. I still prefer the term “organized.” My to-do lists are still there. But the day doesn’t always follow them. And I have learned that’s OK.
I have learned to not only deal with the unexpected, I have learned to embrace it.
I embrace it every day, in fact, when I crawl out of bed, pick up one of the girls and hold her high above my head, completely aware of just how lucky I am that chance found its way into my heart.
And here they are one year later, toasting their birthday. I, too, will drink to that::