How anxiously I awaited the onset of actual conversation with my twosome . . .
So many months were spent gazing into their wee eyes . . . just hoping for (and often, projecting) a returned gaze of love. With the advent of their oral dexterity, surely all the affection so generously lavished upon them would be reciprocally expressed to my eager, and maternally misty, delight.
Alas, as our twins' language skills developed rapidly and fluently, it became glaringly clear that emotional declarations were not their top priority. Instead, keen powers of observation and remarkably detailed memories provided them with the motivation for their earliest commentary.
Honesty. Pure. Unadulterated. Unvarnished. Horrifyingly unedited.
Imagine poor Mommy's dual-injected reality check . . . courtesy of my beloved twins, verbally unleashed. So begins the re-assessment of my self-image, through their empirically-accurate perspective . . .
On my housekeeping skills:
. . . or perhaps more correctly phrased, my lack thereof. Yes, I have exploited my own children. Having young twins has provided me with the seemingly perfect alibi for my far-from-immaculate household. When I unearthed the spritzer of Windex to clean our glass-topped coffee table, my son declared, "That's Grandma's!"
If possession is truly 9/10ths of the law, she's certainly had it in her hands more than I. He's right; it's hers.
On my musical abilities:
. . . or perhaps more correctly phrased, my lack thereof. For the first 23 months of our twins' lives I sang along cheerfully with Raffi, the Sesame Street Gang (Oscar and I are blessed with the same vocal range), They Might Be Giants, Cedarmont Kids . . . all the Billboard chart-toppers. At 24 months, our daughter began to yell "No!" from the backseat of the car. Assuming the song mid-play was not a favorite, I'd advance to the next track. At 25 months, she was able to elaborate with greater clarity, "No! Mommy can't sing!" So ended my aspirations of Karaoke stardom on Children's Song Night.
On my post-twin delivery figure:
Many (okay, most) days, I wait to shower until my twosome is down for their afternoon nap. On the day of this disheartening revelation, my son's wailing could clearly be heard over the shower flow. Concerned about the possibility of his extremities hopelessly wedged betwixt crib slats, or worse yet, his sister pulling aforementioned body-parts against the crib slats like twigs for the snapping, I sprinted to the nursery.
My soggy-faced son, shocked silent by the visage of his naked, dripping Mom, whispered (with perceptible horror in his voice), "Mommy, please put some clothes on." I suppose I should be proud. At least he tried to be polite.
On my grammar:
My daughter sat in her high chair forcefully fork-spearing her banana slices as if they needed to be subdued prior to consumption. Watching the poor slices being mutilated beyond fork-friendly, I suggested, "Honey, you need to do that gentle! Look how mushy the bananas are getting."
Without so much as a glance in my direction, she responded, "Sarah will do it gently." Well, at least I don't refer to myself in the third person.
On my time management and twin juggling skills:
. . . or perhaps more correctly phrased, my lack thereof. Before my twosome could inform me that I was mistaken, I took substantial pride in single-handedly taking them on daily out-of-the-house adventures.
My daughter, with her shoes on and jacket zipped, was jumping up and down by the front door chanting, "Let's go! Let's go!"
In an effort to explain (important note: "explaining" to toddlers is rarely a useful practice) why we couldn't leave immediately, I reminded her that she had a brother, who also needed shoes and a jacket prior to our departure.
In her effort to explain the delay, she declared, "We'll go in the car as soon as Mommy gets her act together."
On my personal hygiene:
Warning: This story is not for the squeamish.
While in the process of potty training, my husband and I have made a frequent practice of allowing/encouraging our twins to "watch" Mommy and Daddy "go potty." On this particular day, while pulling down my pants for the Potty Parade, I noticed my period was starting a day early. A small spot of darkish flow was in the crotch of my panties.
My son, ever empathetic, pointed to the brownish area and sympathized, "That's okay, Mommy. You had an accident."
In keeping with my earlier-stated theory on the lunacy of offering explanations to toddlers, I replied simply, "You're right. Thanks for making me feel better." Wish he could do something for cramps.
On my appearance:
As I was changing my daughter's diaper, she was reading P.D. Eastman's classic, The Alphabet Book. Suddenly, she began kissing a page and cooing, "Ooooh, Mommy!" My mind reeled as I tried to guess which of the illustrations had caused her to think of me so affectionately. Was I the regal "Queen with a Quarter"? Perhaps I was the gleeful, fast-moving "Rabbit on Rollerskates." No such luck. When I asked to see the picture of Mommy, lo and behold, apparently I resemble "Walrus with a Wig."
In an earlier episode, when she informed me that the Veggie Tales' Archie Asparagus "Looks like Mommy," I must confess that out of sheer desperation, I took solace in the fact that he was "bookish and lean."
Now for those of you whose twins have yet to share their "truth," try not to panic. Not all of their observations are so dramatically ego-bruising.
Just last week, as my twosome came down to say "Good Night" to me and my Book Club gal pals, my daughter picked up a framed movie still of a young Audrey Hepburn and pronounced with pride, "That looks like Mommy!" As if that didn't have me beaming enough, she subsequently picked up the companionate photo of a young Paul Newman and chirped, "And that looks like Daddy!"
Suffice it to say; I think I have decided which truths I'll believe.
Author of the forthcoming "Twinspiration: A Double Dose of Motivation & Encouragement From A Mom Who's Been There," Cheryl Lage is a fully-mobile, full-time mom to two-year-old fraternal twins, Darren and Sarah. She is also the webhostess of www.twinsights.com, an online resource for twin mommies and women expecting more than one. "Twinspiration" is represented by Erin Reel of The Erin Reel Literary Agency, and will be in publishing house circulation Spring/Early Summer 2004.