I’m writing this during a time that almost no one could have predicted. I’m writing this while the citizens of the globe are confined to their homes. I am writing this while each and every one of us is being tested in ways we never imagined. I’m writing this during a truly unprecedented time. I am writing this while scared, confused, overwhelmed, anxious but also surrounded by all my love.
I am writing this from a six person tent. A six person tent that two people are currently inside of. After three weeks of stress and frustration – trying to get my two year old to nap I waived the white flag today. He is somewhere doing something with his older sister. And I am in the tent with my “middle” child.
When you give birth to a set of twins when you have a year and a half old child at home – you’re simply in survival mode for an indefinite period of time. As they grow up, and each of their personalities begin to shine, they are better defined as themselves – as Harper Paige, Marley Reese and Jory Bonham. Harper is clearly the first child (though interesting tidbit, I did one round of IVF and all my embryos were products of that one retrieval. So TECHNICALLY they’re all the same age. But, I digress). Marley exited my body only five minutes before Jory did – so by definition she would be the middle child. And Jory, though he outweighs them all, is the big little brother.
Harper and I have a very special bond. We co-slept for a year. I nursed her for 18 months. I spent every moment I could with her – and in fact did not leave her for a single night until I went into labor with the twins. Jory is a mama’s boy. He adores me. He needs me. He loves me. He’s connected to me. He would have kept nursing until he was 18 years old, but I was ready to stop. I adore him. He cuddles with me. Gives me the deepest hugs. Tells me he “loves me so much” as frequently as he can. He has my heart and though I find myself yelling at him more than I praise him, he knows how special he is to me.
And then there’s Marley. Marley is a unique little girl. From go, she’s marched to the beat of her own drum. She’s hilarious. Adorable. Crazy. And makes me smile, laugh, and start at her adoringly all the time. But I believe, unknowingly she has accepted the role of the middle child. I would never say she’s neglected. She’s as much involved as anyone. But Jory is always getting himself into trouble and in turn vying for negative attention. Harper, eloquent, verbose, gregarious – lights up the room – and though a little bit of a tattle tale, captures the heart of everyone who meets her. Marley just does her thing. She walks around with her “Lolly”. Her “Mommy Nice”. And anything else that feels soft and yummy. She’s been a little slower. Keeps to herself a little more. Where Harper and Jory run around playing with each other – Marley will be found hanging back, sitting with adults, or finding a nice spot on the floor to lay down with all her “softies.”
Marley looks like a delicate little doll with a wild Albert Einstein hair-do. She is the sweetest little thing in the world.
My kids have all been in daycare since they were babies. They have grown up with other caretakers. We have been weekend parents and have let them teach us who they are – and who we are as parents.
During these last three weeks I have been the sole caretaker (for the most part). Attempting to balance all of their needs, personalities, likes and dislikes. It’s impossible to give 100% to each child – that’s just the truth. That said, since we have access to our children now approximately 14 hours a day, seven days a week – we are having very different experiences with them than ever before. And learning about them – and us – in ways we’ve never been able to.
I’m not going to pretend I’ve got it all figured out. In fact I’ve entirely not gotten it figured out. But within the chaos. Within the crazy. Within the uncertainty. We are being given the greatest gift in the world. We are being forced to slow down. To prioritize. To stay close. To stay home. To be with ourselves. Our loved ones. To experience moments we literally never have in our lives. To just be. As we are. With no pretense. No falsehoods. To our authentic core.
When you have twins – you don’t have separate special time with them as individuals until they’re…well, I still don’t know. But today – knowing that my son wasn’t going to sleep – I decided to take my middle child, my beautiful Marley Reese and lay down with her. She said “it’s Marley Mommy time?” I said “it is” – she told me it made her happy. We both laid down on the kids’ “nice” pillows. We closed our eyes. And then every so lightly I felt her touch my cheek, she gently placed her first three fingers down and ran them gently up and down two times. Then she picked up her “mommy nice” which is a pair my soft pajamas that she has taken as her own, and rubbed it on my cheek – the way she does on her very own. She wanted to make me feel loved, and warm and comforted. She then wrapped her little fingers around my hand and quietly fell asleep.
I don’t know that I’ve ever felt a peace like that in my life. I inhaled, exhaled and truly forgot it felt like the world was ending for the moment. A weight that I didn’t know was there – was lifted. Right then the dog scratched on the door to be let in, and Nathan texted he needed help with the other two as he’s working full time and can’t keep the rest of them alive at the same time.
So now I’m writing this – back downstairs listening to Harper sing Frozen at the top of her lungs, while Jory, wearing headphones and a single glove is climbing all over me with dehydrated strawberry crumbs caked on his hand, face and now my pants. I’m back in the chaos. But I’m looking at this chaos differently for the moment. I don’t know if it’s the self care I’ve been implementing. The fact that I’ve been saying “no” a little less to JB today. Perhaps I’m shedding a different light on our current life situation right now. I’m trying to live in gratitude instead of anxiety. I’m working on relishing in the love and not the unknown. Or maybe it was simply the gentle touch of my middle child that put it all into perspective.
Whatever the case may be, for today, for right now, for this moment, sitting by the fire, listening to wind chimes and birds – while the sun is shining down – I could not be more at peace or as in love.
(This is dedicated to each of my children. Each who I adore in more ways than I can describe).