Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd ever be the mother of twins. There was no reason to expect it and, unlike a bunch of friends who have since confessed to always wanting them, I certainly never, ever wished for it. So much about having two babies at the same time is crazy. Sure, it's wonderful and amazing and a miracle and I'm the luckiest woman alive and, aww, aren't they just the cutest things etc etc. But it's hair-tear-outingly, mind-jellyingly hard work most of the time with moments that would break the most stoic of souls.
I know temperament has a lot to do with it. If I'd been given two placid, self-sufficient creatures, things may have been different. I'm sure there are twin families out there who have a dream run. I got one baby who was a brilliant sleeper but has grown into a needy little thing during the days, always wanting to be held and usually only by Mummy. And the other baby was - thank God WAS - a dreadful sleeper, yet will pass most of her day pottering around minding her own business, happily flicking through books, nursing her dollies, arranging things. But when she's sad, she's really sad. Heartbreakingly sad. Weeping real tears, burrowing into your chest, arms around your neck kind of sad.
And together, they're a mixed bag. I've caught moments of beautiful sisterhood, sharing and genuine concern. They bring each other toys, sit together on the step, exchange sultanas. They even (very) occasionally kiss and cuddle. It's beautiful. But for the larger part, they're like the teenagers I expect they'll become, fighting over clothes and chores and space. Pearl, my sweet, tiny, delicate Pearl, has recently begun to get great delight in marching over to Stella and whacking her on the head. Or pushing her over. Or, most recently, pinching her. And any reprimand by me is met by her gutteral giggle, followed by another whack/push/pinch and another giggle. Meanwhile, Stella melts into tears of honest-to-goodness devastation.
And sometimes, like today, they're overcome with a kind of mass hysteria, working together like a terrifying unit of destruction bent on torturing me. As I tried to cook dinner, they turned their joint attention to emptying every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen. I can keep up with one of them, but I've only got two arms. No sooner did I get them out of there and clean up the mess, they were taking turns climbing onto the couch and jumping on it, laughing hysterically until I raced to move them - over and over again.
And then the tears. Sometimes, for no apparent reason, one's despair will be matched by the other just because. Stella cried throughout her bath. Pearl joined in. Then at bedtime, Stella was having her once-in-30-nights meltdown at bedtime, crying her eyes out. Pearl appeared to be asleep, but as soon as she noticed me comforting her sister, she decided to join in, screaming like someone was pulling her fingernails off. The cry-off went on for over an hour.
And now they sleep like a pair of matching angels in mismatched cots.
This afternoon, amidst the chaos of the cupboard emptying and couch bouncing and whacking/pushing/pinching, I sat down on the step to pause. Instantly, two little girls turned as one and ran to me, leaping together into my arms for a cuddle. It was a fleeting moment in a madcap day, but ultimately what it's all about, I guess. I would never wish for anything but this pair, these individuals. It's just, in my fantasies, I get them one at a time instead of the bulk delivery.