My twin toddlers have a new favorite game, which basically involves chasing each other around the ottoman. It's like a Benny Hill sketch, especially because, at some point, the chaser winds up in front, though still screaming, "My gonna get you, my gonna get you." It often ends with one of them playfully wrestling the other one to the ground, with lots of squealing, maybe bonked heads, some tears. And then they're at it all over again. My boys have a blast together, with a built-in playmate, at a never-ending playdate.
In many ways, having twins makes life easier. At this age, they have each other, so I'm not their sole source of entertainment. Still, twins are a handful. Often, it feels like I'm putting out one fire while they're starting another. Last week, we had a big heat wave here in LA, so I took out the sprinkler toys and inflatable pool and created our own waterpark in the backyard. I was patting myself on the back for being such an awesome mommy, but less than an hour later, I felt like a total failure. At first, they were just splashing around, running through the water, and using the toys as intended. It wasn't long though before they discovered the sprinkler valve and started turning it on and off, high and low, sending water shooting into our open bedroom windows and the neighbor's yard. They were also running on the wet tiles, slipping and falling, despite my warnings to walk, please walk. The inflatable pool, muddied with dirt and grass, suddenly became their water bowl–they were lying facedown, lapping it up, along with our dog!
I wanted them to have fun, but more than anything, I wanted to keep them safe. I didn't want them to smack their heads on the hard tile or get some funky illness from the nasty water. I also didn't want them flooding our bedroom or the neighbor's yard. It was too much for me, so I shut it down and brought them back inside. The fun stopped.
And it broke my heart. It made me feel like a failure. They're just two-years-old, and from what I've been told, they don't really know better. From what I've been told, it's hard to get toddlers to listen, especially when they're having fun with the big, shiny red buttons. Still, I do what all first-time moms do: I blame myself. Why can't I get them to listen? Why don't I have better control over them? And the biggie: Why don't I have more patience?
My house is supposed to be our safe haven. This is where they're the most manageable. As I've said before, my kids are runners, or at least, have phases of it, so I can't take them to a lot of places by myself. At least, not these days. Any park has to be enclosed. If I take them to the zoo, someone has to come with me. A day at the beach is no day at the beach. A quick mall trip is chaotic. Just getting them in the car after preschool can be frantic. This week we're supposed to go on a hike with a group, and I'm already concerned about what off-path brush they're going to disappear into.
We can't just go on random, last-minute adventures. Everything requires more planning, or at least an extra set of hands. It's just not easy. And if I'm panicked or yelling most of the time, then it's just not fun either. Of course, I feel guilty, like maybe if I could handle them better, it wouldn't be an issue. I also wonder though if this is just how it is when you have twins.
Life with twins is all I know. Maybe parents of singletons feel the same way, especially if their one kid is super-active or curious or a runner himself. Maybe it's just the way life is with a toddler. What I do know is that when I'm alone with one of my boys, it's a real pleasure. Even if he's running around or won't stay in his seat at the restaurant, it's manageable. I'm not as anxious, not as short-fused. He has my full attention. It's just so much easier.
Still, I absolutely love having twins. Really, I do. Ask any twin parent. Sure, it's hard, but they'll tell you they love it too. There's nothing cooler than life with twins.
Okay, so maybe the three of us can't go on as many adventures as I might like. Maybe we have to wait until the weekend, when daddy is home, to hit the amusement parks and fairs. It's not like my boys are missing out on anything, aside from the occasional weekday excursion. Maybe I have to cut short the fun sometimes, or we have to leave earlier than we planned. Those are the consequences for most kids when they're not behaving, right? Meanwhile, my boys have their very best buddy around 24/7, right there by their side to play chase and splash around and hunt monsters with. I'm not sure if anything could be more fun than that.