Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Growing pains

I was pondering why, when the twins were tiny I couldn't write this blog often enough, but now that they are growing up - who can believe they will be three soon - there just doesn't seem to be as much to share. Or perhaps it is more because blogging was a touch of sanity in the insane world of newborn twins. A chance for me to get a bit of breathing space and perspective on the chaos that was unfolding around me.

Either way when every day was filled with amusing tales of bodily fluids spilled and nights splintered by screaming babies it seemed easy to capture our family life in a mesh of words, but now it seems to escape my grasp. Much as I want to tie down the memories in black and white, I find it increasingly hard to snatch a moment and wrangle it onto the page.

It's not that the children are more boring, but I suppose as they grow and develop their traits are harder to shove into stereotypical boxes and their characters harder to pin down in a few inadequate words. Babies are so simple, you write about the feeding, sleeping and pooing nightmares and it's good for a laugh, toddlers and children are so much more complex.

Also the twins were such a homogeneous unit when they were tiny. Sleeping curled around one another, their needs mirroring one another, each one fighting with the bottle, escaping their nappies and generally getting up to typical baby mischief. Now they are two very different little boys. While their twindom will always define them to some extent, it doesn't seem to be their predominant feature any more.

It was a combat course dealing with twin newborns, but twin toddlers are a piece of cake. I think it is your reward as a twin mummy as growing twins are so much more self sufficient than a single child. They will wander off and play together and I never need to feel that they are being neglected as they have each other. They don't seem to crave the same degree of parental stimulation that their singleton brothers did, and that is a huge relief.

I was thinking just the other day that I am too old for toddlers. I have done my duty standing in freezing playgrounds, endlessly moulding playdough, making friends at playgroups and rescuing tiny people from the most inaccessible reaches of soft play areas. Now I want to sit, drink cappuccino and chat with other grown ups, so perhaps it is lucky that my last children were twins who don't constantly grasp my hand or call my name to gain my attention.

While my older boys would always pick mummy as the one they loved the most, my twins have an internal debate over who to choose - their twin or their parent. It is 50/50 who wins out, and that is a blessed relief as it means the heat is off mummy for at least half of the time.

That said I am sad that my boys are growing up. I always used to think that I would throw a party when they finally went to school, but now I am not so sure. While it will be fantastic to have the headaches of balancing work and childcare behind me, the house will be very empty without their cries echoing around it. Luckily I have another couple of years before I have to face this prospect, but I am beginning to think that it won't be such a joyous day after all.

I am well aware that this time in my life is precious and perhaps that is why I am perturbed by my inability to record it. The most important years are those spent raising small children who both want and need you. Before long my sons will be mortified when I fling my arms around them and declare my undying love for them, they will brush me off long before we reach the school gate and will want all their kisses and cuddles to come from nubile teenage girls, not their wizened old mum.

Then they will be off forging their own way in life and I will be left with the memories of these scant few years to keep me warm in between their visits and phone calls. I wish I wasn't so aware of the fleeting nature of their childhood, but on the other hand it does stop me in my tracks sometimes when I find myself wishing away the hard bits and longing to have the house back to myself.

While I will be glad when I never have to change another nappy, fetch another cup of juice or hear the plot of another show on Cartoon Network, I am not sure I ever want any of them to entirely escape from under my wing. It makes me understand why mother's in law can sometimes be such harridans, it is just so hard to let go of your precious son.

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