I think most parents would agree that each passing stage of their child's life is bittersweet. While it is exciting to see how our children change and grow, every new development often reflects a loss of something else. As my Turtles turn one, I feel this in a very profound way. In what has been the fastest year of my life, I look toward their birthday with a great sadness that is only mildly offset by relief. This may be a common feeling for mothers of multiples but it doesn't make it any easier.
Jude Bug and Ellie Bean have brought me great joy this past year but I would be dishonest if I didn't acknowledge that the joy was deeply mitigated by the fact that I spent the vast majority of our time purely focused on our survival. There was never any time to focus on tiny fingers wrapped around my own. There was hardly a moment when I could marvel at the miracle of two full-term, full-sized babies my husband and I created. I never once felt like I could bury my face in a baby's neck and let the softness and scent relax me. I didn't get to see the babies give each other their first kiss because I was in the kitchen trying to throw dinner together. (I heard the squeal of delight from our helper in the other room.) With time gained, much was lost.
My lucidity and energy were fleeting at best this year and I couldn't be the mother I wanted to be. The sweet, adoring moments with a child that settle into a mother's psyche for eternity are tinged with gray in mine. I've not been able to fully enjoy one child without worrying that I was neglecting another. The perfectionist in me bristles at the inadequacy of my mothering. While I know that having more than one baby at a time gives me an extra pass to lose my shit occasionally, I don't like that it sometimes comes to that.
The past year has been hard on me, our Turtles, Vivi, and my marriage. When I was eight months pregnant with the Turtles and at a park with Vivi, a mother of 15 month old twins was there. She said to me, "If your marriage survives the first year with twins, then you can survive anything." I thought that had to be one of the most obnoxious things someone could say to a woman expecting twins. I've discovered that she was right (BUT that doesn't mean her comment wasn't obnoxious) and it is indisputable that my husband and I have suffered (often independently and with much anger at each other) this year. While my children may be malleable and flexible, my husband is not.
So when Saturday hits and the Turtles officially begin their second year, I'm going to try and be the mother and wife I want to be. I will celebrate their milestone and be thankful for the literal survival of my family. I will love my girls up and it will be good, if only for a day.