Sunday, 25 March 2012

What's in a name?

G&T 27-and-a-half months  M - 5-and-a-half months

These days, I really struggle to remember my girls' names. OK, that's not strictly true, but I do find I need at least three attempts to get one right. It's not like I don't know which daughter is which, it's just that my brain seems to just spew out a name at random before it's processed who it's talking to. Since becoming a mum, I've actually had to sit down and apologise to my own parents. As one of three girls myself, I was forever being referred to by the wrong name, and I know I'm now destined to replay those teenage 'You don't love me enough to know my name!' years from the other side. My parents accepted the apology with uproarious  delight. Revenge is so very sweet...  I don't even have the excuse of the twins being identical. G is blonde, lanky and the absolute image of her father, while T is shorter, powerful and my little clone. They're very different wee people, and I've always tried to treat them as such. When I was growing up, people would comment on how my sisters' and my names didn't 'match', as though we somehow came as a set. When I found out I was carrying two girls, I was adamant that there would be no rhymes, no alliteration, no suggestion that they were two halves of a whole. Out and about with them in the buggy, people would forever ask if they were a boy and a girl, even if they both had pink on. I could never understand why until one lady simply said it. She expected two girls to be dressed alike. But why? Surely twins have to fight hard enough as it is to be seen as individuals. If other twin parents want to name them Polly and Poppy, or buy oodles of cute matching outfits, fair enough, but that's not for us. My girls are both beautiful, clever, crazy and wonderful, but both in different ways. G loves numbers and letters, showing all the signs of an academic to be, while T loves puzzles and soft toys, a tough little cookie with a squidgy soft centre. They're not just a twin, they are their own people, and we're going to make sure they get to thrive as such. That's if I can remember their names, of course.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Mum on the edge

G&T - 27 months   M - 5 months

This has not been a good week. With the latest in a seemingly neverending stream of colds (no pun intended) knocking the usually fun twins off their game, we've had long days and even longer nights. Sleep has been disturbed and daytime naps curtailed by, well, there's no nice way to phrase it, truly epic amounts of snot. With all of us feeling rotten, it's no wonder tempers have been frayed, and on the worst day, the twins' constant arguments took me to the brink. From the moment they got up a good hour early, before even 6am, things were on a rocky footing. Every toy was fought over and every tiny sisterly disagreement escalated into a shrieking, crying frenzy. All of which, of course, also meant poor little M barely got a wink of sleep. When the twins too just couldn't be persuaded to take their lunchtime nap, there was only ever one outcome. My ears ringing from eight hours of ceaseless whining, sobbing and screeching, it was all I could do to stop myself running outside to lock myself in the shed with a pillow over my head. As I heard myself screaming, 'Stop screaming at me!' at them, I knew I'd lost it. Emotionally and physically wiped out, I lay down on the floor next to where M was playing in her jungle gym. M, by the way, had found my end-of-my-tether roar hilarious, which perhaps doesn't bode well for disciplining her in the future... Anyway, as I tried to calm myself by taking in her cheeky smile, the twins, a little shell-shocked by my outburst, quietly sat down a few feet away. After a minute or so, T picked up their nursery rhyme book. She opened each page in turn, looked at the picture and started to sing. Somehow, without me noticing exactly when, she'd learned practically all the words of every one. When she stumbled over Wee Willie Winkie, G piped up, 'Knocking on the windows...' as they both surreptitiously snuck looks at me. I, of course, melted. Suddenly, they were my gorgeous, cheeky, bright wee girls again. My favourite little people, who I love more than anything in the world. OK, so I'd lost it another seven or eight more times by the point T finally succumbed to exhaustion on the landing as I ran the bath, but I at least I had the nursery rhyme memory to fall back on. It's true that being a parent is by a million miles the hardest job you'll ever do. The lack of sleep, the worry, the neverending demands... But I can't think of any other career which offers so many moments of such heart-melting happiness. And when the next cold hits, I'll just have to keep telling myself that...

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Going, going... gone!

G&T - 27 months   M - 5 months

I've never been what you'd call efficient when it comes to leaving the house. In general, in my pre-mummy days, I'd spend the last few minutes before rushing off for the tube loudly tearing around looking for my magically-disappearing keys, getting more and more irate until I found them in my bag, or pocket, or hand. But now, I see those days for what they were. Blissful. These days, I hate leaving the house. Not being out, the actual leaving. Yes, there are the nappies, the wipes, the spare clothes, all the tools of a mum on the go. But that's not the problem. There are just so many people to get ready. And so many of them can be so uncooperative. If I know I need to leave by nine, I start starting to leave at 8.40 at the latest. In general, little M gets suited up and popped into her buggy first. If I'm lucky, she'll play there patiently until her sisters are ready. If I'm very lucky, she'll fall asleep. If I'm unlucky, well, the loud complaining just adds one more stress to the situation. 'I don't want my cardie, I want my jumper.' 'I want to wear my wellies.' 'I don't want to wear anything.' 'I want to stay here aaaalllllll day.' We never just leave. I'm looking forward to summer not for the nice weather, but simply because there will be fewer layers. Two toddlers, two cardies, two coats, two hats, four gloves, four boots, or shoes, or wellies... By the time I begin actually going anywhere, I'm already frazzled. When I think of my workdays now, it's with a sort of rosy glow. One coat, a bag, a book that I actually got to read, one little set of keys... Just one person who I had to kit out to face the elements. I really wish I'd appreciated it. When my twins were little, all my singleton mum friends would wonder how I coped, but twin mums know who the real heroines are. Triplet mums. In the past, I've occasionally wondered if having three of different ages is harder than three of the same, who at least have the same interests and can be entertained together. But now, when I imagine not being able to pop at least one in the buggy before the leaving marathon, I shudder. Two toddlers to dress up and get out is more than enough. And no, I can still never find my bloody keys.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Sleeping arrangements

G&T - 27 months  M - 5 months

I simply cannot do it. I've tried and tried, but no, there is just no way to run around after two toddlers all day then not fall asleep while feeding a baby at 3am. When she was very small, I got into the bad habit of bringing M into bed with me at night to feed her. Inevitably, she'd end up snoozing happily in there all night, me having drifted off mid-feed. With her dad and I consigned to precariously perching on the edges of the bed, something had to give. Determined to regain our own mattress and prevent a troublesome sleeping arrangement I might have a problem breaking in the future, I took up the offer of the loan of a comfy rocking chair from my mum, and started dragging myself from bed to chair whenever the wee one called. And it worked. For a few days. Then my body seemed to figure out just how comfy that chair was. Cosy dressing gown on, head leaned back, feet up on the bed... I'd wake up two hours after I started the feed, M snuggled happily in my arms, me a bleary mess. I'd pop her back in her cot and crawl into bed but, of course, by then I'd only have an hour or so before food was called for and I'd start the whole thing again. So I tried to think of a plan. I keep a nightlight on in our room, so I can see to M, and the position of the chair means without my dressing gown hood pulled up, the bulb glares a bit in my eyes. So one night, I laid out a non-hooded gown and went to bed. Cue 3am feed. Sleepily irked by the light, I turned my head the other way... and woke up two hours later , M snuggled happily in my arms, me a bleary mess with a sore neck. Perhaps discomfort was the key. So next night, I moved the chair a little away from the bed and turned in. Cue 3am feed. I fidgeted in the chair, trying to find a good position, then managed to slouch down and reach the tips of my toes onto the bed, turned my head away from the nightlight... and woke up two hours later, M snuggled happily in my arms, me a bleary mess with a sore neck, sore back and strange locked-out knees. Cold, that's the answer. I discarded the gown and hit the sack. Cue 3am feed. I fidgeted around, grumpy, uncomfortable and cold, turned my head from the nightlight, perched my toes on the bed, managed to pull the throw I keep on the chair round my shoulders... and woke up two hours later, M snuggled happily in my arms, me a bleary mess with a sore neck, sore back, strange locked-out knees and freezing cold. So I've given up. The chair is next the bed again, my hooded robe waiting in place. I figure if I'm going to be stuck there, I might as well be comfortable. On the odd night, I do manage to maintain consciousness long enough to deposit M in her cot and get a proper rest, but it seems luck has as much to do with it as anything else. So, short of fitting some sort of electric shock device, I'm out of ideas. All tips welcome!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Friends forever?

G&T - 26-and-a-half months  M - 4-and-a-half months

Is there any way to ensure your children will get on? As the second of three girls, all born within three-and-a-half years, who have always been close, I thought that was the key. Small age gaps. As fate would have it, I ended up having my own girls all within two years. Perfect. As G and T walk along holding hands, declaring they're best friends, and leaving old ladies cooing in their wake, I always feel a happy glow. They'll be buddies forever. But I can't help but worry about M. By most family's standards, she's pretty close in age too, at just 22 months younger. But that's not as close as one minute. The twins have grown up doing everything together, hitting every milestone within weeks and helping each other learn along the way. They can usually be found happily playing with each other, laughing about words they've just made up. It's fine that their biggest joy seems to be that Mummy has no idea what they're saying, but will M be let in? Will she ever be able to infiltrate the inner circle? When she was born, her 'eldest' sister, G, adored her from the off, grinning and stroking her. In fact, our biggest problem was keeping her away. She had a particularly troublesome penchant for delightedly shouting her name over her Moses basket when I'd just got her down... T was a bit more standoffish, seemingly irritated by this squirmy little bundle taking up all the space in Mummy's arms. But that's starting to change. M is just more fun now. She grins and laughs and grabs at toys, and is just generally more interactive. She's turning into a pretty fun toy, and T loves her now too. Last night, as I was cleaning the girls' high chairs, M was waiting in her bouncy chair, getting a bit tired and annoyed, until G and T started to have a jumping contest. M's eyes lit up, her face broke into a huge grin and along came the world's most wonderful sound. Baby giggles. She was loving it. And so were the twins. Once they saw the reaction, M was the only audience that cared about. They leapt higher and higher with every chuckle, calling M's name and competing to be in the best spot to catch her eye. That's when I realised. M is going to have it good. She'll always be the little sister, the baby. And that will always ensure she's fascinating. Every time she crawls, when she lands on her bum as she's learning to walk, those first few words... they'll all be made even sweeter because she'll have an enraptured little audience. T's right. She is a great new toy, and that means she'll be a prized possession for years to come!