G and T - 3yrs M - 14 months
So that's it. I'm no longer a mum to three under 3. The twins have had their birthday, and all I can do is sit back and try to take it in. I did it. I survived. I've been changing nappies constantly for three years, I don't remember how it feels to not have the steriliser running and I long since said goodbye to any semblance of order. And I've laughed. A lot. But sitting here now, over three years after this crazy adventure began, I can't really take it in. I used to dream about what it would be like when the twins were a bit more grown-up, a bit less dependant on me. I thought about the time I'd get to spend with M, the one-on-ones she'd missed out on as a baby. Only now we've all made it, I don't really know how to feel.
For a start, M is only mildly interested in one-on-ones. She'd far rather be doing whatever G and T are doing. Yes, she still runs to me whenever things don't go her way, but she's such a big girl already.
'Read it to M,' she demanded earlier, ramming a book into my face. Her language is staggering, thanks largely to 14 months of hearing two chatty toddlers going on and on and on. She has been walking for six months already and is often spotted flying past after her sisters, exclaiming: 'I running! I running!'
The twins, meanwhile, although they seem to have saved the worst of the 'terrible twos' until after their third birthday, are such little ladies. They will quite happily play for hours without any input from me. They love spending time with Granny, like going to playgroup, and will soon be starting nursery. They just don't need me like they used to.
When we were out the other day, as so often happens, their cute hand-holding attracted the attention of every pensioner in town.
'Aw, are they twins?' asked one lady. 'How old are they?'
'They just turned 3,' I smiled. 'And the little one's 14 months.'
Then she said it. 'You have your hands full!'
That's another thing I can't remember. The last time I went a whole week without someone saying that to me.
'That's for sure!' I laughed for the millionth time. But this time, as I walked away, I couldn't help going over what I'd said. 'They just turned 3.' I could have easily just said: 'They're 3 and the baby's 1.' Why did I feel the need to emphasise the fact that they had only just had their birthday? To play up their youth? To make the gap between them and M seem as small as possible?
Because, I realised suddenly, I was going to miss the attention. As the girls all get older, our family will begin to seem no different than any other. We'll stop standing out. Loads of people have three kids, don't they? We won't be special any more. I won't be special any more. A childish reaction? Of course. One I'm proud of? Certainly not. But raising these girls has been bloody hard work, and I want all the recognition I can get. I want to draw out those looks of admiration and shock as long as possible!
I never planned on having so many kids so close together, but a very successful bout of IVF then a little miracle ensured that I was a mum to three under 3. To three under 2. And I survived. I'm proud of that, and of how my girls are turning out. Yes, loads of people have three kids, but not many do it all in two years, so what's wrong with letting people know that I did for just a little longer? My babies aren't babies any more, and life is nowhere near as tough as it used to be. I was a mum to three under 3, but I survived.
But no one needs to know that just yet, do they?