Five

This boy is going to wake up 5 today.

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And so will this one.

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Technically, they were born mid-morning, but only for a minute will I have a 4 year old and a 5 year old and then 4 will be a memory. A fellow twin mom lamented how there is no time to think about it when it’s over; no going back when your second child reaches that age. No reflection. I never felt that more than this year, where I was just trying to keep pace with the relentless nature of four. Until this year, their needs were always fairly easily met; exhausting, but simple. An endless run of snacks, meals, drinks, diapers, and desperately seeking any form of socialization.

Then four comes and all that goes out the flipping window. Suddenly I am knee deep in shark puppets.

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Hiding treasure boxes.

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Conceptualizing dreams.

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Having birthday parties for angry birds

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And in between swimming, soccer, preschool, piano, snowboarding, dance parties, camping, and the library, there is the more mundane aspects of life. As we make beds, we are answering how babies are made, what happens when we die, and every question that can be made out of all permutations of words in the English language.

Doesn't this look like it ended calmly? It didn't. SOMEONE'S BUTT GOT BITTEN AND IT WASN'T SOMEONE I KNOW.

Doesn’t this look like it ended calmly? It didn’t. SOMEONE’S BUTT GOT BITTEN AND IT WASN’T SOMEONE I KNOW.

Suddenly, this year, I had to think about what would happen if a shark ate a turtle, or ate a people, or ate another shark, or ate a dead sperm whale, or if the shark died, or if people ate a shark, or what things eat in the abyssal zone. If I stopped to think too hard, if I had the time, it would seem to me that life is SO unfair, that things get eaten and die. But my four year olds, now five year olds, take this all in stride. Life is what it is, and it is their job to figure out what that it is.

We help them navigate daycare politics, but more often than not, I find myself just listening in on their conversations; clues to the things that are important to them. What I hear is secrets and jokes that they have with their friends; the first things that I won’t understand. I see a decade into the future; a world entirely their own. I know we’re on our way to that.

Life is big and complicated, and it’s impossible to keep up with little brains that never stop. Looking back at how much they’ve grown this year, it makes me also realize how much I haven’t; I am constantly trying to apply the same expectations and methods to boys who have clearly outpaced us. I’ve had a lot of failures this year, tripping over myself and my words, and letting my own feelings get in the way of being a good parent. Hopefully, all they see is that I tried really hard, tried to be present with them. But now, more than ever, I feel behind them. Constantly trying to catch up to something I’ll never grasp again.

Every year, on their birthday, our mayday tree blooms. For a few days before and after, our front yard has erupted in white. I like to imagine it is just for them, even though the tree long preceded their birth and mayday trees have been blooming for time immemorial. I tell them that it’s their birthday present, and we  stop to look at the flowers and the little ecosystem of bugs they host. This year, the mayday is a little late. Like everything this year. I hope it’s enough for you, sweet boys. I hope you don’t notice how far behind you the world is; just keep powering ahead and we’ll all catch up. Or maybe I’ll just stop for a bit to watch you blaze ahead; I don’t want to miss the streak you leave trying in vain to keep up.

What this photo mostly told me is that I need a new macro lens for my camera. My birthday is also happening, family.

Maydays just about to go. What this photo mostly told me is that I need a new macro lens for my camera. My birthday is also happening, family.

Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday. Your old mom loves you more than you know.

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The unicorn and his many “smile!” faces this year.. things that are important to remember.

Also, thank you to Brother Jon for the shout out. If you don’t read his blog, you really should. The internet needs more gentle, kind people like him. On the plus side, he’s also funny and goodlooking. And SMART. He even understands what engineers want sometimes.

15 comments

  1. I love this. It makes me just sad enough but not too sad that my girls are too much older than five, and not even technically mine — but I don’t think their parents would mind that the older they get, the more I rebel at surrounding the word mine with quotes.

    Your words also make me the right amount of sad that there are no more little little ones to come. And as mixed-up as this all sounds, I hope what you can gather from it is that you found the perfect way and amount to fill up my heart. I hope your boys had a very special fifth birthday, that your whole family did. For them. You know (I hope).

    1. I never mind at all when there’s people who love my boys enough to claim them; I am sure your girls’ parents don’t mind either.

      I don’t mean to sound sad, because of course, I am overjoyed that my boys are big and strong, but these milestones are always a little bittersweet. And I always like to use birthdays as a time for reflection, which leads to a certain amount of ennui. They had/are having a great birthday. I may or may not have gone overboard in trying to meet their expectations, as usual.

  2. Happy Birthday to your two handsome smiling little dudes. My niece turns 20 in fall. Right now she’s studying in Italy. It’s amazing how fast they grow up and become individuals. But I think you’ve still got a while before you start swigging Geritol.

    1. Man, how great would it be to be 20 and studying in Italy? I bet she’s having the time of her life, and hopefully getting into the appropriate amount of trouble.

      And yes, I believe chronologically I have some time before the Geritol, but spiritually I am already there. I am very tired, V. Very, very tired.

  3. Happy Birthday to your two little superheroes! Pictures tell a story, and yours usually show that the Engineer and you are doing a great job. Thanks for the lovely comment too, but I think you forgot “smart”. Seriously though, if anyone gives me any trouble today I can respond “Roller Giraffe said I was good-looking, now go away!”

    1. I did forget smart. I will rectify that immediately. I didn’t want to pile on the superlatives too heavy though because I feared I would be gushing.

      Pictures don’t tell the whole story, like the three hour bedtimes and all the times I wish I could just abandon things and drive to Mexico. I never take pictures of that because I don’t really want to remember ;)

  4. Happy Birthday to all of you! Such handsome boys. It must be overwhelming to answer all those questions from twins, but I suspect you’re doing a great job, Jen. And they’ll remind you of that later when you least expect it.

    1. All I hope is that they put me in a nice nursing home, Cathy. They are handsome little dudes, aren’t they? They were so proud to wear their ties and nice shirts. Such a different time now than when they were born, but so much more rewarding.

    1. The but biting incident was easily in my top ten most embarrassing parenting moments. The unicorn just casually bit another swimming mom in the ass one day and I had to sit next to her for the duration of the swimming lesson and pretend like I am not really terrible at parenting.

      1. My daughter loves the movie Madagascar and apparently there’s a part in the movie about biting others in the butt. I can see enduring a similar incident.

  5. You already know how much I love you, and your writing. But I’m going to say it again. I love you and I love this piece. You are a great mom, regardless of how you may feel. Your boys are so lucky to have you. You’re all learning together and that’s okay.

    You are an excellent mom, and a wonderful, kind, beautiful, and caring soul, and don’t you ever forget this. And I’m not just saying this because you have a sweet ass.

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