This week, littlest boys, I took you off to school for your settling in morning. I thought I’d be ok, but that’s easy to think isn’t it?
What a long way we’ve come boys, in not quite four years.
From those Special Care days of feeding tubes, incubators, ‘Twin 1 and Twin 2’, scrawny little legs. Days spent feeding, expressing, feeding, expressing; juggling looking after a toddler with trips to and from the hospital.
Then it was back home to premmie clothes, tiny vests, muslins, Moses baskets, feeding cushions, breastfeeding battles, doing our best to get two tiny babies to synchronise their routines.
An overwhelmed mummy sitting in tears trying to figure out how to deal with two babies crying while a 2 year old calls from the other room.
Bouncers, swings, activity mats, bumbos. A house full of equipment, days spent moving you from one thing to another.
Going out for the sake of getting out. A walk to the post office, a walk round the block, a trip to the bakers, a trip to the local Skoda garage (not even joking – a genuine outing). Off to baby groups and twin groups. Nursery runs with big brother trotting alongside on his reins. ‘I’m tired, I need a carry’, he’d say. Poor little boy, he was only two. I would balance him on the pushchair handlebars.
Changing dribble bibs, sterilising bottles, replenishing the change bag, assembling the pushchair, lugging around car-seats. The smallest jobs feeling like the biggest missions.
Weaning, batch cooking, pureeing, highchairs, feeding spoons, a freezer full of tiny little pots. Now boys, how rarely are there any leftovers for the freezer.
Colour-coding you to help other people tell you apart. Apart from that one day when I accidentally put you in the wrong clothes and then YOUR OWN PARENTS got you the wrong way round ALL DAY. It happened to be your first birthday, so you couldn’t even tell us we were calling you by the wrong names. Sorry about that, boys.
Crawling, standing, one of you standing on the other when you wanted something that was just out of reach. One of you trying to load the other into the washing machine. Both of you gleeful as you emptied my entire bookcase. Rummaging through the bins for leftover food. That day I found one of you sitting by the bin with a face covered in ground coffee.
Discovering that once you’d mastered climbing up onto a chair you could get onto a table and from there you could reach the light switch. Switches, buttons; anything that was supposed to be out of reach – touching, grabbing, pulling, pushing. None of that has changed, boys.
Climbing out of your cots and over stair-gates, fighting bed-time and ending up crashed out on the floor. Needing a middle-of-the-night cuddle in ‘the big bed’. Mummy and Daddy lacking the energy to do anything about it.
Endless ‘You’ve got your hands full’/’Double-trouble’/’Oh dear, no girl?’/’Enjoy every moment’. But also bittersweet words of understanding – ‘Do you ever just sit and have a good cry?’/’It’s good fun, apart from when you find one of them flushing all the toilet roll down the toilet while the other one is breaking your television.’ Those were the ones that kept me going.
And then, boys, you really did break a television.
Ice-cream, cakes, party teas. Usually ending with you crawling around under the table for leftovers. Once you even rummaged through a bin bag and were triumphant when you found a Fruit Shoot.
Immunisations, croup, teething, chicken pox, grazed knees, cut lips, trapped fingers.
Car journeys spent listening to Old MacDonald, Wheels on the Bus, Humpty Dumpty. You still love your nursery rhymes.
Terrible twos and the threenage year. We’re still in that one. Fighting, snatching, tempers, tears, clingyness, frustration; but also communicating, sharing, forming friendships, caring, cuddling; and playing make-believe. One minute sociable, the next needing mummy. One minute full of anger, the next needing cuddles. When you’re sad, mummy is your punchbag. Mummy finds that hard.
We never filled in the baby record book for you, boys. I don’t know where your little hospital bands are, or the locks of hair from your first hair cut. I can’t remember when you got your first teeth, or what your first words were. It took us about a year to get any photos of you framed and up on the wall. That’s what it’s like when you’re a younger sibling (or siblings), boys. We just have these little snatched memories.
I’ll be honest, boys; I haven’t enjoyed every moment. It’s so relentless, I don’t know how anyone could. I’ve enjoyed some, but others have been…..well, just a bit rubbish. Sometimes I feel bad about that but I know I shouldn’t. Because we’ve made it to this point all in one piece; and now here you are about to start school. Your biggest milestone yet. And there are so many special times to come – learning to read, new friendships, walks to school, playground fun.
I may not have enjoyed every single moment, boys. But I am proud of all of us.
And for any other mummies/daddies who are finding it a long, hard slog (because it just is); you will get here too. And suddenly, when you look back on it all, it will feel like it’s all gone by in a flash. You’ll just have a lot more grey hairs.