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(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

(c) 2014 Sherman Lambert

When I was the same age my kids are now, my parents knew so much less about my social connections. For one, in my case, college and young adulthood happened away from my family. They were not part of those worlds for me, partially because of the distance.

But also, that’s just the way things were in those days. Did I feel alone sometimes? You bet I did. Did I wish for my parents’ advice? I can’t even remember but I don’t think that was how my generation operated.

Times change—so now most of us remain so much closer to our growing and grown children, even more so because of this trend for young adults to continue living in our homes.

Because of all this closeness, we experience our kids’ relationships with friends and partners in a much different manner than our parents did. All that drama of sorting out connections in our teens and 20s was somewhat removed from our parents, even though it most certainly happened.

My only children are twins so we in our family are always firmly in one particular developmental phase at a time. And maybe because my kids have no other siblings, they make the mistake of presuming other relationships will mimic the give and take of that twin relationship without having to set up boundaries or without having to articulate what they need from others because so often in their own relationship, they have known how far to push and when to give.

Both of them, though such different people, have very similar problems with others. Time and time again, when someone does not respect their boundaries or when others expect them to be the one whose wishes are subsidiary, they spend more time worrying about the other person’s pain and needs without realizing that their own concerns are not often reciprocated.

That is until they explode in the presence of those of us who are not the primary source of their anger, frustration, and hurt.

Whatever difficulties I may have experienced from my own growing-up years and despite whatever hang-ups I may have retained, I remain a somewhat naively-open and friendly person who presumes the best of people unless they show me otherwise. I expect to like my kids’ friends and partners and I want to believe that who each is is good and decent and worthy of my respect.

For a brief moment in my daughter’s life, when I was still in charge of driving her friends and her around, I forgot how complicated relationships in those years can be and just enjoyed spending time with various young people. But one-by-one, the self-interests rose to the surface. I did not like how my daughter was being treated, nor, how we parents were being treated. Somehow the clear boundaries between anyone’s parents and younger people that were present in my younger days made it easier for us to know that whatever we were experiencing with our friends, we should never, ever bring that into our dealings with their parents.

It’s as if by being friendly instead of formal, that we have invited ourselves into the disagreements of their age. Did one of the kids’ friends just use the passive-aggressive speech pattern he uses on them on me because he did not feel he received the proper attention from me? Did another young person get snippy around me because I did not concede on a casual matter? Perhaps there really was something to the Mr. and Mrs. titles we called our friends’ parents even years after we’d left our parents’ homes.

All I know is I’m tired of reaching out to people who respond to me with behaviors and attitudes we should only feel comfortable showing our own parents—if only because we are their own kids. It’s just good manners to be on better behavior in someone else’s family’s home or table or company.

And if this is how you are treating me or my family members when you presumably are tempering some of your behavior and words, I shudder to think how you are really treating my kids, who seem to continue to have soft hearts for people’s pains, even when said people cause a lot of pain to their hearts. No one said they or we were perfect, but it’s time for everyone—regardless of age—to figure out that none of us is. Barney was right when he sang that each of us is special, but he should have also explained that doesn’t mean some people get to be “more special” than others. Being in relationship means reasonable give and take, as well as forgiveness, comes from both parties.

As for me, just call me Mrs. Lambert and leave me out of your drama.

Christiana and Jackson–born on 6 08 1992

“It’s 6:08 and you hear, ‘Knock, knock. Ding, dong.’ The Birthday Monsters are in town!”

(First line from Sandra Boynton’s Birthday Monsters board book, as I remember it from over 19 years ago.)

This is just a quick note before I get back to what I’m really supposed to be doing: my kids turned 20 today! My kids turned 20 today!

I don’t know why but I felt like saying that as if I were Kermit the Frog while running around in crazy circles. Don’t worry, my voice has always been too low to sound like Kermit and my legs have never been that skinny! Still, do you get the picture? Scary, huh?

My son is sleeping still and my daughter hasn’t come back from college yet today, so I haven’t really done anything to celebrate with them—except post birthday pictures of them throughout the ages on Facebook.

Yes, we mothers do embarrassing things like that. It would be so much easier if they had been born during our digital camera days—I can only embarrass them so much when I first have to locate the physical pictures and then scan them. In fact, 1997 is conspicuously absent. You see, their scrapbooks stopped sometime during fall of their kindergarten year. And, although a few great photos made it into their scrapbooks, I can’t find anything else from their 5th birthday celebrations. Despite the fact I have sorted and placed labeled and dated photos into shoeboxes, the box dated from January 1997 until those celebrations is missing.

Oh well, as we learned at their preschool, you get what you get and don’t throw a fit.

This isn’t the deep post where I expound on the meaning of my being a mother for twenty years or even of what it means for my kids to turn twenty.

Nope, this is just my tribute to twenty years of birthdays (well, 19 plus the real “birth” day if you want to get technical.) Dang, they were cute kids, but they have also grown into people with whom I enjoy spending time.

Speaking of time, I’ve got editing work to do, and, as usual, I’m pushing the deadline on making a birthday cake. Thank goodness we’ve figured out how to reinstitute a longstanding tradition: dirt cake. Yes, now that we can make gluten-free dirt cake, I’m back to making a cake that doesn’t require pretty or perfect—and I can separate it into two containers for the twins, I mean for my kids, so, God forbid, they do not have to share a cake!

P.S. They’re not really monsters, but, from time to time, they may have shared certain characteristics with the monsters in Boynton’s book—who cleaned up the mess they made after all.

(c) 1992 Sherman Lambert

What woman thinks she’s going to face infertility, at least if she’s relatively young and healthy? I thought you planned for the right timing and then everything else fell in place. And so it seemed at the beginning of our quest to become parents. After the second month we tried, we believed we were on the road to parenthood. However, that pregnancy slipped away from us within a couple weeks of receiving the initial news.

Well, I still thought pursuing the right timing was important for causing the least amount of disruption in my workplace. That’s when I started charting my cycles and noticing that some patterns didn’t seem right. While driving to work, I’d hear Bonnie Raitt singing “Baby Mine” on the radio, but I’d begun to wonder if there would be a baby mine.

Just under a year after the first time—with some additional help from the doctors—we’d merged back onto the road to parenthood. However, I’d stopped worrying about disrupting work—I was starting to understand that babies are disruptive—no matter what! But, we still experienced problems—which led to our discovering early on that I was carrying twins. I prayed at least one baby mine would make it. Through medical interventions, my focused behaviors, and the grace of God, those babies mine did arrive, just a little early but so healthy we only got to stay in the hospital one day.

Turns out that amateur who read my palm before I ever met my kids’ father had been right about a couple things: I did have twins and each was strong-willed, even if they weren’t both boys.

When your only two kids are twins, each developmental phase is new to you no matter what. If you are also blessed with strong-willed kids who also have ADD, you soon learn that helping to guide their individual development can be exhausting even as you love them. Add in advocating to schools and medical professionals and somehow life becomes so much more complicated than you ever expected.

Now those babies mine are legally adults in many ways—I can’t access their educational or medical records on my own—but they are learning about many of the difficulties associated with life after high school. The world doesn’t really care that kids with ADD are supposed to take longer to figure out how to manage many everyday daily tasks. In fact, the world doesn’t really care that science is showing that even the brains of people without ADD don’t really finish developing until they reach their mid-20s.

My son doesn’t know what exactly he wants, but he seems to be floating on, finding happy moments in each day. For him I worry that he doesn’t worry enough about figuring out how to find a place in this world. If college isn’t his thing now, what is?

And, my daughter—well, I mourn the happy-go-lucky child who brought sunshine into my life. I glimpse her and then she slides back into her worries and sadness. I’ve searched for solutions for her, but in the end that quest isn’t mine.

So we’ve reached the point when I can guide them to resources, but can’t make them access them. What a hard place along the parenting journey . . .

(c) 2010 Sherman Lambert

I’ve run my part of the course of both their developments—the steps aren’t mine to take anymore. I just have to trust in the process and know that I can’t really control the timing for when these babies of mine find their own separate ways in this world anymore than I could plan when they arrived in this world.

Though I don’t know the grand plans for them, Someone else does.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

One year later, our kids’ leaving home is entirely different from the first exit. The house is quiet once again, but how we got here is a whole new story.

This is the very first year Christiana and Jackson are not in school together. Unlike many twins, they did not separate for their freshmen year in college. That made our lives easier—one location, one calendar, one move-in day, one school to get to know.

1995 First Day of Preschool


The kids’ initial separation occurred earlier this year when Christiana accepted a job working as a conference assistant for Fort Lewis College. When I picked her up for a short stay between the end of the semester and the start of her job, she was pretty angry with him. We took her back before he arrived home. While talking with Jackson, we discovered he was frustrated with her.

Although they had moved into different dorm buildings, she had moved into his building within a couple months. Easier to spend time to together that way, but also easier to fall into old patterns. We didn’t used to call them “The Bickersons” for nothing—and, yet, they are very close.

Within a couple weeks of being apart this spring, they were already missing each other and trying to figure out how to visit one another despite the 13-hour round trip drive.

All along we’ve worried about whether Jackson could stay at Fort Lewis, but Christiana is the one who started to question whether the college was right for her, ultimately giving notice from her work there after two months and coming home to her old job.

Meanwhile she waited to see if she could get accepted into Colorado State University and get everything in order to transfer for the fall—if she decided to make the change. Jackson was happy to have her back home, but not so excited about the possible longer separation.

The funny thing was that our relationship with him became less strong once she came home. Reminded me of how often those two were a force against us when they were children. Twins can be a powerful team and woe to those who would try to get in between them, even unintentionally.

1997 First Day of School

Here it is the second week of school already for her and the first for him.

She and we jumped through a lot of hoops to get her set up for fall semester. We moved her possessions into an apartment a couple weekends ago and then she and I returned a few days later for transfer orientation—she to stay and I to return home. During orientation, the facilitators’ words allowed me to see I was in mourning for the change myself even though I feel it is the right move for her and am glad to have her closer to us. It’s just I thought I knew what to expect for this their sophomore year.

Very few parents of multiples get to have their kids at the same college—we’re just going through the more typical transition in our family a year later than most do. In the end what matters is that each kid follows the path that is right for him or her.

Jackson had time off work before needing to leave for school, so he insisted on going to visit Christiana to “help” her with her first few days of school. I know he slept in late while she started the next step in her education, but I also think he provided a steadying presence as she starts to adjust to the paradigm shift of moving her studies from a small liberal arts college to a large university.

He came home saying he’d like to live with her again in the few years after they get out on their own. I have no idea if that’s a good plan or not, but I think they’ll have a better idea after they have lived separately for the next few years.

1997


Sherman and I helped him move into his college apartment last Saturday. How strange to be at that school again without her.

The transition back to school lasted a couple weeks for our family this time around—which is exhausting no doubt for all of us.

The road to independence has additional twists for twins and their parents—as well as a possible fork or two. We parents will just try to enjoy the drive, even while traveling without a map.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

I used to cringe when parents talked about their child as a “good” baby. I still do. As if the baby chose colic or restlessness. Did that make a baby who cried a lot a “bad” baby? What if a formerly “good” baby began to experience challenges—would that child feel judged for no longer going with the flow and making life easier for those around?

A long time ago I had an easy baby and a more difficult baby. When you have twins, everyone wants to make comparisons—something that’s pretty easy to do, even for the parent. I tried to see my kids’ differences for what they were, yet take care with the implications of word choice. A rose is not always a rose and neither is a thorn a thorn.

Still, the dynamics of our family grew around our kids’ perceived differences, for good or for bad. So much so that when we sent our daughter to time-out, our son would attempt to go and she to stay behind. So often they thought they knew what was happening simply based upon the pattern.

Yet our kids thrived together and apart in much of the usual activities in early grade school. They had their own classrooms and their own soccer teams. Our daughter did well in school from the beginning, but our son finally began to excel in 3rd grade under the tutelage of a master teacher, so much so that I had visions of a budding Boettcher Scholar (Colorado’s top student scholarship program.)

But 4th grade was a turning point for him. So much about school set him on edge. Among the school staff he began to develop a reputation for being difficult. By 5th grade no doubt many of the other kids thought he was “bad”—one of those kids who was going to get in trouble often.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

We didn’t give up on him, but it seemed that during those “squeaky wheel” years of his, it was so hard to find the right support. I was jealous of parents whose kids seemed to do as asked, even though I had one of my own, too. Still, I couldn’t help but notice that his intentions were good even if his actions didn’t always demonstrate that—deep down I knew that when it mattered most, he could do the right thing.

Fast forward several years and it became our daughter’s turn to need the oil. He knew that and asked as little of us as he could. I will be forever grateful that he chose to help her and us when he could have acted out more. As I said before, his moral compass has always been pointed toward true north, even when he didn’t always do as we hoped.

Meanwhile I have watched as formerly compliant children (“good” babies grown up?) have lost their way. I know that his sister struggled mightily not to cause trouble for us, yet when her time came to need attention, she ultimately turned to us for support, not away from us as so many others have. I like to think it helped to know we had stood by him in all his difficulties and seemed we would do so for her. Plus, she couldn’t help but notice how he had stepped aside to allow her the focus.

I wish I could have done a better job meeting both kids’ needs at all times, but they have such sensitive natures and are both challenging in their own ways. They are enigmas and the answers to what they need are not always obvious.

There were costs for him for our lack of attention in the past year and for her over many previous years, but lately I think we have done a better job of providing them with what they each need individually.

Although both have worked with the same educational consultant, they have worked on different needs. She, on learning how to reduce her stress while continuing to succeed in class work, and, he, on learning how to reduce stress while learning to excel in class work again. Both achieved the highest honor roll this past semester. This was not her first time, but she did so with reduced levels of anxiety. He had not hit this level but once in middle school—and then only in 3rd grade before that.

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

And yet, I still believe he needs a few more tools in order to succeed in a college away from home. Some of those tools his sister had developed earlier and some she gained in her past year of focused emphasis on her needs. So yesterday he visited one more expert—one I truly believe has the knowledge to help where others maybe didn’t.

Not only do I want him to feel capable of achieving to the level of his true abilities, but I also want others to see the flower of who he is. I know he does, too. There is so much more to him, and given the proper nourishment and tools, I know he can finally bloom, as himself but with fewer thorns.

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