"You were not an accident where no one thought it through . . ." - Brandi Carlie
I was reminded this week that I made a powerful choice to turn from one kind of love in order to embrace another. This is not usually the choice that people make. In fact, choice is often not even a factor in deciding to start a family, or even, in some cases, to marry and start a partnership. Love happens. Weddings are planned. Child(ren) arrive.
It is the story that I most often took for granted when I was young. It was a story that we all would/should have in our lifetime; the story of love, marriage, and babies - in that order, no deviation, with much fanfare and lots and lots of acceptance, as the norm. It was the story of two people who find each other, out of the myriad of combinations that might have been possible and fall deeply, madly, irreversibly in love. We all know this story. It was told to us on billboards and commercials and the classic "Hollywood meet cute." Then, as the 21st Century progressed, we saw it in YouTube videos of quirky romantic proposals and filtered images on our Instagram feeds. #FirstComesLove. #ThenComes Marriage. #ThenComesBaby.
I was reminded this week that I made a courageous choice to turn from one kind of love in order to embrace another kind of love, which is not the norm, by any stretch of the imagination. You don't turn from love; love expands to include. Partnership is entered into for the sake of the soon to be arrival of tiny stakeholder(s). You do not turn from one kind of love, instead the love you have for your partner becomes an extension - your heart walking around outside your body and whoa it looks just like this person who you loved first, beyond measure, with absolute abandon and with trust that this love, this first love would be the greatest adventure ever. This first love would naturally, normally, include babies, who become toddlers, who become children, then young adults, then your adult offspring who you think are pretty cool.
I was reminded this week that my choice was not a random one born out of lack of love in my life. It was a calculated, intentional design to become love personified. To be mother. To be mommy. To be fully alive in one of the most natural acts of self-less-ness that one can embody - to mother. And the beauty of mothering as a single parent is that I don't have anyone standing over my shoulder telling me to do it differently. I don't have the daily little negotiations of time and space and styles that can needle a marriage. Because love happens. Weddings are planned. Child(ren) arrive. And nobody, very often [I don't want to generalize but] very often no one has made an intentional choice to build this family unit, to create a community, to bring together a village, to gather round the family, guarding and protecting it.
I was reminded this week that I made a very conscious decision to turn from romantic love to become love personified for two tiny human beings. Oh! But at what cost to my womanhood?
I was reminded this week that it is not just eros that I am missing by having turned away from romantic love, it is the assurance that the same someone, who stood over your shoulder telling you to do it differently, is also the same someone who will touch the small of your back one winter night, as a gentle reminder that you are beautiful, chosen and deeply, deeply admired. Because, after all, you are also the same someone who, mere moments before stepping out into the chilly air, wiped shit up off the floor. So it is with that simple gesture, on that rare quiet evening out with your first love, that you are able to choose - that love and the love(s) at home. Both, at the same time.
Raising twins is a lot like casting a show. Standing before you are two seemingly similar people: same age, same height, same basic look, for all intents and purposes. Yet, each performer will go about revealing the character to you in different ways. So the more you observe, the more details you start to see, the more you realize they are very different indeed and not in the way you may have thought at first glance.
I remember Madison never wanted to kick or move or basically do anything during our non-stress tests with the Perinatologist, during my pregnancy. Kenton would do everything he could to get a perfect "score." I remember that at six o'clock every evening, like clock-work, Kenton would kick, kick, kick, as if to say, "It's time to eat, lady. We're hungry in here." Madison seemed to quietly exist in the world of the womb, happy to be left alone. Happy to be listening and observing the world.
Now it all is clear. Even though, what I'm about to describe might not make sense at first reading. Every day as they become more and more themselves I am struck by how odd and wonderful it is that Madison still needs to be left alone from time to time because he hasn't yet figured out how to channel all the energy he's getting from each interaction through the day. Basically he can lose his shit from the overload. On the other side, Kenton is sitting still, pondering the workings of it all, pulling it apart, putting it back together, all the fine little details, trying to get it right and if it isn't right, if it isn't exactly how he wants it, he too will lose his shit.
Madison is pure energy, emotion, heart. Kenton is pure stillness, reserve, mind. This video (below) says it all. Madison wants to connect. Kenton wants to ponder. Madison wants to sing a song about the world. Kenton wants to draw an image it.
Which is not to say that Kenton isn't emotional and that Madison isn't methodical. That is the fun part. The part that feels like acting during an audition. When you peel back the layers of a character, you find that we all want the same thing: to get what we want. How we go about it and how we are seen by the the world to be going about it can be very different. A good audition is all about quickly finding the tactics you're going to use so the character can try to get what they want in the scene or monologue. When Madison is trying to get what he wants, he is balls out. Whereas, when Kenton is trying to get what he wants, he is thoughtfully looking for a way to make you think that what he wants is what you really want to give him, anyway.
This past week, Madison started getting out of his crib. He was quite stealth about how he got down, though he never tried to hide the fact that he was down. Bra-bro got down. He reading book, I hear Kenton saying loudly from his perch inside in the crib. Madison is sitting quietly in a chair, indeed, reading a book. The first words from Madison's mouth are, I got down. It is, in fact, the truth. Just like every morning his first words are, I need to get my guitar. Where is my guitar? I need my guitar. Also, in fact, the truth. Then, after a morning with company, and too much input, Madison does the full limp-body, hissy-fit, when I catch him peeling an orange that he isn't supposed to have and ask him to give it back to me.
This same week, Kenton got so frustrated with me for not going down the hill on our way home from school that after his time-out for not listening when I asked him to take his shoes and coat off, (and to his credit how could he listen to me for all his screaming;) after his time out, he put his shoes and coat back on (or rather I helped him put his shoes and coat back on, because I saw that he was struggling with it,) after his time out, he put his shoes and coat back on, all the while mumbling to himself, I do it. I do it. I do it, so that he could take his shoes and coat back off, all by himself.
Same but different. Shy extrovert. Outgoing introvert. Creative problem solvers. Passionately determined. Mine.
I'm Kimberly. Single mother by choice. Now also wife. Holder of space. Maker of place. Mom. Mama. Mommy. Mitch. These are my thoughts, reflections, ideas and random observations about raising twin sons.
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