Party of Five
How on earth can a toddler and twins be good for a marriage?
By Robyn Davis Sekula
Hybrid Mom | Summer 2007
Never have a child to try to save your marriage, experts warn, and I agree. It’s foolish to think a baby can fix everything. But sometimes, two babies that come at the same time can bring you together in a way that nothing else ever did.
My husband and I debated long and hard before we decided to have a second child. I, an only child, desperately wanted to make sure my oldest daughter, Abby, wouldn’t be alone the day she had to drive her mommy to the old lady home. My husband, however, thought that having more children would drive us to the loony bin.
My presentation, though, eventually won him over. It was a dark and stormy night. We were alone. I was there and awake. And that was all it took. But he drew his line in the sand, only one more, no siree, not three kids. I won’t have it!
And then, the ultrasound: twins. I declared that we would immediately be purchasing a mini-van, and began making my to-do list. Greg sat in mouth-agape shock and we clutched hands in what became pure glee. After we met with the doctor, who told me to significantly up my calorie intake (hurray!), Greg wandered into the parking lot of the hospital clutching the fuzzy ultrasound images, back to work to sit through a meeting I’m sure he didn’t contribute to. I had long thought that having three kids might be nice. Two is good; I like matched sets. But three, that would be slightly wild, bohemian, in a devil-may-care sort of hippie kind of way. It would be zone defense, not man-on-man. And that way, if one went to prison, that would be only 33 percent of your crop that went south on you. With only two kids, if one goes to prison, that’s a 50 percent failure rate. I’d feel really bad about that.
So, Mother Nature helped me win one. And funny thing is, twins have been great for our marriage. It is devil-may-care complete chaotic rhapsody at my house. Dinner is usually one of our children crying (usually one of the twins) as we gulp down some lukewarm skillet concoction. Dinner out with the kids (or without) is rare. Many a night we’ve tucked the three-year-old into bed at 7:30 p.m., grabbed a nice glass of wine and settled in to watch the latest and greatest from Netflix. We sit on the couch and hold hands and hold babies, or, as we did tonight, finally get the babies to sleep and begin our separate tasks --- mine is balance the checkbook, his is catch up on some work-related reading, while watching the movie.
In the early days of twins, when one of us got up in the night, the other one got up, too. There was no more of this “it’s your turn, no, it’s your turn” back and forth that you have with one baby. Nope. If one was up, so was the other one, and then everyone was up. With Abby, our first child, I had given Greg a reprieve; he slept in the spare bedroom for months while I nursed Abby in the middle of the night and watched endless infomercials and secretly began to build a resentment that only a night out on the town that lasted for a month could fix. No, this time, we were the walking dead together. Those middle-of-the-night feedings were somehow romantic, feeding babies and laughing together about our shared fatigue.
The twins are 11 months old now. They poop together, they throw up together, and they cry, yes, together. Our three-year-old embraces it and enjoys it for the most part, but also eats a lot of Cheetos. We don’t drink as much now that we’re getting some sleep. And did I mention I got an I.U.D.? I didn’t want the next batch to be triplets. Though twins can bring you closer together, triplets might kill us. Separately.
Our attitudes have melded into one happy little unit, most days. I handle crisis much better than my husband. If both babies are crying at the same time, and the three-year-old, I try to calm the three-year-old (Cheetos), and then the babies, one at a time. The evening I left him at home with both barfing twins while I ran to the grocery store cost us some serious in-bed talking time, during which we dissected how we had handled things. The verdict: poorly at best.
What unites us as a couple these days is our shared perspective. We both believe that in spite of our collective tempers, flaws and inability to properly comfort crying children, we are decent parents. We each believe that the other is a better parent. We each think that the children will probably turn out OK, but mostly that’s in spite of us.
We aren’t bad people. We just know that one day, our children will be talking to friends about how incredibly cheap we are, frequenting yard sales and getting our hair cut by one of those chain places that give everyone the same bowl cut, and buying generic food, brands you’ve never heard of that spell country with a K. They’ll sigh and whine about how we didn’t buy them that pony they always wanted. As long as they aren’t telling this to their cell mate, I’ll be fine with that.
We each believe that if we don’t laugh at this incredible pickle we’re in most days, that we’ll cry. And once the crying starts, it may not stop. The days that the pickle jar starts to feel too confining, we call the world’s most fabulous babysitter, Amanda, and plan an evening out. We attempt to talk about something other than our children, but for the most part, we just enjoy the conversation that isn’t interrupted by a three-year-old’s impromptu concert or a twin’s crying. We enjoy sometimes just being that ordinary couple that we were, for seven years, before kids, when we talked about nothing and even seemed a little bored.
For now, it’s enough. This, too, shall pass, ever so quickly, so I’m told, and one day, the luxury of a baby for every lap will seem so distant and all we’ll have is the memories of what it was like to have a baby pull your glasses right off of your face while you were rocking them to sleep at night.
That is, until Abby has her triplets.
Robyn Davis Sekula is a New Albany, Indiana-based freelance writer who has a magnificent, recently-completed attic office with a door that, when shut, almost drowns out the sounds of children crying.