The twins turned 5 years old yesterday.
This past year has been such an experience for me individually and for us as a family. About two months after Elias was born, I slipped headlong into a deep, dark depression. It really deserves its own post, but for now, I will say that it got scary.
So, about six months ago, I got serious about my mental health. Like, really serious. As in, no fucking around anymore. I have made more progress in the past six months than I have in a lifetime of therapy and drugs. Probably part of it was my dedication to getting myself in a better place, and part of it was just my age. I think the 30′s really are as great as they say they are.
So what does this have to do with the twins turning 5? Everything. Because as I’ve started to heal, our relationship has blossomed in unimaginable ways. I feel so deeply connected to them and their response tells me that they feel it, too. My eyes are open now and I’m amazed at these two beautiful beings.
Elise . . . oh, where do I begin. Elise is kind, maternal, giving, and sensitive. She is moved to tears by the beauty of a drawing or the sadness of a song or movie. She’s a helper and will (usually) quickly move to help me with cleaning up or cooking. She loves her baby brother with all her heart and is quick to protect him from harm.
I’ve seen her patience level soar over the past few months. Where she might have previously put the smack-down on Amaia for stealing a toy, she will now try to negotiate or share. For instance, Elise and Althea got Lalaloopsy ponies as a birthday gift from a friend. Amaia immediately usurped the ponies, of course. Rather than freaking out and throwing a fit, Elise patiently asked, “Amaia, will you please give me back my pony?” And then later: “Amaia, are you ever going to give me my pony back?” And finally, still pony-less at the end of the day: “Amaia, you’re never going to give me back my pony, are you?” Never once did she try to yank it out of her little sister’s hand.
And wow, is she ever an artist. She will draw for hours, page after page of really unique and bizarre stuff. Swirls and curls and improbable scenarios with intricate details. Her doodles cover everything in sight — walls, doors, furniture, the car leather. She went through a pirate-inspired phase where she put X’s on everything. To this day, I’m still finding X’s in corners of the closets and behind random doors. She’ll complete a schoolwork assignment, then cover it in doodles. Here’s the front page of a recent worksheet:
She completed the assignment. Then, she drew faces on all of the produce and anthropomorphized all the food at the bottom.
On the back side of the same paper:
She explained that this is a prince with zig-zag legs who is crying because the princess didn’t choose him.
Elise still loves the color purple and pizza. She’s not at all afraid of bugs, dead worms, or dirt. The messier, the better, as far as she is concerned.
Althea is a sassy, feminine little thing. She loves everything princesses, makeup, dresses, and dancing. She changes clothes 10 times a day and will frequently protest the outfits I choose for her. Her favorite thing in the world is to put on a really twirly dress, a tiara, and play high heels. I’ve caught her flipping through my magazines to look at the ladies wearing makeup and fancy dresses. She tends toward laziness and bossiness. We sometimes have to remind her to watch her tone!
Althea loves to read, write, and draw. Like Elise, she’ll sit for hours, just drawing. Her drawings tend to be more ‘literal’ and decidedly feminine — everyone has long eyelashes and lipstick. She’s also very much into making “lists”.
Her belly is sensitive. She doesn’t take criticism well. She loves ladybugs and the color red. She’s loves Daddy especially. Where Elise is a bit more independent, Althea will climb into our bed more nights than not.
This is our last year together “at home” before the twins move on to elementary school. I’m excited for them — this is the first year they’ve really liked school and have been motivated by the structure, rules, and consequences. I think they’ll do great in kindergarten and beyond. I try not to indulge the future too much, instead focusing on being patient and present in today.
Happy birthday to my big girls!