“Are you excited to be a big brother, sweetie pie?”
We were at the self-check out at the fancy grocery store, and Wilder was inches away from bursting into flames because I wouldn’t buy him a giant mylar balloon with a picture of Jesus on it. He looked up at the aging Southern belle who’d questioned him and asserted, “Yeth,” in his perfect toddler lisp—the kind of impossibly adorable speech impediment only made possible by tic-tac sized toddler teeth atop a regular sized tongue. He pitched a bag of Italian Parsley onto her loafers.
Unruffled, she clapped her well-spangled fingers together and cooed, “Well isn’t that just wonderful?!”
She picked up the parsley and walked away, her caftan—you know, the kind with ALL of the animal prints on it—swung dramatically as she passed the bell peppers.
I sighed. Perhaps too audibly. We’d been getting questions like these a lot lately. I couldn’t really fault anyone. At 28 weeks pregnant with twins, I was the most conspicuously pregnant person on the planet.
I’m in my third trimester. The final countdown is happening. Right now. Just like in Rocky IV, except my training montage would basically just be a bunch of images of me eating different flavors of gelatos and trying to get up from the can without having to grab the toilet paper holder for support. And also, my babies are nothing like Dolph Lundgren. I don’t think. Point is: the twindom is immiment. These kids are no longer possibilities floating around underneath my belly button, they have names and Ikea furniture and tiny little nail clippers the size of Barbie shoes. They also have a big brother. And the remarkably peaceful autocracy over which he hails is about to crumble right underneath his Stride Rites. As we walked to the van that day, I couldn’t stop thinking about his interaction with caftan lady and it’s not just because she smelled like the interior of a Porsche Cayenne and dressed like a wealthy fortune teller, but because I was yet again, reminded that our borderline sacrosanct, impervious-to-everything mother-son relationship was on the precipice of revolution.
I hate caftan lady. Hate her. AND the seemingly hundreds of completely innocuous versions of her that have approached us over the past several months. They are well intentioned of course, some of the tiny, fluffy senior ones are downright loveable but I can’t quite get past the subtext of these brief exchanges,
“YOUR WORLD IS ABOUT TO CHANGE, JUNIOR! KISS THAT NICE LADY THAT’S BEEN FEEDING YOU GOODBYE”
Having spent the past two years hopelessly devoted to the tiny hellion at my heels, I am thoroughly terrified for him.
Confession: Wilder is a little bit spoiled. He’s not overindulged in the precocious, reality TV dance kid sense, but in the subtle, accidental way a lot of first kiddos are: He is the center of my universe, this not a choice, this is a reality. This is just what happens when you become a mother. He is loved ferociously and boundlessly. More so than I ever thought possible. He doesn’t get everything he wants by any means, but I’ve poured my entire being into every agonizing decision concerning his upbringing from the brand of diapers we used to the pre-school we chose. When it comes to time, attention and unabashed worry (oh, the worry!), the kid’s had carte blanche since day one. Yes, I’ve read the article that says that your kids should never ever come first, and the one that says if they do, you must never let them know, and of course, they one that says putting your kids second is really putting them first but at the end of the day none of that changes the fact that he’s stood unchallenged, at the center of pretty much everything I do since the day he was born. He’s never been anything less than my top priority and he’s never had to share that strange and powerful momma love with anybody else. Until now.
So. What exactly happens now?
Well, as his mother—the person in charge of supporting him through all of these jarring life changes—I just don’t know. But like most rational and discerning parents, I’ve conducted approximately three million midnight Google searches trying to figure it out. Trying to determine what this next chapter is going to look like and how best to prepare my dear son for sharing his gilded baby throne with two tiny beings that will surely look more like French crullers than humans for the first several months of their lives. The futile search for answers has driven me mad—night after night, sitting there by the light of the open refrigerator, unable to sleep, and taking my anxiety out on expired ranch dressing and Kettle Chips. I even “Bing”-ed once out of sheer desperation.
We’ve done all of the things that the Internet said to do. Literally—all of them. He’s read the books about how plum fantastic it is to be a big brother (all full of lies, BTW), and we’ve gotten up close and personal with the infant offspring of any non-germaphobe who has crossed our path. I’ve taken the poor little dude to FIVE ultrasounds! I even bought him a pair of fraternal twin dolls from Pottery Barn, but he mostly just hides them in the washing machine and tries to draw on their faces with sidewalk chalk. I’ve also done plenty of things all of those “.orgs” didn’t suggest—like sitting him in the nursery (or ”twins office” as he calls it) and trying to explain the concept of independence…whilst holding him tightly, rocking him furiously, and trying not to sob at the very thought of him playing with his trucks by himself. On days when I’m particularly fatalistic and hormone drunk, I just spoil him. Things look a little bit like the toddler version of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” We jump from zoo to park to ice cream to Toys R Us to another park, just in case he never gets to see a zebra or eat soft serve ever again—since his life after the siblings arrive will most certainly be like North Korean jail.
You know what, y’all? I’m not sure any of it will make a lick of difference. Because Wilder isn’t really the problem here. It’s me. He isn’t the one eating spoiled salad dressing and weeping like Mufasa just died at 3am on a Thursday. He’s not the one frantically Googling “Psychological Effects of Growing Up With Twin Siblings.” Sure, the transition will be challenging, and I imagine there will be a good deal of utter confusion on his end, but there are plenty of things he doesn’t yet understand in this life—like nuclear fission…and why he has to wear pants. Unfortunately, whether I like it or not, I can’t figure any of it out for him. All I can do is try my best to not completely fall apart as I watch him (and his siblings…I almost forgot about them) navigate childhood, adolescence, and this funny period beyond all of that that I happen to find myself in now.
And maybe try to avoid any friendly-looking older ladies in the produce section until after I give birth.