Today these two are nine. Nine years since they appeared on the scene, little stars forever lighting up our lives with their inherent drama and delight. It is a milestone they must celebrate together, on this day when they came onstage as a matched set. Yet I have so few photos of just the two of them together from when they were born…I think I was in a fog, then….desperate to make them blend in with the other three, become a family of seven, that I neglected to capture the twoness of their arrival.

Back then I rarely left the house. It was just so much, to get five kids anywhere – too expensive, too loud, too two everything! For all of their lives, my twins have been good-natured, patient companions, tagging along to all of the older kids’ stuff, always sharing, always being lumped together in a pile, or en masse. Always being numbers 4 & 5, never number 1.

Yet they arrived as a pair. And the truth about twins is that the standard operating system known as ‘mothering’ is altered the moment you are given two. Typically, there is a natural hierarchy based on age. If two of your kids are crying at the same time, you instinctively rush to the littlest, because they need your help MORE. But with twins, you never know which way to turn. How do you choose between two equitable, identical beings?

This morning I frosted sixty-five cupcakes at 6:30am. Because with twins, everything multiplies – laundry, food prep, expenses, time commitments, joy. Everything is amplified, even the wonder of childhood itself….because how can you look at them, this instant cast of characters that magically appeared, your very own chorus line, and not feel over-gifted in the life department:Today these two are nine. They are no longer little, just my littlest, which doesn’t mean much to anyone but me. They now can skip down separate paths, choose wildly divergent clothes, speak up, loudly, on their own behalf. And that means they want less and less to be we, and more and more to be me. They fight now, just hate sharing a room. They want their own space, their own things. And I try to give them that, even though it is a challenge. Because I want them to be individuals first, twins second.

Few mothering challenges have been greater, for me, than treating them independently! For instance, for their birthday – do I get them unique, unlike gifts, even though they are not equitable, or do I get them each the same item, one for each girl? And if I do get them separate gifts entirely, what if one girl is happy with her gifts, and the other isn’t? Should I care? Do I care? When it comes to placement for their classes next year, do I allow one girl to be put in a 3/4 combo, while the other tries out a 4/5 class, which their teachers have informed me is the current plan? Is that equitable? Is it fair? How do I choose which one of them goes where?

We all know that life is not fair. But when you are handed two little people, two tiny souls whom you must raise side-by-side, how do you turn off the emotional aspect of fairness, and equality? How do you mother multiples without losing your mind?

All I know is that it is a daily drama that unfolds between these two, and me, us three. Because, for now, I am still the stage manager of their daily lives, and I want both of these rising stars to shine, which means the spotlight must be shared, parceled out, rotated on a daily basis.

The most I can say confidently is that I tried. And that I’m tired. Mothering is TRIED and TIRED and DIRTE forever switching places in your mind, like a neon billboard flashing overhead, reminding you that the show’s already in progress…that you better sit back and enjoy it before the curtain falls, the lights dim, the cast fades away. Remind yourself that today is the day the show began, and how brightly the stars still shine in your eyes…