Ned and Fred Mitchell with Denise Anderson Garzelli and Diane Anderson Stillwell.
A trip to the annual Twins Days Festival helps one mom of multiples see life through her daughters’ eyes.
Cleveland is magical today.
Maybe I should be more specific. Twinsburg, Ohio — a small town 30 minutes outside Cleveland — is magical today.
I’m standing in the line for a child’s bounce house, flanked by my 3-year-old identical twin daughters, Claire and Olivia. It is our first visit to the annual Twins Days Festival, and as I soak up the sunshine and the cool breeze, I look down to see Olivia wrapping her arms around her sister’s neck.
Normally, this would mean that my loving but rough-and-tumble twins were about to throw down and the volume was about to be turned up. But this time is different. This time, Olivia is embracing her sister. She’s beaming with pure love for Claire. I am speechless.
It would be an understatement to say the relationship between my girls is complex, but this moment is refreshingly simple. Standing under the clear blue sky, they are hugging.
At times, parenting young twins is like walking through a very dense fog, but one thing is abundantly clear: Claire and Olivia share something with each other that neither myself, my husband nor our older daughter, Kate, will ever understand. And that is why we are here. I am hoping to catch a glimpse of their world, and this weekend, their world has descended upon Ohio.
I could never have predicted that I would walk away from the Twins Days Welcome Wiener Roast a changed woman, but I did. And my twin daughters changed too.
But I’m telling you the end of our story before I even tell you the beginning. Let’s get you up to speed:
I’m covered by a sheet in a dimly lit room. I’m pregnant. I’m nervous. My doctor is sure I’m fine, but I’m here “just in case.”
The ultrasound technician places the wand on my newly swollen belly, and two large circles appear on the screen. Surely those aren’t what I think they are. The technician nods her head; the room goes blurry.
My husband and I take our 5-year-old daughter out to dinner by herself for what may be the last time. With my belly housing not one but two inhabitants, I struggle to fit into the booth. I can barely bend forward to eat my meal, but at the same time, I’ve dropped very little on my shirt. My success is short-lived, though, as I begin to choke on a sip of water and attract the attention of three well-dressed young women sitting at a table just across the aisle. They look at me with a mixture of concern and horror. Okay, just horror. Don’t be so smug, ladies. One day this might be you.
My identical twin girls are born. Relief washes over me. Thank goodness they’re healthy. Thank goodness I’m OK. Thank goodness for this delicious hospital-grade chocolate pudding. Our adventure is about to begin.
2007, 2008, 2009:
These years are a complete and utter blur. Two babies is a lot of babies. A lot of poop, a lot of tears, a lot of giggles, a lot of mess, a lot of chubby feet and fingers and tummies. A lot of stuff happened, I’m sure, but my memory of it is fuzzy, a result of the sheer intensity of work it takes to raise twins. There is a lot of everything in those first years, but, sadly, there’s not a lot of sleep.