The most amazing development over the two-plus months with the twins actually only indirectly involves them. As much as they’ve grown and developed since they were born, Madison’s maturity has blown them away.
Madison is a collection of my traits and Lynnette’s, the best ones and also the worst. In particular, she is stubborn like Lynnette but manifests her disdain through caustic wordplay like I do. It is absolutely crushing when she says or does something to oppose me and the very first thing I think of is that old PSA with the dad holding the box of drugs asking his son “Where did you get this? Where did you learn how to do this?” I imagine Mad shouting “You, alright? I learned it from wathing you!”
Over the last two years I have struggled to teach Madison that she should be considerate of the needs of others. “It isn’t always about what you want,” I have said a billion-kajillion times. I am not proud to say these conversations at times have escalated to shouting matches. It had become such a frequent issue that it kept me up at night. I am an over-thinker by nature and this particular problem seemed to have no solution. Then Cole and Avery came along.
Madison loves her brother and sister more than anything else in her life. I know this because she has sacrificed nearly everything else in the service of the twins. She puts down her toys to pick them up and tote them around the house. She tears off her earphones and pauses the video on her iPad to get them burp cloths and bibs. Sure, sometimes her body language betrays the fact that she’d rather not, but overall, the frequency of her complaints has dropped off dramatically.
Earlier this week I got home and plopped down in front of the twins so Lynnette could manage some other aspect of our lives. Madison was doing her homework at the computer desk. “Let me tell you two a story, ” I said.
Do you guys know who Madison is? Your big sister? That’s right! She’s the super-loud girl that teaches your exercise classes. What you two don’t know about her is that for the first 7 years of her life she was the only child in this house. And even though all of mom and dad’s attention focused on her, there were still times that we were busy and Madison had to do things by herself. Not like you guys! You guys are going to be together forever! But so yeah, sometimes Madison would play by herself in her room. She would set up her dolls and her toys and do all the talking parts for everyone. She cooked for her stuffed animals and made them tea. And when mommy and daddy would see this, our hearts felt very sad for Madison.
Because of this, more than anything in the world, she wanted a brother or sister. When we told Madison that mommy was pregnant, she called the two of you “hatch-eggs”. She actually read through more of the pregnancy books than daddy ever did! She constantly asked mommy about the hatch-eggs. When mommy got bigger, Madison wouldn’t let mommy do things that she thought would hurt the hatch-eggs. No jumping. No running. No hikes. No beach.
Madison promised that she would be a very good big sister. Mom and dad (mostly dad) had doubts. How could the only child adjust? But I don’t have to tell you the next part, because you already know: Madison is the best big sister ever, right? But let me tell you why. I think Madison remembers what life was like without you. She remembers playing by herself. She remembers what it was like to be alone. And now she knows that because you’re here, she will never have to feel that way again. That’s why she loves you guys so much. Did you guys know that?
The twins waved their arms and kicked their legs. There was some babbling. I looked up at Madison who had turned in the desk chair to face us. She was a little teary. I nodded in her direction. She closed her eyes and nodded back, then swiveled to finish her homework.