I am a 'twin parent' which means that I am a parent to twins, not that I have a similar looking Belgian parent that I visit once a decade! Having my surname precipitated the nomenclature 'David Cloake, Double Yolk' - more especially in the early days of the wife's pregnancy! She informs me that I can claim no credit along those lines - but that didn't stop the Alpha Male from chest beating (and I am not referring to St Nicky of Gumbel either - he is quite another Alpha Male - and I wonder whether it is true that conservative evangelicals read the Alpha Mail?!) Anyway ...
The last few days have seen a poorly twinny - and it made me think once again about the specific demands on twin parents. I will list just a couple so that you can gain an insight to this rather odd world (privileged and arduous in equal measure)
1. We were expecting two kids, sex unknown, and we had to have four names. Two girls were born so we were left with two girl's names. Which baby gets which name? On what basis is that choice made? That was an interesting thing an hour into their life.
2. Being twin parents is like being two cohabiting single parents. We each have one of our own to look after, as it were - especially in the early days. Each has a nappy to change at every round, each a bottle to feed (only the bravest of twin mothers do the boob thing, which aerates the breast-feeding lobby no end). No rumpy-pumpy either, not in the first few months ... no time, too tired.
3. In the event that one of us was alone with both babies - and both cried, how could we fully comfort both? Lifting one floppy infant is tough enough, let alone two howlers. For the first few times that hurt - really really hurt.
4. So they are growing and developing apace. Watching two children who are in all but the smallest details the same, developing and finding their way in the world is simply amazing. Watching their first interactions with one another; watching them play together now; listening to them imagine; seeing how very different their personalities are - manna from Heaven to me!
5. Twins are not singleton babies 'plus' - having two passing the same developemental stages at the same time is interesting, let's say. Two weaners, two potty-trainers, two kids that even yet have not mastered whole night sleeping (at the same time), two lots of chickenpox and barf - tiring doesn't even cover it.
6. Receiving the first two Father's Day cards that they have ever made [today] - priceless.
It is a relatively rare privilege being a parent to twinnies. Jessica and Rebekah are a constant joy and root my life so firmly on the ground that I nearly have flat feet. The admiration of passers-by (and the silly questions: are they twins? [no love, I clone babies]; are they both girls? [no, I have clothed the boy in a dress to skew his self-image]; awww, double-trouble I bet ['BOGOF' - breed one get one free]; where does the red hair come from? [the local twin wig shop, don't you know it?]; are their twins in the family? [yes, these ones, silly - plus the nine other sets we keep for special occasions] ... and so on add a quality to my life that is magical. So, Happy Father's Day to those of you for whom that applies - although the day itself it is a bit of an invention, no better job exists than that of 'Dad' if that is who you are called to be.