Off Duty

The girls are visiting a friend’s ranch. If there’s such a thing as Karma, parents who take other people’s kids on a three day overnight get triple bonus points and a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card.  It’s winter break so Leo is home from college. It’s just me, Matthew, Leo and Eli for a couple of days. As the only female in the house I have noticed three major changes.

1.  There is no singing.

My girls sing all the time – real songs, made up songs and original remixes. The car is their recording studio – if we are in the car they are singing. It sounds Hallmark sweet, doesn’t it? How can I put this delicately. My husband Matthew is just about the kindest person I know and he in all earnestness suggested buying the girls a Groupon for singing lessons. The offer did not resonate for the twins and he immediately went back into his office. These are the same girls who in between fights had an acapella contest using the same song for the entire drive from Austin to Florida and back. By the end of the trip I drove mostly late at night so they would be asleep. It didn’t matter that I can’t see well in the dark because of my middle age depth perception issues. I would get behind an eighteen wheeler and just follow the lights.

2.  It’s calmer.

My girls’ emotions color our house as if someone left the spin art machine on overnight with too much paint. I know this sounds like a stereotype but it’s our reality and they are twelve. I’m the emotional SWAT team commander at our house and the first responder to all things combative. You know it’s bad when I have to call in Matthew, aka the Lila Whisperer.  At that point Lila has shot back so many rounds of button-pushing artillery and I am woman down. She is the most like me which gives her an unfair advantage. With just the boys home I’m not on alert for the next ambush or random grenade.

3.  I have more personal space.

I was an only child for ten years and then I had a brother. I like to be alone. I’m not a team joiner and have always participated in individual sports. I did not join a sorority and although I have planned an inpromptu wedding for a friend, I have never been a bridesmaid. Don’t get me wrong, I think women are fantastic, most likely the superior gender, and my friendships are what I value most after my family. However, my temperament is such that I don’t travel in packs. It’s a strange turn of events that my daughters were born as a pack and they have made me their leader. We go everywhere together. They text me, call me if I’m gone too long, talk to me about EVERYTHING, and look to me as the master of the activity schedule. It’s a big job for an introvert.

This morning I woke up missing Georgia and Lila. We share an energy and need for motion that enlivens our house. They want to be busy and are up for anything. When the girls were born, their pediatrician joked that the wrong babies were placed in the Breston Bassinet. I might have believed it too had I not seen them after they were born. Georgia with her red hair, blue eyes and fair skin and Lila with her dark hair, brown eyes and tan skin. They don’t look like sisters much less twins. Their personalities are as different as their physical selves. Georgia is what would be considered more traditionally feminine and Lila is more like me, a bit feral. We have come together by the happy accident of genetics, cosmic chance and my over-achieving ovary.

I won’t lie, I have basked in the glorious stillness of this rare off duty parenting time but I would not trade the silence and the space for being their pack leader.

One thought on “Off Duty

  1. How heart warming this is! And funny! When Victoria was 7, she thought she could sing like the little mermaid – non-stop “scales.” 😉 Yes, that’s when we put her in choir. Thankfully, she can carry a tune quite nicely now.

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