The mystery of twinship

Angie Kinghorn's twinsMy twins have always been close, and it’s not just because they moved from the same womb to the same room, sharing a Moses basket and a crib in between. There’s something special about these two. How it happened is beyond me. Literally beyond me. It has to be God, because for the first two years of their lives, I existed in a daze, living in the spaces between feedings and changings and naps. By popular parenting standards, I was not a fabulous mom. I barely breastfed, had postpartum depression, never bought organic anything, and was thrilled when they watched TV.

Through their first two years, I wrote, emailing volumes of twin stories to family and friends. My mother recently sent them all back, and I as I read, I realized that most of my memories from that time are gone, save for a general feeling of hopelessness, exhaustion, and panic.

Yet the words seem strangely familiar, a reflection in a store window. Through their lens I can appreciate that what seemed like an utterly black time did contain moments of beauty and grace, and that I was a good mother. Now my twins are six, and I am so thankful to my mother for preserving those words so I can put it all together and marvel at the panoramic puzzle that is twinship, starting from the beginning.

The Morse code tapped out in my distended belly was communication, but not necessarily with me. In my lower abdomen, my son slumbered, and under my ribcage, my daughter, feisty and awake, kicked restlessly. Wake up, she telegraphed.

A blow to my kidney made me gasp and my son answered. No. I’m sleeping. Stop kicking me.

She responded with a series of jabs. I want to be born already. This is boring.

Well, just stop moving. I’m trying to sleep. There’s not enough room in here to even think about being born.

Naturally, my daughter got her way.

Swaddled and in the same crib, they found peace only when they found each other. Their foreheads pressed together as they slept, breathing together, dreaming together, already forming a trinity of him and her and them.

Babble turned to first words in their language instead of mine. Deep philosophical conversations, from the sound of it, conducted entirely in twin-speak, and comprehensible only to the speakers.

They are each other’s security blankets, covering all manner of hurts and needs. A mother’s hug might soothe, but only the other half can make things whole.

My twins are two people, distinct in every way. One boy, one girl. One light, one dark. Photo negatives of each other in thought and in action. Where one has shadow, the other rushes to fill the space with light.

Now, I watch as the threads that connect them multiply, weaving a pattern on an invisible loom, using an ancient craft that can’t be taught. The rest of us are blessed enough to watch it happen, and as outsiders, we only catch glimpses of this gossamer mesh that binds, moments that leave us struck dumb with disbelief at the beauty of this communion. In those moments, I see God through my children, around my children, binding them together with the sticky silk of love.

This mesh forms a beautiful interweaving of lives and space and thoughts and touch that I will never fully understand, even as their mother. The threads that bind aren’t restraints; they’re a web of love and language and unspoken thoughts. If one needs the other, they snap back; a rubber band released. I watch, and I marvel, but I see through a haze, knowing the details will never be clear for anyone but the two of them.

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50 Responses to The mystery of twinship
  1. Lindsey
    March 15, 2013 | 11:46 am

    This is beautiful. My father and my husband are both twins, and I’ve had an up-close view of a very special relationship for many years. There’s something alchemical in the texture of those relationships that I can neither understand nor articulate. xoxo

    • Angie
      March 15, 2013 | 12:22 pm

      Thank you.

      “Alchemical” is exactly the right word for it. It’s beautiful to watch, isn’t it?

  2. angela
    March 15, 2013 | 12:31 pm

    This is so beautiful. I have chills, honestly. What a wonder for them to have each other, and what a wonder for you to experience it as their mother. xo

    • Angie
      March 15, 2013 | 12:40 pm

      Thank you, Angela. I’m so grateful every day that we had twins. It’s hard to imagine them without each other, or even just with the other as a couple-of-years-removed sibling. It wouldn’t be the same at all.

  3. Kir
    March 15, 2013 | 12:39 pm

    I am so happy that I read this today, it’s something I have been thinking about a lot…been pondering the unique bond of the boys that I waited so long for.

    You say it so well with the negative of each other, the way that they truly care for one another…and teach me in so many ways about the bond of love.

    Angie, I loved this. As a twin mom and as your friend.

    • Angie
      March 15, 2013 | 12:43 pm

      Kirsten, so glad another twin mom got to read this! I know all twins aren’t like this, but for those who have a close bond, whoa, it’s amazing.

      I’m glad you like the photo negatives of each other line; it’s my favorite.

      Thanks so much for reading!

      • Kir
        March 15, 2013 | 12:51 pm

        I finally just gave myself an email subscription to you, so I don’t miss a thing. This was just a beautiful thing to read today.

        • Angie
          March 15, 2013 | 12:55 pm

          Yay!!!! What a wonderful thing to hear!

        • Doctor G
          March 15, 2013 | 7:05 pm

          What a cool way to put that Kir! Your generosity of spirit always touches me.

  4. Kir
    March 15, 2013 | 12:40 pm

    plus I have a picture VERY similar to this one in my stash too..the way they always “come back together” even today.

    WOW.

    • Angie
      March 15, 2013 | 12:47 pm

      We have so many pictures like that it isn’t even funny. One time, it was close to lunch, and I swear, I am not making this up, I walked into the nursery and found that Anne had latched onto Grant’s nose!!! Of course the first thing I did was grab a camera and get a picture.

      • Kir
        March 15, 2013 | 12:50 pm

        LOL..of course..
        and when they were infants, I would put them in the pack-n-play very far apart (you know like a decent mother who was afraid they would smother each other), I’d pee or a wash some dishes , and come back. They would be tucked into one another again..sleeping so soundly with their bodies all wrapped up into another. I still get misty eyed thinking of it, how like magnets they just attracted each other.

        I think you gave me my Pour your heart Out idea for next Wed..thank you. XO

        • Angie
          March 15, 2013 | 12:55 pm

          You’re so welcome! Ours did that, too. No matter where we put them, they found each other. We kept them in the same crib until 4 months or so, when our pediatrician said we had to stop. Then they freaked out, until I wised up and removed the crib bumpers. Once they could see each other, they were fine!

  5. Elaine A.
    March 15, 2013 | 12:42 pm

    I grew up in school with several sets of twins and I always found it so fascinating. I always wondered what it would be like to have someone who looked so much like and you and had the same birthday. It must be amazing to watch them together from birth and on. Beautiful words, Angie. Just lovely…

    • Angie
      March 15, 2013 | 12:48 pm

      It is amazing, Elaine. Sometimes I wish I could be in their shoes for just a day. They understand each other in a way none of the rest of us do. And when they’re apart, it’s as if they’re still somehow tethered. I pray that they will remain so close as they get older.

  6. erin margolin
    March 15, 2013 | 2:39 pm

    Angie,

    This made me cry because I barely remember the first years of my twins’ lives, either. YOu give me validation. Much needed. Even now that they’re seven years old. I hate that I was so sleep deprived and depressed I can’t remember everything. All I have is what I wrote in their baby books. I didn’t even journal during that time….

    Beautiful piece, beautiful babies, beautiful writing—beautiful YOU.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:41 pm

      Oh, Erin. Much love, hon.

      And YOU give ME validation, on a continuing basis. Thank you so much, my dear friend.

  7. Jessica
    March 15, 2013 | 2:48 pm

    Gorgeously put. I was just thinking about this exact thing today. We always go to open gymnastics on Friday and invite a friend and they love it, but today McKenna asked me not to invite anyone. When I asked why she said it was because she “just wanted Parker.” I had never thought about the fact that when we bring someone else it takes a little of their attention away from each other. I love that even though they are growing up and apart a little that they still always find their way back to each other.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 1:06 pm

      I love that. And that you recognize how special the relationship is–that’s so important. I chose to put mine in the same class this year, and everyone seems to think that was a crazy choice, but I did it because they didn’t know anyone else at the school, it was their first year, and frankly, I want them to hold on to this wonderful relationship. Because you’re right–as they grow up, they grow apart a little. But I’m hoping they’ll always find their way back to each other like they do now.

      Thanks so much for stopping by.

  8. tracy@sellabitmum
    March 15, 2013 | 2:56 pm

    Oh hon, this is so beautiful. xo

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 1:06 pm

      Thanks, Tracy. Means so much coming from you!

  9. Poppy
    March 15, 2013 | 3:00 pm

    I love how you describe yourself as an outsider to their communication, but the way you have written it makes me wish I would have had a chance to witness as a mother. (Almost!) Loved it, lady.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 1:07 pm

      It’s not the easiest thing, that’s for sure! Sometimes I do feel left out. But in a good way.

  10. Galit Breen
    March 15, 2013 | 3:19 pm

    Oh such beautiful words, Angie. I love the way you used them to share so very much of your love for your sweeties and what you see in their relationship.

    Beautiful, truly.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 1:07 pm

      Oh, thank you, Galit. Thank you so very much.

  11. Robin | Farewell, Stranger
    March 15, 2013 | 4:11 pm

    This is so lovely, Angie. What a wonderful thing to be able to witness.

    Boy/girl twins fascinate me. I’d love to know what they’re like as they get older.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:42 pm

      I’ll keep you posted. I hope with all my soul they’ll remain as close as they get older.

  12. Jennifer
    March 15, 2013 | 4:36 pm

    Those early days really do all blend in together. It is so wonderful that your mom kept all of the things you wrote. I’m sure she knew that you would want to read them later.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:43 pm

      Before she sent those emails back, I thought of myself as a useless, lazy, worthless lump of blah in those early days. When I re-read them, I realized I was so busy I could hardly sit down.

      It’s one of the best gifts she’s ever given me. And I just found out my sister kept them all, too.

  13. Andrea
    March 15, 2013 | 5:42 pm

    Oh, Angie – this is so beautiful. I’m so touched, and I don’t know your children, nor have I had twins, but what amazing writing and words. I can hear and feel your heart and I thank you so much for sharing it with us all. (hugs) *And how much does your mom rock for saving all of that!?! That is awesome!!

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:44 pm

      Thank you, Andrea. This was hard to put into words, but it’s so beautiful it deserved my best effort!

  14. Doctor G
    March 15, 2013 | 7:06 pm

    I feel that some sets of twins are like certain sunsets or flowers – a quiet proof of the divine. I’m glad that, to offset the difficulty your depression brought you, you were given this beauty.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:45 pm

      That? Is the most beautiful comment I’ve ever received.

      Oh, thank you so much for those words.

  15. Alison
    March 15, 2013 | 8:08 pm

    The picture just slays me!
    This is beautiful, Angie. What a privilege, to watch such a special bond form and blossom.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:46 pm

      I have hundreds of pictures of them like that, Alison. Always turned toward each other, always touching. It’s an amazing thing. When he got out of the NICU in the hospital, they put them in the same isolette, and since then, they’ve been inseparable.

  16. Laura
    March 15, 2013 | 8:23 pm

    Wow. You just gave me a beautiful glimpse into a world that I have never experienced. It sounds beautiful and overwhelming and frustrating all at the same time. Selfishly I read this and though “I wouldn’t want that. As their Mom – *I* would want to be that person.” But then I realized what a unique blessing it is for them to have each other in such a deep way.

    Stunning.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:47 pm

      Like I said above, sometimes I feel left out, and sometimes I do find myself saying, “Hello? Do you hear me? Y’all! Stop talking to each other for a second and listen to your mother!”

      But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

  17. Leigh Ann
    March 15, 2013 | 8:58 pm

    It is so strange to be such an outside looking in to such a bond. It’s small things. They never spoke in twin speak, but are always touching when sitting on the couch together. And they are definitely each other’s security. Worst enemy at times, but mostly security and best friends.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:49 pm

      I’m so glad you got to read this! The twin speak was soooo weird. I wish I’d videotaped it.

      Mine are almost always touching, too. When they eat, they often keep their feet on each other’s chairs.

      And like your twins, mine fight like crazy sometimes, but they always come back to each other.

  18. Blake
    March 15, 2013 | 10:57 pm

    I just adore thus picture. So so very precious!

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:49 pm

      Thank you! And thank you for reading!

  19. Kristin Shaw (Two Cannoli)
    March 16, 2013 | 12:25 am

    Angie, I loved this beautiful look into the lives of twins – I don’t have any twins in my family, and it is an amazing mystery to me! The way you described their bond – and yours to them – is gorgeous.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:51 pm

      I wish there were a manual for twins. There are so many strange issues that crop up, and while we have some in our family, they’re so far removed that I didn’t grow up even knowing about them. So much of the conventional parenting advice just doesn’t work with two!

      Thank you for your kind words, Kristin.

  20. Alex@LateEnough
    March 16, 2013 | 9:12 am

    What a beautiful piece. I love your willingness to let your twins have each other first. It speaks volumes about you as a mom because there’s so much cultural pressure for mom to be first and that you don’t interject yourself that way speaks to your humility and strength. You are and have been a great mom to your twins.

    • Angie
      March 16, 2013 | 2:53 pm

      Alex! I’m so glad you’re here.

      I never thought of it that way–of letting them have each other first. I don’t know that there was ever any other choice, or that I could have made another one.

      Thanks for saying that about being a great mom. Lord knows there have been SO many times I haven’t felt like it.

      • Alex@LateEnough
        March 16, 2013 | 3:32 pm

        Even if there wasn’t another choice, you could’ve made them feel bad about it. Instead you embraced it. xoxo

  21. Amy@SoulDipper
    March 16, 2013 | 3:03 pm

    The Lives of Twins have baffled some of my best friends. Only the two of them know the inexplicable.

    What a great thing that you have your own words to remind you…

  22. sarah @sundayspill
    March 17, 2013 | 1:39 pm

    beautiful Angie. The way you wrote this piece gave me a window into what it was like bringing your sweet twins into being. Foreheads pressed together while they slept. oh so sweet, but it’s no wonder much of it was a daze for you. I’m so glad you have your own words as reminders.

  23. Lady Jennie
    March 17, 2013 | 3:03 pm

    This is gorgeous Angie.

  24. Sara
    May 12, 2013 | 10:11 am

    I gave birth to twin girls this year, and they look so much like your twins. I actually did a double take when I seen this picture. My two are exactly the same. Even at 7 weeks old they seem to need each other so much, and I am looking forward to watching them grow up.

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