Ah, the letter G . . . what's a girl to do? Green, go green, Grover, my last name - all pale in comparison to the Girls. Now, with a lower case "g" you could safely assume that I might be talking about how challenging it is to knit sweaters for myself that don't make me look like I am a) in a mumu or b) a pornstar, but with the supreme capital "G" I am talking about my Girls: Betty and Veronica. You see, they pretty much are the reason for the season since their birthday is a mere two days away and I have yet to file my taxes much less start them. When your children's birthday is on Tax Day, you tend to put it off in favor of presents and cake and, for the past two years anyway, the school musical and prom dress shopping. In addition, if you put off said taxes, you are prone to minor mental breaks now and then trying to figure out a stupid computer program that is supposed to ease your suffering.
Betty, Veronica, and the Flyer - December 1992
It's no secret in our family that the girls were totally unplanned - what unmarried 20-year-olds plan to have two children in their junior/senior years? Certainly not these two! But fate kind of has a way of stepping in and kicking you in the ass now and then. And so it was, on Tax Day 1991 that our lovelies decided enough with the cramped quarters and began to assert their independence. Personally, I was just happy to be off the Breathine; little did I know that I wouldn't get a moments rest for the next year or so. I credit so much of that first year to my husband and my family. My in-laws let us live with them in the summer so we could all stay together. My mom would willingly take the girls every six weeks or so once I started back to Miami in the fall so I could get caught up. The Flyer took a shitty job so that we wouldn't have to worry about day care. And Lola? Well, she was a freshman in high school, so I'm sure that she was the head baby wrangler when the girls were in Springfield.
I don't think there was ever a time in their lives that we referred to them as the twins. It seemed so odd to do so; even hearing others call them that would send a shiver down my spine. Better babies could not be asked for. Honestly - they slept through the night early on, nursed like champs until the day they turned a year, took awesome naps, and played well with each other from the get go. Okay, maybe that last one is a stretch since Veronica liked to use Betty as a bouncy table. Even as toddlers they were awesome and easy. Still napped, still slept, and no issues eating . . . except Veronica who liked to tell me my food didn't taste good even when she didn't eat a bite.
Betty and Veronica - September 1995
When they left for kindergarten, I was more a wreck then they were. Their poor teacher had to console me, but something tells me that I wasn't her first parent to react that way. I'd never been apart from them for more than a few days and then it was with relatives . . . this every day thing with total strangers was something new. They adapted to my screwy third shift work schedule, taking a long nap after their lunch and then letting me sleep on the couch while they quietly played or watched Bill Nye, The Science Guy on PBS. They even adapted to the Flyer's job that put him on the road three weeks out of every month, even if it meant sleeping with his photo so they could remember what color eyes he had.
The first part of their teenage years were relatively stress-free. The occasional blow-up not withstanding, nothing major got in our way. I finished my certification and got a job teaching kids close to their age just as they were finishing junior high. And then, they turned 16. I forgot that my mom said she couldn't be paid enough to revisit the years between my 16th and 18th birthdays. "During that two-year period, I wanted to kill you or slap the shit out of you," she said about ten years ago, most likely after "two" glasses of wine. Oh, sure, I thought . . . I'll never be like that.
Betty and Veronica - April
2007 2008 (thanks, sweetie)
Suffice it to say that they will turn 17 in two days and I'm looking at it as the half-way mark. It's rough being a mom no matter what age your kids are, but this past year has been challenging. There have been boyfriends and break-ups and driving and independent thought and college talk and arguments and fights and nose-piercings and prom dresses and whatever else you can think of. And you know what? We've come through it fairly well. Occasionally I'll get the "Wow, this is what Mom must feel like when Lola and I are talking" vibe after I've said something that is completely innocent and they snicker a bit, but I just knit a bit more intently. My name has morphed over the years from Mama to Mommy to Mom to Ma to Madre to Momma, but we're pretty much right where we were 17 years ago: happy kids with happy parents. Happy birthday, Girls! Your madre (that's the one I liked the best) loves you very, very much . . . even when she is uttering, "I just want you to be aware" whilst sitting in the passenger seat.
PS - Happy birthday to JoannaKitten, another Tax Day baby!