Lyme disease/incipient colds/uterine irritability notwithstanding, we had the girls' birthday party yesterday evening.
I thought their first birthday would be the big meaningful birthday-to-remember, and I made a big production out of it last year, invited a bunch of people and cooked a bunch of food. There was the requisite amount of cake-smashing, but the girls were a bit overwhelmed by all the goings-on.
This year, I didn't have the energy to do much of anything. I ordered cakes from a local cake place, a Wubbzy cake for Claire, and a Birdie Bird cake for Katherine (characters from Wow Wow Wubbzy, which is TV crack for toddlers). I had my in-laws pick up a few pizzas, blew up a 99-cent package of balloons, and invited immediate family and two close friends with toddlers. I was pretty sure it was going to be small and quiet.
Know what? It was AWESOME. This year, the girls were old enough to understand the concept of presents, and to get really excited about the unwrapping. All of the kids had a fantastic time bouncing the balloons around the living room. Both girls were wide-eyed with excitement when we brought out the cakes and started singing Happy Birthday. They're also really into all of their new toys, and loved the train table G and I bought them. I get the giggles seeing Claire carrying around the large plastic T-Rex (which she insists is a "hossie"), and I could hire Katherine out if the toy vacuum cleaner and lawn mower worked.
I loved having little babies (and am so looking forward to another), and I used to be afraid that I wouldn't enjoy the toddler era as much. Let's face it, we all have ages and stages we prefer, and I've never been as keen on the toddlers as on babies and preschoolers. In all honesty, I do think 18 months was the hardest age for us -- most twin moms find it's the infant period, but my girls were really good babies, and we had a relatively easy time then. By 18 months, though, they had developed all the physical capacity needed to get into trouble, without the understanding to stay out of it. They were relatively slow talkers, and couldn't communicate wants and desires very well. They wouldn't hold hands reliably or sit still in chairs, so taking them out in public could be an ordeal. It was still neat to see them learn things, but there were a lot of frustrations too.
In the last three months, though, they have grown up so very much. I hate that I've spent so much of the time confined to bed and missing it, because I am purely loving this stage. They follow simple directions, and they love to "help" -- give them something to carry or put somewhere, and they're happy as clams. They're still not as talkative as some two-year-olds, but they have a lot of words and several phrases, plus incomprehensible sentences. They can ask for water or a cracker or a hug, and they identify each other as "ti-tuh" (Sister). (My favorite verbal idiosyncracy: "Katherine, what's your name?" "ME!") It's amazing what a difference basic communication makes.
Yes, there are challenges. Katherine in particular has very, very definite ideas about how the world ought to work, and she does NOT appreciate it when things don't go accordingly. Since the Katherine Plan includes things like collecting a large pile of toys in a box or arranging all of her peas just so, it is frequently ruined by her sister or her parents. Katherine comes by her OCD tendencies honestly, to be sure, so it's easy for me to draw on my own childhood to foresee years of "MOOOMMM! She got in my STUFF!". Claire is much less attached to the idea of personal property, and doesn't care so much about the world being orderly, but she wants very badly to know how everything works. She gets very frustrated when she can't make something work right, or when we drag her away before she's done investigating, or take something away precisely because she's gotten it to work. Of course, there are also the generic toddler meltdowns, and the days when naps don't happen, and the boundary-testing to see what happens if we hit the dog or throw our toy.
All in all, though, I am enjoying them now more than I ever have, and so is G. He loved them as tiny babies and was tremendously helpful with them, but it was clear he didn't have quite the same hunger for the smell of their little baby heads, wasn't as captivated by the way you could nestle one in each side of your neck. Understandably enough, he looked forward to the period where he could interact with them more, and that's where we're at. A few weeks ago, he told me that he's no longer waiting for them to grow up and do X, and that now he wishes they'd stay right where they are for a while! I couldn't help but laugh, because now he understands how I felt their entire first year, but I also agree with him. It's great to be the mother of two-year-olds.