My twins are 16. Oh my. Wow, and double wow.
My two blue-eyed blonde boy bundles were born five minutes a part on a crisp fall day 16 years ago. One arrived at 10:32 a.m., the other at 10:37 am. One placenta, the doctor told me. “What does that mean?” I pondered, deep down knowing.
“That they are identical,” the doctor said. I had them fish the placenta out of the trash (a fact!) to have them test it to confirm. Sure enough. Identical twins!
We kept their hospital tags on for the first six weeks of their lives as a way to tell them a part.
We don’t tell them who was born first as they compare one another enough. They figured it out on their own. Their older siblings, I suppose.
“I’m the older wiser one,” one says.
“I’m the smart one,” the other says. They are so funny.
“Well, I’m more good-looking.”
“We’re identical.” . . .
Together, they weighed 16 pounds, one ounce. That’s a lot of baby!
It’s been a whirlwind 16 years. There were days that could not go fast enough at times. Nursing two babies at the same time, these two little babies solely dependent upon me. Two babies crawling, two babies walking, driving two toddlers around, taking two kids to sports and music and church and scouts. Life is full. As moms, we are desperately needed during these early years. And it is good to be needed. You feel a purpose.
Yet, it is hard, and sometimes, as a parent, you look forward to each stage when your kids will be just a bit more independent. When your kids can walk and talk and you don’t have to carry them everywhere. When they can ride their bicycle and when they can walk on their own to their friend’s house down the street. When they can stay home alone for a couple of minutes, an hour, a couple of hours.
We went to the location on 85th and Powell in southeast Portland. Their appointments were one after the other. The location nearer to our house was booked till two weeks after their birthday. They were so driven to do this on their birthday that they pursued this on their own, made the appointments on their own.
Mickael Josef was first to take his test. I could see the nervousness on his expression. I watched him walk away toward the car. He seemed so grown up.
Then, it was his twin’s turn. Oh, Please let him pass as well, I thought and prayed. As a mom, the comparisons are hard with twins.
Twin Wesley walked out to the car to also take the driver’s test, and after a nail biting for mom 30 minutes he strutted back into the DMV office with that same knowing smile that his brother had. He too passed his drivers license exam.
They got their photos taken for their license and they proudly showed me their temporary drivers license and they seemed to have grown up years at that very moment. It was a change in them that was evident right away.
The next statement confirmed the transition:
“Mom, now you don’t have to drive us places anymore.”
“We can be independent, we wont need you to drive us places now,” they both announced.
Translated, that means they don’t need me anymore.
Every mom wants to be needed.
Oh, ok, they do need me for gas money, of course.
I have such mixed feelings on this whole independence thing.
When it comes to driving them places, wow, this does make it easier for sure.
Before our kids get their driver’s licenses, they are dependent on their parents to get them places. I know people complain about this. There is sports practice and band and youth group and scouts and lessons and friends’ houses. It’s constant time on the road as we give our kids rides to where they need to be, then there’s picking them up late at night and other hours of the night and day.
I hear moms and dads say, “I’m exhausted giving my kids a ride,” “I never get anything done, cause I’m driving my kids all the time.” “I’m tired of rushing around here and there to drop off and pick up my kids.”
But, we forget a couple of things. Time in the car is precious time for conversation and sharing. A time to unwind and hear how their day is going or has gone. Their need for us taking them places provides a perfect opportunity to share moments. The moments will not always be there.
When I returned home, they said to me, “Mom, can you take us to youth group? Jeremy’s going and we want to go after all.” Even though they were going to be late, they still desired to attend their Sunday night gathering at the church. Who can say no to that?
So, I did what every good mom does. I asked my husband to give them a ride!
This made sense since I had just been out for two hours at the gym. I asked my husband if he could quickly take the twins to youth group.
He was not exactly jumping for joy to drive the twins to youth group that night as he too was tired, but I reminded him that there will come a day when our kids don’t need us to take them to youth group or sports or football games or anywhere for that matter, and we should savor this time when they still need us.
Guilt. No, really, it was just the truth. My husband took our twins to youth group that night.
It is good to be needed and it provides time of share.
But, now, that they are 16, we don’t feel as needed anymore. At least for rides. Especially since we now have three cars in the family.
When our two older children, now 23 and 22, were at that fresh, exciting, new driving stage of life, it was the same situation with them saying to us, with that same knowing smile, that they were “independent” now.
But there was one difference. We only had two cars for our family of seven back then. So, even though we had teenage drivers in the house with our older two kids, we could not just say in a heartbeat, “Go ahead and take the car,” because my husband and I often needed our cars for our various commitments. Yes, the kids could legally drive, but we had to coordinate schedules to get our kids and ourselves places. They were dependent on us, even when they were driving age, which is not a bad thing, when you stop and think about it.
I hear of parents who give their teenage children their own cars for their 16th birthday, and that is just not something we would do. The parents say that they got their kids cars so they can be more independent. Translated, the parents don’t have to deal with juggling their own car needs with the needs of their children. I get that in certain circumstances.
But, as parents we have to be careful with regards to allowing our teens a little too much freedom too quickly. Kids can get that feeling of power and independence, which can lead to other issues and temptations. Our teenagers still needing us for basic things, to juggle with our cars for example, is a good thing, I say.
The week after my twins got their licenses they had a soccer game and said that they can just drive themselves and that I did not need to come. “We don’t need you there as we can drive ourselves,” they said.
Now, they are missing a totally different point -- that I LIKE to watch them play soccer and run races and do whatever other activity they participate in.
All those years of looking forward, just a bit, to my twins being more independent, well, I waiver. And, feel a bit sad. I still want to be needed; I still want to be part of their lives, to be present. I understand, it will be different as it’s always changing. I will always support them.
On a Sunday, the week after my twins got their driver’s, my son and his wife came over for dinner and just before we were about to sit down for dinner, Wesley said, ”Bye, I’m taking off for youth group.”
He hugged his older brother and off he was.
My daughter-in-law said, “That is so weird, that he is just able to take off like that. How does it make you feel?” she asked me.
It is weird for sure. Just a week ago, we were scrambling to get him to Sunday night youth group. Now, he can just take off.
It’s great. It’s not great
Navigating this independence thing is tricky. Doubly tricky.