One of the first "lessons" we learned as Parents Of Multiples was the Sacred Routine. You live by the routine. And if you ebb one iota away from it, you'll find yourself going down in a fire of crying, screaming, and wailing torture from which you will never fully recover. Exaggeration? Those who scoff have clearly not spent entire winter days shut in with two squalling infants. Suffice it to say, you develop a routine that works for you and the babies and you stick with it, often kicking and screaming when new stages come and the routine must be altered and adjusted, only to acclimate to the new routine and then watch in fear as a new stage approaches and..........Oh, but I'm getting off track here.
Every night we have the same wonderful routine. After the girls are ready and in their pajamas, there's a mad dash for the bedroom. They have "assigned bunks", but they still feel the need to proclaim their station proudly, staking their claim and looking for parental reassurance that some dastardly deed has not undone the previous night's arrangements. Ashlyn is still on the bottom bunk. Caedance is still on the top bunk. Fear not, little ones. Your sleeping preferences are well known and in good hands.
After the necessary proclamations have been uttered, there is an unruly clatter as Caedance bolts quickly up the later, (perhaps ever afraid the decision could be retracted), and dives under her covers. I scoot up and sit on her bed for a few minutes, spending some time with my first born. There's the hug. The peck on the cheek. Then the soberly uttered, "Mommy, I'll be Caedance at school, but Tyrone at home". Every night for the last week she's informed me of this. Rather than argue the points for keeping her real name and the difficulty she may encounter as the only female Tyrone in her Kindergarten class, I smile and say, "Sounds like a plan, cher". She smiles her quirky smile and drops back onto the pillow, usually picking up her book to look at as she grows tired. Caedance is our "Book Sleeper". While others cuddle soft animals and dolls, Cae has usually opted for bakeware and books. One more kiss and it's down to visit "The Twin", (as Caedance is known to call Ashlyn).
Upon alighting on her bed, Ashlyn quickly discards any miscellaneous blankets that might be there. She's a purist, by nature. A sheet in the summer, add a blanket for winter. That's it. No others need apply. Her ever changing nightly retinue of friends are always in place when I come to kiss her goodnight. Snuggled around her like a crowd of adoring subjects, present and accounted for whenever she should need them, whichever way she may turn. Before I have time to speak, she goes over her idea for how this "Good Night" should be: "Mommy? Can you hug me, then kiss my cheek, then tickle me to the count of 11, then hug me tight like I'm stuck, and then I'll kiss you on the cheek?". Grateful for the chance to let someone else direct the show, I accept with a "I can do that, cher", and we proceed. And it goes smashingly too, if I might add. Every night.
One more look at the faces of these two who were once my tiny, premature babies, and I quietly leave the room. And sigh. Another day has passed. Filled with the moments of life. Ever changing and unsure, but always filled with love. Each cycle of the sun brings me closer to the day when they'll be heading off to school and a new chapter will open for me in my life as a Mom. Right now, I'm not sure I'm welcoming those days with eagerly open arms, but I still know they're coming. I'm adjusting to it. Little by little. But for now I take refuge in the surrounds of the familiar: our routine. It's changed over time, from Twinfancy to toddler-hood, to preschoolers, (and I know it will undergo yet another make over with the tolling of a school bell), but for now I relish it for what it is and love it. It's the signal to quietly and lovingly end one day's worth of experiences, while eagerly anticipating what new surprises await over the horizon, lifting with the sun.
Good night, everyone.