Great Expectations

Two new girlfriends, Rosie, from the blogosphere, and Susanne, from the school I worked at this past year, have served as lighthouses for me in the past four months as I prepare my life for twins.  Both equipped with twins of their own, they've cast their lights (over and over again) as I've needed to find my way to shore.  Their piercing brightness sends both the message that I should be forewarned of jutting rocks which could slice my ship in half and leave me and my crew drowning within arm's reach of harbor and the message of "you're home, you're home, we're so glad you've made it home!"

Susanne's boys, Cord and Wes.  Thomas was overheard saying, "Quarter, Quarter. Give me your hand." Preview photo.
Mommy personalities which carry a sense of peace, calm and cheerfulness, where affordable, about the whole twin thing is more of a happy find than you might realize.

Much of what I've read of parenting twins has had me peering half-heartedly in horror like that time I watched It as a small child through holes in the afghan. I wanted to submit myself to face the scary clown and yet I knew I would have been better slipping off the couch and hunting down some toys for entertainment instead.  Maybe it's the anti-charm of reading someone's voice in a book and missing an element of face-to-face authenticity that left a bitter taste in my mouth as I made my way through the stack of twin literature.  The naked honesty of bloggers has handed me quite a few opportunities to drop my jaw or raise my eyebrow at sad comments made by women whom have gone before me and know better.

Dude, apparently raising twins is bleak. High rates of divorce. Stretch marks which announce themselves like fireworks in the sky. "Twin skin", a catchy way of labeling a deflated air balloon on your front side.  Fatigue which rivals torture. NICU flavored medical bills. Parenting as a blackout of recollection from previously mentioned fatigue.  Super crap-time birth stories. The list goes on.  And then there's that bleeping schedule of help I was told no less than a hundred times to have outlined already wherein I would hypothetically have three adults on deck at all hours of the day for the 1st month--or die.  Our calendar is on the fridge. Blank. Happy to be filled in when texts and calls bubble to the surface of our harbor.

A week ago a happy, if not delusional, thought occurred to me. Oh my gosh, Ash! This is totally going to be like heading to the movie theater when one too many people have exclaimed, "That's the best movie ever. You're going to love it!" You see the movie. It's great. But you were holding your breath for some kind of cinematic miracle. Maybe the movie would have been "the best movie ever", but simply because you were set up for that, it just wasn't.  It didn't even have the chance to be so.

Maybe I'll witness that phenomenon in reverse.  I've been holding my breath for devastation.  I've expected nothing less than a few shades short of death two weeks into bringing home the twins. A landscape has painted itself inside my mind of an unhappy tumble-weeding peoples in a desert of a home dried up on love and praying for some normalcy to rain down somewhere, anywhere in what we had previously thrived in as our oasis.  Maybe my dark and dismal expectations have set me up for a pleasant surprise when things are a 7.5 on the Richter Scale of Miserable rather than a 9.

But the movie analogy has a big fat hole in its screen.  We all see the same movie. Our experiences are only marginally different by nuisances like your ability to keep up with the plot faster than me and my need to go to the bathroom right at the climax. Essentially, we see the same thing. This is not the same for life. Not the same at all. None of us get our ticket collected for the same "movie" even when we think we've been handed the same title: Marriage, Children, Buying Our First Home, A Child with Special Needs, Homeschooling, Neighbor with Dog Obsession.

No amount of prep can set us up for definitive success in life.  It helps. Sure it does. Choosing daily to show up and be fully present has to take us the rest of the way. It might be important to wrap ourselves in the safety nets of similarities in our experiences, but it is more important to pick up quickly on the uniqueness of our scripted-by-action, moment-by-moment, day-by-day narrative.

"We put a baby in this, Momma."
I have once or twice detested some frustration from my mother when I've drunkenly resurfaced from my recent nonfiction pick as some sort of last key to unlock the mysteries of my life.  We are kindred spirits in our bottomless appetites to drink up words, but she and I both know I have the tendency to lean on testimony, facts and figures, and a webbing of stories as a crutch for finding my way.

Expectations, whether created from the scratch of our souls or, like me, pieced together through books, blogs, and brochures, should only be allowed so much real estate in our minds.  Good or bad, expectations don't hold water to reality.  Even if I do have babies in the NICU and a C-section and an embarrassing meltdown on the phone for more help three weeks in, it won't matter that I knew it was bound to happy thanks to this or that statistic or twin mommy saying so.  It will only matter that I'm in it, living it, embracing whatever it is that I'm experiencing.

My expectations which will be ushered on stage in just two days are etched in vague strokes. I hope to remember that I always have a greater capacity to grow, that it's okay to die to self for a greater good, that an attitude of aptitude is our greatest tool, and that I have a strong and loving hand to hold through all of it.  I expect to show up and be fully present through all of it!

And I expect to remember that sometimes life can be a crap time and that's okay too. Somehow, it usually comes back around.

Thank you to Rosie & Susanne for your upbeat attitude and for the family members who have been a necessary antidote to my melodrama. I'm hoping you're all saying "I told you so" shortly.