Did You Ever Wonder About Twins?
In Scripture, we are told the story of Cain and Abel. We can read in Genesis how one treated the other and how the blood cried out from the ground. Or about Jacob and Esau and the blessing that was stolen? What is it that fascinates us so much about twins? Can we truly understand the blessing of twins? or the genetic make -up of who they are and how they are formed? Monozygotic to di chorionic, so many terms in our culture today, but most know to ask…are they identical or fraternal? Even the priest that has blessed the steps of my mother’s parish shared with the boys that he is a twin. Our family was just walking up the steps and had never met him before! We, as a culture are drawn to this mystery-twins: Saints Cosmos and Damien- (or Cosmas as the trend is). Not just in our own culture, but across the globe: These canonized Saints were from Turkey! How many more are there today?
The twins in my life are identical twin boys. Oh, what stories I can tell from before they were born! What joys when these two precious boys came home from the hospital, and what a warm welcome they received! All of a sudden we were bombarded with twin stories: “My Great Grandmother was a twin…”; “Did you know …..?” If I had a quarter for every twin story I listened to, I would be rich. Everyone had advice for twins as well…How to feed multiples; which moms groups to join on line; who the best doctors were; how to feed them, dress them; how important it was to put them in the same crib, then educate them in the same classroom, followed by how all twins of the same gender should sleep in their own rooms and be educated in different classrooms… and the list goes on and on. Add that up and I’d be a millionaire! One twin will dominate the other, they said, and one would be weaker both in utero and without. But now, they are strong, and very normal boys, well young men, well, man boys.
Here is one area they don’t prepare you for: TEENAGERS! Guess what? They are 13 ½ and very normal teenagers! Twin boys who are 6 ft 1 in. and 6 ft seriously do everything like their brothers: hangout with friends, play video games, enjoy movies, Legos, basketball, avoid chores, and most of all LOVE the attention of those around them. Yes, just like every teenager: If you want to spell love it is T-I-M-E! Their eldest sisters pour time into their “little twinners”! They listen, they smile, they nod their heads, and offer a compassionate response and ear to every word that falls out of their little brothers’ mouths. So many who love them watch their basketball games on line, their band concerts, and encourage them in all of their endeavors. What a gift to be in this time and age of the internet and facetime! All who live out of town can support them.
What they don’t tell you, is that when you’re dealing with twins, or just loud siblings in general, sometimes they don’t let each other talk. They don’t listen to their brothers. Expressing the feelings, emotions and ideas, getting the ideas across first, or telling the story so that their side is heard and acknowledged is the ultimate goal. So, one will start a story, then the other takes over, then the other twin interrupts, and regains the lead narrator. When that twin breathes the other bounces back or my favorite, “no, no, no – that’s not what happened. Here, I’ll tell you how it really went…”
At my mother’s kitchen table, one twin was peacefully telling the story of wave runners: how on our trip to a first birthday for our Granddaughter, her Great Grand Daughter, most importantly his niece, along the way, he was an integral part of 2 crashing wave runners in the lake at the cabin. (By the way, we were there less than 6 hours.) As his Grandmother, who wears hearing aids, nodded her head, trying to make sense of how the time line and doing her best to keep the pieces connected, in comes the other gentle giant to the room. “What? No. That’s not it. Here, Grandma, I’ll tell you what I saw. I was on the back riding behind my sixteen-year-old brother…”. Oh, my goodness, I shook my head trying to non-verbally stop him, I even used the sign language sign for stop. Eventually, I had to verbally interrupt him, and ask him to come in the other room to quietly give my other twin the continued floor, and to correct the other. Well, he wanted no part of that. Although I am 5 foot 11 inches, those 2 ½ inches mixed with muscle from basketball and running over-power me. He hugged me back into the room, as I was telling him to stay out of it and let his brother have the conversation. Why is it so hard for us to let another talk? We all have a story to tell. I told him, Grandma would want to hear the story from his side, she just needed to hear his brother out first. (These boys are best friends most of the time, but the 5% that they are not, is really hard to handle, especially now that they are taller and stronger than I am!). He needed to finish his story with his Grandmother. In my mind, that time, and that relationship are invaluable.
As we venture into more of life, and their friends become more differentiated, and their abilities differ, it reminds me of all of us! How we handle what happens, the exact same event can have totally different viewpoints and sides and even twins have to listen to each other. One wave runner team was out, and curved to avoid rocks. He turned, not looking and the other wasn’t watching, and tried to speed up to get in front of the other, but ended up hitting the other wave runner. They collided. All parties were thrown from the wave runners. Onlookers said, it was quite a spectacle, but no one was hurt. (Having 4 boys, 2 breaking their noses in the last 3 months, 2 having concussion, and 1 running 16 miles in a little over 2 hours, another ripping a quad muscle in his leg while breaking a gym class record, that was the best part to hear for me, as mom). Sometimes, one twin throws the ball across the court and the other lay ups it for the final points of an away game. When the gym bursts into resounding rejoicing, I feel proud and happy for them and their accomplishments. Other times, they lead with a peaceful example of being altar servers, and my heart swells with gratitude and joy as they light the candles. Then there are the other times, like when one throws a baseball to the other, only to have it bounce out of the glove, or when one got to pitch in a game and other didn’t, for these, my mother’s heart can feel disappointed for them, or sad. I have to be patient and imagine poor saints mothers: How Did They Do It? Saints Cosmos and Damian were great physicians known for healing the body and soul, boldly proclaiming the healing power of Jesus Christ. Did they ever go to grandma’s house and interrupt each other? What they dealt with, and what they came through were amazing stories, so the legends say. I’m curious: How did their mothers teach them to listen to each other? Did their siblings listen to them? Were they supported and feel loved as children? Did their parents have them schooled together or apart? Was there even a choice? When more so… What are the stories that will be told about our children? Will our sons turn out like Cain and Abel, or will they rise to continue to bring glory to God through our Church like the priest we met this morning, or Saints Cosmas and Damien? Did my twins truly hear his story? This humble priest? I wonder so many things ….
St. Cosmas and Damien, pray for my twins and all twins in the world. May they find the height and depth of God’s love for them, and share it with others like you did. Mothers of all saints of twins, pray for us, the mothers on earth, who need the grace to continue to be proactive and persistent in raising strong healthy young men for our Lord, Jesus Christ and the Church.