by Bonnie Pockley
I’m not sure where to begin with this – possibly in reflection, looking back on the day. We’re all up early as Hame prepares for work, searching for clean clothes, getting ready for what’s ahead of us. By 9am, both babies are tearing at me, wanting to be cuddled. Breakfast was thrown on the floor. Nothing eaten. They’ve got colds and feel miserable. They need comforting but I can only hold one of them at a time. At this point Inca is the more insistent and so she’s swept up in my arms. Pax screams and takes one of his toys and hits her hard across the head. ‘Cuddle!’ He screams as she wails. Later, I hold him as he sobs, Inca now angry on the floor. I try holding them both but my arms break beneath the weight. Inca scrambles, sees his foot and bites down hard. ‘Mummy, cuddle!’ Tears.
At one point, I find myself pleading with them. I need to get dressed so that we can go into town but can’t get past either of them. When we finally make it, it’s 11 and they’re exhausted. Bundled up in the stroller, they fall asleep.
I see friends but rush past saying, ‘I can’t stop, I’m sorry. I’ve just got to get some stuff done while they’re okay.’ Before I even make it to the end of the strip, Pax has vomited over both of them, the stroller and the footpath, still in view of my friends who rush over to help. We haven’t done the shopping, we haven’t paid the bills. We’ve run out of wipes.
An hour later, going home, there’s a tantrum. Inca wants to walk but I won’t let her. People stare. This child is writhing and weeping. I feel like a terrible mother. I want to disappear. ‘We just need to get home!’ I whimper, begging. When we do, Pax throws up again.
I don’t know when but I manage to get each of them to sleep. Inca first but Pax wants to wake her up so I have to separate him out into another room while he calls her name and throws his body back in protest. As he does, I’m caught squarely in the face. The sting is familiar; a dull crunch followed by sharp pain and a few seconds of blurred vision. There have been black eyes and blood before. I barely notice.
Eyes closed, endormi, I realise how long their lashes are, how much they’ve grown and how maturity has crept into the features of their face. I lean over, my body aches, and kiss each on the forehead. ‘I love you.’
In the time we were out, 5 people stop me on the street. ‘Twins?’ the first one asked reaching out and bracing the stroller. ‘Tell me about them.’ Soon after, Pax pulls his shoe and sock off. Before I get the chance to retrieve them, a second stranger points and signals, ‘You know, that child will get cold like that! You should put his sock on.’ Later, leaving the grocery store, a woman – this being number 5 – stops and says, ‘I should’ve had twins. It would have been easier than two at different ages.’ I flush and can feel my throat close over. My eyes burn and tears threaten. I am broken, I think, but have said this many times before, often slumped in defeat against the wall, ‘I can’t do this. I can’t do this anymore.’ Instead I manage a half-smile and say, ‘Sure’.
Days like this make me feel connected to all those mothers out there loving and raising their kids, despite how hard it can be sometimes and in awe of how beautiful it can be at others.