When the twins were a few days or weeks old, doctors asked me if I was bonding with them. Without hesitating, I said yes, of course. But here’s a big confession: I had no idea what they meant.
I liked the twins well enough, I guess. To be honest, I felt as if I had no other choice in the matter. They were born and they were mine now and I had better do everything I could to make them happy and comfortable. But did I feel bonded to them? Not really. At least not in a way I could articulate, or in a way that I authentically understood. But I lied and said yes, because I figured what they were really asking was if I was going to take care of them properly, and the answer to that question was yes.
There is a saying about parenting, “long days, short years” that is meant to reflect how quickly time passes when raising children. Moms with more experience pass this phrase down to you in hopes you will cling to it when you’re at your wits’ end. It’s true, there are very long days and I’ve found myself desperate for time to pass. I wished away the long nights of being awake between midnight and four in the morning. I wished away the breastfeeding marathons. I wished for more time for myself. Everyone seems to say they fell in love with their babies at first sight. No one tells you how hard it will be to love two small beings who can’t really express anything back to you. I guess it’s a taboo sentiment.
As it happens, I’m a responsible person who deeply understands commitment, and has a strong sense of responsibility. That side of me fortunately came through and I have focused on the desire to do my best for these two little helpless beings.
Lately though, things have turned a corner. With the twins passing the six-month mark, my perspective on motherhood has changed sharply. A six-month-old baby is still a baby in arms; it hasn’t crawled yet, though it’s just about to. She’s busy stringing together cute little goo-goo-ga-ga sentences, searching for her first words. My six-month-old babies sleep very well at night, want to eat everything, and are filled with wonder. There is nothing like the look on the face of a six-month-old when they see you first thing in the morning. It’s pure joy. Now that the twins giggle at jokes, and snuggle into me for a cuddle, I’m not so anxious for time to pass. They’re capable of showing love back. And when that love is shown, it produces a feeling of immense heart-swelling joy that is hard to properly express in words.
It sounds awful, I know, but the first four months of having the twins was such hard work that I wondered how a parent of even one child would go through it a second time. The sleepless nights, the hours of rocking, the mystery cries, the complete loss of self. But the two adorable, cuddly, sweet and fun babies I have right now are the reason. This is the phase you remember when you decide to do it again. This is what bonding is.
As these weeks pass, I find myself wishing for them to slow down. We could stay in this phase for ages and I would not argue. Some mothers say they fell in love with their babies the moment they conceived, but I guess I’m a bit more reserved with my love, because it has taken me closer to six months of mothering to feel that way. It doesn’t hurt that the first word happened this week, and that first word was, “Mama”.