Parenting Is Not Always Love At First Sight
By Amber Leventry
My twin boys are 14 months old. I fell in love with one of them yesterday and the other today. Please make no mistake or judgment. I have loved them since they were cells dividing, and I have loved them stronger each day since their birth, but yesterday was the first time my heart fluttered when I looked at my second born twin, Ryan. I came home from work and as I pulled into the driveway, there he was, standing on the porch, reaching for me and smiling at me as if I was the best thing on Earth. His sharp blue eyes cut through me and I could have melted right into his dimples.
And tonight, as I held my first born twin, Ben, as he whimpered himself to sleep, my heart ached for him as it burst open with love. Both boys have been sick and miserable for days. Their molars are cutting through and Ben seems to be taking it the hardest. As I held him, I thought of nothing else but making him feel better. Once bedtime arrives after a long day home with my boys, it is easy to be impatient or annoyed when one of them fights sleep. When all I want and all he needs is to close his eyes and dream, it’s easy to think of all of the other stuff I have to do besides rocking a fussy baby.
But tonight all I could think about was him. As I watched Ryan snuggle into his crib and fall asleep on his own, Ben leaned into my chest and chewed on his stuffed lovie and cried. I didn’t care I was tired. I didn’t care I had hours of work still ahead of me. I didn’t care I would have to muster energy to get a toddler through dinner and her bedtime routine when she got home from soccer practice with her other mama.
I held him tight and said nothing as I hoped exhaustion would take over so he could rest. As Ben calmed himself to sighs and silence, he reminded me of a friend I held after she realized her relationship with her girlfriend was over. Her tears had wet my neck as I held her, and my only hope was that if I held her tight enough, I could keep the broken pieces of her heart from falling to the floor. I didn’t know what else to do. But I was present. When I held my son and allowed his snotty and sticky from Tylenol face to wet my neck, I was present for him too.
Ryan reaching for me and Ben needing comfort were not new occurrences. After a year of raising them, these simple acts of parenting happen every day. But I had yet to have that feeling of absolute and goofy, putty in their hands, love I feel almost every time I look at my daughter.
My daughter is three and a half years old. I don’t know or remember when I first felt that way about her. I’m certain it happened sooner than with my boys, but not because I love her more. Parenting the second time around gave us twins. And with an older sister, having twins—through no fault of their own—felt more like a job than falling in love.
Every diaper change, late night feeding, load of laundry, and anything else the boys needed was done with love, but was also a labor of love. I have had moments of overwhelming joy, pride, and happiness for both of my boys, but raising three young kids is a lot of work. And there is only so much two tired mamas can do in one day. For this tired mama, surviving each day, putting the kids’ needs first, and trying to maintain my sanity prevented my heart from fully cracking open.
But it has. I can’t explain the timing. I am more exhausted than ever and parenting three kids is the hardest thing I have ever done, yet I have fallen in love. Maybe it’s because I and they were at our breaking points. Sick, teething, and clingy babies drove me to a place where most would break. They were miserable, and I should have been too. But at the point where it’s hard to love anything or anyone, I embraced where I was. My only two options were to give in completely to the love I had been guarding or give up. My boys needed me too much to give up.
At my lowest point in parenting, I gave in. In the fear surrounding falling in love with another woman, my partner and I gave in years ago. At some point I gave in and fell in love with my daughter. And while I feel like I am free falling on most days as a parent, I have finally fallen in love with my boys too. And while the risk of loving someone so much feels too great, the fear of never falling in love was too heavy. Nothing is easier. But with this new love everything feels right.
Photo Credit: Fruity Monkey