Hi boo boos,
We had some friends over last night to watch the Warriors game. You two have really made progress in your reaction to daddy -- well, pretty much everyone in this case -- hootin' and hollerin' at the top of their lungs when something exciting happens in a game. In fact, you even joined in; flailing your arms up in the air and shouting "yeah! yeah!" when you noticed the commotion. Vera, you have always been especially sensitive to abrupt noises. I'll never forget, when you were just a few months old daddy had a little cough and you would WAIL each time he cleared his throat. It made for some long nights, but was certainly adorable. So NOW, your growing ability to pause and determine the type of reaction you have to those loud noises, it just makes me so proud of you.
Girls, I've had something on my mind lately that I want to share with you. Two days ago, on June 6th, you turned 21-months-old. I think for any other mom in the world they might say, "Today you girls are 21 month old! Only 3 more months until your 2nd birthday!" Something of that nature. But, for me, you girls turning 21-months old immediately made me think of one thing. My mom. Your Grandma Melody.
I'm very sure, by the time you read this, you will have been told approximately 1,000,000,000 times that it is "sooooooo amazing" that you are twins that have a mommy that is a twin and uncles that are twins. Well, at the risk of sounding redundant, I will tell you that it truly is amazing, love bugs. In fact, back when mommy was just a few months old, your uncles, auntie, and I were photographed by the local newspaper in Fresno and your grandma and grandfather were interviewed for a little article about just how unusual it is to have two sets of twins! Kind of cool, huh?
Aside from the sheer amazing-ness of you girls being twins, I often times ponder (and probably even more often am asked by strangers to ponder), "How in the world was your grandma able to manage so many children at once and (on days when your Great grandpa couldn't help) on her own?!" As, shortly after this, your grandfather was no longer in the picture. Then, sadly, my next thought is "I'm not sure she did manage."
Eight days old. Eight. Days. That is how old your siblings would be today if mommy (and daddy) had a second set of twins at exactly the same interval as your grandma Melody did. I've been thinking a lot about how it would be to incorporate two newborns into our family. Even with the wonderful support system our family has, it would be a struggle. A struggle financially? Sure. A struggle physically? YOU BET! A mental struggle? Let's just say, I am sure I would probably be too stressed for my own good. Period.
I think I may be subconsciously skirting the main reason I want to share this with you. So, I want to be frank. When I said that I am not sure your grandma was able to manage all four of us at once, what I am saying is that she allowed that stress to get the better of her.
Your grandma Melody had Bipolar Disorder.
Simply put, when she was up, she was up -- extremely energetic, creative, impulsive. It was during these "up" episodes that she would go on her vision quests, of sorts; once vanishing for a couple weeks, returning home to tell us she had been seeking out her biological family, spouting off tales of her adventures; never alluding to her real goal of trying to find understanding and acceptance of her own childhood struggles.
And, when she was down, she was down -- erratically violent and abusive, recklessly self-medicating, and deeply depressed. It was during this time that I would find myself pacing outside her room, told "LEAVE ME ALONE!" in my 8-year-old effort to comfort her as she loudly wept behind her locked bedroom door. My heart still breaks for her in recalling those low moments.
Because she is no longer living, the only way to recollect those very dynamic moods is through the hindsight of memory. Unfortunately, however, in an effort to protect both you girls as well as myself from the pain of my past, it's difficult for me to ruminate on your grandma's mental condition. So, for these thoughts to cross my mind, upon you girls reaching 21-month-old, I wanted to be open and honest about them with you.
I guess the big thing I want you to know is that you don't ever have to be ashamed of your feelings. Right now in your life you are both unabashedly honest about how you are feeling and what is on your mind. It is an admirable quality to be freely expressive of your emotions. Even if it is not the most positive of emotions sometimes.
One of your very favorite books is "Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You" by Nancy Tillman. Whenever we get to the page that reads, "So hold your head high and don't be afraid to march to the front of your own parade..." I repeat it emphatically, as the thought that you would choose to be anything other than YOU in an effort please others would be depriving the world of the unique marvel of Ruby Joan and the unparallelled wonder of Vera Kathleen. So, I'll reiterate it again:
Hold your head high
and don't be afraid
to march to the front
of your own parade.
If you're still my small babe
or you're all the way grown,
my promise to you
is you're never alone.
I love you so much boo boos,