Having twins can be the most amazing experience of your life. It can also cause you to wake up in the morning wishing you were someone else. Twinning offers an honest depiction of life with twins from a mom who tries to keep things somewhere in the middle.
When I was growing up in the small town of Saugerties, New York, I couldn’t wait for summer vacation. The long, unscheduled days were spent riding bikes, building forts, playing softball, napping in the hammock and swimming in our pool until dark. I envisioned the same kind of idyllic summer for my twins, so I was surprised to find that practically everyone in my NYC suburb sends their kids to summer camp.
Summer camp never seemed like a fun option to me as a kid. My only friend who spent her summer at a camp had divorced parents and a mom who worked full-time, so for her it was a necessity rather than a luxury. She didn’t like camp and often shared stories of getting sunburned, bitten by mosquitoes and having to learn a lot of dumb songs she didn’t want to sing. So I had no desire to go to summer camp, which worked out just fine considering my overprotective mom would never have allowed me to go anyway.
When my twins turned three, my friend who had 4-year-old twins asked me what camp I was sending them to. When I replied, “Oh we’re not doing camp, they’re too little” our conversation abruptly stopped.
She gave me a serious “Mom-To-Mom-No-Bullshit” look and said, “I thought the same thing and kept them home last summer. I don’t think I recovered from it until Thanksgiving. Send them to camp, you’ll go crazy otherwise.”
Since she’s a smart, trustworthy friend, I didn’t immediately respond with my old-timer answer of “I never went to camp when I was little—I don’t see why they should.” But I didn’t really give it much thought. I wanted my kids to have the kind of summers I did—unscheduled, kid-centric, family-based, old-fashioned backyard fun. Summer camp, wasn’t for us. When September came, I was still sane, and 100 percent happy that I spent every day of that summer with my kids.
My twins are seven now, and we’re still camp-free.
The things we fill our days with changes every year, but for the most part, we wake up when we want to, pile into my bed and read, play outside or at a park, go swimming, have playdates, do crafts, workbooks and art projects, play board games and usually have a week or so of lessons in whatever they’re interested in at the time (this summer it’s Lego engineering and art classes). We travel plenty: going away for vacation, visiting relatives and making day trips in Manhattan. We stay busy, but as unscheduled as possible.
Now I’m not an overachieving, blogs-about-crafts type of mom—I love my free-time as much as anyone. But what I realized early on was that kids really do grow up fast and as a mother of twins, I don’t get a second chance to do anything. When my twins graduate from preschool, that’s it for preschool. When they turn five, that’s the last fifth birthday party I’ll plan for my kids. I’ve really got to be present and cherish every moment, and that’s what I’ve tried to do every summer since they were born. (OK, maybe not the first summer when they were basically luggage that screamed, but you know what I’m saying here.)
The good thing about my kids is that they’re like me: they like to sleep late, hate schedules, love art, music, reading and they don’t even mind shopping. If I had hyperactive kids who woke me up at five a.m., or were those outdoorsy-type-kids who whine when they’re inside for more than an hour, then sure I probably would put them into camp because they’d drive me crazy and they would be bored hanging out with me.
Now that my twins are seven, having them home all day is getting harder because they fight with each other and are more demanding of me than they ever used to be, but still, we manage to have a good time at the end of the day. They don’t want to go to camp, and I don’t want to send them to camp. If all goes well, I’ll still be sane once school starts again in September.