Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to Us

Today is my birthday. It is a celebration I have always been fortunate enough to share with my twin sister Cathy.

Me and my twin sister Cathy ~ November 2008.

My clearly fraternal twin sister Cathy.

Here we are about age 2. Cu-ute!

Of course, I didn't always see it as my good fortune that I shared my birthday, and pretty much everything else with my twin. Luckily, age brings wisdom and understanding, too!

Cathy is four minutes older than me, and we were different from the second we were born: She with a head full of dark hair and me with a few gingery wisps. She with an easygoing nature and me a colicky baby.

We are in many ways polar opposites. She's as quiet as I am talkative, as reserved as I am outgoing. Cathy is a registered nurse who works with severely disabled kids, most of whom can't communicate at all. And I spent my pre-SAHM days working in communications and PR. We wouldn't do each other's jobs for all the tea in China.

Our differences extended all the way to our birthday cake preferences. I always requested chocolate devils food with chocolate frosting and Cathy always wanted angel food cake with no frosting. (Let's not read too much into that, shall we?)

So every year my mom baked two birthday cakes. Five days after Christmas. When the last thing anyone wanted (other then the birthday girls!) was another sweet thing in the house. I never thought much about it at the time, but now I appreciate that she went to the trouble of making sure we each had our own cake and it was exactly what we wanted.

Doesn't every birthday girl and boy deserve that? Even if they share their birthday? I think so.

Though for right now no one has a cake preference, so cupcakes will probably do the trick for the first couple of years. I know the boys will be delighted with the birthday cupcakes we'll all be sharing after supper tonight. But as they get older, I fully intend to bake three cakes, just as I would if the boys didn't share a birthday.

I am glad that my triplets are fraternal, since that's my own experience as a multiple. Most people don't even believe that Cathy and I are sisters, let alone twins. It was an advantage to not look alike, because we never had trouble being seen as individuals, instead of as "the twins." I think my boys will find the same is true for them.

I'm sure I'll make just as many mistakes with my boys as any mom, despite being a multiple myself, but it does give me a little extra insight. I watch my boys play together and remember playing with Cathy in the same ways from early, early on. And I know firsthand the importance of individual pictures, getting your own birthday cake and gift, and not being always lumped together.

I also know that not taking my kids to the grocery store because it's too much work won't scar them for life. Somehow they will figure that out despite being deprived of grocery store trips as a toddler. I did. And I know that I should expend my effort and energy (and some things we do require massive amounts of both!) for the things they need and the trips that will create lifelong memories, not the mundane.

I know that growing up with someone who shares ALL of your childhood experiences, from playing with Barbie dolls to going on family vacations, is a unique experience and creates a special bond.

Cathy is probably the only other person in the world who remembers that we had one lone male Ken doll, who had only one arm by the time we inherited him, and possessed just one outfit: a Tarzan-esque leopard skin. We never bothered to get him other clothes. I'm not sure why. Without her I'd be alone in that weird memory.

I also know that it can feel restricting to share so much at times, because sometimes it seems that nothing belongs solely to you. We shared a room (good), toys and books (often not so good), classes in high school (good and bad), friends (also good and bad). But we got to do our own things, too, though we just shared our experiences with each other as soon as we were together again.

But every year on my birthday, I am reminded that despite all the times I bemoaned that I HAD to share with Cathy, I am very lucky because I GOT to share so much with her. Tarzan Ken dolls and all.

Happy birthday, sis. Remember, we're not another year older, but another year brighter!


Suz said...

::sniff:: You make me so glad my girls share things. And yet refuse to share things. Because they'll always share a birthday -- and parents -- and friendship.

Happy birthday to you & Cathy!

Suz said...

Almost forgot, I never went to the grocery store until I was at least 10.

Karin said...

Christy -- I've been meaning to weigh in for some time. I grew up with Jeff in Cando....and actually remember you from speech meets in the late 80s! :-) My parents owned the newspaper in Cando for 30 years; they've since moved, and I've lived in Boston the last 10 years.

I found your blog when Jeff (my facebook friend) put up an item about the parenting blog as a finalist.

As a blogger myself who finds it hard to find inspiration many nights -- while being single with only pets for housemates -- I'm inspired duly by your diligence and your observations. Your children are very lucky and as adults will most likely marvel at the record of their childhood!

Please greet your husband for me and happy birthday!

Anonymous said...

Amelia is the spitting image of YOU!

Happy Birthday.

Hope 2010 is a great one for you and your family.

Angela said...

I loved this post! What great insight into the life of "fraternals". Thanks for sharing! And Happy Birthday!

Pam said...

Happy Birthday!