|This is not my brother and I; It looks reasonably like us except that Matt was bigger and I was smaller, and his hair was a bit lighter.|
As I recently discussed the topic about which I'm preparing to write with my mother of all people (allow me to clarify: I discussed the topic with my mom; I'm not preparing to write anything with her; why would I send myself to Hell any sooner than that time at which The Grim Reaper gets his filthy hands on me?), who is arguably the last person on the planet with whom I should have attempted to have a rational discussion about it, my mother thought it was important to remind me that the planets in our solar system (or in any other solar system, for that matter) do not revolve around me. To convey the context of the discussion, I'd have to print what was said before and what words followed, and I really don't want to devote so much space to a conversation that, in its entirety, isn't all that germane to what I'm trying to convey here. Still, I will say that my mother's single sentence summation was not a fair comment.
If anyone possesses an innate knowledge (or acquires it very early in life) that he or she is not the literal or figurative center of the universe, it is probably the average child growing up in a large nuclear family. A parent cannot indulge very many children on a regular basis when that parent has five or more children. A given child may be singled out for more positive (or negative) attention than is the rest of the litter, but, for the most part, a child with many siblings learns early that he or she isn't all that special and that while he or she may be loved, he or she is incidental in the grand scheme of things.
A second demographic category who would almost always be firmly grounded at a very early age in his or her actual place in the grand scheme of things would be a child who is the result of a multiple birth. While the general public may "Ooh" and "Aah" over twins, triplets, or whatever the denomination (the larger the denomination, the greater public fawning), in public is where it stops. Once the family reaches home, which is where a majority of time is spent in the first year or two, one parent is stretched to provide the attention needed by two babies. I won't get into the lifestyles of higher-order multiples at this time, because, for one thing, all I really know is what I've seen on TV and read about Jon and Kate and their ilk, and how these "blessed" families manage, and for another, in the earliest years, families of higher-order multiples typically receive a considerable amount of hands-on assistance from others.
With twins, however, it's usually mom and the babies at home by themselves until dad walks through the door, at which time at least one child is probably literally thrown at him. Most of the hours of most days, twins are at home by themselves with their mothers. When two babies are hungry at the same time, depending upon the system used by the mother to feed her babies, a mother who possesses only two hands can usually get to only one baby first. The same is true of diaper changes, and general cries for attention and for unknown reasons. The same is true of the division of a mother's attention when babies are not crying. A mother of twins will often try to play with both babies simultaneously. She can hold two babies comfortably when sitting on a sofa or upholstered chair. Standing while holding or carrying two babies is an act of necessity, though, and not of comfort for any of the parties involved.
This is a bit off-topic and out of the blue, but (I admit it; I watched their show on a fairly regular basis; my dad said I probably lowered my iQ by a single digit for each episode I viewed ) once on an episode of Jon & Kate + 8, the family was in public, and they walked past a family of two parents and a single child. The child was holding both of her parents' hands, and they were swinging her in the air randomly as they walked. One of Jon and Kate's little girls (I think it may have been Alexis, though I don't know for certain, and it's neither here nor there, anyway) commented, rather wistfully, something to the effect of, "One time I got to hold both Mommy's and Daddy's hands when I walked." To their credit, the melancholic nature of the child's words was not lost on Jon and Kate, and both acknowledged the reduction of two-to-one or even one-to-one parental attention as being an inevitable drawback of their family dynamics.
I'm most thankful (after seeing the program; I don't know that it otherwise would have occurred to me to be thankful for anything so mundane; perhaps there was a benefit to my having seen many episodes of Jon & Kate + 8) that my interactions with and attention from parents wasn't reduced to the degree that it would have been had I competed with a larger number of womb-mates. Even having been a triplet would have statistically reduced the availability of parental attention I received to 33.3%. It would have grown only more grim with each surviving zygote.
Allow me to say, on the other hand, that, while I'm not sold on any benefits of having been a member of the pack in a higher-order multiple birth, being a twin offers to the two simultaneous occupants of a mom's uterus a shared experience like no two other individuals can ever have. Someday I'll presumably pick out a mate and legally wed, and Matthew will likely do the same, but until then, when we begin to form new lives and new shared experiences with these new people in our lives, Matthew and I will have had more shared experiences per years of our lives -- some of which we don't even remember -- than any two other members of our family. I cannot put into words what it is to have had a single person present during virtually every event of any significant in my life. We certainly went through periods of conflict, but Matthew was my single greatest ally even during times when I didn't know that he was such and certainly didn't trust him to be. While we trash-talk each other, he's always had my back just as I have had his. At a particular time in my teens when I was especially vulnerable and a bit paranoid, and not at all certain that Matthew, too, wasn't an enemy, unbeknownst to me, he was going out of his way to ensure that anyone who contemplated saying or doing anything as malignant as looking at me in a way that would make me feel uncomfortable would face dire consequences.
I'm not suggesting that being a twin lowered the quality of my childhood in specific and life in general. In fact, all things considered, and for a variety of reasons, I would highly recommend it. My point here, which I've taken entirely too long to make, is that my mom was unfair in alleging that I have yet to discover that I am not the axis around which everything on the Earth revolves. Knowledge of such was a part of me even before I was born.
This blog is growing increasingly cumbersome with each word I type. It's time for a Part 2.
*****TO BE CONTINUED*****