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My first tattoo was a Roman numeral II. The symbol for Gemini, twins - the sign of two faces and two selves and two opposing sides. Push apart, pull together, push apart. I was sixteen at the time, half the age I am now.

Revi is yelling at Bo because Bo is trespassing through someone's garden.

"Bo!" she says. "NO! Nonobobonono!"

But Bo is laughing. She is running around and falling on the steps and wedging herself between the giant tree as Revi throws her hands in the air because she cannot even BELIEVE that this is happening right now, until finally she has HAD IT and goes to where Bo is in the tree and grabs her by the back of the shirt.

"Come on, Bobo. GO HOME."

And then Bo says, "NO!"

And Revi says, "YES!"

And they're full on yelling at each other in a stranger's yard until I have to intervene, pull them apart and carry them home, one under each arm, nothing to see here, folks. 
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The tattoo is terrible. It was done in someone's basement and it's on the small of my back and like all of my tattoos, was done with zero thought. But it's there and it always will be because I felt safe with that symbol. Gemini. Two faces. Two sides. Two selves. In opposition, in sync, in opposition, in sync...
And yet, "twins" always make me think of same. Same dress. Same hair. Same size. Twins make me think of twin day at school and how we did our hair the same and wore the same Peter Pan collared blouse with mint green shorts. 

And in that respect, I have spent the last two years struggling with the word because Bo and Revi are not in any way "twins."
I have become increasingly protective of their differences. Of their individuality. The balance. The conflict. The closeness. Their language and love for each other. The dynamic that occurs between partners who are two different heights, their differences, like puzzle pieces that fit together to form a... something. 


Revi wraps her arms around her sister. Bo is crying and Revi wants to help. She runs back to the bedroom to grab Bo's blankie and Bo takes it and collapses in a pile of tears and sighs. 

Revi pats her on the back and then walks away and Bo looks up every now and then from her maddened sobs to make sure that Revi is... somewhere. Close. Next to her. Not doing anything without her. 

And then... she's up and fine and calling for Revi across the hall because whatever it is that Revi is doing must be awesome. (And it is.)

Bo wants what she's having and Revi wants to share. She wants to share her snacks and her books and her life with the sister she came into the world with. 

Bo does, too, but she won't admit it out loud. Instead she follows Revi around, begs to hang out in her crib with her before bed. Always sits down as close to her on the bench as she can without sitting on her lap.
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"How old are you?" I ask.

"Two!" Bo says holding up three fingers.

"One!" Revi says holding up one finger. 

Which is pretty much exactly what they are. Two going on still-a-baby. Two going on ready-for-third-grade.
Two year olds. Two years old. Times two. Terrible two double trouble and all of the things we say about two year olds. About having twins. About having two sides and two faces and being different in a world where individuals are compared to other individuals. Where distinction is a surprise. Where opposites are a marvel and symbolism is reserved for books and movies.

Today I am turning all of those things over in my head. I am opening the window and shaking out the dust. I am turning toward my "double trouble" "terrible two" year olds as they show me how beautiful and blessed this life is. I am thanking them. And then thanking them again. Separately. Together. As individuals. And as a team.

To be different than our sisters, our children and spouses and selves... to slip in and out of different roles, that is what gives our lives and the lives of others, purpose, meaning, joy. We are chameleons who determine our own shape-shift by understanding what sets us apart from the rest. Positive ions repel each other. It is the negative that the plus sign is attracted to. There must be something to that in people, too. The craving of conflict, of differences, the need to respect both the separation and the overlap. The yin and the yang and night and the day and the smile and the frown and the man and the woman and all of the other pairs that exist in nature. Opposites, most of them. 
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I realize that comparing is something we all do. We all look like someone or remind someone of a person we knew once. I do it all the time. It's hard not to for some reason and I don't know why. But mothering twins has been an exercise in pointing out the differences in all of my children and all of my selves, both here on this blog and in real life, and then, doing what I can to celebrate them. Because that is what makes us interesting. Because every day my girls are compared to each other instead of being high-fived for being themselves. And it has made me think back to all of the times I have done the same thing.
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Perhaps it's because we all want to belong somewhere with someone. We want to find socks that match up and pairs to flip over and push aside in the memory game. We are programmed to recognize similarities and point to them. Stand in that line. Go this way.

I have to push myself in different directions so I don't categorize and organize and project my experiences onto others. I have to pull myself away from the people I think I match with and get to know the stories that are different, the people who oppose, think differently, see differently. 

Having four children has taught me there are many ways to see the world and all of them have merit. That one can hold her fork in her left hand and eat just as well as her sister who holds her fork with her right. That the two can share a table. That we are all better off when they do. Because complementary colors look nothing alike.

Bo's middle name means peace. Revi's means light. That first year I thought I gave them the wrong names. But I realize now that Bo's light is as much a part of Revi as Revi's peace is a part of Bo.
The peace and the light are alive in both of them and all of them and all of us. The calm and the storm are one. Life is a drawer overflowing with pairs of mismatched socks.  Like the ones Fable wears every day so that her feet are "more exciting."

Like the ones I wake up to in the morning and get to kiss goodnight before bed. Good morning, sun. Good night, moon.
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Happy second birthday, Reverie. Happy second birthday, Boheme. Thank you for two glorious years of lessons and love...
IMG_4848 I marvel at your differences. I'm in awe of your bond. IMG_5609 IMG_5590 IMG_5540
Hi. I have four children. HOW IN THE WHAT!? IMG_3397 photo photo-3 IMG_5512 ***
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