Mother of a Man-Child

My life with teenage boys

My Twins: Definitely Different! May 18, 2012

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boysNot surprisingly, our twin boys are extremely different, especially since they are fraternal (non-identical) twins.  Like me and my twin sister, they really are chalk and cheese.  Yes they are both sporty, excelling at rowing, football and rugby, but that’s where the differences end.  They are both charming young men when they want to be, and personable to anyone they meet, but their personalities are very different and have been from day one.

I am not complaining about this – we like the fact they are different, and have always sought to separate them at school and encourage them to have their own circle of friends and interests.  Aside from personality differences (not readily noticed by someone who may not know them intimately), there are other more tangible differences you can notice immediately.

For starters, they look very different.  Their faces are different (I don’t think they even look like brothers) and where one has always had a typical boys build, the other went through a pudgy stage before his teenage growth spurt.   They are now both well-built, muscly boys, but if you look closely again you can see physical differences in their muscle development and body shape.

They dress differently too – with completely divergent tastes in clothing.  One is very interested in how he looks and what he wears, whilst the other considers clothing to be just that – not a fashion statement but a practical item you wear for modesty, warmth etc.  If his girlfriend had her choice, she’d like his twin brother’s wardrobe on him!

Their differences are also borne out at home.  Take their bedrooms – one is relatively tidy, and generally presentable for a teenage bedroom, the other is a “tip”, full of the detritus of everyday living – three wet towels on the floor, rubbish in the corner (where it’s been for 4 weeks), dirty socks, school shirts, pens, electronic gadgets, food wrappers etc.  The list goes on.  The cleaners recently piled it all into a corner so they could vacuum the carpet – I got really excited he had finally succumbed to his own filth and cleaned the mess up until we found the Mt Everest of teenage life behind the bedroom door.

These habits extend to their general living quarters and cause quite a bit of angst.  Naturally one of the men-children likes to keep the bathroom and lounge area neat and tidy (just like his parents actually).  You can imagine the stress then of living with his twin who drops everything on the bathroom floor (and leaves it there) and uses the coffee table like you would a dishwasher, for a growing pile of dirty glasses, bowls and plates.  Maybe he’d like to be a scientist, since he’s often cultivating penicillin in their lounge room!

It drives one of the men-children absolutely mad (as it does me).  Occasionally I crack it and make my son do a tidy up (trust me it’s excruciating to watch the slowness with which he tackles this chore), but for the most part, I just let them sort it out amongst them.  I guess I consider it one of life’s lessons.  You can’t always choose who you live with, and we’re all different, so they have to learn to get along in the world and live with imperfections or they’ll go crazy.

I do observe this with a sense of sympathy and amusement, having lived in close quarters with my own twin, who it’s fair to say was just like my untidy son.  We however shared our bedroom for 14 years.  It must have been quite amusing for my parents to look into our room and see the perfection and neatness of a spotless room on one side and the dishevelment on the other.  I recall one day putting a line of masking tape down the middle of the room so her detritus could live on her side and not infringe mine.

Their approach to school is what you might expect having read the above.  One man-child is pretty self-motivated and diligent, both in class and at home, so he seems to have his school work reasonably under control and we don’t have to ride him very often.  On the flip side his brother is constantly behind at school, not doing the work, takes forever to finish things (much to his teacher’s frustration and ours) and is just not highly motivated by anything academic related.  Being in year 10 this has led to a number of issues, which have recently come to a head.  More news on that in another post.

So yes they are very different.  Just like many siblings are different.   Does it make it harder when you’re a twin to be different?  Does it make it easier for people to compare you?  Does it make it worse for one twin if any imperfections are amplified?  To be honest Father of a Man-Child and I differ on this.  Strangely he seems to think it’s more of an issue than me (the twin).  I guess I just see two very different children, who happen to be the same age making their journey through adolescence.  Whereas he sees two competitive young men, with successes and/or failures in different things, the latter potentially amplified with a negative effect.

What do you think?  As a sibling or parent?  Is this worse for twins, or is it just part of being a unique individual growing up in a family?

Apologies to my readers who think this story is familiar, I have written about it before:  Living with Man-Child Mess.  It’s clearly a sore point!


Happy 16th Birthday Boys! March 9, 2012

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Just over 16 years ago, our darling men-children were born.  Two gorgeous little bundles of joy that had spent 37 weeks in rather cramped quarters it’s fair to say.  Any wonder they sometimes don’t like each other’s company!

I can still remember the day I found out I was having twins.  I was alone at the hospital for the scan, being the typical pragmatist.  Don’t fuss, you go to work (future) Father of a Man-child, I’ll be fine etc.  And of course I was fine, having breezed through the early part of the pregnancy feeling absolutely amazing, not a day of morning sickness, and at 18 weeks no signs of anything unusual.

Back then it was perfectly normal to have your first scan nearly half way through the pregnancy – so you can imagine my shock when they said “The first thing we need to tell you is there’s more than one in there!”  And before my brain could even register what they were saying “It’s twins”!!!  Oh-My-God.  My immediate thought, followed quickly by tears, was of my Mother, who 30 years before me, had learned the exact same news – that she too was to be the mother of twins (yes me and my sister).   Tears because sadly she was not there to share the news, and to swap the countless stories about being pregnant with twins, mothering twins, adoring and loving twins.

I made the call to (future) Father of a Man-Child from the obstetrician’s waiting room, still reeling in shock.  Thankfully he was absolutely thrilled, which helped me recover somewhat.  He thought the idea of getting two at once was “fantastic”.   I then went to work, and shared the news with everyone there.  The irony was not lost on any of them, especially since the day before I had mentioned the forthcoming scan and told them jokingly “all bets are off if there’s more than one in here”!!!!  With the number of twins in our family it’s fair to say it wasn’t a completely unimaginable event, but still a shock nonetheless.

I rang my Father and sisters that night to tell them the news.  I still remember Dad laughing (knowingly) and telling me how wonderful it was of course, and probably also sharing the same sense of deja vu about my mother.  And the call to my twin sister, which went something like this:  “Shit, Shit, oh shit, shit…shit, shit…..(hysterical laughter) shit!”  That was she, not me!

We were blessed with a wonderful pregnancy, a good birth (even though an unexpected C-section), and textbook babies.   They really were amazing from day one – good feeders, sleepers, and eaters, achieving all the milestones every baby should.   As parents, it really was twice the joy (and about 1.5 times the work of one baby for those who are wondering).  As parents we really couldn’t ask for more, except seven years later of course, when our darling daughter arrived as a little surprise package.

So Happy Birthday boys! I can’t believe how quickly the last 16 years have passed.  To watch you both grow into fine young men-children (with a few bumps along the way as this blog reveals) has been a privilege and an honour.

Love Mother of a Man-Child xo

Here’s one of the few stories about our early life with the men-children:  The Holiday from Hell, the only bad one we’ve ever had.



Back to School!! February 3, 2012

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twins at schoolAs our unusual “summer” enters its final month, the kids this week returned to school.  And we returned to the daily grind of making lunches, 6am rowing starts, music lessons, and countless loads of washing every week – I haven’t missed it I can tell you.  Nor the peak hour traffic that results!  Whilst there was no excitement evident amongst the men-children as they headed back to school, I know they were happy to return and catch up with their mates after a few months off.  And they’re both pretty pumped about a big year of sport in Year 10.  (Let’s hope it’s also a big year of study for both of them!)

It seems every newspaper carries a mandatory image of twins or triplets or even better quads in school uniform, as they head to school for their first prep year.  It reminds me of our own front page photo of the men-children some 10 years ago (that’s it pictured for you) which was pretty exciting at the time, and really is a great moment to have captured for posterity.  I still remember the boys wearing their school uniforms home from the store, such was their thrill at owning one.  And of course the pride I felt whilst blinking back tears as we stood in the prep classroom and launched them on their school journey.  No less joyful was repeating it all 7 years later with our daughter.  They are moments you could relive a thousand times over and each would be as wonderful as the first!

In contrast to the boys, Sister of a Man-Child’s excitement was palpable at entering Year 3.  She even sent me a text message yesterday when she got home “Hay (sic) mum first day of school great.  Thumbs up”, complete with thumbs up images!  Now before you think our 8-year-old daughter has a mobile phone, not quite.  For Christmas she was lucky enough to get an iPod Touch (as a modern-day alternative to the Nintendo DS).  Whilst most people would think she would use it for music, it comes with so many other features she’s barely had the earphones on.  Why would you when it also has countless games free from the App store, a camera better than mine, access to YouTube, and most importantly the ability to text (via iMessage) and use Facetime with other iPhone/iPod users.  The ONLY thing it doesn’t do is make phone calls – seriously.  So when Ruby’s in a wireless environment, she’s practically got her own iPhone.  A “Digital Native” in the making!

emoji imagesShe recently found some friends with iPods or iPhones, and now they’re madly texting each other and doing Facetime.  The only issue is that Ruby doesn’t have her own email address, so she’s using one of mine.  As a result, all her messaging appears automatically on my phone too.  It was fascinating to observe the conversation unfold between three young girls, and see them helping each other text and use Facetime.  And then installing Emoji (an app for texting icons).  Now they seem to send each other hundreds of smiley faces and other images.  Although the other morning I was sitting at work with a stream of messages (complete with sound notifications) going off at my desk which got a little out of hand.  I ended up joining the conversation and asking them to stop, which took a while because we had to convince one of the girls that it really was the “Mother” texting.  Not surprisingly, we have now banned the use of the iPod before school and not until after homework is done in the evenings – like all fun and highly addictive “toys”, good in moderation.

So back to school and back to the routine.  And back to family meals which are a nice change, especially since during the holidays we rarely had both men-children at home for a meal.  No doubt the novelty will wear off quickly!! 🙂


The Holiday from Hell November 4, 2011

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A recent post by my friend and fellow blogger Mother Who Works, about their household battle with an outbreak of gastro, reminded me of a holiday many years ago with the men-children when they were just men-babies.   At the time I penned an article about our travels entitled “The Holiday from Hell” for the Australian Multiple Births Association newsletter.   14 years later I thought it was a rather amusing anecdote to share. 🙂

beachJuly 1997

And so the “M” family planned the perfect holiday.  A week at South Molle Island in the Whitsundays in July.  A direct flight to Hamilton Island (instead of a stopover in Sydney or Brisbane) and 30 minutes by launch to South Molle Island.  All meals catered for (parents and kids alike), a crèche for the kids, babysitting service, golf course, tennis courts, pools, beach, long walks, etc etc.  The perfect break for Mum and Dad after 15 hectic months with twins “C” and “H”.  No supermarket visits at 10pm, no standing in front of the fridge wondering what they (and you) were having for dinner, no hectic morning or evening schedule with Mum and Dad trying to get to work on time (for once) or get the kids to bed after a long day in the office.  Just pure relaxation for everyone, and a chance to spend valuable time with (and occasionally without) H and C!

The flight up was made somewhat easier courtesy of an upgrade to business class.  I guess the Ansett check-in attendant took pity on the parents with bags, twin stroller, and two restless kids waiting in the longest queues ever witnessed at Melbourne airport.  With extra room, H and C could basically trash a much larger area of the plane.  Fortunately, business travellers were limited on our flight, and the hostesses very helpful.  Of course, it’s difficult to enjoy the food, service etc in business class with a bouncing toddler on your knee throwing complimentary pencils everywhere.  Plenty of cheese sticks, tetra bricks, dry biscuits etc kept us in good stead for the first two hours.  However, as expected, the kid’s confinement was a little trying into the third hour of the flight.  Thank God for Vallergan, although it is our misfortunate that is has never worked on H.  He eventually fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion 30 mins from our destination, whilst C managed a one hour sleep.

Great to hit terra firma at Hamilton before a pretty uneventful (although somewhat rough) trip by boat to South Molle Island.  We arrived on a Saturday at about lunchtime and checked in to our home for the next week – the Family rooms at South Molle are more than sufficient with a separate room for the kids, complete with cots, and a veranda with safety gate to stop two particular boys falling straight down the stairs.  With two hungry kids we headed straight to the restaurant for lunch.  The restaurant staff only had to see us heading in before they grabbed the highchairs and had them ready at a table for us.  This exceptional service continued the entire period of our stay.

Not wanting to seem too eager, we immediately checked out the crèche on Saturday afternoon, memorizing the hours available, and effectively booking them in on the spot.  Our kids had been looked after by a nanny since they were five months old, with little time spent in crèche or similar facilities.  Nevertheless, H took to it like a duck to water, and instantly busied himself with the new toys, books etc.  C on the other hand, always the clingier child, was not happy with his new surroundings.  The crèche staff suggested a five minute walk by Mum and Dad, to see if our absence made him settle down.  Unfortunately, we returned to a very upset little boy.  Oh well, perhaps tomorrow it would seem more familiar (it better!).

After an attempt at crèche on Sunday morning, and again on Sunday afternoon, the staff finally won C over and we headed off for an hour long walk to the other side of the island, confident that the boys were having a good time.  Indeed they did.  So much so that we booked them in for Monday morning, so we could enjoy a round of golf on the 9-hole, short par course (basically ideal for amateurs like me).  We picked up two very tired but happy boys and headed to lunch at midday on Monday.  But before we had even ordered a drink to celebrate the start of the holiday we had dreamed about, H projectile vomited across the middle of the restaurant floor!  So much for lunch.  Needless to say H and I went straight to the resident nurse, who couldn’t diagnose anything particular at that stage, and home to bed for a rest.  As he had had no unusual foods on the island, nor come into contact with any sick kids at the crèche, we ruled out any nasty bugs.

We spent a quiet afternoon with H recovering, and planned our activities for the next day.  Dinner in the room was easy to arrange, in view of the sick child, so we had a night in.  At 10.30pm that night, we were woken by the sound of a child throwing up – not H, but C, and yes you guessed it, in his cot.  The same violent projective kind of throwing up as his brother.  (Starting to sound suspicious????)  By the next day (Tuesday), both boys seemed to have recovered, although unfortunately the crèche was out of bounds for 24 hours due to their illness, so we spent the day with them.  An uneventful evening over dinner (they cleverly had a sitting for kids at 5pm and parents from 6-8pm whilst kids are in the crèche), although we were forced to do shift work with dinner because crèche was out.  To cheer ourselves up we arranged for a babysitter to mind the boys on Wednesday evening so we could enjoy the only upmarket restaurant on the island.

By Wednesday morning H was clearly not well.  His general state of lethargy over breakfast was of great concern, and so another visit to the nurse was arranged.  By this stage I was starting to feel unwell myself, and the thought of spending half my day travelling by boat to the mainland to see a doctor was not high on my agenda.  Fortunately a phone conversation with a doctor and a very sympathetic nurse allowed us a course of antibiotics to settle what appeared to be an oncoming ear infection (with a flight looming, who wants an ear infection?).  And so the babysitter arrived that evening, and we left confident that the kids were finally on the mend.  Arrived home to find no problems, and went to bed happy.  Only until I had to make the dreaded dash mid-morning to the loo for you know what!  So there goes Thursday, with still no kids in crèche, me feeling lethargic and miserable, and seriously considering getting on a plane to go home early, although who wants to fly with a gastro bug?

Friday, and with the holiday drawing to a close, we planned our last night out with the babysitter booked again.  By this stage, we were all feeling better, although we sensibly stayed away from the crèche.  Fortunately we were able to borrow backpacks, buckets and spades etc for the kids, so we could get out and about with C and H.  After a great day with the boys we got organised for our “big night out”.  No sooner had Father-of-Twins dressed, than he was looking for the nearest receptacle to throw up in.  Of course we know gastro is catchy but this was ridiculous.  Not wanting to be a party pooper, he cancelled the babysitter, but insisted I go out anyway while he minded the kids (if you call lying prostrate on the bed feeling shithouse minding the kids).  I caught up with another couple, and had a great night, although I was sorry that hubby missed it.

By Saturday we were on the launch and on our way home.  By this stage, it was the only place I wanted to be.  Unfortunately it’s a little difficult to be upgraded on a flight that is fully booked (better luck next time).  And so we joined the “zoo” in economy, indeed fortunate to end up with the only vacant seat on the plane between us.  The kids spent the flight home standing on the meal trays and annoying the shit out of the people in front of us.  Thank God they were a couple of ten year old kids, and quite entertained by H and C.  I have never been happier to get off a plan than that Saturday in July.  Home to the routine, our beds, the kids’ cots and high chairs, my own loo to throw up in when I want, and of course a mound of washing and a visit to the supermarket at 10pm on a Sunday night, to restock the fridge for the coming week.

Of course the faces of my colleagues told a thousand stories at news of our Holiday from Hell on Monday!  In fact Rob’s company were so devastated for us that they insisted on sending us to Sydney for a child-free weekend to recover!! (And enjoy it we did).

And what may you ask did we learn from our well planned holiday?  Never leave mainland Australia with young kids, never fly more than an hour with kids under 10 years of age, give up the notion that a holiday north every year is still possible with kids, and resign yourself to the sensible ways of our parents, who long ago realised that a couple of weeks on the peninsula with the kids was just as much fun, and only an hour from Melbourne if disaster strikes!!!

November 2011

Ironically we just came back from another holiday in the Whitsundays at Hamilton Island – very much enjoyed by all of us this time.  I do recall when we left South Molle Island some hel­pful staff member telling us that it was very common for mainlanders to get gastro on the island due to the poor water source.  You can imagine how thrilled that made me can’t you?





Do The Men-Children Actually LIKE Each Other? July 15, 2011

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yin and yangAs those who know my men-children will tell you, they are extremely different.  Not just in looks but also in personality.  They have different friends, are quite opposite in their natural strengths, have diverse interests (except playing sport), have completely different fashion approaches, and like all siblings they fight a lot.

This year a couple of their individual friends moved to a different school together.  Not surprisingly new allegiances have been formed amongst these boys, thrown together in a new environment, and as a result new relationships have developed with my men-children.  One day I seemed to have one man-child talking about a mate regularly that plays in the same sports team, the next week he’s here with my other man-child and moreover now seems to be a permanent fixture with the latter.

The big surprise came when Man-Child II asked if he could stay over at a friend’s – who just happened to be the BFF (“Best Friends Forever”) of Man-Child I – go figure!  I was so taken aback I said he could stay as long as he told his brother first – I thought that was at least fair.  Man-Child I didn’t seem to mind at all.  And went so far as to lend his twin brother a jumper – yet another first in our household.  Trust me normally there’s a complete shit fight over the Bonds jocks, school shirts, footy shorts, Skins, and socks every morning – they just don’t do the sharing thing well at all.

So whilst my boys show disdain for each other often, at least at home, obviously their friends find them both good guys, and maybe not so different after all?  Or they enjoy their differences and uniqueness, just as they do with all their friends.

So is this a sign of things to come?  A new era of loving, sharing, caring men-children?  Based on the fighting going on upstairs at the moment and the charming language filtering down the stairs whilst I write this post, I very much doubt it.  But hey, mother of a man-child is always open to surprises. 🙂

Read more about the boys “play-fighting” here:  Testosterone Power Surge in Melbourne Suburb



Welcome to my blog January 22, 2010

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For those who are wondering what this blog is about, I am the mother of twin teenage boys, who are almost 14 years old, as well as a 6 year old (heaven-sent) daughter. Following yet another discussion (or as he would say lecture) with my “man-child” it occurred to me that if this was happening to someone else it would actually be funny.

So I was inspired to start this blog, with a view to sharing some funny anecdotes with my friends, welcoming feedback and comments, other stories and experiences that might actually make me feel a little normal – because more often than not I feel like an impostor standing in my mothers shoes delivering home truths to teenage boys who look at me with such contempt sometimes I feel like shriveling up and dying.

To be fair, I seem to have one “man-child” currently (I do think he is actually 13 going on 23) and one quite normal teenager, who seems content to do normal teenage things.

Maybe it’s because I am a twin myself, now observing my very different twin boys, that it seems such an interesting study in human nature and the role of nurture versus nature.

Anyway, here goes my blog. It’s definitely not twitter (honestly for me a complete “twat”) but an opportunity for me to vent occassionally and hopefully amuse some of my friends. That said, this blog is designed to be largely anonymous, in the interests of protecting my sons from the embarassment of their clearly disturbed mother.

I hope you enjoy my stories and occasional rants. I for one am hoping it will prove to be largely cathartic. 🙂