As the months go on and my only real income is the government and babysitting, I find myself more and more playing a role that feels just too damn weird.
I frequently walk the kids through the neighborhood. We're regulars at the local cafe (decaf mocha for me, pretzels for them). People know them. They stop and ask questions. To say they are beautiful children is an understatement, and walking them in the carriage is like parading with something that has a halo or its own magnetic field. The other day a woman pulled her car over to comment on them. A gangbanger in full colors broke his stony expression and smiled broadly when the girl showed him her dimples and called "HIIII!".
Today the kids and I took a walk to Walgreens so I could get some contact-lens cleaner. and some chocolate for my upcoming weekend in Michigan. There ensued a twenty-minute conversation with a woman who also had twins. We talked books, intelligence, curiosity. When I am out with these children, I have to shift into discussions about kids, playing, behavior. To walk through Rogers Park with gorgeous twins who charm the pants off everyone is to be a de facto baby enthusiast, and I can't say, "please, can we talk politics or sex or religion or anything but babies?" It's like walking two St. Bernards down the street and getting annoyed with people who assume you're a dog person and want to talk canine care.
It's not that it's terrible; people are friendly, and the twins seem to lend me an air of dependability and safety that people trust. (I must be an OK person; look, I take care of babies.) So the babies make an excellent social lubricant, but I feel like someone who's been reincarnated as someone I can barely recognize. I've spent over four months with good babies, and I still have to say, I just don't see the upside. I want my life, my adult life. I want to be able to ignore sharp corners, small pieces of food, steep stairs. I want to be able to go to a park and not have to be constantly watching two highly mobile human beings as one breaks for the ladder and one for the toy ship. I want to read a book once, not twelve times front to back and middle to end and over and over and over again. I want to stop being the one person who keeps two other people clean and fed and hydrated and exercised. I see pregnant women, and it's all I can do not to have a panic attack on their behalf.