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Synergy schmynergy

By Shelah Miner

I was a freshman in college the first time I was introduced to the idea of synergy. It was Thanksgiving and I was staying with my boyfriend’s family for the long weekend. His mom sent us down to the basement to put sheets on the beds, and I couldn’t believe how quickly we were able to get the beds done. “This would have taken me five time as long to do by myself,” I said. “It’s synergy,” he answered. “When we work together, the sum is greater than the parts.” I probably tackled him and kissed him at that point, so we will give our teenage romantics some privacy while we exit from that part of the narrative.

Since that time, I’ve seen synergy at work in many different ways. Last night I was doing round one of wrapping Christmas presents, since they had taken over my husband’s closet to the point that he couldn’t even reach his shirts. Most years, my mom and I wrap presents together at Christmas, but this year she’s staying at home in Minnesota and I’ll be in Utah. We have a system down: I do the grunt work (putting paper on boxes, placing items in gift bags, writing what’s in the package on the bottom, ironing the ribbons, coming up with the clue we traditionally provide for each package), and she does the finish work (fluffing tissue paper, tying bows, writing the clues in her fancy handwriting). But this time, I was all alone, or rather, I wanted to be all alone, but various kids kept coming in and peeking. Wrapping is usually one of the things I look forward to most during the year, but this time it felt like drudgery. I was missing my mom. My mom, and synergy.

But I’m experiencing plenty of synergy in other aspects of my life. Unfortunately, it’s not the happy, productive kind, at least not from my perspective. I have two two-year-olds. They’re not biological twins, but with six months separating them, they might as well be. First of all, I feel the need to apologize to every mom of twins I’ve ever known or taught in primary or seen in the checkout line at the grocery store. I thought that since I had multiple kids, I knew what having twins was like– having two-year-old twins wasn’t measurably different from having a three-year-old and a one-year-old, right? Wrong. There were even times when I was sort of jealous of twin moms because I thought that it might be easier to raise two at once than it would be to keep raising one after the other after the other (that, and the matching clothes thing).

On the other hand, I’ve always thought that twins were kind of naughty and undisciplined. Not necessarily as a group, but I’ve definitely had times where I’ve thought that the twins I knew were naughty. I have twin cousins who are two years older than I am, and I grew up thinking they were both 10000x cooler and 10000x wilder than I was, and that’s probably because every time we got together we did things I wouldn’t dream of doing on my own. And that’s exactly it– twins get into the kinds of trouble that singleton kids wouldn’t even dream of.

Right now, for example, while I write this, they’re both standing on stools so they can reach the top of their dad’s dresser, where there’s a cup of change. They’ve got their fists full of change, and they’re stuffing it down the tiny slot between his dresser and mine, which will eventually require me to get down on the floor and move the dressers to retrieve the coins (and whatever else they’ve shoved down there). But they’re not bothering me and they’re quiet, so I let it slide. We’ve had more disasters with paint and crayons in the last six months than I’ve known in 14 years of parenting. I’ve been the mom at the zoo with one kid running in one direction toward a speeding golf car and the other taking off the other way. I called poison control yesterday before we headed off to church. One morning a few weeks ago, I got out of the shower and they weren’t in my bedroom, watching tv (which is where I’d left them five minutes earlier). I finally found them on the driveway, swordfighting with scissors. Most days, I feel like I try to carry out the regular duties of my life with cement blocks on my feet, probably because I’m usually carrying either the 32-pounder or the 27-pounder, or both. I can pretty much guarantee that every single day we will have the kind of disaster I would have considered blog-worthy with any of my other kids, but it’s starting not to faze me. Or maybe I’m just tired. My husband thinks I don’t watch them, but the amazing thing is that all of this stuff happens while I am watching them.

The thing that astounds me, when I look at the chaos that our lives has become, is that a year ago, this is exactly what I was praying my guts out to have happen. Our daughter was a caboose, so of course the logical decision was to adopt a buddy for her. And nine months since he joined our family they are best buddies, which is great. But as someone who craves order and clean spaces and walls without crayon on them, I’m finding this stage of parenting a much greater challenge this time around than it was with my four older kids. I’m hoping that one of these days I’ll be able to put their synergistic energy to good use. Maybe they’ll be our designated bedmakers.

So– synergy– where do you see it in your life? And toddlers– anyone else as fed up with theirs as I sometimes feel with mine?


About Shelah Miner

(Co-Editor-in-Chief) teaches English at BYU and French at a Salt Lake City middle school. She has an addiction to her Audible account, hates making dinner, and embraces the chaos of life with a husband, six kids, a dog, a lizard and four rabbits.

8 thoughts on “Synergy schmynergy”

  1. My three year old is a little tornado. Which is fine because I can usually convince him to help me clean up. But he is hard and I am fed up every day around 4 when he starts eating through my fridge instead of waiting for dinner. The other day he started his morning with 3 pieces of raw bacon. That was so gross.

    I love it when my husband and I have synergy with household clean up. We can get the whole house so clean in 90 minutes if we decide to do it. (small house) Even with 3 kids trying to make us fail in our task. πŸ™‚

  2. I feel your pain as the Mom with a pirate ship left on the roof for two years and a house without a single wall left intact, and socks under the snow in the front yard…at least eight pairs. There is nothing so dangerous in my house as quiet. I have two kids with ADD and one with Aspberger's so every day is an adventure like you describe…my cousin once told me I should write a book and my reply was I am just trying to survive and keep them alive..forget publication

  3. I'm laughing so hard right now at the words "on the driveway, sword fighting with scissors" and imagining you wrapped in a towel frantically trying to confiscate the sharp objects and not drop the towel!

    I always wanted twins–until I had the actual baby and then I'd realize what a chore a single baby is, on top of the other children. Sigh. Days of long ago…I miss them. Good luck!

  4. Shelah, my dear Shelah. I'm right there with you. And I want to reach through the screen and hug you. Twins yield a whole new level of disaster zone, creativity, and let's just say it… synergy. This: "My husband thinks I don’t watch them, but the amazing thing is that all of this stuff happens while I am watching them." SO TRUE. I don't know how it is true. But it is!

    You're doing an amazing job with all your children. They are so blessed to have you. I like the idea of putting my twins on bed sheet task force. πŸ™‚ xo

  5. Sounds like the synergy of the "twiblings" (twin/siblings) is too much for you! The sum trouble they make is more than the individual parts. πŸ˜‰

    (BTW, I can take no credit for the "twiblings" thing. I got it from a story I read about a couple who had two children born to different surrogates one month apart.)

  6. Is this the wrong time to tell you that my twin sister gave birth to her first baby two days before I got married?

    My mom said it took her a week to recover from those 3 days. She said she felt utterly torn, all the time, between two people who were always needing something.

    And yes, we were ALWAYS running two different directions, although she said that when she'd go to the beach and we would escape running flat out down the sand she'd find my twin sister a few yards away, and I'd be half a mile away. My dad said their mantra became, "Let's keep everybody alive". Which they did. So, gold stars for everybody!

  7. Also, my brother has twin boys. For a little while, when they were house hunting, their family stayed with my parents when the boys were toddlers. During that time, my mother had her Steinway grand piano tuned, and also thought it needed repairs, because one of the keys wouldn't press down.

    The tuner found 3 socks and a tube of Desitin wedged inside.

    My brother likens having twins to repeatedly hitting yourself in the head with a hammer.

  8. I like this idea–it explains what I feel like I'm missing during lonely times in my life and it explains why I want my husband to get up in the morning at the same time I do, even if I really can handle all of the morning activities by myself. I just don't want to–I like that feeling of working together to reach goals. I'm sorry that the "bad" synergy of the 2-year-olds is kicking you in the butt right now,though!


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