Having children, they say, changes everything. So I wonder if having twins means that things change twice as much. And by three and four times as much if you have triplets or quads?
The barycenter (or barycentre; from the Ancient Greek βαρύς heavy + κέντρον centre) is the centre of mass of two or more bodies that are orbiting each other, which is the point around which they both orbit. It is an important concept in fields such as astronomy and astrophysics. It’s also an important concept for mine and MuMum’s relationship.
The other week, MuMum and I were lucky enough to revel in the luxury of our first ever double-nighter without the twinkles. They’ve had plenty of one-night sleep overs at MuMatriarch’s place but two in a row felt like something special. Queue the pressure to really enjoy it and have a splendidly brilliant time…
When we’ve had the opportunity for time together without the kids in the past we’ve heaped the pressure on ourselves to do something out of the ordinary; to make it the most memorable time so that we feel we’ve really made the most of our time without the twinkles. We debate what to do and how to really maximise our time together. The quandary is usually something along the lines of ‘let’s get up early and make the most of our time together’ vs ‘let’s take the longest lie in we can to make the most of not having two three year old alarm clocks’ (I should say at this point that the twinkles usually aren’t up until 7.30am at the earliest, often later #sorrynotsorry). You catch my drift..?!
But let me go back a couple of steps and explain what barycentre means to me and MuMum. Barycentre is a code-word. A code-word (weirdos)?!I can almost hear you shouting. In our relationship we have a whole bunch of code-words that we use in sticky situations which basically reduces the need to have a lengthy conversation and usually one which we’ve had a dozen times before. For instance, when I’m hanging a picture on the wall, I’ll judge the mid-point by eye and bosh the dry wall fixing in. The end result is that we can see the picture perfectly well and it’s not in danger of spontaneously falling off the wall and damaging anyone or anything. BUT for MuMum, it has to be measured so that the wall fixing is bang in the centre of the wall and measured so that the top of the frame is level with the top of the other frames in the room. If two fixings are required to secure a particularly heavy piece, I even have to use something called ‘a level’ to make sure that everything is flat and even. Now, I don’t necessarily see the importance of doing all this flap and measuring business because, as I said, I get things pretty bang on by eye anyway. But it’s important to MuMum, and I know it’s important to MuMum so I do the measuring and levelling. Our code-word for this scenario is silver-foxing. I can’t tell you why that’s what it is or how it started (I can tell you that it’s nothing to do with Philip Schofield though) but that’s not the important bit anyway. The important thing is that I know that MuMum needs me to do something that means something to her, even though I might not see the need or value in doing so; thereby avoiding the same argument of “it doesn’t need to be done like that so I’m not going to do it that way and my way is better anyway and the outcome will be the same regardless” kind of thing.
Anyway, where was I? Yes, the barycentre. When we tell each other we need to get back to our barycentre it’s because we feel we’ve drifted from our usual happy place with one another, perhaps because one or other has been neglecting the other in some way but also, and what is usually more often the case, that we’ve both been neglecting our relationship. So when we get the chance to barycentre it’s a big deal for us.
So imagine the pressure we had then to enjoy a two-night barycentre! In the event, we just enjoyed spending time with each other, with no real agenda other than to spend time. What was important was that we remembered why we chose each other and why we chose to get married. It was great to have the conversations that we used to have before the twinkles arrived; you know, the silly ones, the ones about your dreams, the ones about your anxieties and the ones about your family. Too often we find ourselves snatching five minutes here and there to discuss the urgent business of the day rather than the stuff that’s important to us.
So yes, kids change everything unimaginably. They change things for the better; ours have enriched our lives beyond measure but at the same time we owe it to them to be the best versions of us, so that we can give them our best. Having time without them helps me to achieve that, for them, for MuMum and for me. Over that weekend I really missed the twinkles though and it felt odd being at home and not having them running around, getting under my feet, making a mess and being noisy but it gave me the space to remember what being husband was all about, without having to be daddy at the same time, or even instead.
We’re in a privileged position of having great family nearby who love having the girls, spending time with them and being in loco parentis while we barycentre. Not all people have this and maybe struggle to get that important time together. Shift work for some people means that partners pass like ships in the night and rarely get time together with the kids, let alone without them. So if you know anyone like this, insist on baby sitting for them for a time so that they can reach their own barycentre to allow them to give the best of themselves back to their kids.