Parenting Guru: Twins... together and apart

What is it about watching our children sleep that casts such a spell over us parents? Is it the serene, unguarded look and fluttering eyelids as they dream, oblivious to the world around them, that holds our attention? Or is it the sheer relief that they're finally down for the night and we can have a few blissful moments to ourselves? I'm not sure, but I do know that I have several photos over the years of my twins asleep in their beds, and they never cease to make me stop and smile.

There's an evolution to the pictures. In the first year, the boys are sharing a crib at naptime. It used to touch me so much that I would place them at either end of the crib to keep them from waking each other up with their movements. Yet, invariably, when I checked on them, their heads would be touching. Even as they rested, they were a unit. As the years went on and we traveled extensively, my sons would often find themselves sharing a sofa bed. My husband and I would hear them giggling as they told stories to one another in hushed whispers in the next room. It was clear that the comfort they found in each other's presence made unfamiliar spaces feel like home.

At some point, during middle school, they refused to sleep next to one another any more. I wasn't surprised, of course, but a little saddened. Looking back, the separation was gradual. It was a kind of letting go, for all of us. At hotels, they would take one mattress off the sofa bed and flip a coin for who would get the couch or the floor. At home, their shared bedroom became a thing of the past. Each boy created a space of his own, at opposite ends of the hall. But the late night conversations continue, right up until lights out. And now, on the cusp of heading to college in the fall, another separation looms. State lines, not just closed doors, will keep my children apart. But something tells me that despite the distance, they'll still be close to each other. And that makes me smile, too.

Boston Irish is really Maureen O'Brien, a parenting coach and author. Besides being a proud Yahoo! Shine Parenting Guru, Maureen enjoys sharing her child-rearing expertise on galtime.com and at destinationparenting.com. She is passionate about all things parenting!