Taking care of little ones from birth until they leave the nest is difficult enough, but doing everything times two for 18 or so years and double vision takes over every aspect of your life.
“Everything comes at the same time,” said Jamey Patrick, mother of 17-year-old twins Maddi and Zach.
Besides the obvious – two babies born at once – Patrick says that from that point on, practically every event and situation is doubled. Bottles and feeding times, diaper changes, mischief-making, birthday parties, holiday gifts, new shoes, first cars, graduations, college tuitions and so much more.
“We didn’t have a gap to save money for a next car,” said Patrick.
And in addition to purchasing two cars at the same time, Jamey Patrick and husband John Patrick felt the cost of car insurance increasing not just by one driver, but two drivers simultaneously.
Patrick said she didn’t even want to think just yet about both of them leaving the nest at the same time. Maddi and Zach have one more year of high school to complete at Southeast Bulloch High School before deciding on colleges to attend.
Parents of 18-year-old twins Mary Ruth and Curtis Berry, Donnie and Christie Berry, will soon know the feeling of twins leaving home at the same time. Graduates for just a couple of weeks from Metter High School, Mary Ruth plans to attend University of Georgia and major in accounting and Curtis plans to attend Ogeechee Technical College to study welding.
The Patrick twins, as of right now, plan to major in music at Georgia Southern, though Maddi is considering a double major, vocal and choral education, and Zach is also considering an archeology or oceanography degree.
Interestingly, both boys from the two sets of twins admit that their sisters are the more studious ones of the pair. The Patricks and the Berrys requested that their kids be in different classes in school from the time they were very young, recognizing that separation in classes might help quell competition between the siblings.
Also helping to alleviate any unhealthy competition between the siblings is the fact that each pair of siblings has different interests and different friend groups.
With the Patricks, both showed signs of musical aptitude from an early age, taking piano lessons together, but by the time they got in high school, they’d branched out to other musical interests. Maddi takes part in chorus and Zach plays tenor saxophone in the band.
“Zach plays keyboard; I sing,” said Maddi. “He plays by ear, but I read music better than him because I sight read.”
Both also played soccer, but Maddi admitted she didn’t care enough about soccer to feel the need to compete with her brother in that sport.
“I’m more outgoing in most situations,” said Maddi. “I’m more social.”
“I’m more athletic,” said Zach.
“Both of us are pretty level-headed,” said Maddi. “We’re go-with-the-flow kind of people. Zach is a lot more responsible, cleaning stuff, taking care of pets. I’m a free spirit.”
The Patrick twins had similar friends through middle school, but found different friend groups once they entered high school. “But at church, at Trinity Baptist in Nevils, there’s a small group of friends, so we all hang out together,” said Maddi.
Maddi, the more talkative of the two, laughed and said, “We’re either fighting with each other or teaming up on somebody else.”
The Berry twins respond in similar ways, too.
“Mary Ruth looks out for Curtis, and Curtis likes to do things for her,” said Christie Berry. “He would do anything for her, and she becomes a mother bear if someone bothers him.”
Christie said her twins get along better now than they were kids, often sparring verbally. Mary Ruth tends to blame Curtis for those twin challenges. “It’s only when he messes with me,” she said, “which is a daily thing.”
Donnie Berry said his two kids have a “twin telepathy” going on and have since they were kids. “It’s not a myth,” said Donnie. “She could interpret for him. He understood her that way, too.”
Curtis is a self-proclaimed homebody, and Mary Ruth likes to take part in various extra-curricular activities. Her studious nature earned her the title of salutatorian, and she’s already completed several college-level courses through dual enrollment programs.
Christie, a Special Education teacher with first grade at Metter, and Donnie, pastor of First
Baptist Church, Portal, said the baby and toddler days were quite challenging.
“You wake up thinking what’s going to happen today,” said Christie. “Some of the memories weren’t fun ones,” she admitted. “You’re always juggling to try to take care of both, usually going different directions. We didn’t have family here, and Curtis was sick a lot.”
Born at just 2 pounds, 3.8 ounces, Curtis had issues at birth that took some overcoming. Mary Ruth, born at 4.3 ounces, needed a cast applied at just two days old to correct a club foot issue.
Curtis, who struggled with speech issues early on, as well as the ease at which he became ill, shows no sign of an early birth rate now except ongoing problems with asthma. “It’s a miracle he’s alive,” said Christie.
Christie and Donnie were married for 14 years and struggled with infertility before getting pregnant with their kids. The Berry twins were born at 33.5 weeks of gestation.
Maddi and Zach, born two minutes apart, were 4 pounds, 11 ounces and 4 pounds,5 ounces, respectively.
“They stayed in the NICU for seven days,” said Jamey. “They were born on a Saturday; I was discharged on Wednesday, and they both came home the following Saturday. That’s typically unheard of for premature twins to come home on the same day.”
Patrick said that her twins didn’t seem to fuss and fight like other sibling pairs that she knew. “It doesn’t seem to be as bad as others, but they had their moments.”
Both moms admitted that having twins is quite challenging, but neither knew any other form of parenting.
“It was hard, but I wouldn’t do anything different,” said Christie. “You learn as you go. You learn to do what you gotta do.”
From non-stop movement of baby days to the time when both will leave the nest at the same time, the challenges, as well as the joys and good times, have been doubled. Twins aren’t for the faint of heart, but the Patricks and Berrys wouldn’t trade it for anything.