Stephan’s shrieks, shortly followed by Sarah’s in the middle of the night was met by groans from their reluctant parents. Roxie sighed and rolled over. “It’s your turn,” she mumbled sleepily.

“No, it’s yours,” Sean yawned, placing a pillow over his head, trying to block out the wailing of the babies.

“I got up last time.”

“I have to be at work earlier than you,” Sean argued. Roxie scowled and hit him in the shoulder before dragging him out of bed with her.

“You’re such an ass. Get up! We’ll both do it since you’re such a whiny twit.”

This routine happened at least twice a night. Sean had been dead wrong when he said twins would be no problem. They were a huge problem. Whenever one started crying, the other one would start crying, too. They never slept at the same time, and two babies meant double the amount of work. Roxie and Sean never had a moment to themselves.

Sometimes, Sean wished he could just run away and never come back to this mess. This wasn’t what he wanted. He didn’t want the responsibility of kids and a woman who might as well be his wife, despite the fact that they weren’t even technically dating. They were just living together and tolerating each other for the sake of the kids. Whenever he’d think these thoughts, he’d picture Sarah’s gleaming blue eyes that were a mirror of his own and Stephan’s gurgling laugh that always made him laugh, too, and he’d feel guilty for thinking of leaving them. Sure, he was unhappy with the way his life had turned out, but he loved his children. He knew he’d never abandon them. If there was anyone Sean would give up his own happiness for, it was Stephan and Sarah. He’d put up with Roxie and her grouchy nature. He’d put up with not being able to buy things he wanted because he had other people to look after, first. He’d put up with not being able to go out and party as much. He’d put up with all of it for them. Not that he enjoyed doing it, though.

I wonder what my dad would think of me if he saw me now, Sean wondered to himself as he played with the twins one afternoon. Would he be proud of me or would he tell me I’m stupid for bringing two kids into the world I wasn’t ready for? He hadn’t talked to his father since the day he left a few years ago. He’d thought about calling him to tell him he was a grandfather now, but never worked up the courage. He was ashamed. He was living paycheque to paycheque in a shack with a woman he didn’t even get along with and two kids he hadn’t planned for. He was afraid of his father laughing in his face and telling him he knew he could never make it on his own and look at the mess he’d gotten himself into.

Sean resolved to put his father out of his mind and just focus on bringing in money and keeping Child Services away from his doorstep. Since Roxie was on maternity leave, she wasn’t getting promotions so the burden lay entirely on Sean’s shoulders.

Roxie celebrated her thirtieth birthday soon after the twins were born. Sean was a little shocked. If he’d known how old she was when he first hooked up with her, he probably would have tossed her out on her rear end right away. What use did he have for old, saggy bags of wrinkles? Now, however, things were different. He couldn’t kick Roxie out. She was the mother of his children and if she left, she’d take Stephan and Sarah with her. He could live quite comfortably without Roxie, but those babies were the only thing keeping him going and he didn’t ever want to be separated from them.

“Sean, now that the kids are born, are you going to kick me out?” Roxie asked him late that night after they’d put the twins to bed.

“No. I already told you that,” Sean replied distantly.

“Yeah, but we don’t like each other. At all. I mean, we care about each other because we have kids together, but we don’t like each other. If that makes sense.”

“Yeah, it does. I’m still not kicking you out. You can go if you want to, but I’m not throwing you out.”

“Do you think I’d take the twins away from you if you kicked me out? Is that the only reason? You can keep them. I love them, but they make me crazy.” Sean sighed.

“Look, neither of us can handle them by ourselves. Neither of us can afford to keep a roof over their heads by ourselves. That’s the bottom line, so we’re just going to have to put up with each other to take care of them!” he snapped.

“Fine,” Roxie grumbled. “By the way, you never said happy birthday once to me today.”

“Like I care,” Sean scowled.

Roxie and Sean continued to live together but apart from talking about the twins, they rarely spoke to each other. When they did, they’d argue about money, or the broken appliances, or something trivial like Sean leaving the toilet seat up all the time. They did manage to furnish the house a bit more, and Sean finally got the treadmill he wanted so badly. He figured he deserved a treat for working so hard to provide for his family. Roxie wasn’t impressed by his splurge on the treadmill, but he did also get kitchen counters, a stove, and living room furnishings, so she didn’t give him too much of a hard time over it. At least he gave some thought to the household needs.

Finally, it was the twins’ birthday. Roxie and Sean brought out the babies to their cakes. Roxie shook her head. “I can’t believe they’re already a year old. They’re toddlers,” she shuddered. Sean didn’t blame her. They’d be even more time consuming now that they both had to be taught how to walk, talk and use the potty. Then they’d have a hell of a time keeping them out of trouble when they learned how to walk and started running all over the place.

This place is going to turn into a zoo… he groaned inwardly, but he couldn’t pause time and it was time for his kids to grow a year older. He helped Sarah blow out her candles and Roxie did the same for Stephan and they both stepped back to look at how big their kids had grown.

“Now the fun begins,” Roxie said sarcastically.