The idea of twins itself is a miracle, but when you multiply a set of twins times five, it becomes extraordinary. No, we are not talking about five sets of twins from the same parents, but rather five separate sets of twins under one roof at one local Catholic school.
This is a first for the small school of 131 students since the school opened in 1916. To start, lets introduce the twins starting from the youngest to the oldest. The Dempsey-Strang twins, Aiden and Kaden are in the pre-K program and are the children of Dixie Dempsey and Todd Strang. Next, the kindergarten students of Leah and Autumn Mergen, daughters of Mitch and Jessica, followed by fourth graders, Madison and McKenzie Calvert, daughters of Bill and Kelle. Devlin and Liam Goodridge are the sons of Cliff and Loretta and are fifth graders and finally the eldest set of twins include sixth graders, Brandon and Weston Morley who are the sons of Harvey and Ann.
One thing these twins have in common is they are full of smiles but light on conversation. When asked if being a twin was something they enjoyed, the majority of them either remained silent, giggled or looked at one another as if approval was needed before an answer was given.
For the parents of these double blessings, all said they were shocked, excited, and overwhelmed, but most importatnly, they felt blessed.
The Dempsey-Strang boys were born Jan. 31, 2007 with Aiden appearing first and Kaden 15 minutes later. Mom, Dixie said she does feel overwhelmed at times with the twins and another son just one and a half years behind the twins. "Sometimes, three deviant minds can be more powerful than one tired mom," Dixie said. "The boys have a built in best friend most days." The one downfall, Dixie said is having "mom" yelled in stereo.
The Mergen twins were born on July 1, 2006 with Leah arriving at 10:15 p.m. followed by Autumn at 10:44 p.m. "Since they were our first, we really had no idea what we were up for," said Jessica Mergen. "We were more excited than overwhelmed. Twin babies really are a full-time job."
Since time has elapsed, the Mergen's have used comedy and a sense of humor to help survive the hectic mornings of getting everyone off to school or work. "Since they were about six months old, they have done well entertaining each other,"Jessica said. "They have their own personalities, but since they are the same age, they have a lot in common."
The Mergen's believe having five sets of twins in school is truly a unique situation. "Some people believe twins should be separated in school, so it's reassuring to see other sets of twins doing so well in the same class," Jessica said.
The Calvert family expanded by two on June 19, 2002 with Madison arriving at 11:58 and McKenzie one minute later. Kelle said they were surprised but not overwhelmed when they found out at their 20 week ultrasound. "On the way to the appointment we argued over finding out the gender of the baby," Kelle said. "I just wanted to be surprised for once in my life. When the woman turned on the screen and there were two circles, we just stared at the sceen."
Kelle started to think of two babies to bathe, clothe, feed and change. Bill started talking about two boyfriends, two prom dresses and two wedding dresses. "Someone told me shortly after we found out about the twins that "God only gives twins to those he knows could handle it," Kelle said. "I remind myself of that often during the dilemmas that parenting can bring about to reassure myself we can handle it. It has always been easier than I had imagined, but I didn't know any differently, having them as our first."
Kelle said thus far, the girls have always wanted to do everything together. "One trip to town for the same practice time, same homework that they can help each other with, they can study together, entertain each other while we get our work done," Kelle said.
For any family it can be a constant struggle with things to be done fairly. The Calvert's see this first hand with their twins who are nearing the age of 10. "This seems to be multiplied by about 100 with our twins and I think it is because they are always being compared," Kelle said. "Everything in life seems to be a competition from test scores to whose hair is longer. I believe it is their way of trying to have their own identity separate from the other. Jealousy seems to be at a higher level on a regular basis even though they love each other dearly and can't sleep without each other. And neither one is ever able to get away with anything without mom and dad finding out from the other- it is like having your own private detective in the family."
For now they will cherish life with pre-teen daughters before the day comes they will have to go their separate ways. "I dread the day in their life when they must choose a path in life that may lead them away from being with each other on a daily basis," Kelle said. "It will involve some pain and heartache for them both as they truly are a part of one another."
Kelle said it seems having twins is getting to be more common. "Maybe humans are evolving into a species in which having multiple young with each pregnancy is not all that rare," Kelle said. "Or maybe God just went above and beyond when he answered all our prayers for children. I really believe it is God's hand that controls it all in the end."
For the Morley family, the twins Weston and Brandon were born on Christmas Eve, 1999 with Weston arriving 14 minutes before Brandon. Mom, Ann said Weston makes it known that he is the older brother.
After being shocked of the news of twins, the Morley's have been able to watch their children develop a wonderful and close bond. "We don't see any downfalls of having twins," Ann said. "It is great for the boys to have other sets of twins so they don't feel alone. It's a great coping mechanism to have others just like them to share and talk with."
School concludes next week and all but one set of twins will return to St. Rose Catholic School for the 2012-2013 school year. The twins will all advance one grade and will continue to enjoy the benefits and possible conflicts of being a twin or referred to as "the twins."
(A response from the Goodridge family wasn't received by the Tri-County Press.)