My twins are four.

My twins turn four today and I wish had something profoundly mother-y to say but the reality is that I'm still so damn tired from giving birth to them that the only coherent thing coming out of my mouth is: "Where's my flannel nightgown and my hot toddy?"

Clearly, I'm 34 going on 92.

In other news, Matt has gone completely gray. He also has gout.

I, on the other hand, seem to have developed a rabid case of psoriasis on the tops of my feet. These psoriatic patches function essentially like a mood ring--except that my actual skin changes color with my emotional state.

Which has brought Matt to oft repeat the refrain: "Don't bother Mommy or she might break out in psoriasis!"

It's also led me to shake my foot at anyone who dares interrupt me while I'm taking a shower or using the toilet. "Do you see this foot?" I say. "This foot? This psoriatic, suffering FOOT? If you so much as bang down the door while I'm pooping, Mommy's foot will explode with psoriasis!"

Guilt is a great way to get kids to behave. I highly recommend it. Or else you can just explain in graphic detail everything that happens when kids bother their pooping, psoriatic Mother. Believe me, they'll go running far, far away...."in heathen darkness dwelling! Millions of souls forever will be lost!!"

Whoa. Why, hello, crusading hymn from my fundamentalist past. You know how some people burst into Broadway songs in their daily life? Well, I burst into Hymns from the 1800's. I know. It's weird. And not in a cute way.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Guilt! GUILT! That's what we're talking about! It sure does come in handy.

Take for example the other day at dinner when the madding crowd was pounding the table with their forks and demanding "MORE MILK!" and "BUTTER! BUTTER FOR MY BREAD!" I spied a little happy face carved into the table. Just a very wee, very faint, very intentional happy face carved into the table.

I decided to do the only rational thing and promptly fell out of my chair.

I rolled around on the floor, weeping and gnashing my teeth--and also noticing how my tiled floor that once was white as snow, now has grout as black as ebony.

The children gathered 'round me as I sobbed.

"What's wrong with Mommy?"

"Is Mommy dying?"

"Who? WHOOOOO carved a wee little happy face into my table?" I wailed.

"Oh, great," said Matt. "Here comes the psoriasis."

One of the children started weeping, too, which was a sure sign that he was the guilty party. So, I stopped wailing and we had a Come-to-Jesus moment where we all acknowledged our sins, apologized, kissed and then passed around LifeSavers. Wild Cherry Communion, if you will.

That's when the twins reminded everyone that we hadn't even prayed yet for our food. The way they announced this was by yelling at the top of their lungs: "WHAT THE PUCK?! WE DIDN'T SAY 'BLESS US, OH LORD!'"

"Did you just say 'what the puck'? With a P?" asks Daddy.

"Yeah!" shouts Jorie. "Mommy says it all the time!"

"She does!" chimes in James. "Mommy says 'puckin' this and 'puckin' that about everything!"

I take a moment to carefully examine my psoriatic foot. I have no idea what they're talking about. No idea, I tell you. None.

"Now, Mother," says my tween, "you are aware, are you not, that PUCK sounds very similar to a dirty word?"

I nod. I scratch my psoriasis. I'm aware. I'm a euphemistic cusser. I use, as my fundamentalist father used to say, "minced oaths."

Guilty. Guilty as charged.

"Dad-dy! Daaaadddy! We didn't say BLESS US, OH LORD!" Jorai reminds us again.

"AND DESE DIE GIFTS!" yells Jasiel.

So we all snap to attention, fold our hands and belt out the heartiest prayer you've ever heard. After we've finished eating dinner.

Which, of course, is the totally perfect to give thanks, with the food all warm and full inside your belly and five little heads all bowed in prayer and Daddy nursing his gouty ankle and Mommy scratching at her psoriatic foot.

And that's when I realize: the twins gave me the gift of letting go. Being free. Embracing imperfection. And truly knowing, for the first time in my life, that love really is just like the Energizer Bunny. It goes on and on.

Happy Birfday, Twins!