I had two singletons before I had twins, so I thought I had the kid thing figured out. I had a boy, and I had a girl. And we’d already been through a lot — ear tubes and colic, reflux and hand-foot-and-mouth, lice and stomach bugs, bunk beds and sharing, princesses and Cars. Boy was I mistaken. Whether you have had 10 singletons and then twins or twins are your first babies, moms of twins have to think of things that never have to occur to moms of singletons. Being a mom is hard, no matter how many kids you have (one or four, I spent the same time on all of them and then some!) But as a mom of twins, things have happened that never happened or even occurred to me when I had just one baby. I learned the hard way!
You are constantly assessing which one is in the most danger: If I leave this one to get the other one out of the road, will they run the other direction, toward the river? Who do I sit on the parking-lot curb by my feet so I can buckle at least the top buckle of the other one’s carseat so they don’t climb in the front of the car and start messing with the gear shift while I throw the other one in the car on the other side? Should I leave this one on the changing table to grab the other one tottering towards the stairs? (I never used the changing table again.) That one is standing on the dining room table, but the other one is about to climb the bookshelf, which one do I grab first? (Now all our bookshelves face the wall.) When you are a parent of twin toddlers, you always have to make split-second decisions.
While you help one, the other is always up to no good. I parked in our driveway one afternoon. My big kids got their backpacks and went inside. I made the mistake of getting my boy twin (my headstrong and more adventurous twin) out of the car first, and then walked around the other side of the car to get his sister unbuckled. Mistake. My 2-year-old was up a tree before I had even gotten the other 2-year-old out of the car. Now I leave them both buckled until the baby gates are up, the big kids are in the house, and I can take them directly from their seat to the child-proofed living room. This repeats itself when I am changing one’s diaper, dressing one, feeding one, bathing them separately because one is sick… what exactly is the other one doing at this second? It’s never pretty, no matter how much I child proof.
Do I keep them in the same class? Mine are currently separated and in two different toddler classes. They had been together since they were in the infant class at daycare. But since my son is such a more dominant personality, we thought it would give our daughter more space to grow if they separated. They may be back together in VPK depending on how many classes there are at their preschool. Then comes kindergarten, which is not co-taught at our elementary school like third through fifth grades are. So there are times they can be in the same class, totally different classes, in the same co-teach classes, etc. I know it will have to be on a year-by-year basis, but the thought of having separate field trips, different class parties, different homework, and twice as many Valentine’s cards and birthday cupcakes makes my head swim. Right now I’d like them in the same class through college graduation, thanksverymuch.
Can I go to that? No really, can I? Is that birthday party or play date manageable by myself? Is there a fence? Is there a pool? How far is the parking lot from the event venue? (This can be a big issue.) Will we be at someone’s house that is child proofed or at a rental beach condo (not child proofed) with stairs and an open hot tub? All of these things are panic-inducing. I can’t take two 2-year-olds who can’t swim to a pool birthday party by myself and get us all home in one piece. (I couldn’t even take both of them to the doctor for shots by myself before they both could walk.) Is the volunteer meeting at a cute but tiny coffee shop with zero room for a double stroller? Will my double stroller even fit through the door? Is it even worth loading up the double stroller and two babies for an hour-long meeting? (No.)
No one gets it. Yes, people are really nice and we have a wonderful support village for which I am really thankful. We have wonderful friends. But unless you’ve had twins, well, you haven’t had twins. As much as I’d like to meet you at the park with no fence, I just can’t by myself. As much as I’d like to have you over for dinner/a glass of wine, I just can’t, because dinner, bath and bed takes me twice as long as it would if I had one 2-year-old. As much as I’d love to meet you at 5:30 for the happy-hour special, I just can’t, because right now it takes both my husband and me to wrangle two crazy toddlers into their room and into their pajamas and into their sleep sacks and into their cribs. As much as I’d like to meet you for a movie or a mom’s night out or a girls’ weekend, and as badly as I need those things, the logistics are sometimes impossible when you have twins, even with a really helpful husband.
Wow, I’m lucky. Twins are an enormous amount of work that is never-ending. You never, ever sit down because both of them need things at the exact same time because they are in the same phase of life and they have to do everything at the same time while becoming their own people at the same time. And as soon as one stops crying, the other one starts. But when they both snuggle in your lap, or pat your face while you hold them, or hug each other or pet each other’s head, wow. So much love. Love is the one thing that there’s plenty of. There may never be enough time or sippy cups, clean clothes, pacifiers or diapers, but there is always, always enough love when you’re a twin mom.