Moms of multiples, twins, or even moms of siblings born really close to each other (you know oopsie right after having a baby) we all share a similar experience. Back then people would ask all the time “How did you do it?” Often when enough years have passed people ask less but still ask “how did you do it?” When this person asks me this question there are multiple things at play here. So firstly, when I was out and about with the kids when they were small, well, lets just say the tiny stature of my first-born made them look like triplets. This question “How do you do it ?” or statement “I don’t know how you do it?” Would be from a person who either had kids evenly spaced apart but struggling or someone who had one kid but struggling or someone who did not have any – was maybe thinking about having some – but then my whole situation looked incredibly scary 🙂 So they would blurt out or whisper or try to politely ask, how do you do it?
The thing is, the answer to that question is quite frankly, we don’t know. Recently, I came across and read some of my scribbles on random pieces of paper when the boys were little. I hear the sense of desperation I had at the time. Guilt of having to work. The sleepless nights when they were ill. The endless trips to doctors to try to pinpoint the causes and potential remedies to deal with the severe eczema and allergies that they had (still have). The potty training, the dealing with a toddler facing the reality of his world turned upside down while having twin babies vying for my attention, the guilt of leaving said toddler at a school as he shed tears watching you leave him (again), the guilt of phoning home a couple of times a day while at work thinking people are judging you. The time off work to deal with all and sundry. The double trouble of twins at the age of two! The school days when you missed that it was a theme dress up day and sent your child/children to school sans costume?!
Oh boy, did I beat myself up for that one. I think I am lucky still to be able to smile as I remember these days. But this is the reality. This is the truth. Raising a family is difficult whether as a mom of one or two or three or four. The struggle and the battle to find balance is the same. The one thing I do know, is that all the moments of weakness and guilt and regret is equally filled with moments of blissful happiness. The hide and seek inside the house, with giggle of little boys behind a curtain as you pretend to not see the shoes peeking out. The picnics and pool days in the backyard. The days when monster dad or dinosaur dad or most recently, Zombie dad tries to catch us 🙂
The other thing I have to admit. I would not have been able to do it alone. I have been lucky to have had help. Lots of help. The family and extended family that provides my support system was essential to me coping. Obviously, my husband. Being a hands on Dad. Playing with them. Taking on multiple roles, including homework and teaching them to help with chores. I think parents roles change over time. When they were babies I may have had the bulk of the responsibility, for whatever reasons, logistics maybe? perhaps feeding? but now he has so much more. Also, I think I just managed or coped better with the lack of sleep, I used to call it autopilot, where even I couldn’t believe I was able to do what was required of me with that little amount of sleep for consecutive days.. months… perhaps years. He on the other hand requires sleep and can hardly function without proper sleep 😉
The thing that maybe is slightly different as the boys get older is their interest becomes less about us (mom and dad) and more about friends or activities they want to do. What I have not been able to master is the individual time with the each boy. I think this is essential for fostering individual bonds with them and also allows them to have the luxury of exclusive time with you. Sounds like a win-win kinda situation. With the twins it is all the more harder, as they tend to want to do things together. On the few rare occasions when they have chosen to do different things it has been a bit of a wobble. For example, one day one twin decided to stay at my mother in laws house because all his other little cousins were there and the other one was eager to come home with me. They both had a sense of independence but as soon as we got home he asked constantly about his brother, missing him immensely and his brother had the same experience.
Nowadays, I have noticed, they are more in tune with each others needs. If my sister were to come fetch them for a small outing and one of them was asleep the other would insist they wait or wake up his brother as he definitely couldn’t be left alone or miss out. They seem to consult each other on all things, food, the choices of movies, negotiating on which toys to get and agreeing to disagree at times 🙂 Alternatively, they are perfectly fine when one is sick and only one goes to school. Almost, knowing instinctively that the other would benefit from resting at home on a sick day.
I think back then the support structure was crucial to survival, meaning that you need to accept help when it is available and offered to you. You do not have to be super mom by doing it alone, you are super mom regardless of the help you receive here and there. The bulk of the day-to-day stuff is still with you. You have to deal with the daily struggle of parenting with a sprinkling of tantrums and mood swings. You also get to hear the joke of the day from your goofy boys, and you have to laugh at it even though its been told multiple times. The following applies to then and now – how do I do it? I just do 🙂 If your children feel loved and safe you are doing it too…
We love and live and learn every single day.
There is no recipe to coping.
It’s perhaps just called life.
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river of joy within you… Rumi