Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Cue The Violins [For Me] But Not The Scary Vampire Music [For Madeline]

I am going though one of those stages when I feel really frustrated with the twin thing. It goes without saying (but bears repeating) that I love both of my children and I grateful every day for both of them. I would never wish that I only had one because can’t imagine my life without both these girls. I don’t wish for less of them, I wish for more of me, because twins are freaking hard.

When I used to spend days with my nephew when he was this age, we would go to the playground twice a day. I can’t do that alone with the girls because they go in two different directions and climb in two different directions and fall in two different directions and they both require my constant attention as a safety measure. I can’t let them walk slowly down the street holding my hand because it is impossible to do with two. I can’t take them to the Children’s Museum because there is a no stroller policy there and I can’t carry two babies around. Petting Zoo with two seems like a nightmare. Mommy and Me classes scare me, since in my case it would be Mommy and Me and Me. Even giving them a bath is hard. I consider myself tough and capable, but I have my limits.

The worst part is it makes me feel like I am a bad mother. I am not fishing for compliments here, but I know I could do better. Or, maybe let’s not say a bad mother but a mother in need of improvement. I am not exactly lounging on the couch all day watching my stories, but with one, I know I could be more active. I am physically able to run after a child all day but I am obviously not able to be in two places at one time. And 15-month olds never seem to want to be in the same place a one time.

When it is the two of us it is a thousand times easier. Over the weekend, we took the girls to a café and then for a little amble in a new community garden. We each held a baby on our lap at the café (there were no highchairs) and gave them little bites of chocolate and our Napoleon. At the garden, Nicole followed one and I followed the other, chasing them around the dangerous rocky paths and down the little slopes. It is much more civilized and manageable with the two of us. And it was fun, a happy family memory carved out of such an otherwise ordinary afternoon.

Instead, by myself, I feel like I am just trying to stay one step ahead of their many needs. I am more of a Toy Arbitrator and a Need Meeter and Day Scheduler than I am a mom. I want my kids to remember me not as a mom who always makes sure they had milk after their naps, but rather as a mom who played with them. I want to go to the parks ad the museums and the classes and the story hours. I want to hop in the car and visit my stay-at-home friends with their kids. I want go on overnight trips to visit faraway friends. I want to go to bed and night and feel like I was an engaged, active and involved mom. I just want to do all of those other things I imagined I would do as a mother but at this age, this stage, I just can’t. And I am having a hard time trying to accept that this isn’t the way I imagined motherhood to be.

Again, I reiterate that this doesn’t mean I wish I only had one baby. It just means I wish I could hurry up and learn how to be a mom to twins.

One thing I think I am doing well is keeping a record of their lives that they can look back on some day (that would be this blog). Some sticky notes: Madeline is starting to experiment with Control, so if you aren’t looking a her, she will take her chubby little hands and turn your chin to face her. Avery performs several trick on demand: Most adorable are Hot Stepper (she steps in place really fast, knees extra high and steps extra fast) and Ski Jumper (she assumes a tuck position, and holds her arms behind her back like ski poles). She also does Knee Walker (self explanatory). They are good little eaters. For breakfast today they each had a waffle spread with yogurt and topped with Cheerios and blueberries. They still go to bed by 6:30 and sleep till 7:00ish and are mostly taking one long nap (almost three hours) and one siesta (about 30 minutes of quiet crib time in the afternoon). They babble all the time and say things that sound like words, but I am still waiting for context. When Nicole comes home they run to her.

They stare at people sometimes like they have never seen another human before in their lives. They love playing a new game called spread the love. I’ll upload a video of that. They love music and “dancing” but Madeline is afraid of Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. Nicole asked me “Why are you playing them scary vampire music?” What is it about organs that makes people think of vampires and monsters? Organs make me think of church. Po-tay-toe pot-tah-toe. But I guess I’ll need to take Back off any playlists, until Madeline chills.

Oh, and I have a puzzle for NYC moms: Does anyone know of a place that rents jogging strollers? Nicole leaves for London on Sunday and I want/need to rent a double jogging stroller for four or five days, so I can burn up some of my own energy, since I won’t be able to go to the gym. I googled but only came up with one place, which didn’t respond to my emails. Any thoughts? You would think this wouldn’t be an impossible get in this city.

Anyone watch Rachel Maddow? I’m intrigued.

Pictured above, some snapshots from our café and community garden adventures. That empty plate used to be a delicious Napoleon.


Malea said...

What happened with getting a mothers helper or nanny?

Jennifer said...

It's not necessarily a twin thing...it's a mom to two kids thing. Once I had two kids I stopped going places with them by myself for the same reasons as you, it's just too tough to be in two places at once.

As they get older it does get easier and you'll be able to get out and about with both of them.

francesca said...

I'm intrigued by Rachel Maddow too, and wonder if part of her debut is on youtube or something. I just became her friend on Facebook! She seems to have a great sense of humour, and has referred to how weird wearing make-up is at least three times.

No help with the strollers, but I love the idea of Avery doing Ski Jumper to a Fugue in D Minor. As for being transported to two places at once, you'd be more than a super-mom, you'd be a quantum physics genius. It sounds hard because some of the ideas of motherhood (or even just spending time with babies/kids) that you have harbored (like the ones you list) just aren't possible with twins. And I know you know there are other things gained with twins, so this isn't a 'cheer up, look at hte bright side' comment, it's just an acknowledgment that two at the same age IS really different and difficult.

Do any of your friends have one kid? I'm thinking that two parents and three babies might be an okay ratio at a park. But yeah, a band-aid solution to a much bigger dilemma, namely How to Duplicate Yourself at Key Moments.

An idea re: stroller -- often rollerblade rental places have strollers to rent too. Maybe a place that rents them near the park?

K J and the kids said...

I don't think that there is any advice to your dilema except...hold on. In time things will be easier. (That is the advice I've been given....I've yet to use it of course, my kids keep me jumping STILL)

You can join my crusade in warning other moms to be that they don't in fact want twins because..."how fun would it be"....and would instead like to have them one at a time as a sanity saver :) ha ha

I too love my twins but SHIT it is hard.

francesca said...

Two possible rental places:
- http://www.babysaway.com/
- http://www.grannysrental.com/

There's also this site called Zilok that seems to have a double stroller rental place in NYC.

Good luck...

Momma Mikki said...

Delurking for a second here...

Just know that you are not alone in this frustration. I am the mother to just one and I suffer the same frustrations. I can only imagine that it is greater with two.

With that said, as I remind myself all the time, they won't remember this time. They don't know that we are not living up to our own standards because their entire world is defined by how we define it. I constantly remind myself that the experiences Bailey (and our new child when he or she is born in 6 months) will remember are not the ones they are experiencing now.

Later, when the kids are older and listen when I say "stop" and "no" and all of the other safety concerns, we will share engaging experiencs that fulfill my own definition of motherhood.

For now, when I take Bailey outside to the same little patch of mulch and let her dig and dig, I remind myself that she is just as happy doing that as some other experience that I may find more stimulating.

Don't be so hard on yourself. You're a fantastic mother, as evidenced by your happy, healthy girls.

Anonymous said...

Oh my dear - I feel exactly the same as you do. I want to take my two to do everything, but at this point, if it requires leaving the confines of our super-babyproofed living room or being out and about out of the stroller, it is nearly impossible. I even got rejected from Gym.bore (the one place I thought, "we could do this" because it is all contained and there are additional adults there) because you have to "bring" one adult for each child, and I'm not hiring a babysitter at $30/hour (the going rate in LA) to go to Gym.bore with me. I do go to a playgroup in the park once a week, and the other moms (all of whom have one child)help me out. They've also brainstormed with me a few ideas of fun things to do that are (somewhat) manageable.

The mall down the street has an indoor toddler play area that is small and contained, so that gives me more peace of mind than the sprawling park with big equipment (and big kids who think nothing of running over the little guys), and I found a local grocery store with double seat shopping carts (I know it isn't much, but at least they can get out of the stroller and play "what's this?" with me when I pick up an item).

Honestly, I am so frustrated with what I percive to be our lack of activity that my husband and I have decided to move to the suburbs so I can have a contained backyard with a sandbox and toddler play equipment so my kids can play like other kids and I can enjoy their playtime without losing my mind or worrying I'll lose one of them while tending to the other.

I read your blog regularly, and you ARE doing a great job. Your girls and healthy and happy, and they'll never remember they "missed out" on activities when they were little because I'm sure when they're old enough for you all to do more things, they'll be plenty busy.

Chin up - we're all in this together and we've got to stop beating ourselves up for what we're NOT doing - we're doing the best we can (for goodness sake - just staying home with them is huge!)and our children are thriving. Wish we lived in the same town because we could have some great playdates.

amf said...

Hi there,
Not sure you remember me, but I'm Bri's friend with the twin boys. I just wanted to say that I feel exactly the same way and I too mourn my fantasy of motherhood to one and all the things I would/could do with them. I am jealous sometimes of my friends with one baby for that reason, though I of course love both my boys. I often fear I am not being the best mom I can because I have to let one cry while tending to the other one. And mine are only 7 months old, so I'm sure it's going to get much harder before it gets easier.

While there is some truth to the idea that it's more of a "mom with two kids" thing rather than a "twin mom" problem, I just don't know. One thing that's different is that we would be a more experienced parent with a second singleton, so maybe we could avoid some of the self-doubt and anxiety.

Anyway, I just wanted to say "I hear ya!" and I think you're doing great. Good luck finding a running stroller. Pushing two is a whole new experience of running! I recommend a Bob.


Alison said...

I am coming out as a lurker! :)

I have twin boys who are almost 2.5. My wife and I were saying the other day that 1-2 years was the hardest. We couldn't do anything solo (that didn't involve a stroller (that they weren't interested in being in.) But it DOES get easier. MUCH easier. Around 2 (or slightly there before) we were able to go to the playground solo (although enclosed playgrounds were much easier.) They were able to run and climb and slide without someone being on them every second. Of course we had (and still have) some bumps and bruises, but they (and we!) were okay. Also check out baby music classes. Typically they are in spaces that are pretty baby proofed and the instructors don't expect toddlers to sit at rapt attention 100% of the time (and often they have helped by taking one child.) It is definitely an option.

Hang in there. Having twins is rough and not for the faint of heart.


rebecca said...


first of all you (from what i read) are doing GREAT. really great. your girls seem really happy.

also the person who said that they will not remember this time is totally correct. so try and chill!

i do not have twins, but my sister does, 5-year-old boy/girl. she said the first 18 months or so were just about survival but that now it is actually much easier than if there were just one. so hopefully that is a tiny bit of encouragement. also, do not underestimate the fact that they have each other. i have a 7 and 8 year old stepdaughters who for all intents and purposes have a twin-like relationship. it is AMAZING. i look at them in awe and a little bit of jealousy. they will have each other for the rest of their lives, barring major catastrophe, as will your girls. what a gift.

like i said, i do not have twins. i do have a boy about your girls' age plus the two older girls, who live with us. i hate that i feel this way but i am so relieved for school. (i stay home, husband works.) even though they are darling my blood pressure always feels like it is rising around 3pm when it is time to pick them up because, face it, it is just HARD because everyone seems to want something different at the same time. it is so difficult not to feel like you are letting everyone down. i fall into a heap of gratitude whenever dad walks in the door. this is NORMAL.

that is enough of my rambling. please, try and cut yourself some slack. you are doing a great job. truly.

Mrs. Fire Family Williams said...

I think that it is completely normal to question our motherhood ability. I know that I go through phases where I think I am on my game and other times I feel like a complete failure.

I have two girls who are a year and a half apart-they are 4 & 6. I am at home full time with them. My oldest daughter just started first grade and my youngest daughter who is four is at home with me. The early years were difficult. My advice to you is IT WILL GET EASIER. I don't have twins but I can understand going places and traveling with two children because I've traveled cross country with both my girls when they were both under 3 by myself. My girls play with each other and are each others best friends. My oldest just started attending school all day. My youngest is lost without her during the day.

I think you are doing a great job.


Hey there. Raising twins is indeed very hard. I feel like I should have gotten some award this summer for not allowing one of them to get hurt. No bleeding, no major cuts, not too much psychological damage on my watch. So I lower my expectations- As long as strangers come up to us and say they look like they are happy- I feel like I'm freaking mother of the year.

But I totally get it- I honestly think spreading out the kid thing is much easier. Look at Sarah Palin- she can always tell Piper, Willow or the 17 year pregnant one-Hey can you watch your sibling for a minute? Must be nice. I am sure you are doing an amazing job.

Not sure where to rent a double jogger. Moira was offered a trial run of a stroller up at Albee baby (95th and Amsterdam) for a weekend (finally bought a stroller)But- they might let you try one out. They are super cool up there.

Finally- I love love love Rachel Maddow. I started listening to her on air radio america awhile back. She is super brilliant, a wise-ass and kinda of hot.

See ya around the hood one of these fall days.

Lynnbug said...

I dont have any kids but my niece has twins. I am around them a lot. They will be three this month. I have reiterate the just hold on advice. My niece told me once that most people dont understand how hard it is. She is criticised for not doing more with them. Their Dad works during the day and she gets them outside but not as much as she would if she had one. They DO go in opposite directions. You cant run after them both at the same time. It is dangerous when they do that. My niece gets depressed about not being able to do the things she would do if she just had one. It began when they were born and they both cried at the same time and continues on today except on a different level.

Dont beat yourself up. Just keep doing what you do. I am sure you do a fine job. They will grow up very happy and very well adjusted.