Monday, November 17, 2008

Warning: Whiney, Bitchy, Pissy Post. Not for the Faint of Heart.

It’s been 17 months and I am still overwhelmed. Two kids at the same time is just plain hard sometimes. I am not the mother I thought I would be, and that is killing me. I want to take them to the Children’s Museum and the park and the indoor playgrounds and gymboree things and all of those child-centered activities but I am completely unable to do it by myself. The girls run in separate directions at the park; you can’t use a stroller in the Children’s Museum and most Gymboree classes require one adult per child. I am facing a long winter cooped up in our apartment and that scares me.

I need a new stroller. I am just coming to grips with the fact that there is no ideal twin stroller and we are going to need different strollers at different times. I found the perfect stroller, one with great reviews and one that I have test-driven and one that will serve us perfectly for at least the next two years, but it won’t fit through the front door of my apartment building. It fits in my elevator and through my apartment door but not the effing front door of the building. Foiled again.

So it is back to the drawing board. I want to go up to stroller store on 95th street, and this is a perfect example of the day-to-day struggles of life with two. There is no subway stop with elevator access anywhere near 95th Street. So I have to either walk the 40 blocks in the windy cold winter-ish air and then the 40 blocks back or take the subway to 72nd, and walk the 20 blocks from there. I have no problem carrying a single stroller up and down flights of subway stairs: I did it with my nephew until he was three. But bjorning a baby and carrying a stroller with a baby in it? That is hard. Still, I do it more frequently than I intend, since so many times I take the subway to elevator stops only to find the damn elevator isn’t working. I could wait until Nicole gets home and go alone, but this store closes at 5:30. I could just walk it and stop bitching. I could just order a stroller online without test driving it. I guess there are solutions, but none I like. Maybe I am just hard to please or my own worst enemy.

I guess I need to readjust my standards to an extent and my vision of motherhood to the max. I repeat: I am far from the mother I thought I would be. With two, I feel like I am just trying to keep my head above water sometimes; with one, I feel like I would be unstoppable. It makes me sad because I was a much better mother to my nephew. We did so much together: Parks, zoos, museums. I used to take him to cafes and drink coffee. I would take him shopping and to parties and baby showers and to other peoples houses. It was so easy. I would take him out and let him hold my hand a walk around the block. He used to love that. And the girls love to walk on the street too, but I can’t take them both out and let them do that. I guess it will get easier when they get a little older but that doesn’t make me feel better right now. Right now I just feel like a crappy mom who is letting her girls down (and myself). I feel like I miss out on moments and milestones and soon-to-be memories.

When I was going through the infertile years, I would kill to have these issues. I would read other people complaining like this and think they were ungrateful. I am not ungrateful. I would never wish one of my children away and hope for a different outcome than what I have right now. I am so grateful, and not a day goes by that I don’t think that, and that is the truth. But I severely underestimated how hard it would be at times, and how overwhelming it could be and how isolating it could be and how awful it feels to feel realize that you can fail at something so important. I am not fishing for compliments or looking for people to say how great I am doing. I guess I just want to know I am not alone in this and that I am not the only one that tried so hard and suffered through so much to be where I am and to even still feel overwhelmed sometimes and think “how can I do this?” This will pass, as it always does, but right now I am wallowing.


Shannon said...

You are definitely not alone. I have 21 months old boy/girl twins in Austin, Texas, and I'm barely holding my head above water too. I feel the same guilt and frustration about not being able to take them to events, parks, classes, etc.

We use the Jeep Wrangler double stroller. It's light weight, fits in the trunk of the car, and has no problems with doorways.

(First time commenter, long time reader. So, hi, finally.)


rebecca said...

hey. i don't have twins, and i know i do not understand the unique challenges that twin moms face, but i wanted to chime in on the you are not alone theme. i have a VERY active 17-month-old (i think that my son is like one week younger than your girls, he was born june 9), two tween stepdaughters, and a baby due in eight days! i left my career, which i went to grad school for 4 years for and worked at 6 years, a year ago, to be mom full time. A LOT of the time i feel a bizarre combination of overwhelmed, exhausted, and perplexed by this mix of personalities and needs. and like i am totally failing. (and let's not mention petrified of what will happen with four! my little boy was an easy baby and i am scared that this new one will not be, and sometimes i wonder if i can handle that.) oh and there is the feeling adrift because i am not working for pay, and being totally financially dependent on my husband. the guilt, the guilt.

wow i totally hijacked your comments to rant about ME! well, you wanted to know you are not alone... you are definitely not. if it is any consolation my sister has 5 year old twins and she says it does get way, way easier in time. but i know she was miserable in the early days, and she is a great mom. and so are you. i am convinced that some days this motherhood business is just about survival!

belated congratulations on your wedding, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Oh Jennifer, we are in the same boat. My two are almost the same age as your girls, and I struggle daily feeling like I am failing them. My friends with singletons always tell me about all the great things they do with their baby. We just try to make it through the day. I will tell you that I have tried to suck it up and try to find things that are not too impossible for one adult and two toddlers to do. Some examples: When gymboree wouldn't take us (without a second adult in tow, and I'm not paying a babysitter for that), I found our local YMCA had classes called "dry tots" (as opposed to the swimming "wet tots" that we can only hope to attempt on the weekends when daddy is home)that are open to multiples; our local mall has an indoor play area that is almost completely enclosed (why can't they put a gate on that opening? WHY???)and I can usually let my kids play in there and keep them from escaping for at least 30 minutes (I stand at the opening and turn them around when they come toward me); My mother's group meets at an open park, and after spending the last month chasing my two to keep them from running into the street, I thought we'd lost another activity, but I suggested moving down the street to a fully enclosed toddler playground, and the others like the idea too; We go to Costco, where the carts hold two, and they get to ride up high and sometimes have a sample goodie; We go out to lunch, just the three of us, and I sit between their highchairs, bring their cups and snacks and let them color so they are entertained until the food comes and tip well to make up for the mess. It was hard for me to find things that we are able to do, but I made a point to do it not just for them but for me too. You have got to find a way to get out Jennifer, even in the cold of winter (easy for me to say living here in LA), because otherwise you will lose your mind. I've come a little to close for comfort to that, so trust me here. For the things that do require the help of another adult, just wait for the weekends and go as a family.

And by the way, just being the girls primary caretaker, staying home with them, is the most important "activity" you can share with them. I know that sounds lame, but I have to remind myself of that every day when I get down about the things my two "miss out" on. I know you said you don't want to hear how great you're doing, but you are doing something for them that no outings or classes could ever do.

Lastly, I hear you on the stroller issue. We've been using the Peg Perego aria twin since they outgrew the double snap and go, but it is no longer working for me. I saw a tandem Kolcraft (can't remember the name, but it was red, I'm sure you can find it through google). It has lots of great features and is inexpensive too. I haven't found a store near us that has one I can test drive, but I think I'm going to take the chance and just order it. I did like my side by side, but my two now interact a little too much (read, take each other's stuff and drive me nuts), and it is so hard to maneuver through narrow doors.

Sorry for the long ramble, but I hope it helps a little to know you're not alone.

calliope said...

sending love.
I worry daily how I will be a Mother AND GM's caregiver and am already sad for all the things I won't be able to do with the baby since I can't even really leave the house.

Shelli said...

LOVE that store on 95th street. Malka and I could take the train DOWN, and meet you at 72nd street on Sunday afternoon? When do the girls nap?

SJayneI said...

Is there anyway to get a sitter twice a month or so and have a Mommy and Me day with each of the girls? Just swap them with the sitter. I know it's not ideal, but for the age they are now, it would work. Then, as they get older all three of you will be on the go.

Anonymous said...

just a quick suggestion: take a taxi!

Anonymous said...

I'm a single mom of twin girls and I'm with you. When I'm at a coffee shop I think "I could do this with one, but never two." I'm hoping once they're older we'll find our own set of things we can do.

I know some mom's in my multiples group go to a special Multiples ECFE class. Are there any of those in your area?

K J and the kids said...

Twins are so hard. I find myself telling infertile women who would DIE to be in my shoes. "you do NOT want twins. I PROMISE. you THINK you do, but it is REALLY hard."
I feel bad because I want to be honest but at the same time I don't want to sound ungrateful...and I am certainly not without complete love for my children. I LOVE them and I'm so happy that they are mine. I do wish some days that they would have come 2 years apart though :)
ha ha

Keep looking at those pictures that you post of those beautiful, bright girls to help you get through the tough times. and like me....rememer....this really will pass and it's only a short time in the big scheme of things.
Or sing one of my favorite songs...."just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming."

Oh and NEVER feel guilty. Your girls could care fucking LESS if they go to Gymboree. Those classes are cheesy any ways. (yes I took Syd to them :) but all they really need is your time and love. Honestly. They don't need expensive clothes. tons of toys. expensive trips. they need you. the end.

(until they turn 10-12 yrs old and then they will require and demand all the aforementioned items above)

utRus said...

I understand. All of us twins moms do. Sometimes I try to picture what moms of triplet toddlers do. At least we can push a stroller, right?

Mine are 17months, basically same age as yours, and they're all over the place. It's SO hard to take them anywhere alone and keep them safe. Impossible in many cases. I think I might know Jeannine up there in your comments, cause I'm in LA too :) at least we have good weather here.

I know I've bugged you about getting help before, but honestly, it's sanity-making. Can't you get a mom-helper 2x per week for like 3 or 4 hours? Like a student who needs some part-time hours? You wouldn't even have to leave the girlz since you don't like to do that, just get the person to accompany you - pay 'em $10 per hour to be a helper. In this economy I bet you would not have any problem finding someone perfect. Then on those afternoons you could go to a different park, go to the pool, to the zoo, go do the things you normally cannot wrangle with twin toddlers.

I have NO IDEA how you do this alone every day. NO IDEA WHATSOEVER. I have a decent amount of help and we are one-income middle class folks who simply make mom's sanity a priority over other expenses. I am a stay at home mom and i take my job very seriously, and i know i need help or i would go under.

Anonymous said...

Love your blog.

You need to know that it is time. I know you struggle with this issue, but it is time. You need a babysitter.

Call a local high school (private or public) and ask to talk to the dean or a counselor. Then ask if they know any older high school kids that would like to babysit after school or if the school posts for jobs.

Interview a few nice students and choose one to join you in the afternoons. They can hang out with you and the girls for a few hours and help you get a few more things done. You don't have to the leave the girls alone with them, but just having an extra pair of hands for an extra hour or two could make all the difference. HS students don't require a lot of money either.

And, if it works out you might fine a new student who the girls will love.

Michelle said...

Listen, I've just got one to deal with, and I struggle with enough issues about leaving the house! I bow down to you twin moms.

One idea I had for you, that I actually wanted to share even before this post -- we go to a weekly music class, and there are several moms there with 2 ambulatory kids. Most of the time, the kids are into the music and hang out in the circle, but if they wander around the room, that's ok, too. That struck me as a more twin-friendly activity -- you don't need to have a handle on each kid for it to work.

I know I am my own harshest critic, and my expectations for the kind of mother I would be were nothing short of perfection. But that's simply not realistic. I think we just have to acknowledge that we're doing the best we can under whatever circumstances we've been dealt, and find a way to be okay with that.

Moira said...

Hi Jennifer - since I've just been told that my job will be eliminated on January 1, I will shortly be joining you as a SAHM of twins in the neighborhood. I was planning on gymboree - had no idea they wouldn't take us. I know that I NEED to have some regular interaction, but I also think the babes so, since they will have had the social interaction of daycare for four months. Didn't you say that you could take advantage of a daycare situation through Nicole's work? Try it out - really. Just leave them for an hour or two and return. I was very nervous about it, but have been generally OK with it since we enrolled them.
Maybe we can do Bump to baby? Hang in there! Moira

utRus said...

ok, so one more thing on this subject - you're a member of your local twins club, right? please tell me you are. if you're not, join right away. i am not a "club" person, and this has been my network of support since i had my two. in fact, since i was preg with them. here in LA we've got all sorts of members - double dads, single moms, double moms, even some people with 2 sets of twins!

it's the perfect way to meet other stay-at-homers with two. (and a great way to get advice). so then, after you hook up with other twins moms online, you can plan playdates - then you can go over to other people's baby-proofed pads and play - super fun for the girls, different toys, etc. then the next week someone can come to you and you don't even need to go out and the girls get entertained/socialized!

i hung out with some twins moms today (hooking up like described above) and there were 4 moms and 8 little toddlers running around. it was super fun. usually we're not all present because we have a strict no runny noses" rule. but this time we all showed up!

here babe:

Mikhela said...

1. Caveat: I love both my 1 year old twins, and after years of infertility incredibly grateful etc etc.
2. Last week I was picking my partner L up from work. It was raining. One baby was asleep in the car, the other awake. So I was standing juggling awake baby under an eave next to the car containing the sleeping baby as the rain drizzled down, thinking resentfully 'If I only had one, I would be either in that car with sleeping baby reading a magazine, or in a cafe with this awake baby, out of the rain.'

Twins ARE hard. It's okay to acknowledge that. But great, too, right this moment (playing together, giggling).