You know that boozy college friend(s) that everyone has? The one that always starts their story with “We were so drunk…”?
I am that friend. But, since I’m a mom, my stories start like, “I was so tired…” and, since I’m a mom of twins, my stories actually go more like, “I hadn’t slept in thirteen days…”
It sounds like an exaggeration, but I can assure you it’s not. Exactly. I can joke about it, but I truly realized how much of my motherhood has been colored by sleep deprivation when my brother-in-law, who is expecting his first child, came to visit. Always the baby-crazy one, I was happy to share whatever memories he was interested in hearing, and I noticed that I prefaced each story with a disclaimer: “at that point, I was so sleep deprived…”
To give you some context: my twins did not sleep through the night until they were just over two years old. They are now two and a half, and I can hardly believe the sleep trials we went through. I first realized how bad it was when I read an article about REM sleep, and how you normally don’t start dreaming until you’ve been asleep for about 70-90 minutes. I’d had the most intense dreams during my naps of 20-30 minutes, because my body would just crash. (For more on the interesting link between sleep-deprivation and vivid dreams, read this article).
For those of you who are still fighting the good fight, know that you are not alone! (But don’t expect me to go back there just to keep you company, because that’s just not gonna happen.) I remember hearing people casually mention that their precious angels slept through the night at six weeks AS IF THAT WAS PERFECTLY NORMAL, and I remember feeling very strongly that we could not be friends.
I refused to believe that such a thing as “STTN” actually existed. I grew resentful because I felt like I had paid my dues–I breastfed on demand, I tried to honor each twin’s individual timing, and I didn’t have unreasonable expectations for sleep (as did the moms of obviously fictitious sleep-through-the-nighters).
But two years?!?
Finally, it happened. It wasn’t an overnight miracle, but a slow process–for the twins, it was sleeping, but for me, it was actually about awakening.
Now that I can reliably get 6 or more hours of sleep each night, I feel like I am actually living again. I feel like life now should have the hashtag #nofilter, as opposed to all those #nosleep memories during infancy. The best thing, for me, about toddlerhood is–unequivocally and necessarily–sleep.
Once I read another twin mom describe the first couple of years as being ‘underwater’ and I do like that metaphor. Not that having your head above water is easy! With two and a half year olds, it now feels like I am treading water. All day long. And I don’t know about you, but treading water makes me tired–very tired!
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Teddy Roosevelt warned us.
There’s definitely some truth to that. If you measure your quality of life by comparing it to the lifestyle you perceive others to live, you’re going to be miserable. But how much more joy can be gained from realizing how good we have it?
Parents compare their kids. We compare them to ourselves. We compare them to their siblings. We compare them to their peers. We certainly compare them to statistical averages. “Oh no,” we say, “an average girl can say 50 words at 16 months and mine only says 40!” Or, “my boy already says 50 words at 16 months and the average boy only says 30. He’s a genius!” We forget that the child is a unique person, never intended to be the average of all children in her country.
Parents of multiples can’t help but compare our same-age children to each other. There’s a silver lining to this, though. The comparison highlights each child’s unique personality and quirks. You might not notice how athletic one twin is except in contrast to his more verbally precocious brother.
I used to ask new parents what their baby was like. 99% of the time, they’d give me an odd look and shrug. “I dunno,” they’d say, “Eats, poops, sleeps. Acts like a baby.”
It was years before I realized that the contrast between twins had granted me the luxury of identifying their unique personalities well before they were talking. I knew who my twinfants were, in a way that many of my singleton parents did not know their children.
Shortly after J and M’s first birthday, I had this to say about them:
First of all, both M and J are very easy-going, cheerful, low-maintenance babies. They’re both extremely opinionated, love to play together, but can entertain themselves too. They’re affectionate, active and very very very very verbal. They know the rules, but they both enjoy pushing their boundaries. They both love to eat and are growing rapidly. They’re still very small for their birth age, but very advanced in their physical, linguistic and social skills.
8 years later, so much of this is true. My girls are cheerful and relatively low-maintenance. They’re opinionated and capable of playing together and apart. Their verbal abilities are off the charts. They still love to eat what they love to eat, although M’s repertoire is pretty limited. They’re still tiny, but are proven athletes, scholars, and great friends.
M is a people-pleaser. Around new people, or folks they don’t see too often, she definitely comes across as the dominant personality. She smiles and chatters and shows off. Even when she’s doing her own thing, you can catch her checking that the new person is watching her. She loves to explore new spaces, but she checks in with Mommy often for a snuggle.
This is all accurate. M puts herself at ease in new situations by showing off her strengths, usually in mathematics. She’s very aware of her audience when we’re out and about, which is why she’s so easily embarrassed by me.
She’s a pickier eater than J and some days will eat only bananas. She’s getting to be an expert at the sippy cup, so we’re hoping to stop bottles altogether soon.
She was already a picky eater. Well, that hasn’t changed. It’s just magnified.
[M is] quite careful when encountering new objects or acquiring new skills. She tends to figure out how to do things before she tries, and gets frustrated quickly if her attempts fail. For instance, if a toy she wants gets stuck behind something, she starts fussing immediately. Because she does learn how to do things before trying them out, though, she catches up to J very quickly on physical skills, and often surpasses her. For instance, she crawls much much faster than J ever did.
M continues to be a perfectionist, so much so that J skipped a grade while M stayed behind to work on her time management. The girls have an optional after-school cultural performance this week. J can’t wait to get on stage. M is declining to participate because she doesn’t think the class had enough practice to perform to her exacting standards. As far as surpassing J, that still happens. J is still sore that M skipped several swimming levels ahead of her when they took swimming lessons at age 4.
J is defined by the word “determined.” She picks a goal and works and works and works on it. She may fail any number of times, but she keeps trying. This means that she learns physical skills sooner than M, but she falls far more often and has to try the same thing over and over. She’s already running, and has so much to accomplish that she’s been skipping naps recently and falling asleep in her high chair during meals.
J is incredibly determined still. It permeates every aspect of her life.
J likes to push the rules, although if she knows she’s about to break one, she shakes her head at herself and looks around to see if anyone’s going to stop her. She stops immediately on being told “No,” unlike M, who needs to be told “No” multiple times before reacting. She can often stop herself from breaking a rule: there’s some vigourous head-shaking, and then she turns around and runs towards me with a huge smile on her face.
J has excellent self-control. She hardly every makes the same mistake twice. M’s reactions, on the other hand, tend to run away with her, although she always apologizes after she’s calmed down. As she explained to me yesterday, “I feel my feelings and then I don’t say anything about them until they explode like a volcano.” Impulse control is a challenge she’s working to overcome.
J has an extremely good sense of balance, and can navigate her way into very tight spaces. She’s constantly moving around, usually walking, but every now and then, she’ll decide to lie on the floor on her back, very quietly, for a couple of minutes, before resuming her rambles. She likes to carry things around, even things that are too heavy for her. She likes to push toys along the floor while yelling “Eeeeeeeee” at the top of her lungs.
J’s constant motion is the reason I Santa bought a trampoline. She is also the daughter who will come up to and ask if we can read and snuggle. “Hugs make everything better,” is her signature phrase. Now, instead of yelling “Eeeeee”, she makes up silly songs to belt out while bouncing off the furniture.
J is the least picky eater I have ever met. She’ll eat anything I give her, and is very decisive about being done when she’s full. She simply turns her head away, and refuses to open her mouth.
J is still an adventurous eater. She recently ordered sliders topped with raw onions and chili. When the waitress checked to make sure she’d understood correctly, I confirmed that J loves raw onions.
There are, of course, ways in which M and J have changed as they’ve grown. J’s compassion for others and desire to right the wrongs of the world is astounding. Yesterday, she reported to me that her class has finally reintegrated the genders at their lunch table after having established a “girl side” and “boy side”.
M’s creativity is unbounded. This shows through in her story-telling, inventions, artwork, and, most recently, her CS First programming.
Getting to know your children may just be the greatest gift that comes with twins in that exhausting, overwhelming first year.
Those of you who have twinfants, what parts of their personality can you see already?
Welcome to this week’s Twinkly Tuesday, the link party hosted by Sadia here at How Do You Do It?, along with Lisa and Caro of Mummascribblesand The Twinkle Diaries. Meet new people, share your posts, and read blogs you might never come across elsewhere.
Each week Lisa, Caro, and I choose a favourite post, no easy task with the richness of content being linked. If you have been featured, be sure to claim your fame by adding the Twinkly Tuesday Twinkler badge to your blog.
Lisa’s Tuesday Twinkler this week is from 23 Week Socks. Louise is a neonatal nurse and mother. She writes a heartbreaking post about when NICU isn’t fair, when babies don’t make it. I only had to experience that once, watching the baby on hospice care whose isolette was next to my girls’. It’s been 9 years, and I still dream of that little boy, so you can just imagine how powerful Louise’s post is.
Caro’s Tuesday Twinkler is from Thirsty Daddy. He got an earful from a daycare teacher who a) doesn’t seem to know the first thing about mornings with 3-year-olds and b) seemed to have lumped Daddy with sitcom fathers who need to be rescued by a woman in shining armour. The objection? His daughter was dressed “inappropriately” for a 70°F (21°C) day.
What did you think of these posts? Worth a visit, right? We would, of course, also love it if you paid a visit to the host links too, and any others that strike your fancy.
On with this week’s link-up!
Link two posts, old or new, that you think deserve more readers!
We’ll also visit everyone’s posts and leave comments between us.
Pinterest: Lisa and I pin every post with an image to the primary Twinkly Tuesday Pinterest board and the top pins are repinned on the HDYDI Twinkly Tuesday board. Send an email to email@example.com or tweet her your email address and she’ll add you to the primary board. No more than 2 posts per week please!
Each week, all three of us pick our favourite posts which will be featured on the following week’s Twinkly Tuesday page.
There are a few easy rules to follow, to ensure that everyone’s posts get the attention they deserve. Please do make the effort to abide by the rules, in fairness to the vast majority who do. We have been forced to block participation for repeat offenders who haven’t responded to multiple reminders.
Link up to two posts per week — old or new.
Please be kind enough to add our badge to the bottom of your post/s. (Scroll down for the code.)
Please comment on at least two other posts including the one directly before yours. Visit and comment on as many others as you can. Of course, checking out the hosts’ posts would make us feel very loved.
Please use #TwinklyTuesday in your comments so people know where you found them!
By linking up, you give us permission to use images from your blog if featured. You also allow us to add you to a mailing list to receive a weekly announcement when Twinkly Tuesday opens.
The linky will close at 23.55 GMT on Friday.
We look forward to reading all of your fantastic blog posts and seeing you again next week! Remember to grab our button!
Grab buttons for Twinkly Tuesday
Here’s how to add our badge to your site. Enter HTML editing mode on your post, sidebar, or page. Copy the code in the box below and paste it into your site. Save and publish. That’s it!
My birthday is 6 days after that of my twin daughters. Both usually fall in the same week as American Mothers’ Day. In the widest conceivable stretch, all three events occur within a 9-day period. We’re nothing if not efficient.
This year, Mothers’ Day fell on M and J’s birthday. My birthday was the following Saturday, the day before yesterday.
On Thursday evening, M informed me that she wanted to take me out for a birthday/Mothers’ Day treat. Her grandparents had given her a Starbucks gift card for her birthday and she wanted to spend it on me. This is probably not what they had in mind, but I have the world’s sweetest kids.
Here’s what J presented to me. She’d made me birthday breakfast in bed:
Toast, cut into shapes, spread with Nutella, with “Love Mom” and “Best Mom” inscribed in royal icing. Seriously, sweetest kids ever.
M was insistent that our Starbucks celebration be exclusively ours. Her sister was not invited. I told her that I’d arrange a solo playdate for J so that she and I could have our mommy-daughter date.
We happened to be leaving an after-school school-sponsored event when we had this conversation, so I decided to see whether I could locate my girls’ best friend’s family, whom we’d just seen. They were still there. I asked whether they’d be willing to have J over. They said that they could make it happen the very next day.
They would pick J up from school with their daughter while M went to after-school care. I could pick M up at the regular time. It would be nice for their daughter S to get to play with J, since Mom and Dad have been quite occupied welcoming their one-month-old into the world. (Aren’t they wonderful friends? I wouldn’t dream of asking anyone else with a newborn to watch my kid!)
M and I had a lovely time. I took her out for dinner at Mimi’s Café and then we headed to Starbucks for dessert on her dime. She got a chocolate milk and brownie. I got a decaf soy java Frappucino and cookie. We talked the entire time, about her friends, what she’s been reading, the state of the dwarf planet Pluto, what I’ve been doing at work, and the importance of feathers in art.
Age nine feels like a watershed between little girlhood and tweendom.
I was not allowed her to kiss her in public, but M did want to sit in my lap. I was not allowed to take photos, but she took my arm everywhere we went. She told both the waitress and the barrista all that we were celebrating. She didn’t mention her sister to either of them, which was a first.
I loved this one-on-one time, in no small part because I knew that J was having an equally good time. It also helped that there wasn’t any time pressure on us to retrieve her. Both my daughters (and their friend) would get tired around the same time, so we would very naturally ending up picking J up in time for bed.
We’re planning a mommy-daughter date for me and J in the near future. M will head off for a playdate with a different friend.
Making quality one-on-one time is a challenge for any parent with more than one child, but it’s all the more challenging for a single parent of multiples. If you’ve ever wondered how you can help the single parent in your life, how about offering to watch one or both children? Don’t be offended if he or she doesn’t take you up on it right away, or ever. It really is the thought that counts.
I’d never been one to think of my birthday as anything but another day of the year, but this year, my girls made it truly special.
Today’s guest, Nina, is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she’s learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Visit her at www.sleepingshouldbeeasy.com.
When I found out I was expecting twins, I worried about the challenges of raising them. How was I going to afford two babies? What madness would my body go through carrying twins? How will my then three-year-old react to welcoming two new siblings? And how in the world am I going to survive the newborn stage—times two? With all these worries, I had a difficult time convincing myself of anything positive about twins.
Fast forward two years later, and those challenges were well worth it. However difficult caring for twins may be, I love being a twin mom and the benefits of raising them.
But then I realized that not only was I benefiting from having twins, but so were they.
In many ways, my twins are learning important values because they’re twins. Sure, singleton kids can learn these as well, but twins face and own these values much sooner.
Here are four essential values my kids are learning because of being a twin:
From birth, each of my twins didn’t get the same amount of attention we showered our eldest with when he was our one and only. Not only did they have to share attention with our eldest, they also had to share it even as newborn babies with each other. Few newborn babies ever have to deal with that.
All through infancy and into toddlerhood and beyond, twins learn the value of patience. There’s just no way they can get everything they want right this second. Maybe one wants to read a book but mama is changing the other’s diaper. Strapping one child into a car seat means the other has to wait for his turn. For every task done to one twin, the other must wait.
I had a proud mama moment the other day. Both boys were in their room and I assumed they were fighting over a favorite stuffed animal. Instead, I see them walking out, each with his hand holding onto the stuffed animal. And in unison, they announce, “Sharing!”
My boys squabble every day. But with every fight, they understand more about the art of compromise. They learn the concept of turn-taking from the get go. Sharing becomes a part of our family dialogue, as it must be if you have a twin. And they know that if you want something the other has, a great way to get it is to give him something else just as desirable in exchange.
Having a same-aged child next to you every day is bound to test and improve your level of compromise.
Growing up with a twin means having an instant partner in crime. You’re in this together, going through the same challenges.
While being part of a twosome can be a test in self-identity, being twins means having a lifelong sidekick. You also have someone you need to watch out for, and a comrade to face the same challenges right along with you.
#4: Being a good friend
Perhaps most importantly, twins learn the value of being a good friend from the get go. They’re thrust in social situations with another child the same age. They learn social cues such as when to back off, when they’re wanted and how to make others feel better.
They empathize and put themselves in another person’s shoes effectively. They realize that they are, in fact, not the center of the universe and instead must consider those around them.
And they’re compassionate. A twin is likely to offer a crying brother a beloved stuffed animal in an attempt to make him feel better. He’ll call, “Come!” to his twin, excited to show him something cool. And they’ll have each other to laugh with over things only they can understand, every single day. Can’t beat that.
Raising twins is hard for parents, and being twins can be just as challenging for kids. But it’s not without its benefits, some of which they learn early on.
They learn patience and compromise from having another person to consider. They understand the value of teamwork and being in this together. And they know how to be a good friend, both to one another and to those around them.
Having twins has been a blessing to me as their mom. But being a twin has also taught my kids valuable lessons they learned from having one another.
What benefits have your kids learned from being a twin? Let us know in the comments!
I recently told a coworker about some fire ant bites my daughter M had suffered over the weekend. We’d been exploring the creek behind a friend’s house when M stepped in a nest. Fire ant bites hurt. While M is tough, her tears had been quite the sight and her screams piercing.
My coworker smiled at me and pulled a small vial out of her purse. “This,” she told me, “is how we treat ant bites. Pixie dust.”
In her hand, she held a container of glitter.
“It’s body glitter. It really works on ant bites for 6-year-olds.”
Now that is some brilliant parenting.
That evening, I told my 9-year-old twin daughters about this conversation. They smiled at the gullible nature of children so much younger than they.
“We wouldn’t fall for that,” J told me. “We’re too grown-up to believe in fairies.”
“Yes,” M agreed, but quickly added, “But of course we believe in magic. Like the magic that powers Santa’s sleigh.”
“Of course,” J allowed. “And the magic that makes the Easter Bunny pink.”
“The Easter Bunny is not pink. They Easter bunny is grey and white. The magic part is how big he is and he gets everyone eggs for their egg hunts.”
“Grey and white.”
“Pink. With a fluffy tail.”
“Ugh. But magical.”
My girls, on the verge of tweendom, still have their magic. Their stuffed toys are alive to them, filled with personality, each unique. Santa is real, and the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. I know how soon this will be gone, my growing girls learning to be resigned to the humdrum of life.
May they always have some magic, like the magic they’ve brought to my life.
I wrote this post when my twin daughters, J and M, were 19 months old.
In some ways, having twins is easier than raising an only child.
When one twin develops an obsession with an article of clothing, they can easily wear it every day, since you already have two from all their matchy-matchy baby gifts.
When you say “naptime”, they hear “time to play with Sissy without Mama around to bother us” and run to the nursery.
You realize that most of the cool new things they’re learning are not a typical phase in child development at all, but an embodiment of their individuality. You don’t worry about averages or typical ages to reach developmental milestones, because kids are just all different. Even identical twins. Or perhaps their being monozygotic makes the differences that much more noticeable.
You can say, “Sissy picked up the toys she was playing with, so clearly you’re old enough to put yours away.” This does not in fact cause them to pick up their toys, but you feel no guilt in being thoroughly disgruntled.
Strangers’ constant comments about how precious they are almost inspire them to keep bows in their hair. Almost.
They understand firsthand that being kicked hurts. However, they continue to kick things… and people.
They know how silly they look when they throw tantrums. They throw ’em anyway.
It’s easier to cook for three than for two. Most dishes I cook with a pound of meat and a couple of vegetables get consumed before they go bad.
You essentially do the same amount of work (one bath, one bedtime story, one set of meals) for twice the kisses and hugs.
They understand, and live by, the meaning of “Share”.
Some amount of competition is good for them. “She’s walking? Maybe I should try it.” “She said ‘please’. That worked pretty well. I think I’ll give it a shot.”
In what ways are twins easier than singletons in your family?
We’ve come a long way from my early concerns about young children and screen time. My initial knee-jerk attitude that TV is evil has matured into a more nuanced one.
There’s no reason for children under 2 to watch television. In my opinion, some touch screen apps may be appropriate for toddlers, in a very limited way, since they are interactive and respond to the child’s actions. Older children can consume film and TV shows within reason, but I strongly encourage parents to watch with them to make for a shared and interactive experience. I also think that it’s important that parents preview the media that their children will consume to make sure that it’s appropriate and that any lessons not in keeping with family values are discussed. Advertisements should be limited and any that are shown should be explained as an attempt to sell and not a reflection of truth.
My children are 9 years old. They are allowed 2 hours of screen time on each weekend day. On rare occasions, if they’re done with homework and we have some time before bedtime, we’ll watch a movie together on weekday evenings. They are also allowed unlimited screen time to research and write their independent study projects, which are usually worked on in Google Docs.
There are occasions on which M and J want to watch a show or movie on Netflix that I haven’t yet seen. Very rarely, we go to the movies to watch a new release. My kids will learn about a new kids’ website at school and ask if they can visit it. In these cases, I turn to Common Sense Media. This website and its associated app are a goldmine of practical information for parents.
When you search for a book, show, game, or movie, the resulting list includes an age appropriateness rating for each result. This rating isn’t the one given by the movie/game studio or publisher, but is based on developmental criteria and the specifics of the content of the media.
More detail is available for each item, including commentary about themes that might be worth discussing with your child. You can also read reviews and comments from both parents and children.
I recently turned to Common Sense Media when it occurred to me that my children might be old enough for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I hadn’t seen the movie in 18 years and couldn’t remember how overt its sexual content was. The review’s first sentence answered my question: “Parents need to know that some of the nuances of the storyline and much of the film’s innuendo-laden humor will go right over children’s heads.” Although the site recommended the movie for children 10 and up, I felt confident that my daughters could handle it. And they did. They loved it. They caught onto some of the darkness in the storyline, but completed missed the innuendo in the midst of all the slapstick. There was a teeny bit of language I could have done without, but the Common Sense Media review ratings had warned me of that.
If you haven’t visited the site before, I strongly recommend a visit to Common Sense Media at commonsensemedia.org. I wouldn’t do without it.
I remember my first Mother’s Day. My girls were right at four months old. I was incredibly grateful to have joined the ranks of motherhood, but I was tired…so very, very tired. How wonderful it would have been to have a break.
But I didn’t get a break that year. I changed just as many diapers, washed just as many bottles, dealt with just as much laundry as I had the many days before.
While I have yet to enjoy the elusive “day off”, my subsequent Mother’s Days haven’t been quite so grueling. Certainly at six years old, my girls are largely self-sufficient. They’re bundles of energy, but they’re so much fun.
I wanted to spend the day with my girls on Sunday. I’m working full-time these days, and they are in kindergarten, so our downtime is a tiny fraction of what it used to be. I cherish being with them on the weekends, and I wanted nothing more than to hang out with them and enjoy the spoils of being a mommy.
What I didn’t see as part of my Mother’s Day “bliss”, though, was disciplining my children for talking back to me, or for saying an inappropriate word. I counted three time-outs between the two girls. At age six, that’s a bit unusual (fortunately), but it had to be done.
And I certainly didn’t plan to get a “throw-up call” from Baby B a couple of hours after bedtime. She somehow didn’t get any on her bed, but it was all over her…prompting a full shower and then drying her hair, and then doing a big load of laundry.
During these not-so-blissful times, there was a part of me that wanted to say, “Seriously??? On Mother’s Day??!!! The last thing I want is to put you in time out!”
But I stopped myself.
We may take a break from time to time (a well-deserved break, no doubt!), but our job as mothers never stops. It changes, and it gets easier in many ways, but this is who I am.
This line of thought helped me keep things in perspective on Sunday. Certainly I would have enjoyed a perfectly planned day, complete with some pomp and circumstance and some quiet time…and I definitely plan to eek out a pedicure in the next couple of weeks…but in the midst of not-so-fun, I was reminded how important my job is as a mom.
If you’re in the midst of the twinfant stage, hang in there. If your kiddos are older, but still tucker you out just as much, that’s OK. If you took some time “off” this weekend, hope it re-energized you.
Whatever stage we’re in, may we keep perspective. May we appreciate it for what it is. And may we feel the importance of our roles.
Hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day, in whatever way you marked the day!
MandyE is mom to six-year old fraternal twin girls. She blogs about their adventures, and her journey through motherhood, at Twin Trials and Triumphs.