Absolving the guilt

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Categories Infants, Mommy Issues

I attended an event for my Moms of Twins club this weekend, a brunch welcoming new members from the past year.  Obviously, that meant a lot of moms with young infants, and even some who are still pregnant.

I ended up in a conversation with three moms whose babies were under 4 months old.  Oh, I do not remember that time fondly.  The unknown, the lack of feedback (save for the inexplicable crying), the lack of sleep.  They were talking about that guilt and worry that we all felt at that age: the sense that you can never give enough to either baby.

As a new mom, you get so caught up in what this newborn thing is “supposed” to be like.  Lots of holding, wearing in a sling, close contact. Hours spent idly watching your beautiful child sleep, reading books during those few minutes when they’re awake and alert.  Et cetera, et cetera.

Of course, when you’re outnumbered, you get a huge reality check.  Sadly, two babies does not mean twice as much time quietly admiring the wonder that is your child.  It means twice as much time nursing, pumping, feeding, burping, cleaning bottles, cleaning diapers, cleaning pump parts.  And, oh crap, it’s time for them to eat again. I remember remarking to my friend at the time, “I spend so much time managing them, I never get to enjoy them!”

And it’s more than that. In addition to the lack of enjoyment, we worry so much that we are doing our kids irreparable harm.  That they are suffering from the fact that we can only hold one of them at a time, and there seems to be a constant rotation in and out of the swing.  The moms I talked to on Saturday were so genuinely worried. Are we not bonding enough? Will we have attachment issues?

I can’t tell you how glad I am that I can see the other side of that.  That I could assure them that there is, dare I say it, an enormous benefit from those guilt-ridden first months.  And it is this: self-sufficiency.  I simply couldn’t entertain both kids, all day, every day. I couldn’t attend to their every movement, every squawk, every immediate need.  So, to a large extent, they learned to entertain themselves and each other.

Gymnastics

Which is not to say, of course, that my kids don’t go through clingier, needier phases. And there’s plenty of contributing personality factors.  But the upside to the fact that you simply cannot attend to your little babies in the manner you thought you would, is that you will find them much more capable of playing on their own than many of their singleton age-mates.

Gymnastics

So don’t overwhelm yourselves with guilt, new twin mamas.  It’s hard, and you try your best. But your kids are not being harmed. This is their life, they know no different. They will still love you, and bond, and otherwise grow to be awesome kids. A few extra minutes in the swing won’t hurt ’em.

Gymnastics

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15 thoughts on “Absolving the guilt”

  1. I think you are so right about all those fears and insecurities that automatically go along with bringing home a new baby. And with two, you can tack on a whole new list of things to worry about. Thanks for the perspective on the light at the end of the tunnel :)
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Balloons for Chase =-.

  2. I can remember times when one of my daughters was crying and when I would pick her up I would see three other girls looking at me… and I always wondered what they were thinking “Why aren’t you holding me?” “Why did you pick her up first?” My list could go on and on. I think the fact that we’re aware of “bonding issues” shows that we’re doing the best we can.
    .-= Quadmama´s last blog ..Please Tell Me Why…. =-.

  3. Great post, and oh, so true. I love that my twosome are so independent and enjoy each other’s company, while still obviously being bonded to me. It’s amazing.

  4. Where were you nine months ago when I needed someone to write this post!?!? Now, at nine months, I have no guilt and I know that I have happy babies who love their mom (and dad)! Until I read this post, I had almost forgotten the days of am I giving them each enough love, attention, and hugs and kisses. We do our best each day and really that’s all you can do. Your best–everyday! And trust me my “best” fluctuates daily, but that’s okay as long as it’s my best that day!

  5. I think it’s easier for parents of multiples (first) to come to this realization. Neither we, nor our kids, know anything different. I’ve seen parents of a second singleton struggle with having to split their attention much more intensely than most parents of twin or trips.
    .-= Sadia´s last blog ..Cloudy =-.

  6. OMG – those few words SO resonate with me…
    ‘managing them’ vs. ‘enjoying them’! The triplets are 16 months old now & I’m so looking forward to the day when that nasty, guilty feeling goes away! It’s especially hard when I have those memories of my first (singleton)…quiet, peaceful moments of just staring at him in ‘mommy bliss’…for what seemed like hours.

    What a great post – esp for those new mamas!

  7. Oh, the guilt – what we do to ourselves in the name of love for our children. I had a singleton first (K), then twins 4 years later (S&D). It seems like K never was out of my arms as an infant. Our bond was incredible and instantaneous. When S & D were born and we were released from the hospital, I was home for 2 days before I was hospitalized for a week. I did not see them for a whole week. Half their lives. Upon getting out of the hospital the 2nd time, I could not care for them by myself. Family and friends were caring for them, holding them, feeding them, etc. I was miserable about the bond we were missing out on. I was guilty, angry at everyone and hurting. When I was holding them, I was worrying, like every other multiple mamma, what about the other one? How can I give each of them the love and contact and attention they need when I am always splitting it between 2 babies and a 4 year old? But you know what? S & D are so loving, so attached, so sweet and caring and well adjusted. They are also very independent toddlers who play well alone and with each other. At 15 months old, I think about how toddlers do parallel play but here mine are playing games together, giving each other toys (and taking them away from each other), playing hide and seek, catch and chase, building blocks together and with their older sister. Twins, any number of multiples, I guess, are special. You don’t have to worry about the guilt because they are amazing individuals and they are amazing as a set. The guilt is such a waste of time. Take it from all of us that have been there and are coming out the other side. Instead, take that time and pat yourself on the back for getting through it and for loving them so much that you make yourself nuts over it.

  8. Thank you for sharing. A member of the multiples group I’m in shared your post with us, so it’s the first time I’ve read your blog. My twin girls are four months old, so I can definitely identify! I think I’ve been too busy to feel a whole lot of guilt, but it’s such a challenge to occupy them both in the way I’d hoped. There have been lots of adjustments to the way we “planned” to care for them. It took us three months to start reading books everyday to the girls…I’m a librarian and my husband is a teacher, so we just knew we would find time for it. Haha. Thanks again!

  9. All I can say is thank goodness my twins weren’t my first experience with parenting infants. I have some of these worries, but not to the extent that I would have if I’d not gone through parenting my older daughter and learning by doing that there is no “right” way to do things, only the way that works for you and the kids.
    .-= nonlineargirl´s last blog ..Honestly now =-.

  10. I know this post is a few years old, but I was needing something to help me with the mommy guilt, and this was so helpful, particularly the line about spending so much time managing them, it’s hard to find time to enjoy them. Thank you!

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