Mommy Guilt x2

When people ask, “How do you do it?” or anything similar while we are out and about chasing our twin toddlers, my husband and I have our general response: These are our only kids and we don’t know any different. Which is true, we have always had two kids. Two babies. Then two toddlers. We have our proverbial hands full.

While I don’t know what it is like to have just one kid, I do know that there are days that I have double the guilt to go with double the kids. My boys were born at the beginning of November in last nice week for months. When they were newborn it was such an ordeal to go places, we often didn’t go unless we really needed something. We would go as a family, one parent would wait in the car and the other would run in and complete the errand. We ate lots of meals in parking lots because it was easier to go pick up a sandwich and sit in the car lot than unload everyone. With the cold weather, the every-two-hours feeding schedule, the baby support items, it was easier to just stay home. So we did. Other moms with their one baby could pop him into the carrier, stroll peacefully around the mall, in and out of the bank, sit quietly in a restaurant. Our outings were logistical operations that make me tired just thinking about them. So we went out when truly necessary. We usually didn’t go to more than one place, since the load and unload was such a fiasco. They were infants, they didn’t notice.

When a brand new mom in my mothers of twins club recently asked what to do when her 4-day-olds were both crying, I remembered those blurry early days and told her, “sometimes you just have to let one cry.” It was tough on me remembering that, and made me feel callused and uncaring. But it is the truth. One person only has two hands and when you are outnumbered by needy infants, you do the best you can. I just kept telling myself they would learn to be patient, to take turns. And they did. But not before my heart broke over and over while I could only tend to one at a time.

Multitasking

My husband, the BEST DAD EVER, just before the boys were a month old, multitasking a middle-of-the-night feeding.

Now our boys are almost two and there are lots of things we do even though it is hard. We go out to dinner. We take the boys to the zoo, to museums, to parks. Even still, we sometimes pass on things that might be fun for them because it’s just too much to work with two toddlers. Last month we went to the Day out with Thomas where we saw and had the opportunity to ride trains. The railway museum was large and crowded so we took the stroller. The couple of times we let them out of the stroller it was a fight getting them back in, so it was easier to just skip anything that was indoors where strollers needed to be left outside. Did they notice they missed a second train ride or a visit to the switch tower? No, they did not. But I did.

I regularly take them to parks or even the splash pad on my own, which is exhausting and often stressful, but I want them to experience those things. However, for their safety, I can’t just load them up and take them to the beach or a crowded indoor play place. To make it fair to other families, we can’t go to parent/tot classes just me and them. We do go to story time at the library and they just started tot gymnastics, but we do both of those when my husband can join too and we each take a kid.

Since they were born, I have wanted to spend one-on-one time with each of them. And nearing their 2nd birthday I think I have taken one kid once on an errand once and the other kid by himself to the doctor once and that’s it. When my husband is home we want to be together as a family so we do things with the four of us. All this is to say that having two babies at once is hard, but not always for the reasons I expected. I expected the exhaustion. I expected the expenses. I expected to be pulled in two directions. I didn’t expect that I would feel so guilty about dividing my time, about skipping out on things after weighing the pros/cons of the logistics, about not being able to meet both of their needs all the time. Hopefully, like our parenting experience, our boys don’t know any different.

Keep up with our efforts to raise well-adjusted kiddos as guilt-free as possible at goteamwood.com.

24 thoughts on “Mommy Guilt x2

  1. I understand the guilt thing but you don’t have to be so hard on yourself. My twins are now almost 4 (I can’t believe it) and I will say that the more we took them out when they were little the easier it was. Now at this stage we can take them absolutely anywhere and be pretty confident we can handle the situation (always the potential for the odd outburst but at least we know how to react). I stayed at home with the boys for almost the entire first two years, which meant it was mommy and the boys just on lot’s of outings and I didn’t have much one on one time with each of them. As they continue to get older the one on one time seems to be getting easier. They have slightly different interests now and because one will play by themselves while I can spent one on one time with the other one reading a book or just playing. One on one time doesn’t have to be a big outing though, there are little moments throughout the day that I am sure you do it all the time! (You just aren’t giving yourself credit for those).

  2. I so completely empathize! It’s difficult to manage two kiddos at the same time…in the way you’d like to do so (being fair to them and to others). I sometimes think about only having one child…I can envision Baby and Me classes, enjoying lunch out more frequently, more arts and crafts, and on and on.

    I try not to dwell on it too much, though…our girls are happy and healthy and otherwise stimulated, and I know there will be time for swim lessons (or whatever) when they’re a little older.

  3. Agreed that it’s really hard–I’ve found a couple things that have helped. 1) I only go to playgrounds that are fenced in! 2) I often go with other moms-of-twins–we all GET it, we all watch out for each other’s kids. Somehow there are always enough hands for the number of kids who need redirection at any one time. 3) I have gotten better about asking singleton parents for help. I was lamenting how hard some parks were for me to navigate when a singleton mom said to me, “You know, I’d be happy to help–grab a toddler who is going off course or whatever–but I’d be nervous to pick up/redirect your child without your permission. If you called over to me, though, asking me to grab your child, I’d gladly do whatever I could.” That made a lot of sense to me–I think it’s a cultural thing that we don’t want to touch another person’s child without permission–and made me feel better about asking for help.

  4. It gets easier! My twins are now 4, but I remember the younger years! We also didn’t go anywhere for the 1st 2 years, but I slowly started to venture out with them. Even if it’s running to the grocery store–yes, it’s easier to go by yourself–but it’s good for them to go, and that freed up time later for ‘family’ time. 2 was such a great age for us. They so interested in everything happening around them. Enjoy your time with them and know that it’s all normal!!!

  5. I feel exactly the same! Sometimes I feel jealous of mom’s of single babies who can just carry their baby with them into the store, bank, etc. It takes so much organization to take out multiples but it’s getting easier (at 18 months in).

  6. Pingback: Guest Post at HDYDI: Mommy Guilt x2 – Go Team Wood

  7. I am a mother of 2 YO B/G twins and feel exactly what you describe. There were many times when I would envy my singleton mommy friends who would take their child to various classes, playdates, run errands, etc. while my husband and I struggled to get the kids fed, changed and on their schedule and keep up with our jobs.

    Thank you for the other MoM’s whose kids are totally fine despite not having “dedicated” one-to-one time with each child.

  8. MoMs, don’t get so down on yourself about the one-on-one time. Really, you do spend one-on-one time with each of your kids everyday. One-on-one time doesn’t need to be a an outing or anything major, or planned. Before becoming a MoM I was a kindergarten teacher with 25ish kids in my classroom. A lot of those kids needed 1-0n-1 time, but it wasn’t like I could leave the other 24 kids. 1-on-1 time often meant having a 2-minute conversation with a child while the rest of the students were bustling around us. But it was still very meaningful time for us. My teaching experience helped me to see that while I rarely get to go on outings with just one of my 5 kids at a time, but I DO spend 1-on-1 time with each to them (twins and singletons) everyday. This morning it was with my 3 year-old helping me sort the laundry (for about 3 minutes.) The time I spend dressing, changing diapers, washing faces, etc. are all 1-on-1, even though they are in small snipets of time. We still connect, share a smile, a tickle, a hug, and it DOES COUNT!!!

    That said, yes, it’s still hard, and yes, I do always want to do more for them! :)

  9. My boys are 8 weeks old and I already feel mommy guilt. I think and worry about all the things you discuss. Since the boys are still little we almost never go anywhere. It wears me out just thinking about taking the boys anywhere and takes a lot of planning and organizing ahead of time. Sometimes it just isn’t worth it.And your advice that sometimes one may just have to cry is so true. I feel so guilty for having to let one cry, but sometimes my two arms just aren’t enough. It is so nice to know I am not the only mom who feels this way and worries about these things! Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. I really liked the way you wrote this! I don’t feel guilty (most of the time) that we don’t go to museums/zoos/grand adventures with the kids. I feel like until they can remember it happened it’s not that important, really it’s a waste of money and effort. They have a ton of fun in the parks, the woods, the back yard. We can pretend all kinds of things and never miss what we don’t have. They’ll have plenty of time to explore the world when they grow little bit more. And now that they’re 3 life is getting to be so much easier logistically.

  11. I could have written that myself. My twins are 4 years old. I relate wholeheartedly to what you said about skipping out on “regular” outings and events that parents of singletons (even multiple singletons) didn’t think twice about. I stayed home for so much of their first 24 months. If we went somewhere, it was a major planning session just to figure things out. I was hardly ever brave enough to go somewhere without my husband. And what I am curious about is the reaction you got from other people around you–your extended family or friends. We got so much grief and criticism from our extended family for isolating our children and not allowing them opportunities to develop normally (their words, not mine). It was terrible for us. But here we are, 4.5 years later, and my twins may not have had as many outings and social opportunities early on as other children, but they are smart, funny, creative, playful, wild and crazy—just like all the other 4 year olds I see in the grocery store. Did it harm them to be stuck at home with me for the first two years? Doesn’t seem that way to me. But our extended family sure was convinced we were the worst parents ever. That was probably harder than the mommy guilt you wrote about!

  12. You took the words right out of my mouth. My B/G twins are now two. But in these first two years, I have felt like a prisoner in my own home… not being able to go anywhere. If I did get out of the house, I could only choose one destination. The first winter was long and hard. I set up different play areas in different rooms in the house, just so we could all have a change in scenery. We don’t do as much as singleton moms. And I feel terribly guilty too. Fenced in parks and indoor play areas are all I can handle alone with two toddlers. But I keep reminding myself and others… “this too shall pass. It will not be this way for forever.”

  13. Wow. So I’m not the only one. The guilt is terrible, but i have had to learn to remind myself to LOOK at my 3 y/o b/g twins. They are truly happy little campers…joyful even. They have not suffered for one minute. I have given them a built-in soulmate. My husband said one day that he was a little jealous that he didn’t have a twin…

  14. I find this so interesting… We were/are the exact opposite. We’ve been taking our almost 2 year old twin daughters (and their 5 year old brother) out since almost day one. We figured the earlier we get them out and about, the better… The biggest pain we find is the constant questions of “Are they twins?” and strangers’ stories about twins they know…

    I guess we’re all different – isn’t it wonderful? :)

  15. Trust me, your boys don’t know any different. What they know is your love which is the constant in their lives, and it IS good enough. Your parenting IS good enough for them so don’t worry about comparing yourself to other parents at all! Let go of the guilt. My twin boys are 4 years old now. I also have a 9 year old boy. 3 kids plus one mom = “doing the best I can”, especially when I am on my own with them…which is most weekends due to our work schedules. You are so right though, in capturing how twin parenting does (by necessity) limit some of the activities you can do safely. Safety is the first priority. Many times over I have wondered how I kept them all safe through a busy active day, with one pair of hands to manage 3 kids and their needs. (And my needs are… on the back burner indefinitely!)

  16. You and I are both fortunate to have had twins first, like you said, we don’t know any better! Luckily for me, my girls (13 weeks now) are pretty easy going and usually only one is fussy at a time. I do wonder occasionally if I’m dividing my time equally, but with teenage stepchildren, a wonderful husband and amazing in-laws that are close by, they both get plenty of attention. I wouldn’t feel bad about feeling guilty at times, it means you are striving for greatness and that makes you a good mommy! It is good to hear that it gets better as they get older, because its already good now so I can’t wait!

  17. My parenting style tends to be “get out of the house!” but I remember those days of feeling like my singleton mommy friends were all hitting the museums and zoos and such—while I was taking my kids to Target & fenced in playgrounds. However, that age passes quickly and with 4.5 year olds twins (plus a baby) I had forgotten that frustration until I read this. Soon, your guys will be great going out placed like that and quite safe—-we reached the point, at four, where I can take my two anywhere, even with the baby, and we’re fine. It passes—and they never remember the first time they did something like that.

  18. This post hit home with so many of us it seems. Those memories seem so far away yet just like yesterday for me. Thanks for the trip down memory lane! At 5 it gets really easy and fun too. Its so difficult to watch them change and grow before your eyes and you wanted to do so much more than you got to yet you got so much more than others. Twins truely are a blessing!

  19. Wow! I didn’t realize so many of us moms felt the same. However, I must say that guilt is destructive. Please don’t expect yourself to be supermom. I have adopted my kids who are now 5, 4 and 9 month twins. I felt bad wanting these children so much and yet finding it hard to do the parenting duties I had in mind when I was childless.
    My biggest suggestion, rely on your spouse. Studies are showing dads of twins have better relationships because they must be more involved. ASK! Always ask for help. And most importantly, set a schedule. The family unit will function much better when everyone knows what to expect when. Especially your twins. I’m sure you’ve all found, as they sense your frustration, they act up too. They can amazingly sense it but can’t process it. Best wishes to all. Enjoy the journey! The love in the end defeats any guilt.

  20. There were times I thought the guilt of not having enough of me to go around would suffocate me, but it’s eased as our daughters have grown. Now at age 5, they can tell us how they feel. Perhaps it’s because they know no different, but while they love one-on-one time with a parent when we impose it on them, they’d rather be together. I’ve learned that the sister bond they have more than makes up for whatever individual attention they sacrifice for never having been an only child.

  21. It was around age two that I started to throw caution to the wind and do a lot of the things I had previously avoided for being too big a hassle. We started making a bigger deal about holidays and seasonal outings, started letting something fun take priority over nap time (*sometimes*). The logistics get a lot easier. 12-24 months was brutal in that way.

    And the one-on-one time gets a lot more natural with practice. We try to take one kid with on errands on the weekend. Yeah, it would be easier and faster if I just did it myself and left both kids home with my husband (or vice versa), but sometimes we’ll take one of the kids with us and it’s a nice break for everyone.

  22. Like so many of us, I completely understand. The one way I have learned to cope with both getting out of the house and getting that one on one time is to “divide and conquer”. When my b/g twins were little I kept saying “this would be so much easier if i just had to manage one or leave one home” then it hit me, why not leave one home and take one with me. Both my husband and myself like this arrangement. My husband stays home with one child and gets nice one on one time. I take the other child out with me to get some errands done and get one on one time while I’m at it. I know wanting that whole family time is important but maybe some time apart would be good too.

    I personally still struggle with the family outings. When we all go out I find that the expectation is for me to take care of both kids while everyone else does their own thing. Like if we are out to dinner everyone else enjoys their dinner while I feed the twins. After everyone is done then I get to eat my cold dinner. So we rarely go out to dinner because I don’t feel like dealing. I’m sad about that but it is just easier that way. Maybe after the kids can feed themselves…

  23. I can totally relate to this. I just try not to think about it.
    I have a son and twin daughters, so I do know the difference. I try not to compare my sons early days with my girls early days. It’s hard, though, to let go of the guilt.
    Great post!

  24. I think every mother of multiples can relate to what you wrote! I think it was especially hard when they are newborns and needed two hands to adequately comfort and hold… so one would be left to cry! So hard! But, they learn patience. And so do we! It is really hard getting out with the little ones and still is to some degree, but I just tell myself you can’t ignore the world because it’s easier to stay home!

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