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.
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.