My mother of multiples group meets every Wednesday, at a local park.
Tuesday night, I start planning. Wednesday’s morning nap is devoted to lunch-packing, bag-stocking, and layer-gathering (jackets, sun hats, warm hats, socks, shoes, blankets, oy). I have to decide how we’ll handle afternoon nap – on the go? Snap n go because they’ll sleep in their car seats or CitiMini because it’s easier to push? Or try to make it home for nap and prevent them from falling asleep on the way? I try to time feedings so they aren’t during the middle of the playgroup because it’s so exciting the boys won’t eat and I’ll be up all night making up the ounces.
By the time noon rolls around on Wednesday, I’m bracing myself for the rest of the day to be totally off schedule. I consider not going. I’ve been going at full speed all morning and I’m already late. I look at the kids and my four walls and know that the only thing more exhausting than going out is staying in. I scoop up the diaper bag and the guys and schlep down 3 flights of stairs and it still feels like a bad idea.
Then I get there. I see the collection of double strollers and blankets crawling with babies and a sea of shared toys. I realize the sky is beautiful blue and the grass is soft and cool and wow, the air smells good. Someone sees me and waves.
And I feel like a person for the first time all week. A competent, fun, lively person. Who cares if I haven’t slept, showered, or spoken to another adult in days? We’re all in the same boat. We’re all chasing two kids around, wondering if we’re doing the right thing, loving our babies and trying to figure out this parenting thing. We can compare pediatricians’ advice, share fitness goals, celebrate milestones, and vent about our partners. We can feel totally normal.
I first started needing my twin group when I was pregnant. I went to several prenatal classes, and felt so…different. For one thing, I was huge. I was so slow (thank you, pubis symphasis). And I was starving. Other women were snacking on nuts and juice; I was wolfing down burgers. When I went to my first MoM meeting, I instantly felt proportional. My belly wasn’t comically large – it was right on track. Being around all those teeny tiny twins was overwhelming at first, but it helped normalize my impending experience, and showed me that, yes, you can totally nurse one infant while rocking another.
Twin parents are sort of – fearless. They’ve handled the double meltdown, the simultaneous poop, the urgent divergent needs that no one but mom can meet. Things get tense, but nothing fazes them. I’ve held another mom’s twin while jiggling my guys in their stroller while singing to the other twin crying during a diaper change. My friends have steering my one of my pre-walkers away from concrete while holding both their twins and carrying on a conversation about how to prepare tofu as finger food. I’m grateful that they nonchalantly swipe grass out of my kid’s hand as he tries to eat it, and vice versa.
I guess you could say we’re comfortable with the crazy.
I don’t know how to communicate that when parents of singletons say, “I don’t know how you do it.” You do it because you have to do it. Because you don’t know any different. And it’s pretty awesome to be around people who get that, and are doing it too.
I’m always sad when it’s time to pack up and head home on Wednesday afternoons. I stretch the boys’ wake time so I can have as much time as possible with these women that have become my treasured friends. As I head home, alone again with my boys and my thoughts, the weight of care-taking comes back – unpacking, dinner, clean up – but that weight is always lighter than before. I’ve been shored up by my sisters in multiplicity, and that makes the weekly effort worth it.
When parents of older multiples stop us and say, “It gets easier!” I hope they know that they just helped make it a little easier – and that week after week, the hope, comraderie, and friendship we offer each other makes it easier to trust myself, take heart in tough times, and treasure special moments that only come with two. The network of support I get from my twin group, and all the twin parents who reach out to us, is my safety net in this new parenting gig. I’m not a supermom/freak of nature, I’m a member of this awesome club.
Thanks for inspiring this post, MarisaB! Looking forward to seeing what other parents of multiples have to say about their twin groups – and if you haven’t joined one yet, go for it!