While my twin boys just turned 7 last week (crazy to believe!) I think about those first few weeks often; especially because I recently had my 3rd son and I’ve been re-living those infant days all over again. Of course, this time around, things are admittedly much easier. I often return to my twin blog (gathering dust since 2011) and recently I ran across a post that generated quite a bit of heat at the time, about the paradox/oddities of a “Moms Group” meeting.
I had attended my first moms-group meeting when the twins were just 6 weeks old. I felt so isolated and desperately ready to connect with other new moms. Upon arrival, I noticed roughly 16 other new moms and their babies who were less than 12 weeks old sitting around in a circle. I also quickly noticed that we were the only trio in attendance.
Once I sat down and got situated with the kiddos on my boppy in front of me, I was immediately met with comments such as:
“I am in AWE of you!”
“How do you do it?”, and
“I thought one was bad enough!” (um – did that mom just say her baby was ‘bad enough’?!!)
As all the other moms were openly breastfeeding around the circle, I too started to tandem breastfeed my babes. Once they were both latched on, I glanced up to notice that everyone in the room was staring at me! Some of members of the group even felt the need to applaud! It was humiliating.
Now, let me be clear…my intentions of participating in a new moms group was to chat with moms who share common parenting concerns, discuss breastfeeding, infant care, sleep patterns, etc. I had a strong desire to feel ‘at one’ with the other parents. Unfortunately, this was not what happened at all. And it may seem overly-sensitive and irrational, but all the unwanted attention I had received made me want to pack up my troops and run out in tears.
I admit that sometimes I felt jealous of the other moms who easily maneuvered their small strollers around the room and casually popped out one breast to feed their child while taking a sip of coffee with their other hand. But for the most part, the lack of solidarity I felt with them was due to the fact that it was just plain weird to have all the other moms treat me like some sort of “other”.
Parenting infants is hard, bottom line. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be a need for a moms group. At the time, I had no experience parented a singleton, so I hadn’t really known the difference between the experiences. And while I’m sure these moms meant well with their flattery, what I really hear them saying was, “your life must really suck, how do you even get out of bed each morning?!”
Now that I’m parenting my singleton baby, I think about the learning lessons from that experience. I learned that well-intentioned praise can sting like an insult, and sometimes it’s best to just give a smile instead. I also learned that many of the new moms with only one child tended to be more uptight about issues that, with the twins, I was forced to be more relaxed about. I listened as moms went crazy with their over-protective concerns about the smallest things. I realized that as new mom of twins, I was forced to make hard decisions much earlier on, than moms of singletons. And that I’d rather be too busy caring about the important stuff than worrying about what’s not.