Today, we have a special treat for you: a guest post and book giveaway from twin mom and author Elise Bruderly. If you’d like to win a copy of her book, be sure to enter the giveaway below! Now, hear her story in her own words. – Sadia
In May of 2005, I found out I was expecting twins.
As I “recovered” from the shock of this news, I said, “Someday I’m going to write a book about this!” And that day has come. Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is the handbook I wish I had, to guide me through the ups and downs and twists and turns of that first year as a parent of twins. The book weaves together actual stories and journal entries from that first year, with practical parenting advice and ideas, as well as a focus on the emotional journey, and growth, required. I hope that this book serves as both an inspiration and a source of reassurance for expectant parents and parents in the midst of that first year.
Please enjoy this excerpt from the book.
from Chapter 6: How Parenting Twins is Different
How to be a Parent of Twins
When you think about how to parent twins and how to be a parent of twins you really must consider two areas of growth. First is the actual, physical “doing” of life. These are the “how to clone yourself” questions, like, how to get two babies a bath when you are home alone, how to pick up two crying babies, what to do when the phone rings and your arms are full. You can learn how to do all of these things- either with advice from other parents of multiples, from books, or by trial and error. Never be afraid to try a new idea, and never stop trying new ideas. As your babies grow and develop things will change, sometimes by the hour. What did not work yesterday might work today and what you wish would work today might very well work in a few days if you stick with it. Becoming capable with the tasks of parenting twins is both liberating and confidence-building, two essential traits for your continued journey as a parent. The sooner you make peace with yourself- giving yourself permission to try something new, and not feeling silly if the whole idea fails- the easier you will find the ongoing tasks of parenting twins.
The being a parent of twins is much harder to learn and much more abstract to describe. I have often felt “out of step” with friends and others raising singleton children the same age as my babies. Nothing ever felt quite the same to me as it appeared to be for my friends- the lack of sleep, the ability (or not) to get out of the house. When a parent is already struggling to adapt to their new role, feeling alone in that role can be even more demoralizing. I will never forget the first time I felt this difference square in the face.
My babies were born in the late summer and came home in the early fall. It was a long, cold winter where we did not get out very much. By the time they were around seven months old I was feeling more capable and a more pressing desire to “be normal.” I started taking them to a baby playgroup that was held at the library. There was fifteen minutes of songs and stories and then forty five minutes for the babies and parents to interact with toys and each other. I saw, quite quickly, what two babies meant for me. While others picked up their child and moved around the floor, checking out different toys and talking to others while swinging their baby in their arms, I sat on the floor with my babies- in one spot while reaching out to grab a toy here or there that made its way over to our area. I was not mobile in the least, and, as such, I was not social. It’s not that others were mean to me, it’s just that they were doing what they could do and did not realize my limitations.
We continued attending the playgroup, and talked to those who might be around us. I watched others make coffee dates for afterwards and thought to myself that I wasn’t sure my “lunar lander” could even maneuver into or around the coffee shop. I thought that perhaps I was too much work to be friends with, I couldn’t zip around with a little stroller, or walk around with one arm full of baby and the other with my hot drink. I wished very much to feel less isolated and wondered if I was having fun.
How did I learn to be a parent of twins? How did I learn to embrace the challenges and enjoy the moments? It was a journey, to be sure. It required building confidence in my parenting decisions both big and small. It required perseverance- attending those playgroups where I felt alone, getting through failed trips to the store, talking myself through the hard days of nursing through growth spurts, and functioning on a severe lack of sleep. It required reaching-out, feeling awkward and uncomfortable at times, and making new friends who were parents of twins. It required an ability to laugh at myself, knowing that there is just nothing that can be done when babies decide to explode through their diapers and spit-up all over at the same time. It requires “digging deep” to find that better self that is there inside of you and accessible only when you want it and need it so badly. I’ve often heard that things are given only to those who can handle them. Personally, I believe that handling the challenges makes us that person.
When you are expecting twins, or are learning to be the parent of twins, what you must know and remember is this: The road will never be quite as smooth as you might wish and you might never master juggling. But if you remember to love your children and remember that you are doing the very best you can, you will find the energy and strength to get through the day. Each day is the beginning of a new adventure and each adventure will provide a smile once you learn to recognize the moments.
Elise Bruderly, MSW, LMSW, lives with her husband and boy/girl twins in Dexter, Michigan where she enjoys the ongoing adventure of parenting twins. Parenting Twins: The Handbook for Containing Chaos and Preserving Memories in the First Year is available in paperback and on Kindle at Amazon.com.