The Online Mother of Multiples Club

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Categories Community, Friendships with Other Multiples, HDYDI Blog, MoM Groups, Mommy Issues, Time Management, WorkingTags , , , , , , 7 Comments

I didn’t seek out mother of multiples clubs when I was pregnant. It never even occurred to me that such a thing existed. However, I had a fortuitous run-in at my daughters’ very first pediatric visit, the day after J was released from the NICU, 22 days old. I was stopped on the way to the examination room by a mother, Laura, who told me that she had twin boys, and would I be interested in joining her mothers of multiples club? It was a small one, limited to the suburb in which we lived. There were fewer than 20 moms in the group. I gave her my contact information, and found myself attending the next meeting.

These women were incredibly nice. One of them, Kara, was tandem nursing her one-year-olds. Formula had never touched their lips. She was an inspiration to me throughout my efforts to breastfeed my girls.

The problem, though, was that I was the only woman in the group with a full-time job. The group’s activities that included kids were all held during the day, on weekdays. They didn’t have any weekend activities; they wanted to spend that time together as a family with their husbands. The monthly weekday evening meetings were child-free. They were intended to be a chance for a bunch of girlfriends to leave their kids with their husbands and get a night off. That worked for me for a couple of months, but then my husband deployed to Iraq when our babies were 5 months old.

I couldn’t quite see my way to hiring a babysitter when I was already away from my daughters 11 hours every day. I maintained friendships with individual members of the group by email. I volunteered to manage the membership records. I couldn’t really attend any events, though.

My “real” participation was limited to the annual family-inclusive potluck picnic. I was the only one at the picnic without a husband. (Since then, three of us have gotten divorced and one has remarried.) It was a great time, though. When I got up from my hotdog to give my girls their bottles, their having rejected the breast months earlier, Kara asked me to hand her a baby. We each fed a child with one hand, feeding ourselves with the other, while she watched her three kids run in the grass. I was dumbfounded. With the exception of my dear friends Sara, whose son was 14 days younger than mine and whose husband had deployed with with mine, and Kaylan, who was living with us, my friends were generally terrified by my children. I hardly knew what to do with this cool, collected and well-coiffed mother who was clearly comfortable handling an undersize baby or two.

I tried reaching out to the much larger mothers of multiples group that served the greater Austin area, but never received a response to my queries. I looked at their meeting schedule, and sure enough, kid-friendly activities were during work hours. Kids weren’t welcome at after-hours events. I was a little miffed, but figured that I had a pretty great support network through work, plus the gifts of Sara and Kaylan.

This whole time, I’d been blogging, trying to provide a place for our relatives around the world, including Daddy in Iraq, to keep up with what M and J were up to. There were lots of photos and here’s-what-we-did-today posts. One day, I clicked a link in a moms’ forum to The Busy Dad Blog. I don’t even remember what post it was, but it had me in stitches and I left a comment. On a whim, I linked my name to my little family-and-friends mommy blog.

Community surrounds usFrom that teeny little comment, people–complete strangers–started visiting my dinky little blog. People starting commenting. I clicked to their sites. I discovered this entire culture of mommy blogging. (Sorry, Jim, but I consider you a mommy blogger; if there were more daddy bloggers like you around, I’d probably graduate to “parent blogger,” but there you have it.) Before long, I was finding my parenting deeply impacted and greatly improved by the observations and recommendations of the likes of LauraC, Goddess in Progress, and Momo Fali. LauraC’s extraordinary boys, Nate and Alex, are only 6 days younger than my daughters, she works full-time, and her husband travels for work. There’s no one else I’d come across who seemed to understand my day-to-day reality better.

Tracey is reading to our two sets of twins.I discovered LauraC and Goddess in Progress right here at How Do You Do It? I’ve since met HDYDI’s LauraC and Reanbean in real life. Goddess and I can somehow never quite make it to the same place at the same time, although we’ve tried. I’ve become close friends with Tracey, also a former blogger at HDYDI. Our families have even spent Christmas together, although her boys can no more tell my girls apart than my girls can distinguish them. It doesn’t seem to negatively impact their play.

My virtual mothers of multiples club online has helped me get through potty training, the Terrible (Horrible Awful Monstrous) Threes, deployment after deployment, school decisions and, most recently, divorce. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t experience online relationships like these how much these people, most of whom I will never meet face-to-face, mean to me. I’ll never be able to repay what I owe them.

Traditional mother of multiples clubs haven’t quite worked out for me, but the blogosphere? That’s my club. Online parenting support has been priceless. My daughters are better off for the community of thoughtful parents who’ve shaped how they’re raised.

Thanks to MarisaB and RebeccaD for kicking off this conversation.

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You got to have (mom) friends

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Categories ToddlersTags , 11 Comments

It was actually a smaller gathering than we’re used to. And a much higher adult-to-child ratio, too.  Normally, when we’re hanging out in this particular backyard, we expect to see about 10-12 kids under 3 and maybe four or five adults.  This time it was down to only seven kids, and a whopping six adults.  We hardly knew what to do with ourselves.  Ah, Memorial Day weekend with your twin mom friends.

Memorial Day BBQ

Building a community and a support system is always important.  You need people to talk to, people with whom you can share advice and stories and favors.  But while I am certainly a big fan of getting to know people with a wide variety of experiences, I also think it is key to find birds of a feather. Full-time at-home moms need to find other full-time at-home moms.  Working moms need other working moms. Homeschoolers need other homeschoolers.  And twin moms need other twin moms.

Memorial Day BBQ

While there are plenty of things that all moms have in common, there are most certainly different challenges (and joys) when you have multiples. So it’s key to have other people who understand you. Even if it’s in a virtual space like blogging, at least that’s something.  But in person is even better.

Memorial Day BBQ

What a difference from when we used to have “playdates” that involved babies asleep in carseats or bouncing around in the exersaucer.  Now we’ve got a pack of toddlers who know each other’s names, steal fruit off of each other’s plates, and play interchangeably as though they were all siblings.

Memorial Day BBQ

And the moms can hang out and marvel over how much easier it has gotten over the last two years.  Because, tantrums aside, this is oh so much more fun.

Memorial Day BBQ

We’ve survived breastfeeding (or not), first foods, sleeping through the night, shared viruses (ugh), and all the rest of it… times two. It’s nice to have people who have that shared understanding. We know the craziness, we know the fun. We are, perhaps as much by necessity as by personality, a fairly laid-back and practical bunch (just don’t get us started on people who keep their kids up too late or don’t have a nap schedule).  We get each other.  And that’s a mighty nice thing to have in your life.

Memorial Day BBQ

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Shopping, Twin-Mom Style

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This weekend marked my MOT club’s semi-annual tag sale, and it was a doozy. The tag sale (consignment sale, yard sale, flea market, whatever your region calls it) is yet another reason to join your local MOT club, if you haven’t already.  Most clubs I know of have sales twice a year, and they’re awesome both for selling and for shopping.

It was my second time selling, and for those who have never participated in such an event, I thought I’d tell you all about ours.  First of all, you obviously have to plan ahead and get all of your items ready for sale.  Sort out the clothes by gender, size, and season.  Toss the ones with stains or missing snaps. Purge the toy room, get the high chairs out of the garage. Write out a price tag for each and every piece.  My club puts everyone’s items together (i.e. one large area for clothing, one area for toys, etc.), so your tags also need your name written clearly so you can get financial credit for the sale.

Tag sale setup

The sale takes place on a Saturday morning, so setup begins Friday night at a nearby high school cafeteria.  Racks are assembled for hanging items, tables are arranged everywhere, clotheslines are hung.  When the space is set up, you can start hauling in your items from your car (the parking lot is a sea of minivans).  And at the end of the evening, sellers get a chance to do a little early-bird shopping.  People nearly trampled each other getting to the Kettler tricycles.  I decided I had to have my friend’s Maclaren stroller.  So 15 minutes before seller shopping began, I grabbed my Peg Perego out of the back of my van, cleaned it off, and slapped a price tag on it (the same price for which I was going to buy my friend’s).  It’s easy to get caught up in the madness.  And that’s just Friday night. Don’t stay too late, chit-chatting with your friends and perusing the stacks of clothing.  The fun starts again at 6AM on Saturday.

Toys, games, and booksSaturday morning arrived.  Barely slept at all.  Still dark when we arrived at the high school.  Sellers who couldn’t come the night before arrived with even more stuff to distribute.  The mountain of clothing, especially the 0-12 month stuff, threatened to topple and we grabbed extra tables to further sub-divide the sizes.  The bookshelves collapsed overnight, so we had to reassemble and rearrange all of the books and videos.  Tables full of toys needed to be better categorized, the piles of board games and puzzles needed major straightening.

Sellers got another shot at early shopping once everything was set up and ready.  I was at the front of the line this time, and tried to pretend I had a shred of dignity remaining as I all but ran back to the large equipment area to snag a Radio Flyer double wagon.  Haha, victory is mine!

But we had to get our purchases quickly back to our cars.  All sellers are also working the sale, and people have been assigned to different areas.  Clothing, books, toys, cashier, accounting, large equipment.  This was my second time back in large equipment, which is a section with it’s own procedures, rules, and even storage so you can keep shopping without dragging around your new double stroller or swing.  Before the doors opened, it was packed to the gills with strollers, carseats, swings, high chairs, outdoor toys, and the like.

Large Equipment area

Finally, at 9:30, doors open to fellow twin club members, who get a half-hour jump start on the general public.  The line at 9:29 was well out the door.

Line to get in

Shopping is barely-controlled chaos.  No lie, nearly seven hundred people came. Unreal. The large equipment area was a madhouse.  There were four cashiers just in our part of the sale, probably another six or eight at the main exit.  The whole thing was mobbed, from toddler clothing all the way back to bouncy seats.  It was hot, it was loud, it was crowded. I won’t lie, every time I saw someone buying something of mine, I heard a little “cha-ching!” in my head. But I tried not to do too obvious of a happy dance.

Shopping chaos

It was a particularly busy and successful sale, maybe because it was a nice day out, maybe because of the crappy economy.  But there was still a line to get in at 10:30, and there was still a line to pay at noon.  It was non-stop.  It’s fun, but completely exhausting, to work the sale.  By the time it ends at 1PM, you’ve worked a fairly grueling 7-hour shift.  But hey, you get to hang out with your MOT friends, get rid of all of your stuff, and make a little cash in the meantime.

End of the sale

And yes, that last picture is what the large equipment area looks like at 12:15.  If you want a stroller or a cozy coupe, you’d better get your ass there bright and early.

As a shopper, there are bargains that can’t be beat.  Strollers for less than half their retail price. Nearly-new high chairs for $30.  Books for 50 cents, toddler jeans for three bucks.  You can probably score a whole season’s worth of clothing for under $40.  As a seller, you not only get to unload a truckload of gear and old clothing, but even after the 10% of proceeds that go to the club, you can make a nice bit of money.

When the doors closed at 1PM, I scoured the remnants of the tables for anything of mine that didn’t sell.  All I could find was one toy and a couple of assorted items of clothing (maybe 10 shirts out of the huge tub I had brought in).  I took one cute outfit of Rebecca’s home, and put the rest in the big bags to be donated.  Because I had worked Friday setup, I thankfully didn’t have to stay for the entirety of cleanup.  I got home, took some ibuprofen, and all but collapsed into bed.

It was a good day.

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You've gotta have friends…

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Categories Infants, Mommy IssuesTags , 6 Comments

I want to share with you one of my biggest regrets about becoming a twin mom that I would totally change if I had a do-over. Not joining a twin club! I heard about them. I even had a nurse at my OB’s office hand me a flyer for the twin club her daughter, also a mom of twins, belonged to. But nooooo, I couldn’t see the benefit at the time. Some background: I have two sets of twins, yes, but I also have another child who is turning thirteen this year. I’d already BEEN a mommy for eight whole years by the time my older twins were born, so I said to myself, “This ain’t my first rodeo!”

But the truth is, having twins is totally different, and I really had no support system in place other than my husband. I had no other mommy friends with little babies, and didn’t know anyone else with twins. Looking back and knowing what I know now, that was a drag. I could have been making friends with other twin mommies, joining playgroups, going to a meeting every month with other mommies, AWAY from my kids…I just didn’t want to be bothered with it. And I was actually a little scared to show up at a meeting, because I wasn’t sure what to expect!

When my oldest was a toddler, we tried to integrate into a couple of different playgroups, and I ended up just withdrawing from the women and doing my own thing, because…they were all psycho. The groups were completely cliquish, and it felt like high school all over again. I was really gunshy about joining any sort of mother’s group after that.

So. I didn’t join a twin club. I just stayed home with my babies and watched Baby Einstein and took walks around the block with the big stroller. Alone. Fast forward a year, and I’m pregnant again, with twins again, and I think to myself, okay. Maybe I should look into this twin club thing. I got online and did a search to find a club in my area. Found out when the meetings were and I started attending. I remember the looks of horror when I introduced myself and told the group I had twins who just turned 1 and was expecting twins again in five months. I put myself out there, and hoped for the best.

Now I wish that I could say my experience was great, and that the club was supportive, and all of that. It just didn’t work out that way in the beginning, though. I had a hard time finding people to hang out with at the meetings and I felt like a real tool just sitting alone in my chair with my giant belly and no one to talk to. I think mother’s groups DO seem cliquish, and I think I’ve figured out the reason for it – as least, in my club. These women know each other really well and get together all the time for playdates and stuff. So on the one night of the month that everyone gets together and leaves the kiddies at home with dad, everyone wants to see their friends and spend time talking, and it’s sometimes hard to remember to look around and find the newbies to take under your wing.

I vividly remember being SO hurt because a couple of months had gone by, and no one from the club had called to check on me and find out how I was doing, if I’d had the babies yet, or if I was coming back to another meeting. At first, I figured they were just busy (Hello? They all have twins!) but I found out that there was another mom who joined the same time I did, due at the same time I was, and she had a “big sister” from the club calling her to check in and give her a little support. It really stung to hear that! I actually ended up sending this huge, “what the hell?” email to all the board members of the club, letting them know how I felt ignored and pushed away and that I wasn’t sure if I should keep coming to the meetings. The board felt a little blindsided by my letter, I think, because I really don’t think they realized how overwhelming and intimidating it all was for the new members. That single incident led to some big changes in how the membership process works.

I’m pleased to say that NOW, I’m a big part of my twin club. I’m on the board myself! I do the website for the club, and it’s one way I’ve gotten to know people in the club a lot better. I think you have to take a chance and just jump right in and make yourself a part of it all. It might be intimidating, but it’s so worth it. The women I’ve met through my twin club are kind, funny, generous people. They’d never intentionally make someone feel left out, and they always try to find new ways to reach out to the new moms.

My story is probably a little different from some others, but I wanted to say…I totally encourage all twin moms to join a twins club! Join, participate, and interact. You don’t have to wait until your babies are born to join a playgroup! Go NOW, while you’re still pregnant, and you can actually have a conversation and get to know some people. It’s so comforting to find yourself in a group of women where you know that every single mom there can relate to what you’re going through, because she’s going through it herself. Go NOW, so they can get to know you. Go NOW, so you can find out about the fantastic twin club sales! Don’t wait until your babies are here to get a support system in place. And, almost all clubs bring meals over to you after the babies are born!

If you’re not sure where to begin, check out NOMOTC, the National Organization of Mothers of Twins Clubs. They keep a list of clubs organized by state, or you can enter your zip code on the front page of the site (in the right sidebar) and find the club nearest to you. Do it!

Here’s a fun little news story where I got to talk about how awesome my twin club is!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgJXAoa0qyE&hl=en&rel=0&color1=0xcc2550&color2=0xe87a9f&border=1]

(Awww, they were so little then!)

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