Thoughts about singleton parents—and twins

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Categories Mommy Issues, Other people
My itty-bitty twins at 4 weeks
My itty-bitty twins at 4 weeks

I’m used to getting a lot of comments from people about my twins—“How do you do it?”, “Are they identical?” “You’re super-mom!”. But, now that my kids are 18 months, we’re entered into a new phase of comments. People I know with kids their age are having baby #2. (Not the twin moms, so much, but moms of singletons that we have spent time with). Great! What fun! More babies to play with. Itty-bitties that I can hold and snuggle—and then give back when they cry.

But, I’ve noticed that baby #2 seems to bring out a singleton parent’s competive streak. When my guys were little, and we would get together with singleton babies and moms, they used to say to me, “I don’t know how you do it! I’m so tired with just one.” Inevitably, my answer is the same, “I don’t know anything else—this is just how having kids is for me.” or “You get used to what you know.”. But, now that baby #2 is coming along, the comments are different, more along the lines of, “It’s so much harder for me than for you.” or “It was easier for you to have two babies at the same stage than for me, to have my kids 14 (16, 18) months apart”. Huh.

I have to admit, I have found this comment a bit irritating, especially on a day when Abigail is pushing all my buttons (and some I didn’t even

She's super cute....AND super good at pushing buttons. Smart little girl.
She’s super cute—but nudgy 

know I had!), but it does make me think. What is it about me asking how it’s going that makes people respond this way? And, are they right? Was it easier for me? I don’t have any idea how easy or hard it is to have kids less than two years apart—mine are just one minute apart—but the conclusion I’ve drawn is—it doesn’t matter, parenting is just plain hard. It’s overwhelming. It’s not always the pretty picture you imagined when pregnant with your little darling(s).  And, I think it’s hard to imagine that anyone is working EVEN HARDER than you are. Would that be possible?

And, my answer to “How hard is it to have twins?” remains the same as when they were 6 weeks old.

Peek-a-boo, Danny!
Peek-a-boo, Danny!

Sometimes it’s just what you imagine—two crying babies and only one (sad, overwhelmed) mommy or two infants with the stomach flu, then sharing it with their parents. And sometimes it’s easier—two babies napping at the same time, so you have a break. Two sweet toddlers playing peek-a-boo with each other, while you check the day’s headlines (really better to avoid that this week!) or respond to an email or two. So, my new attitude when I get this comment is tolerance. Parenting is hard. It’s overwhelming. It sometimes makes you feel like you’re not very good at it. So that’s what I try to hear when parents tell me how easy my kids are. I find I can respond much more positively with this mindset.

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17 thoughts on “Thoughts about singleton parents—and twins”

  1. Yeah, it’s weird. Because I don’t feel like I go up to singleton parents and say “man, do you have any idea how much harder my life is than yours?!” OK, I guess I’ve thought it. But I don’t feel the need to discuss it at length. Maybe because chasing two toddlers around a park speaks for itself.

    And yet, I feel like there are those moms, like you describe, who feel like they have to prove something to me. It’s sort of a build-em-up-to-knock-em-down kind of thing. These same people who looked at me with a mixture of fear and awe when we all had newborns, now somehow have it much, MUCH harder than me. Or so they would say.

    I agree with you. Some things about having twins are harder. Some things about having two singletons close in age are harder. But since we can’t live each other’s lives… we just have to agree that sometimes it’s all hard. And sometimes it isn’t.

  2. hit the nail on the head. parenting is just hard. it is hard at the 6 week mark, the terrible 2/3s and then harder still when they become people and you have to let them go and hope for the best. as witness to seven younger siblings over the many years, well, it is a good lesson in parenting humility.

    and as for the commenting, i think a lot of them are inane but other times it is someone seeking reassurance. i always say it is the hardest and best thing i have ever done. and leave it at that.

    and we are entering the 18 month, totally different kind of hard, and a totally different kind of fun.

  3. What is it with that competition? Honestly, I suspect twins are easier than two kids of different ages, but perhaps that’s just my wishful thinking. I guess when people say that to you, you should follow up with some of the hated twin mom comments, like “better you than me!”

    If people want to get competitive with you about whose life is harder, I think you have free rein to make annoying comments!

  4. I think some of the comparison come from a desire to relate to you. When your friends had one singleton, they couldn’t imagine what it was like to have two, and now that they have two they feel that they’re closer to relating, perhaps? I also think that there’s a perception that a lot of parents of only children have that parenting is essentially the same for all children. Those of us who start off with two realize how completely different kids are, and that they’re the ones teaching us how to parent.

  5. Bingo, mama. Parenting is just a big, complicated, sometimes really hard job with rewards only a parent can know. The mama wars piss me off more than just about any other woman issue out there today. Is it so hard to just say, “You’re an inspiration – wow, you are doing an awesome job – I am going to try that trick – now that I have two, I feel like I might know how hard it was for you with twins – etc.”

  6. I know exactly what you mean! I get this comment a lot now that the babies are actually here with all my friends.

    One thing that helps my tolerance is that so many of my friends say they now understand why I’ve done things the way I’ve done them. For example, they thought my babyproofing was overzealous. Now when they are stuck on a couch feeding a baby and unable to run after their toddler, they understand why I had to babyproof so well. Or when I buckle a screaming kid into a car seat without “being patient”, they understand it’s because I have another child to strap in so I don’t have time to accomodate all of my toddlers’ wishes all the time.

    So I let the little comments slide because it is bringing them closer to understanding my life.

  7. I’ve noticed that all the judgemental singleton moms have now quit being judgemental and asking me for advice instead of telling me what I should be doing. I had a number of friends tell me I should be breastfeeding, cloth diapering, co-sleeping, etc. I just smiled and nodded in public, but at home was fuming because they just didn’t get it.

    Now a lot of them are struggling with the same issues and are realizing that with more than one kid, it’s harder to do these things.

    I still smile and nod, but inside I’m going “Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah.”

  8. Yes, being tolerant of the comments is the only way to go. I had a friend tell me recently, in the midst of one of the boys screaming battles over a toy, that I should not make the mistake of buying them two b/c they’d never learn to share. Ughh, unfortunately I wasn’t wearing my “big girl” patient pants b/c I snapped and well she felt pretty bad. I mean what about a twin’s life is NOT about sharing and 17 month old twins, “You tell them to share!” OK I guess I am still not over it :) Great post though and I do wish it wasn’t a competition but it certainly feels like one.

  9. I’m 35 weeks pregnant with my twins (so I don’t really know what it’s going to be like with twins). I also have a 17 month old. I have people tell me all the time that it’s going to be like triplets. ha. I would NEVER go up to a triplet mom and tell her that I understand because that’s what I have…I would NEVER tell her that I have it harder because my singleton and twins are a year and a half apart. I completely agree…parenting is hard…and I don’t even have my twins yet. There are good days and bad days…it’s worth it all.
    I know moms that have one kid…that they can’t even handle and totally stresses them out. And I know moms of 8 kids that are completely relaxed and never seem stressed.
    I know a mom that has 5 kids and her 3rd has special needs…She home schools the older two and has three in diapers…She Rocks! She is sooo laid back and has the attitude that there’s always room for one more.
    So…doesn’t a ton of mommy-ing come down to the mommy’s personality?!? I could be wrong.
    I for one am going to try really hard not to compare what I have to what other people have…

  10. We know a competitive Mom who drives me crazy. It’s sad, but I try not to invite her daughter over because I cannot stand to hear her Mom babble on for the entire play date. I might be niave, but I never knew parenting was supposed to be a competition.

  11. This was a great post … I hear the “HDYDI” comment all the time and usually I respond with the same thing “well, this is all I know, etc.” … but like the previous poster I would never walk up to a singleton mom and say “wow, you don’t realize how easy you have it.” So it’s funny that those same people would make those remarks to you. I do sometimes think that having two children of different ages would be more difficult, honestly, but why split hairs on who had it worse? Perhaps she’s just looking for reassurance because she doesn’t think she’s managing as well as you did with your two, and that’s why she’s trying to convince herself that her situation must be more difficult. I don’t get competitive moms, seriously. Anyway, great post and your daughter is adorable!

  12. Yup yup. Parenting is HARD! No matter if it’s 1 kid or 12 😉

    Now that I have the little guy AFTER the twins, I get the comment “Oh, this one must feel so easy after the twins!” …and what do I say to that..? Well – ya. in some ways he is (but he’s a pretty laid back kid, so I’m guessing that has a lot to do with it), but uh…are you forgetting that I still HAVE the twins running around, so it’s not exactly like I have a singleton? LOL People are strange. :)

  13. whenever someone compares their family to ours, i usually just point out that no matter how many children you have, no matter the difference between their ages – each presents its own set of unique challenges. there are days when i see a set of parents who are struggling more with their 1 child than i am with my 4 by myself. and yet, there are other days when i cannot imagine parenting being any harder than it is at that moment with my husband there to help. i agree, parenting is hard and very overwhelming!

  14. I have mentioned to people that it would be easier with one – primarily relating to breastfeeding. I guess I probably shouldn’t say that to my mom friends of singletons. But it is true that when the are infants one is crying while the other might be good so it is hard to get a break unless you manage to get them both sleeping/quiet at the same time. I do think toddler/infant combo is tough – my sister is going to have that situation soon and I don’t envy her!

  15. I seem to hear that a LOT too. It really bugs me.

    I see advantages and disadvantages to either way.

    For example, with 1 baby and a toddler, you are not chasing 2 toddlers in opposite directions at the playground while attempting to stop them from leaping off the play equipment.

    With 1 baby and a toddler, you don’t have to figure out how to get around Target/Grocery Store/everywhere. You stick the toddler in the cart, strap the baby to you and away you go. There is no pushing a stroller and pulling a cart behind you.

    With twins feeding time and hopefully sleeping time happens at the SAME time.

    With twins they entertain and play with each other

    With twins they fight and steal toys and drive each other crazy

  16. my twins are only 4weeks and 2days and as afirst time mom im realy tired of all the advices 4rm people with singleton.
    One told me to only breast feed because my babies will get sick because of the formula.
    Some1 says ishouldnt pick them up everytime they cry imean realy now.
    Im just learning 2take each day as it comes.

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