Celebrate the Similarity

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Categories Behavior, Development, IdenticalTags , , , 4 Comments

When I found out I was pregnant with twins, I was determined to raise them as independent little people. I never referred to them as “the twins” and preferred that other people avoid that as well. When they were born, I tried my hardest to avoid dressing them in matching outfits (which was hard because people REALLY like to give them as gifts…and see them worn!) in an effort to emphasize that they are, in fact, two seperate beings.

As they grow – and appear to be very, very much alike physically – I find myself trying hard to point out their behaviorial differences. Sometimes they are true observations, such as “Aaron is a much faster crawler and Brady goes more slowly, trying to work on technique”. But lately I’ve also found myself guilty of saying things like “Aaron is great at self-soothing, Brady is not as good”. I didn’t think too much of it at first, until I was awake and rocking Brady at 4:30 am in the morning. And I had to wonder: Did I do this to them?

For all my talk about Aaron being better at self-soothing, is it because I have a tendency to pick up Brady first? Have I forced Aaron to be more independent (and wait it out) while encouraging Brady to be more dependent on the cuddle, the rock, the touch of a parent while falling asleep?

I have also heard myself proclaiming “Brady will eat anything, Aaron is more picky.” Is that true? Or, do I subconsciously give up on new foods faster with Aaron because I have labeled him in my mind as the finicky one?

I’m not sure. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation I guess. But I am starting to worry about the danger of labeling my children in a desperate attempt to find the differences between them. All this labeling seems to be actually driving and encouraging those behaviours that were perhaps not really there before.

One thing I will have to start working on is accepting that they are, in fact, identical twins. They will look alike. They will behave in a similar fashion. Their personalities will come alive on their own and their differences will shine through.   In the meantime, perhaps, I should start celebrating some of these special similarities instead of trying SO HARD to force them to be different people.

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Wake up call

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To date, we have been fortunate enough to not feel the increased financial pressures having multiple babies can bring. In the beginning, they boys were exclusively breastfed so buying food was a non-issue. And as far as supplies went, we had a good start: we had half the gear in place from our first child and we were given a second crib, pack-n-play, and a DuoGlider from generous friends and family who no longer needed them. We also received our second infant car seat, Snap-n-Go, and nursing pillow(s) as gifts. Not to mention the clothes. Lots and lots of clothes. Even diapers were plentiful back in the day.

Yes, the beginning was filled with generousity and kindness and we are eternally grateful. But I now realize, we became incredibly spoiled! This week has been a real wake-up call to the reality of paying for multiple children.

It started with Easter shopping. One little Easter outfit (shirt, vest, pants, hat, shoes) is a splurge I am alright with. Double that purchase and I wonder, do they really need those things for just one day? I gave in and bought the stuff. It was all just too cute. I justified it by setting up a photo session for them the following weekend. They will wear the outfits then and I will be able to see the cuteness hanging on my living room wall forever.

It was when I got home and started putting those cute new outfits away that I realized: OMG, we have finally run through that seemingly never-ending supply of cute little boy clothes. 9-months appears to have been the magic cut-off age. So, back out to the stores I went. Even shopping the sales, I was crushed when I heard my total at the cash register. Two of everything sure adds up QUICKLY.

Then there was the crushing blow at daycare.  On back to back to back days this week, the boys’ daily reports requested me to refill their supply of…something. First, diapers. Then formula. Finally, wipes. WTF – am I supplying the whole infant room? Didn’t I just bring in all this stuff last week. I am already buying these things by the case. Do I need to start buying TWO cases at once? Yikes!

I guess it was just a matter of time. I have been living in a delusional world where having two babies didn’t cost me too much more than the first one did. I count my blessings for the past 8 1/2 months. I also count my pennies a little more closely. I just hope these children are prepared to support ME in my old age in return… :-) 

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The Little Things

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Categories Family, Mommy IssuesTags , 9 Comments

Is this what my life has come to?

I went to the dentist this week. And ENJOYED it.  

Think about it: guilt-free time off of my feet. Somebody asking me how I am doing. Am I okay?  What flavor of polish would I like. I can even catch up on my celebrity gossip with the latest People magazine.

As a working MoM, I always feel like I am not spending enough time with my kids. I am constantly making myself sick about worried about whether or not they are getting enough individual attention and whether or not I am there enough for them. So, taking any time for myself – when the children are still awake – usually comes at a high price: guilt. I have come to think of my time in the office as my “time off”.

I am blessed with a husband who knows that I consider going to work to be time off and he tries to force me to take “me” time and relax now and then. But unless I leave the house (which I usually feel too guilty to do), I can’t stop myself from responding to crying or “helping” him when he is tending to a child.

But, send me some place like the dentist and there is NO CHANCE of hearing crying. No chance of that nagging feeling to correct something that is happening. And best of all: I have to be there. This is not playtime. So I don’t feel guilty for being so relaxed reclining in that chair, feet up, music playing.

I can’t believe I am at the point where going to the dentist is something I look forward to and enjoy.  But I will take it! Other things that can make me blissfully happy at this point include: finishing an entire meal (with utensils) while sitting down at a table, drinking a cup of HOT coffee, and getting through the day without having to change my clothes more than once.  Ah…the little things!

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Overheard: Mothers of Twins are "pretty amazing"

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Categories Infants, Mommy Issues, Other people4 Comments

I took my big girl out for a little “girl day” recently. We went to a local Children’s Musuem, which was actually just a big play place, with lots of interactive things for your child to do. After about 90 minutes, I needed a break let her play independently for a while. As I was sitting and watching her, I found myself eavesdropping on the conversations of the other mothers around me. One in particular went something like this:

1: “Are those two twins?”
2: “No, just friends. Don’t they look alike, though?”
1: “Yeah. “(pause) “Can you even imagine having twins?”
2: “Ohmigod, NO. How HARD would that be?”
1: “I know! Totally! I can barely keep up with one. God, how would you even FEED twins.”
2: “Well, you would just HAVE to use bottles. There is no WAY you could nurse them.”
1: “Oh, I wouldn’t want to do that.”
2: “Well, you would have to.”
1: “Wow. I’m so glad I don’t have twins. I could NOT handle that.”

So, my first reaction is to brag: “I have twins. It is a lot of work but it’s totally manageable. And of course you could nurse them (or at least give it a try). I did; it’s totally possible.”

But, what would I get out of that conversation? In the end, nothing. And I am of the mindset lately that unless I am talking to another MoM, I really don’t want to talk about the logistics of raising multiples. So, I said nothing. I just continued to listen as they went on (and on and on…) until finally they ended on this note:

1: “I guess those mothers must be pretty amazing.”
2: “And tired.”
1 + 2: Hysterical laughter

Laugh all you want ladies. Without even knowing it, you just made me feel 1000x better about myself and my parenting abilities! So thanks!

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I'm Still Here, You Know

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Categories Behavior, Family, Mommy Issues, Preschoolers, Singletons, ToddlersTags , , , 3 Comments

After recovering from the initial shock of hearing I was having two babies instead of one, my next thoughts were of my older child. She was our princess, our angel. For 22 months we had essentially been at her beck and call. Spoiled? No. But definitely used to a certain amount of attention. How would she cope with the colossal change in her little world?

Things started to change for her when I was put on bed rest. It is hard for a 2-year old to comprehend why suddenly Mommy won’t get up anymore. But, she was a trooper during most of that time. And a little really went a long way towards reassuring her. The best investment we ever made was in two breakfast trays from Bed Bath & Beyond. We would enjoy meals together (albeit in the living room or in my bedroom),  color or play with play-do. We also did a lot of reading together, although now she had to sit next to me as my lap had all but vanished!

Finally the babies were born and we were all home together as a family. Unfortunately, most of the time Mommy’s two hands were occupied by … two babies. And, even though the babies ate at the same time, their nap schedules didn’t always jive. So, usually there was one baby awake needing … something. That didn’t leave a lot of time for one-on-one time with the Big Sister.

So, what’s a MoM to do? Obviously I’m meeting all of their physical needs, but am I doing enough emotionally for each? How do I make sure everyone is getting enough “Mommy Time”? And how do I keep myself from being consumed with guilt when my Big Kid seems to feel left out? Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

First, accept that you can’t be everywhere at once. It is physically impossible to meet the demands of three (or more) crying or whining children at the same time. The sooner you accept this, the better. In our house we take a triage approach. It’s not necessarily who is crying the loudest that we tend to first, it’s who has a greater need. For example, a poopy diaper wins over “I need a snack NOW”. And getting a potty-training toddler onto the toilet wins out over a baby who just happens to be done in the exersaucer NOW.

Second, stick to routine. We kept our daughter in daycare throughout my bed rest and for the first six weeks after the boys were born. That way, she knew what a good portion of her days would entail. Now routines help us to manage her expectations of we can do for/with her in the course of the day. For example, the boys’ bedtime routine ends about an hour before her bedtime. So, while she may lack the attention she desires in the evening while we bathe/dress/feed them, she knows the end result is undivided attention from Mommy and Daddy before she goes to bed.

Third, recognize the cries for attention and try to make up for it where you can at a later time. A toddler or preschooler may not have the words to say “I really need you to pay attention to me because I miss you.” But even the best-behaved children will try to relay this information through their actions. Here are some things we’ve seen in our house:

  • Potty regression (if I have an accident, they’ll have to stop what they’re doing and deal with me)
  • Refusal to eat meals when served (Dinner is important to Mommy. If I say I don’t want it, she’ll put her attention into getting me to eat)
  • Tantrums (self-explanatory!)
  • Bedtime troubles (they want me to sleep and will do all in their power to get me to do so)

While we try our hardest not to give in while a tantrum is taking place, we do try to give her a little extra one-on-one time in the following days because we know the behavior was her way of trying to tell us something.

Fourth, invest in a baby carrier. As previously stated here, a carrier is a must for any MoM. So, get one baby down for a nap, strap the other one on and then use your TWO free hands to play with your big kid(s). It is amazing how much more you can do if you have one of these!

Fifth, communicate with your child. Saying things like “I can’t right now” may actually sound like “I don’t want to” to a 2 or 3 year old. Try being more specific, like “I’d love to read that book to you. Let me just finish changing this dirty diaper and settle your brother down. We’ll both enjoy the book more if he’s quiet.”

Sure, there are days when you’re going to feel pulled in a million different directions trying to be there for all of your children (oh yeah, and your husband may want some attention too!) But if you really try to accept that you’re doing the best you can with the time you have, you’ll feel a lot better.

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The Milestone Competition

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Categories Identical, Infants, Other people, Singletons7 Comments

It is interesting to me how much of a competition mothering has become. Sure, conversations about our children appear to be nice and friendly on the surface, but underneath it is there. Lurking. Our natural competitive nature secretly keeping track of whose child did what first. And by how much. And who is doing it better.

In an ideal world, all babies would hit their milestones at the same time thereby eliminating this Mommy Milestone Competition. With my older daughter, I found myself getting caught up in the game. I would (subtely) brag when she accomplished something before one of her “peers”. I would wonder what I could do better as a mother when someone else’s baby accomplished something first.

But since my sons arrived, I no longer have the drive to compete with other Mommies. Part of the reason is that I am very content watching the competition in my own house. Currently we are waiting for Brady’s first tooth to break through and we expect he will crawl across the room any day. While Aaron doesn’t appear to be near-ready with either of those things, he sits unsupported and holds his own bottle. Brady isn’t interested much in either of those things. The race to be “first” is an ongoing event between the brothers and as I am the Mommy of both – I always come out a winner!

But, it’s also something more than that. My sons share the exact same DNA, are raised in the same home, and are in the same room with the same teachers at daycare. Yet, even THEY do not hit their milestones at the exact same time. With these differences, do I consider one to be “ahead” or “behind” in any particular area. Do I think that I’ve parented one of them better than the other? No, absolutely not. They are simply different.

So, if they – the identical twins with the exact same nature and nurture influences – are different from each other, what possible benefit can come of me comparing them to other children? Especially if those children were born a) full-term; b) a singleton; or c) first in their family. My sons have taught me that every single child – and their family situation – is truly unique. And that often makes comparisons a bit unfair.

This time around, there is no more dwelling on who is “ahead” and who is “behind”. There are only warm, well wishes and proud feelings when something is accomplished. Very liberating and much more enjoyable!

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