Here’s a secret: I was so afraid that I wouldn’t be able to take care of twins that I actually dreaded the day they would be well enough to come home from the hospital. Terrified to the point of tears. But here’s another secret: twins are awesome. Nothing against the rest of you out there, but if you don’t have twins, you are missing out. And being a twin mom is just about the funnest thing I have ever done (next to performing in Piazza Barberini for Italian television or dancing at McKelligon canyon, but that’s a blog post for another day).
First of all, the bar is set really, really low for twin moms. Wearing two matching shoes? Ate breakfast before 2 p.m.? Bathed yourself and all three kids this week? You are an overachiever!
And twin moms who also have a preschooler are on the short list for sainthood. It’s awesome—because it’s much easier than it looks.
Actually, that’s misleading. It’s not that having twin babies and a three-year-old is so easy, it’s that motherhood—parenthood—is SO hard. On a transition scale, going from no kids to one kid is like going from zero to seventy. Going from one kid to three, however, is not as big a leap as people would think. It’s like a seventy-five.
But because everyone who has kids has at least one kid, (duh!) moms are expected to do all kinds of crazy things. They wake up for every feeding. They drop off and pick up their kids from daycare. They buy baby clothes and wash baby clothes and read bedtime stories. They rock their babies and sing them to sleep. They have jobs. And they do it all themselves.*
* OK OK OK! I KNOW there are Dads out there who step it up—who do dishes and fold clothes and make dinner and drop off at daycare and rock their babies and sing them to sleep. But they also have jobs. Two parents who work in tandem is a better deal than the responsibilities of the single parent, but it’s nothing compared to the help and support that is shown to twin moms (and dads).
It’s like Stone Soup. Maybe it’s just my selective Mommy Memory, but we are getting so much help, that having three kids is easier than when we had just Chiara.
For one, back then I was working thirty hours a week, going to school fulltime, and commuting back and forth to school. Matt was working 40+ hours a week and commuting 80 miles a day. Granted, that’s a lot, but it’s nothing out of the ordinary. What’s out of the ordinary is that now I am not working and Matt is working from home more so that he can be around for the morning shift and be here when Chiara gets home from daycare. What’s out of the ordinary is that my mom came and stayed with us for five months out of the last ten. So I never had to get up to do every feeding. On Wednesdays one of the moms at daycare picks up Chiara and brings her home. So we don’t have to do every drop off and pick up. On Saturdays, Matt takes the whole brood to Nutcracker rehearsal and one of the moms babysits. For free.
Speaking of free, aside from diapers and formula, to date we have purchased: one teether, one ball toy, six baby spoons, (thank you, IKEA) and two high chair trays. Everything else was given to us. Six bags of boys clothes, ages newborn to one year. Blankets, bibs, Stokke Tripp Trap high chairs (two), a crib, two carseats, two different double strollers, a Moby wrap, a second Ergo. Baby hats, crib sheets, bottles, you name it. Free stuff is awesome, absolutely. Also awesome is never having to take inventory of what we need and figure out how to get it. That’s a lot of saved time.
People open doors for the twin mom with a stroller. When was the last time someone did that for a single stroller? Neighbors we barely knew dropped off food because they knew we had twins. On my first flight with the boys, the pilot deplaned and carried on Wagner’s carseat himself. We were actually able to get special passes from TSA so that my family could escort us to the gate. Crazy – take one baby on a plane and you get a dirty look. Take on two and people buy you a drink because they think you could use it.
So we’ve gotten more help. We’ve gotten more free stuff. We’re cut more slack. All this helps us be more organized and efficient with our time. Which gives us more energy to give back to others. It’s crazy. We’ve actually hosted more playdates (read: babysat someone else’s kid) and sleepovers in the last six months than we have in the three years before that. (We have three babysit/playdates next week alone). And since we’re twin parents, we get even more credit!
As Matt likes to joke, “Set expectations low. Exceed expectations.” Well, let me tell you, expectations are set pretty low for the twin mom. The punch line is, because expectations are so low, people help you out. You exceed expectations, impress everybody, and actually have the time and energy to help them out. Amazing, this non-zero sum stuff.
Next up: why taking care of twin boys is easier than taking care of one Chiara, OR Dancing in Piazza Barberini.