“I’m the mother of twin toddlers” is a phrase I often use when writing. It’s a true statement, but it’s also the ultimate parenting get-out-of-jail-free card. I have watched, in real time, faces of disapproval and judgment turn to empathy and understanding upon learning I have twins.
Had a cesarean? Twins. Haven’t figured out the how to get more than two hours of sleep in a row, let alone settle on a philosophy about it? Twins. No end of diapers in sight and your kids are pushing 4? You guessed it! Twins. Whether the topic is childbirth, breastfeeding, discipline, or potty training; I get an understanding nod where others might get a sideways glance.
I know it’s hard to believe, but people do tend to give me a pass on things when they see that I have more than one child at the same developmental stage.
Carting my kids through an airport, store or gym – I hear things like “Wow! You’ve got your hands full,” “great job mom,” or my personal favorite “you must be superwoman.” On more than one occasion a perfect stranger has even picked up my Starbucks tab!
While everyone is busy stepping up their parenting standards, I’ve resided somewhere in the middle.
Parents of singletons are out there fretting over whether little Jimmy or Jenny is on target, watching too much television, getting enough mental and physical stimulation for their age group, or developing into well-adjusted adolescents, and I’m just happy I showered and brushed my teeth.
Moms of singletons are wondering if they’ve found the right parenting method, and I’m glad I made it to the grocery store and back in a day without forgetting a kid. They’re comparing their post-birth body to others, and I’m tying up my “twin skin” with a girdle and calling it good.
It’s not that I don’t have standards. Before I found out I was pregnant with twins, I had loads of standards.
I also had pregnancy and parenting figured out. The birth was going to be “natural” and painless, I was going to return to my pre-pregnancy weight within weeks, and my exotic travel schedule would continue with the baby in tow like Angelina of Arc.
Then reality hit, and for the sake of sanity, I learned to adjust my standards to what I call the “twin parenting paradigm.”
This slightly more realistic approach aims to keep them alive, manage personal hygiene, and acknowledge all other accomplishments as icing on the cake.
While other parents get caught up in the usual first-world, 21st-century concerns about raising children; I’ve been in survival mode. I’m not claiming to have it harder when it comes to parenting, by the way. Whether you’re a mom of a newborn, twins, triplets; or crazy enough to have ten kids, you’re in survival mode as well.
Living in an age of parenting perfectionism, over-achievement, and advice overload hasn’t been helping us either.
Why do I need a get-out-of-jail-free-card anyway? How is it that having multiples accounts for more leniency from others? Parent camps. Mommy wars. Are you a stay-at-home parent or do you work outside the home? Attachment parent or cry-it-out parent?
Why does it matter where I work? And who cares if I’m a picture-perfect Pinterest mommy or a can’t-wait-until-the-kids-go to-bed-so-I-can crack-open-a-beer-mommy? If we’re honest- most of us are just trying to figure out how to love our children and keep their future therapy bills to a minimum.
This parenting gig is hard, and more often than not, I am exhausted.
I acknowledge and happily accept the passes I get as a mother of twins. But wouldn’t it be nice if we extended this to everyone? Mothers of multiples and singletons alike could use a lot less judgment, far more encouragement, and a hearty supply of those parenting passes.