Whenever I am with the twins, we get stared at a lot. Granted, twins aren’t so uncommon these days, but they are no less fascinating.
Some folks venture to start a conversation, especially in the elevator of our apartment complex (technically, we are all neighbors, aren’t we?), the first question naturally is, “Are they twins?” (Yes), followed by, “So this is the girl, and that’s the boy!” (Yes, what gave it away? Her dress or his blue blanket?)
If someone is going to a floor higher than mine, therefore staying in the elevator until I get to my floor (gah), I get this statement often: “It must be hard with two babies.”(No comment, I usually just smile and nod politely.)
The real answer is this: It is hard, and it is easy.
The answer depends on the hour and the day, and how much coffee I’ve had that day. It depends on if my husband is busy at work or is traveling, or if he has more time at home. It depends on the behavior and moods of my older children. It depends on how I’m feeling about my capabilities as a wife and mother at any given minute.
Sometimes, I think it’s harder to be the babies. The reality is, someone is always going to be unhappy/ dissatisfied/ discontent/ impatient. I am one person, looking after two people who are 100 percent reliant on me for every single thing in their lives. Yes, those things are simple – basic needs. Feed, sleep, purge, cuddle. On an endless cycle.
As civilized folk, our babies should also be dressed, and relatively clean. In our current parenting-theoried-out society, they are also expected to be played with, entertained, exposed to various sensory activities, read to, carried/ attached to their mother, attend baby yoga classes and Kindermusik sessions.
Who has time for that yoga-music shit?
I digress. Back to the babies. Once they grew bigger, they no longer fit on the twin breastfeeding pillow at the same time. This meant I could no longer tandem nurse, which was a huge time-saver. Feeding one child at a time for 20 to 30 minutes at a time, every two to three hours, equaled a lot of exposed breasts around here. It also meant a lot of diaper changes (let’s not go into the cloth diapering discussion here because, in a household of six, I already have a lot of laundry to deal with. I do not want to wash things I could throw away, given the option. Sorry, eco folks. I do recycle, though!)
Essentially, it’s a lot of turn taking. Babies do not understand the concept of taking turns. When I’m feeding/ changing one, it means the other isn’t being fed/ changed. The one unattended to at that very moment will wail out of discontent/ impatience. This happens about 50 percent of the time.
Being a twin is hard.
Since I’m only one person with two hands and limited strength and dexterity, it also meats that I had to carry one baby at a time, when we moved positions (from bed to rocker, from rocker to changing table or bed, from changing table to rocker, from rocker to floor, from floor to bed – geez, thats a lot of movement. I cheered when they started walking). I think I covered 10,000 steps a day. I also have biceps of steel.
It also meant that normal things took a ton of time. Bathing them. Putting clothes on them. Feeding them. Making food. Washing all the things associated with eating. It was not double the time as one would think. It felt like triple or more. I spent a lot of time bathing, changing, feeding, washing. One or the other twin spent a lot of time waiting for me to finish bathing/ changing the other one, and for me to make and wash all the things.
Being a twin is really hard.
Did I mention I have FOUR children? I am grateful that they are potty-trained and entertain each other. However, both require feeding all the time (what’s up with that, perpetually hungry children), and one leaves trails of tiny cars and Lego pieces all around the house, because I have so much spare time in between twin things, to either navigate tiny pieces of foot shrapnel, or clean that crap up.
Thank goodness for school.
The conclusion is this: in the first year particularly, it takes a lot of time to get through the daily things when you have twins (I haven’t even touched on sleep yet, that’s a whole other essay!). To be honest, I can’t remember what it’s like to just have one baby, so mothering twins is not hard because I can’t compare this to what I don’t remember. It’s easy on many days because my babies are actually pretty good kids. Even if half the time, one or the other is impatient and doesn’t like this turn-taking business, and lets me know it. Loudly.
I wouldn’t trade this for anything, though. Two to love? And two to love me back? I couldn’t ask for more.
Alison Lee is the co-editor of Multiples Illuminated, an anthology about twins, triplets and more, a writer, and publisher. A former PR and marketing professional, she is the owner of Little Love Media, specializing in blog book tours. Alison’s writing has been featured in Mamalode, On Parenting at The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, Everyday Family, Scary Mommy, and Club Mid. She is one of 35 essayists in the anthology, My Other Ex: Women’s True Stories of Leaving and Losing Friends (Fall, 2014), and has an essay in another, So Glad They Told Me: Women Get Real About Motherhood (Spring, 2016). She is also an editor at BonBon Break. Alison lives in Malaysia with her husband and four children (two boys and boy/ girl twins).