I hear over and over, "Wow, I don't know how you do it." Honestly, as the mother of identical twin toddlers, there are days when I have no freaking clue either. And yet somehow I manage to keep my precious pair loved and fed and alive, so... hooray for me!
Twin parents are doubly blessed, but face quadruple the stress, especially during the constantly evolving baby and toddler years. While the rewards of raising twins far outweigh the challenges, it's still a really tough job, one that requires quick thinking, deep breathing, and just your typical everyday superpowers.
So how do we badass mamas and papas manage to wrangle two at a time? Well, to start...
We do what we have to do. All of those mindful parenting philosophies and brain-development studies are great in theory. If I had one toddler, oh sure, I'd totally take the time to patiently explain why we don't run at our brother with a screwdriver. Unfortunately, though, it's monkey see, monkey do around here and trouble happens fast. Twins are always up to some kind of mischief -- not because they're bad kids by nature, but because they have a constant partner in crime. So yes, I have to yell at my kids when they're both about to do something dangerous. And yes, when we go on walks, my sprinters wear adorable stuffed animal backpacks (otherwise known as leashes) so I can relax during our stroll, instead of stressing about blind alleys and driveways. Their once-adorable nursery now looks like an insane asylum, stripped down to nothing but furniture and bare walls after they pulled down pictures, yanked off knobs and dangled from wall shelves during nap time. Oh, and they watch at least two hours of TV a day because... because it's educational. Also, because I'm tired.
We ask for help. Maybe parents of single kids have the luxury of pretending they've got it all covered, but twin moms barely even bother. "Hell yeah, I'm falling apart, please help me," we'll shamelessly admit. So if another mom approaches us at Target and asks if we need help getting our screaming 2-year-olds to the car, we hope she means it because, damn straight, we accept it. If we need to take one twin to the doctor, we will ask Grandma or a neighbor if they can watch the other one. A friend's coming over to visit our newborn twins? Could she pick up a pizza on her way? And we have no qualms about getting a sitter when we need an hour or two to ourselves.
We stick to our guns. I'll admit that when a kid is whining and pouting and throwing himself on the floor all dramatic-like, you want to give in. Wouldn't it be so much easier to just hand him the Costco-size carton of Goldfish that he asked for? Kids can smell weakness, though. They find your soft spot and they poke at it. And two of them working together? Oh, forget it. They will just wear you into submission, with double the pleas and screams and crying fits. It's two against one, and they are tough. So twin moms just have to be tougher. If we say "no," we mean it and stick to it and stand firm. If not, they'll run all over us.
We do only what we can handle. A few months ago, I couldn't take my boys to the park alone without some kind of heart-stopping incident. For example, just as I would finish helping one kid across a high-up balance beam, I'd spot the other hanging from a rope net on the other side of the play structure. It was too stressful. It was too much. Sometimes, I left in tears. So I stopped taking them to the park alone for a while. These days, I rarely bring them along to the supermarket, either. They used to just point out all of the fruits and veggies and suck down those baby-food pouches. Now, the one in the front knocks cracker boxes off their perch while the other does the stomping of the grapes in the back. So, I try to hit the supermarket alone, if I can.
We embrace the amazing relationship between our twins. As exhausting as it may be to raise twins, the relationship between them is truly amazing to see. They shared a womb and now they share a life, experiencing every new discovery and adventure together. My twins don't have their own language or feel each other's pain (as far as I know), but they like to hold hands when they walk and sometimes nap with their arms around each other. I often come into their room in the morning to find them in the same bed, hiding from monsters or bears or whatever new creature their collective imagination has invented. When I'm cutting their nails or washing their hair, one will often warn me to, "Be gentle with my brotha." If one wants more blueberries, his twin will hand his over. Despite their identical looks, they are two very different, very separate little individuals. And yet, they are connected, they are bonded, as close as any two people could be. So, as tired as we are, we twin parents also know that we are so lucky to be front-row for this loving, unique relationship. That's what gets us through the very long days. It's how we do it.
This post originally appeared, in full, on Momtastic. Republished here with permission.