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Don’t call me Super Mom.  When my children were 3 weeks old, I bundled them up, and my husband drove us all to a breastfeeding support group meeting.  He carried their car seats into the meeting, as I wasn’t medically cleared to lug two occupied car seats, and our stroller wasn’t up and running yet.  The leader, a lactation consultant, commended my very presence as a new mom to twins. I sat there, holding back my questions, just basking in the sisterhood of motherhood.  A few weeks later, after a rough night spent questioning our very decision to become parents, I went back to the group – this time by myself – to give myself a positive parenting experience.  Seeing my own children napping quietly, other babies playing and cooing, let me fall in love with them all over again. 

But I am no Super Mom for hauling my family out on a chilly January morning to seek the company of other new moms.  I am no Super Mom for dragging my children to the post office to pick up a certified letter I had missed the delivery of the previous day because I was nursing my children.  I am no Super Mom because I am exclusively breastfeeding my twins and have been home with them by myself since my husband went back to work 5 weeks ago. 

I break down.  I need help.  I need my father-in-law to come by for an hour in the evening while my husband goes to teach a student.  I need a neighborhood girl to play with the babies for an hour and a half after school, so I can shower, or nap, or make a dinner that didn’t start with a pot of boiling water or a can opener.  I need my own mother to come for occasional visits and bring emotional and physical baggage, so that I don’t feel so isolated and alone during the days.

When I go out in the car with the babies, I take the Double Snap n’ Go stroller, a contraption that is more a frame than a stroller.  The car seats rest atop the frame, one behind the other, and I resemble a stretch pram.  It’s quite a bit more conspicuous than the regular double stroller I push around the neighborhood.  It’s impossible to pretend you just have two young children when you’re at the tail end of the car seat brigade.  It’s twins.  It’s painfully, awkwardly, obviously twins.  Twins, who are somehow cuter, more approachable, more irresistible than any two babies not sharing a stroller.  I read the lips, “There are two of them!”  “Look!  Twins!” I respond to the inane questions, “Are they twins?”  “Are they identical?” “Two boys or two girls?”  And, most recently, “Can I…touch them?”

I wish I’d had the temerity to say no. 

More annoying, though, than the ogling and the stupid questions, are the people who applaud my bravery, who marvel at my decision/ability to leave my home with my offspring in tow.  As if I’m supposed to be confined to my home – hair unwashed, still in pajamas at 2:30pm – until they’re 3 years old.  I may not get to wash my hair every day, and I cannot promise that my clothing (not pajamas, mind you) is spit-up-free, but I go out for my own good, and the babies’. 

I often say I go out “for practice”.  Practice doing what? They ask.  Practice going out, I reply, cyclically.  Maintaining my sanity requires that I get dressed every morning, choose cute outfits for my children every day, try to wash my hair every other day, and try to get out of the house (if weather permits) in the stroller or in the car a few times a week.  Getting to go to the post office, the breastfeeding support group, or Saxby’s, is a liberating feeling.  I can go out if I choose.  I am not chained to my house, and my children do not shackle me to the Pack n’ Play.  The mild winter has made outings possible, and I have taken advantage of almost every temperate day. 

I did not choose to become the mother of twins.  They chose me.  There’s no use praising me as I know no other way.  I don’t know what it’s like to only have one child to hold, comfort, soothe, feed, dress, bathe, or smile at.   It’s like praising someone born with a disability with how well they cope; they’ve never known anything else.  Don’t offer me up empty praise or admiration.  Don’t tell me how brave I am for waking up every morning.  Having children is tough for anyone, whether they have one or seventeen.  The middle of the night is no less disorienting for the parents of one child; a breastfeeding difficulty is no less frustrating.  It may take me longer to get ready to leave the house, longer to dress, or bathe my children, longer to feed them, and change them.  My husband and I may do more laundry than parents of a single child, but we are no less tired if woken up at 2am, no less worried about their meeting developmental milestones, no less insecure about our parenting decisions. 

Maintaining my sanity, exposing my children to life beyond these four walls (they get bored, too), and perhaps knocking off a miniscule errand – striving towards these goals does not make me Super Mom.  Just “Mom” will suffice.

My father-in-law is downstairs right now, ready to attend to any screaming baby who might rear its face until 9pm, when I will go feed the munchkins again.  I have been mentally formulating a blog post over the past few days, but have not had time to sit down and write it.  This is fairly standard with new motherhood, especially new mother-of-twins-hood, I imagine.  But when I have 15 or 30 minutes before the next feeding, the babies seem relatively stable in their sleep, and Mr. Apron doesn’t need me for anything, I find myself conflicted with what to do with that time.  I don’t immediately think “Blog!” and dash upstairs to the computer.  I don’t even immediately think “Shower!” and run to de-stankify myself.  I do feel torn between the many things I could choose to do, some of which seem frivolous or indulgent.  As a matter of fact, if I choose do something not for the babies, I tend to feel guilty.

People who come over to visit with us and meet the babies often happen upon us at a period of low activity.  The twins typically sleep for the two-hour “slot” we have permitted a friend, coworker, or family member to hold court.  They look adoringly in the Pack ‘N Play, coo at the angelic faces, and ask us, “Do you just stare at them all the time?”  “Oh, yes!” we obligingly reply.  But we don’t.  If they’re out for any period of time, we’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off, throwing together quick meals, decanting breast milk into bottles for night-time feedings, tossing a load of laundry into the washing machine, dryer, or into disheveled dresser drawers.  We’re planning our next quick between-feeding errands to the grocery store, pharmacy, or take-out establishment.  And do I sometimes feel like a bad parent, or at least a detached parent, for doing so?  I do.

I’m very practically minded most of the time  So it makes sense that when the babies are angelically napping, I’m kicking my productivity into high gear.  I bet most parents of newborn multiples do so, out of necessity.  Sometimes I will grab that shower, leaving Mr. Apron on call for errant whimpers or explosive diapers.  But I’ve only chosen to use that time to write once.

Choosing to blog, to send some of my musings longer than a status update (or a tweet, but I don’t do that) into the world seems like an indulgence I can’t afford when we’ve eaten pasta or cookies for every meal in the last week.  At least it’s a balanced diet – chocolate chip cookies, store-brand oreos, regular oatmeal cookies, or steel-cut oatmeal cookies.  But to write?  What purpose does it serve?  Does it get the babies fed or changed any more efficiently?  Does it prepare me to be more patient with my children and husband and self the way an hour-long afternoon nap does?  Does it put a dent in the thank-you note pile? Or help the house feel less like a zoo?  Does it make sure we have food in the house?  Does it make all those necessary phone calls to doctors’ offices, blood labs, window installers, and health insurance companies?  It serves no rational purpose, and hence, feels gratuitous, or downright indulgent.

A few months ago, I blogged about preserving a “me-ness” (and of my husband’s and my desire to preserve a “we-ness”) once I add Mother to my list of titles.  I hoped I would not lose track of my own self, of my hobbies and my interests. I vowed that my identity as a mother would not supplant who I was in the 30 years before.  And in the throes of the sleep deprivation and complete disorientation of the first six weeks of my children’s lives, when I am utterly consumed with their pooping, peeing, sleeping, and feeding, I must find a smidge of “me-ness”.  Perhaps stealing away to blog while my father-in-law gazes adoringly at his (sleeping, of course) grandchildren is my way of doing so, even if it comes at the cost of clean laundry, a hot (or re-heated) meal, or showing timely gratitude for baby gifts.

P.S. I bet you wouldn’t mind another picture, eh?

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