I am a planner. I have been all my life. It is both a blessing and a curse. But the first thing you learn when you become a parent is that your best-laid plans are just that, plans, and nothing more. A baby lets you know in no uncertain terms that she was put on this earth to shake things up.
Like most new moms before I became a mom I had ideas about how things were going to be. I had a plan. A good plan and it was going to work.
Then I had twins.
There were times in the beginning when I envied moms with “singletons”. There were times when I wondered, “What would it be like to only have one baby? Would it be easier? What would it be like to give one baby all my attention?” But the truth is I think that having twins has been a benefit to me as a parent.
I figured out early on that I couldn’t sweat the small stuff or I would go insane, really insane. I didn’t have the time or energy to worry about whether I was always doing the right thing. I tried my best but if things didn’t work out, then that was just how it was going to be as long as my kids were safe and relatively happy. I didn’t worry when they weren’t dressed in cute outfits or if their clothes were used or had stains. I didn’t worry when I had to dress my son in a pink onesie with ruffled sleeves because everything else was dirty. I didn’t worry when one baby was crying while I was changing the other one’s diaper. I didn’t stress out over making their birthday cupcakes from a box rather than from scratch. I didn’t worry about the messes and there were a lot of messes. I didn’t worry over every developmental milestone.
Instead I learned to survive and I learned the “benefits” of having twins. I learned which stores had double shopping carts and which ones had “family” parking closer to the front door. I learned which restaurants would greet us with a smile and a handful of crayons and in which ones I would see the “inner groan” on the face of the waitress. I taught the twins to hold their own bottles when they were 6 months old. I let them feed themselves with their hands at 8 months. I learned that the infant swing at the park holds two babies if you put them back to back. I learned that people hold the door for a double stroller. I learned to ignore the stares. I learned to smile and nod at the “double trouble” comments. I learned that people will hold and entertain a baby on the airplane. I learned that there was nothing cooler than watching my twins interact with each other and talk to each other.
What I have learned is that this parenting thing is all relative. Other parents say to my husband and I, “I don’t know how you do it. I have just one and it is totally overwhelming.” The truth is, we just don’t know any different. And I have to believe that had we had only one baby we would have felt just as overwhelmed, just as freaked out and just as exhausted. Yeah, twins weren’t in the “plan” but I think we just learned to take it all in stride.
There are still times I am jealous when I see a parent or two parents sitting playing quietly on the floor with one child that is engaged in an activity or when a couple is at the park, the child is on the swing and one parent is pushing and the other is in front making funny, smiley faces as the child laughs with joy. The child has all the attention and focus and I sometimes wish that I could provide that for my kids. But my kids have given me the gift of perspective. I know that plans can change and I know that my kids are going to be all right. They have had to share most things but they have never had to share love.