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Twin Toddlerhood

TwinBug Photography

There once was a girl with a curl
Right in the middle of her forehead
When she was good, she was very, very good
But when she was bad she was horrid

Twin toddlerhood. There are so many things that are better with two toddlers versus the twin newborn days. There is so much involved in the care of newborns, especially premature newborns, especially when there are two newborns, especially when those newborns have a very active older brother, especially living so far away from family... I could go on and on about the challenges we had the first year. I have said it before, but I think the biggest challenge is logistics that first year. How do you breastfeed two? How do you bottle-feed two? How do you pump for two? How do you get two to nap at the same time? How do you entertain a two and half year old while burping two babies? How do you safely get two infant carriers and their older brother to the car? How do you feed two babies out of the house? How do you road trip with three children under three? As they grew, their were more challenges to figure out. How do you spoon feed two babies? How do you entertain two frustrated sitters who really do want to crawl? How do you keep two babies entertained when you are at the park with your three-year old? How do you teach two babies how to use sippy cups or straws? How do you teach two babies to self-feed? How do you keep your three-year old's toys away from two crawlers?

While C and O did crawl at the end of the first year, they were still easy to contain. I had a gate in the doorway of their bedroom and they would play with each other while I showered. I used the baby monitor to listen for a certain three-year old intruder. I could move them around in their infant carriers and entertaining them was a matter of advanced preparation: having toys with me, having food with me, having sippy cups with me. I could always bring trucks or coloring books for my oldest and usually keep the three of them relatively entertained while waiting anywhere.

Suddenly they are toddlers. They don't want to sit in the stroller. They view all things baby-proof as a challenge ("I will get through that baby gate"). They don't want the singing, light-up toy I'm shaking in front of them (in fact, I think the toy is offending them more than just letting them cry). They don't want to walk. They don't want up. They don't want a sippy cup. They want to throw what is on their tray. They want to explore for themselves. They are constipated. They have a diaper rash. They are thirsty. They see something specific on the table that interests them. And they have no words to tell me. They thrash. They cry. They point. They whine. They cling to my pant legs. What am I supposed to do?

People came up to me constantly that first year to tell me, "It gets easier." I am not saying that the first year was a walk in the park. I was tired and needed a shower for the majority of it. But I look back on the first year full of those quick newborn "fixes" with longing. I could scroll through a checklist and easily fix their problem: diaper? hungry? naptime? bored? Now, the checklist is out the window. This morning one of the boys was fussing in the stroller. We were walking to the soft play area, so I scooped him out to see if he wanted to walk over there. He arched his back when I got him out. When I set him on the floor, he went limp and planted his face to the ground, letting out a dispassionate, "Waaaa!" And then just laid flat. I took his hand to help him up, only for him to scramble to his knees and grab my pant leg, his wimpy whine gaining momentum into a full-blown cry. I scooped him up and he started writhing around in my arms. What he wanted, I don't know. I told him to hold on, we are going to play, and he lunged in my arms toward the handle of the stroller. I don't know what goes on in a one-year old's mind. I don't think they always know either. I think most of the time they think, "Oooh, shiny!" and that is the sole motivation behind what they do.

Yesterday, I met a friend at the mall for a quick lunch and had to leave because O had a level twelve meltdown. Today, I met a friend for a playdate and had to leave because C had a level fourteen meltdown. It was such a strange morning. We left the house early and got breakfast at Panera. The boys did so well. O even used a fork and a plate to eat his pastry. C devoured half of my souffle and D ate his bagel like a gentleman. A man approached me when we were on our way out to tell me he was impressed with how well-behaved the boys were. We chatted a bit because he has four kids, the youngest being identical twin girls. Later, while I was mall walking with the boys, a woman complimented me on being out of the house so early with my hair done and everyone dressed so adorably. Loading everyone up to head over to our playdate, I felt pretty pleased with myself. Cute kids, everyone was smiley... good day. As we pulled up to the playdate, C started screaming. He continued screaming. I stood in the kids play place for twenty minutes with a screaming, clinging 15-month old. A woman approached me to tell me that she felt so sorry for me. She said she "just felt so bad" for me. She was very sweet and I knew she was just saying that she's been there, but I couldn't help but notice the difference between our trip to the mall and the trip to the play area.

It feels like I'm playing Russian Roulette every time I leave the home. How will the trip go? Will one of the boys have a meltdown? Will they take off in every direction? Will they be happy in the stroller? I don't know. I just know that I am so thankful for my friends who continue to meet up with me, regardless of how long I stay. Ready or Not... There We Go! The Real Experts' Guide to the Toddler Years with Twins by Elizabeth Lyons arrived yesterday. She lists "Laid-back friends" in her "Absolute Necessities for Moms of Twin Toddlers," stating, "It is important to ensure that you have friends who truly do not care what condition you or your house is in when they come over." Amen, sister. My boys are only 15-months old and it is already a wild ride! I am so nervous because, while things were busy with my oldest when he was this age, 20-months to about two years was exhausting. Am I ready for this?


{Melinda} Oh, I remember those days so well! And it starts all over again when they become teens -- the unpredicability!!

You are so right. Having "laid-back" friends who accept you just the way you are -- messy house and tantruming kids include -- is so important. It frees us in our mothering!

You are a great mommy. One outing at a time. You will make it! :)
Kimber said…
I met up with a friend the other day who has 3-year old twin boys and a 1-year old little girl. She was sooooo laid-back. I told her that we weren't going to survive toddlerhood. She assured me I would and added that going through twin toddlerhood made her relax about a lot of things. I take that to be a light at the end of the tunnel. If I can get through THIS, the rest is all small stuff!

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