Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pocket full of posies . . .

Sigh. Many Mothers of Multiples (or MOMs, as we call ourselves) cringe at the comments we receive -- "Better you than me!" "Uh-oh! Double Trouble!" "Which one is the bad one?" "Which one is older?" "Are you sure they aren't (are) identical?" And let's not forget the big offender, "Are they Natural?" (No, they're synthetic! Bwahahahahaha!)

Most people don't realize how obnoxious they are being with these questions, especially the last one. Never mind that my twins were conceived all on their own; what business is it to a total stranger how my children were conceived? All the business in the world, apparently. You see, journalist and Massachusetts mom of twins Julie Suratt is bothered by what she terms the epidemic of twins -- in particular, those twins conceived with assistance (hers were not). Even worse than the news that medical intervention is Not Fair is the news that having twins is as personally devastating as contracting the bubonic plague. Yep, that's right -- having twins is akin to the Black Death.

Needless to say, several of the local Moms of Multiples clubs are a little riled up, including my own. Now, Suratt is completely within her rights to write a negatively slanted article regarding twins and triplets -- but, in all honesty, I don't understand why she would want to, nor do I care to, if it involves such a downward emotional spiral. Doesn't she know that it takes more energy, and is more emotionally draining, to behave negatively? Did she think that most other MOMs felt the same way? I guess we run in vastly different circles, because most of the MOMs I get together with -- while recognizing the unique challenges that multiples do often present -- do not feel that having multiples has cramped their style. In fact there's only one woman in our group of eighty-plus members who, though she hasn't admitted it (probably not even to herself), doesn't seem to have wanted motherhood. Sadly, I see a similar attitude in Suratt, who is upset that she had to "give up" her cute walk-up, or believes that if she had only one baby, her life would go back to the way it was.

Once you become a mom, life will never go back to the way it was. That's a fairy tale, just like the knight in shining armor. Parenthood, like marriage and everything else involving love, is a choice and a commitment -- one that you make over and over again. While I was pregnant with my twins, I lived happily under the delusion that, once they were six months old, I would be able to de-wallpaper, prime, and paint the walls of the guest bedroom during the girls' naptime. My mom, who had three kids but no twins, just smiled and nodded. Four years later, my sister, while pregnant with her son, lived happily under the delusion that she would be able to gut and renovate the second-floor bathroom during her infant son's naptime. My mother -- and I -- just smiled and nodded. It's a part of the rite-of-passage, I guess. No matter what anyone tried to tell me while I was pregnant, I just couldn't understand how all-encompassing parenthood is. As a fiercely independent Gen-Xer, I had planned to go back to work as a teacher by the time my kids were five. Instead, I've decided to stay home indefinitely and homeschool them. Having kids changes you, changes your priorities. If you can't meet that challenge, then I guess you spend the rest of your years whining and bemoaning how "needy" your children are, or how nobody understands how tough you have it.

Suratt would have readers believe that having twins opens mothers and babies up to a host of issues that other families do not have to deal with. In reality, she raised only a single parenting issue that truly only affects twins. Asthma? Not twin-related. Reflux? Not twin-related. Pneumonia? Not twin-related. Bedrest? Food allergies? Premature delivery? Lengthy NICU stays? Emergency C-section? PPD? Developmental delays? Breastfeeding difficulties? Wrangling more than one child while shopping? Balancing career and home responsibilities? Nope, none of these are twin-related. Mothers from all demographics -- in all geographical areas, of all ages, sizes, races, financial situations and marital statuses can and do find themselves dealing with these issues. The one genuine twin-related issue she mentions? Trying to decide whether or not to wake both babies up at the same time to keep them on the same schedule for feedings. Oh, the humanity!


  1. My first year with twins did feel pretty much like the bubonic plague had hit my family. But time goes on and brings perspective (and sleep) and changes happen and now I wouldn't give up twins (not just mine specifically, but in general, HAVING twins) for anything.

    Worst comment I ever got: a woman at the mall approach me, with my stroller full of 3 month olds, and fiercely demanded..."Did you do this to yourself?" Of course, the right answer would have been "No, my husband did it to me" but I didn't have the presence of mind to come up with that quip, and I just stared at her slack-jawed. She just rolled her eyes at and, and as a parting comment, added "My sister in law got herself pregnant with twins using fertility treatment and I have NO SYMPATHY on her."

    What can you do but shake your head sadly at such people.

    (BTW, HI! I met you at the site tour for cohousing last weekend. *wave*)

  2. Little late on commenting here, but I think that was an incredibly wise post. I'm not even a mom of twins (unless you count Irish twins!) but I think you made some wonderful points that are applicable to all mothers. :)