August 26, 2015

What It Means To Be A M.o.M.

No, I'm not 13. I don't think it's cool to add random capital letters to a word. I am a Mom, but I am also a MoM, otherwise known as Mom of Multiples. A few weeks ago I realized this means I have something in common with Kate Gosselin, of all people. That is so strange to me. 

Anyway, it also means a few other things. Like the fact that my body once had three heads, hearts and brains. It also had six arms and six legs. At one point, I not only ate and drank enough, but my heart was strong enough to sustain the lives of three people. That's what it really means to be a MoM. I'm proud of it. I don't think I'm better than you if you had one child at a time. But I am proud of myself.

There's a word we use often in the MoM world - singleton, or a child that was born by itself, not with a twin or more. Lots and lots of people have more than one singleton. Some really close in age. Some of these people think that means they understand what it is to be a MoM. They don't.

Every MoM has heard the stories: At the doctors once a woman said to me, "Oh, my girls are 14 months apart, I know how hard it is to have twins!" My mom, whose kids are also 14 months apart, laughed and told her she had no idea. A friend told me she was at a store and someone told her, "My cousin has twins and I have two under 3, it's not really that different. In fact I think mine are harder."

Maybe they are. But not that different? Try again.

I swear I'm not trying to be a bitch or a sanctimommy. Again, I absolutely do not think I'm better than you.  But having two or more children, one at a time, even just months apart, is not the same thing as having two at once. It's easy to see why they people think that way - two kids are hard no matter what their ages!  But I don't think parents who compare the two really understand what they're saying.

I won't ever say one is harder than the other but there are undeniable differences that make it hard to compare the two. Even if you have seventeen other children you do not understand what it's like to have two babies at once until you've done it.

Here's why:

MoMs know the gut wrenching feeling of finally getting a baby to sleep after hours only to have the other baby wake up as soon as you do it.

It's like a law of freaking nature that one baby will fight sleep and require all sorts of extra intervention while the other snoozes peacefully. And then just as you get the fighter to pass out her sister starts wailing. Every. freaking. time. This dance will easily take up half of your life for the first year. Single baby? Do the dance and you're done, at least for a little while.

MoMs know that no matter what anyone says one baby will absolutely wake the other.

Assuming your kids don't all share a room you can walk out of the nursery, carefully shut the door and know, that if all is well, the baby will sleep for at least a few minutes. You can control for noise. We don't have that option. I can't tell you how many times I've rushed into the room when I hear the first tiny sound just to prevent one baby from waking the other. I then spend 25 minutes getting her back to sleep just to have her sister cry out five seconds later and wake her back up. And now they're both up. Oh. my. god. I just want to sleeeep.

MoMs know that everything takes twice as long.

Unless you've done it you really don't know just how long it can take to prepare and feed two bottles or nurse two hangry babies (don't even get me started on cluster feeding with two). Then the time it takes to burp, change, get to sleep, get back to sleep, get ready to go anywhere or calm two unhappy babies. Especially by yourself. It is unreal how everything takes an extra half hour of your already precious time. In the beginning it took us over 1.5 hours just to leave the house and that was assuming no one needed yet another diaper change just as we walked out the door. Oh and let's not forget the added time of strangers stopping to chat and ask questions every single time you go out. Because every mom has time for a 3 hour trip to the store just for bread, right?

MoMs know there's also twice as much of all the crappy parts of parenting

Two times the spit-up, poopy diapers, teething, shots, sicknesses, potty training and accidents, play, meal and bathtime messes, tooth brushing and bedtime battles, boo-boos, getting into everything, death defying antics and so on. And if you're lucky enough like me and your first kids are twins then you get the added benefit of having to learn how to do it all with two without losing your mind.


MoMs know the fear and reality of paying for multiples: two times the baby gear, diapers, doctors appointments, daycare costs, school and activity supplies, college tuition, weddings, whatever. 

It is most definitely not two for the price of one. Obviously any parent who has two or more children knows what it's like to worry about this. The difference is that an MoM thinks about it from day one. Not after a year or five. We worry from that very first ultrasound how in the hell we're going to afford to feed, clothe and support two little people for the next 20 or so years. And since you can't really plan for twins it is almost always a shock. It's terrifying.

MoMs know the sheer agony of having to listen to two babies crying at the same time. 

Or worse, listening to one baby scream while you change, feed or console the other one knowing there isn't much you can do about it right now and they will just have to wait a second. It's like a less awful version of Sophie's Choice every damn day. Think about the ear piercing volumes that one baby can get to. Now take that sound and multiply it by two. Put it on to repeat every hour for about two years while you rush around doing everything in your power to just make it stop. Come back and tell me how it's the same thing as having a walking, talking, sleeping-through-the-night toddler and a newborn.

No, I'll never say either one is harder. They both have their challenges and, thankfully, their rewards But you can't deny that being a MoM is a totally unique experience. One that you really have to go through to understand.

I think most singleton parents know that. Majority of them are not trying to be rude, they're just looking for a way to connect. I'm thankful for that too, it's nice to make parent friends. But if you you really believe that because you have two kids we've been in the same trenches, please just keep it to yourself. Unless you want to switch lives with a MoM for a weekend and we can see if you still feel the same way after. I can almost guarantee you won't.

What do you think?


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