Friday, April 24, 2015

On Parenting One Year Old Twins

Having one year old twins has definitely been the ultimate challenge of my parenting career.  There are things that I could never have planned for: Dorothy knows that Clara is the fearless one, so whenever she gets a hold of a dangerous object, she immediately runs up to Clara and hands it over.  I can understand the thinking: Clara's into that sort of thing, right?  Where our other children have had a natural circumference of about 100 feet away from us that they will travel before they want to head back to their home base, Clara and Dorothy have a circumference to one another.  As long as they're walking in the same direction, they're good to go.  Indefinitely.  Yikes!

There are those moments that feel utterly impossible.  When one baby is fussy, and I think of just the perfect distraction, and as soon as I hand it to her, her sister becomes fussy because she wants one too.  Or the moments that both babies desperately want me that very minute, but will not settle for being held at the same time as a sister.  As a parent who has derived so much purpose and satisfaction from nurturing attachment with each of my children, these moments are the hardest.  When I feel like I'm giving my entire self and it is not enough.  It feels like I'm drowning without any life preservers to be seen.

I am ever so slowly learning the things that help make this a sustainable phase for our family.  Everyone is happier outside.  The twins need to spend some time contained-- whether in a high chair, a stroller, or a carseat-- every day, if only so I can get a bathroom break.  Clara and Dorothy also seem to really crave and need one on one time with us, separate from one another.  This is the hardest one to accommodate, but possibly the most important.  We are still trying to figure out how to carve out consistent time for each of them to get undivided attention, and have found that when we can make it happen, it makes everyone happier.  Oh, and it is absolutely essential to get a break.  Can you find a way to make this happen regularly?  Whether from a loving husband or a skilled babysitter, this is necessary for survival during what I have learned is a high needs phase of twin parenting.  

Every now and then I feel a surge of creative energy that takes the form of cooking an exciting meal, or organizing a part of the house, or embarking upon a game or project with the older kids.  These are the activities that I love, which give me deep satisfaction and joy, and yet they have often been set aside out of necessity during this busy season of parenting.  When I utterly lose myself to one of these activities, when I'm cooking up a storm, or organizing the girls' closet, or making plans for the coming year's schooling, or reflecting upon my experiences here in this space, those are the moments that I know I have moved beyond the most intense phase.  I am breathing calmly, I am immersed in something I love, surrounded by my children, including a very adorable set of one year old twins. It is a good feeling.


Oregon-Mama said...

Oh, Adele, I can totally relate!:) The triplets are still my biggest challenge. It used to be physically (changing diapers, feeding, carrying, etc.), now it's more of the emotional sort. Three almost 6 year olds going through all the same emotional challenges/needs is exhausting! I cannot believe how big your sweet twins are already! And I'll be joining you soon in the 5 kids club!

Adele said...

I am totally in awe of you! And can I say you will be a complete natural when it comes to five kids. :-) One thing that's been such a blessing is having the advice and perspective of other moms of multiples.

Anonymous said...

I am right there with you! My twins are my first kids and I have so struggled with how to bring the attachment philosophy to our little family. Two people needing you always at the same moment is so draining. Wonderful and beautiful and sweet, but also so so draining. I'm grateful to hear that everyone struggles with finding the balance (and the energy!), it's a good reminder that parenthood is less something to be mastered and more something to give myself over to, especially in the little moments. Oh how much I have to learn!

Adele said...

I wish there was a book about attachment parenting twins! I feel like it can be done, but looks different than attachment parenting a single baby. A mom can attachment parent a single baby by herself: sometimes, to the detriment of involvement from the dad and greater family/ community. For twins, I'm convinced being an attachment parent hinges on deeply involving the dad and extended family/ community. It's all about creating a setting where children feel safe and secure knowing that their meets can be met through trusted relationships. I can't say we've done this well, but we are also learning as we go! Your twins are beautiful! Lovely thoughts about giving ourself over to parenthood. And let's not forget that over time our twins form an attachment to one another, and that is an incredible, beautiful thing, too.

Rosie said...

Do you have Mothering Multiples? That's the most attachment parenting twin book there is - it's just so HARD to follow the principles of attachment parenting when you have twins :/ We co-slept (in separate beds) until the twins were 15 months old and that helped, but these days it seems like they always need me exclusively at the same time! They *have* gotten really good at sharing my lap, thankfully :)