I have two sets of twins. Yes, you read that correctly – two sets. No joke. My husband and I are proud parents of 8-year-old girl-boy twins, Eliza and Zachary, and 3-year-old fraternal twin boys, Henry and William. As you might imagine, I get all kinds of reactions from people when they first learn this about my family, since it’s not the norm to come across someone with multiple multiples. The comments range from, “Are you serious?”, to “Wow, aren’t you blessed!” (I don’t mind that one), to “Are you crazy?” Over the years, we’ve heard all kinds of reactions, and we’ve just learned to smile and nod, since nothing really surprises us anymore.
One particular comment that sticks out in my mind was one made by a friend when she learned that we were expecting our second set of twins. She said, “Well, I guess it couldn’t be happening to better people. You’ve done this before, so you guys are pros! You got this!” But did we? Was I really prepared to do this all over again? Sure, I guess I could safely say that my husband and I had managed to make it through 5 years of double-duty, double feedings, double diapers, double tantrums and double bags-under-the-eyes in one piece, but AGAIN?
When I first saw two little blobs with beating hearts at an early ultrasound of our younger twins, I secretly began to panic inside. Our family was about to instantly increase from four to six. I would soon have four children who would be depending on me to care for them, feed them, love them and nurture them, instead of two. It was hard for me to imagine at first, and I wasn’t sure if any amount of “expertise” with twins could ever prepare me for this. But deep down I knew that there was only one thing I could do…. Just go with it. We knew we’d make it work, and so far we have. Having a second set of twins has proven to be just as difficult as having the first. Although I’ve been able to use some of the old tricks and techniques that my husband and I perfected the first time around, such as the easiest method of feeding and changing two babies at once and the most efficient way to get through a grocery store with little ones in tow, every day at our house is still an adventure and a learning experience.
One of the biggest challenges we face is finding time to spend with each of our children as individuals. At times we find ourselves grouping them together as “the big twins and the little twins”, and it’s easy to forget that they are each their own person. Each of my kids has their own unique personality and set of needs, and it’s my job to make sure they’re taken care of and given the attention they deserve from their parents. Recently we have implemented monthly “date nights” with our older twins, where either my husband or I will take one of them out alone to do whatever they’d like. My husband recently took my older son to a BBQ restaurant and to the batting cages, while I took my daughter out for pizza and shopping. We also try to take our older twins out together so that they can have some time to be 8-year-olds, without having to share everything with their 3-year-old brothers. Finding the time to do these sorts of things can be difficult, between school, after-school commitments, and sports, but we’ve made it a priority.
Another challenge I battle on a daily basis is time and patience. I guess this challenge isn’t unique to having two sets of twins, and I’m sure mothers with several children of any age face this, just as I do. Some mornings I can’t imagine how I’ll make it through the day without cloning myself, since it seems that someone always needs me for something, and I’m constantly being pulled in several different directions. At any given moment, I could have a toddler having a meltdown, another toddler attempting to climb the cabinets for a snack, an 8-year-old begging for help with his homework, and another 8-year-old who needs a ride to dance class, while the phone is ringing in the background. I can’t even count how many times a day I need to stop, take a deep breath, and find a way to handle it all without exploding.
I’ve had people ask me, “Two sets of twins? How do you do it?” And my answer always is, “I just do.” I can’t honestly say that I know how I do it. I just get it done. I somehow calm the meltdown, pull the little boy off the counter and get him a snack, help with the math problem, get my daughter to dance (even if she’s 5 minutes late) and let the phone go to voicemail. I’m lucky to have supportive friends and family who pitch in and help me when I need it, and that is a huge reason why I’m able to juggle this hectic home. Over the years, I’ve learned never to refuse helping hands. I know that I need them, sometimes depend on them, and wouldn’t be able to get through without them.
Although we face challenges with raising two sets of twins, we are certainly blessed with too many joys to count when it comes to our children. Hands down, the number one joy is seeing the bond our children have formed with one another. Each of our kids has a built-in, life-long playmate and best friend. There’s nothing like the bond that twins share, and to be able to witness it twice is truly amazing. Each of our children prefers to play with their twin over anyone else in the world. They are truly each other’s best friend, and understand one another like no one else could. At the same time, my older twins find such happiness in nurturing and helping to care for their younger twin brothers. I often find myself sitting back and marveling at the connection they all share. It’s almost as if my older twins can relate to their younger twin brothers so much more than they would if they were just siblings. They “get” their bond, because they feel it with their own twin themselves.
Despite the craziness and chaos that comes along with my life, I think that the joys of raising two sets of twins far outweigh the challenges, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I truly consider myself double blessed, times two.
Caroline Todd is a stay-at-home mom of two sets of twins: Eliza and Zachary, 8, and Henry and William, 3. She and her husband Erik live on the south shore of Massachusetts. When she’s not up to her elbows in the chaos and excitement of daily life with 4 young kids, Caroline enjoys running (for her sanity’s sake!), reading, spending time with her family, and enjoying adult conversation with friends once in a while.
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