As a twin parent it so easy to get wrapped up in the life of a provider. In the early stages you just focus on putting one foot in front of the other. If you manage to brush your hair once during a 24 hour period you feel accomplished and if you don’t :::shrug:: no big deal, you’ll get to that tomorrow. By the time you adapt and learn to maintain you’ve forgotten what being an individual person is all about. Who has time to stress over what your nails look like or if you are wearing a clean shirt when you’re so busy rushing around making sure your house runs smoothly? You worry incessantly about every little aspect of your small world to the point that it no longer really concerns you that you can’t remember the last time you wore makeup or even left the house in anything other than yoga pants.
I am here to tell you I have been there and done that. I have lifted my head from that twin fog and realized it’s been close to six months since I’ve even shaved my legs (true story…swear!) Twin parenting is hard. Not to disparage anyone raising singletons (I have done that as well) but until you have slipped on the twin parent zombie shoes it all looks so easy. And that’s because we work our butts off to make it look that way! I’m not going to lie though — after about 6 months in, I was starting to crack. I could feel the mental fissure splitting my psyche as surely as if it were visible. The late nights, up all night, feeding, teething, pooping, swaying, lullabies, and my tears were wearing me down and something had to give and give soon.
I was slowly sinking into a pit of despair that I was never going to get back to being me again. I spent far too much time at home throughout the day with only two googly-eyed babies to talk to and not nearly enough time in adult conversation. It was at that moment that I figured out I needed to get out and be me instead of “Mom” for a little bit (although honestly, I still worry about them when I am away from the house, so I am still “Mom”…just without the toddler trying to climb up my yoga pants).
I did a lot of thinking before my first outing away from the babies. I deliberated and argued internally with myself to the point where I drove myself (and my hubby) insane with it. I NEEDED to get out and do SOMETHING other than changing poopy diapers and cleaning up spit up but my mother’s heart was terrified to leave them. They were preemies and what if something happened while I was out? (OK…I should mention that I am overly paranoid and the plan was only to go out for dinner and drinks, not to leave for a two week vacation in the Caribbean…but still…I worry!) What if the babies weren’t ready?! Was I abandoning them to be selfish?
Trust me, every errant thought that has run through your head about taking a night out, I have thought it too. But you know what? I did it anyway. That’s right…I was selfish! I took that night out and ran with it like I was never going to get another one (and let’s be honest here…it may be a while before I did!) I walked out of the door dressed to the nines (shaved legs and all!) and went to dinner with my hubby. I felt guilty. Yes I surely did. But nothing was going to ruin my night so I smiled right through it.
And you know what else?… I enjoyed it! *GASP!* I enjoyed myself away from my babies and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Let me explain why: I came home from that night content and slightly tipsy and I was a different person the next day. Things that were literally driving me up the wall no longer seemed like such a big deal and I realized…this was what I needed. In order to be the best mama I could be I needed a break away from it all to just be me. And ladies (and gentlemen) YOU need that break too!
How we feel affects our ability to parent. Of course we try to hide it and be brave (like mom and dad are supposed to) but things have a way of showing through in our actions and motions. If you are tense because you are close to the breaking point then make no mistake that your children are going to pick up on that and that leads to unrest in your household. So why not get the jump on the blowup before it ever occurs?
You are MORE than just a mom or dad and you deserve to let that person out to shine amongst other adults as often as you can. Maybe not every night or even every weekend but I promise you if you just take the time to be YOU instead of only mom or dad you’re going to see a noticeable difference in yourself and how you handle being a parent. And though it may not seem like it right now, your children will thank you for it in the long run!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again now. Twin parenting is hard. And eventually (so I’ve been told) it does get easier. If you are going at it alone then you may not have the option for a night out very often (if ever). So my advice to you is this…SLEEP TRAINING. Once you get them sleep trained you can free up some time in the evenings for you. Yes, it’s hard. It will quite possibly be one of the hardest things you will ever do but it will be so WORTH it. When you hear that sound of complete silence (your babies sleeping), step away from all the chores that can wait, take a deep breath, run a nice bath, drink a glass of wine, read a book, watch a movie, and just be…you.
Deanna Burkett is multi-tasking mama of two year old boy/girl twins and teens and a wife of 19 years to a very patient husband. On any given day you can find her pinning her heart away at Twiniversity’s Pinterest page, saying howdy to a new member of Twiniversity’s Message Board, working on school work while she earns her double degree of History and English at Ashford University, catering to her teenagers every beck and call or chasing one or two naked babies around the house! Look for her on Facebook, Twitter or on Pinterest!