When Strangers Cross the Line with Your Twins

postpartum depression

When I first started taking my twins out in public I was flattered with all of the attention that they received from strangers. So many, “they are so adorable,” and “you are so blessed,” comments can really lift the spirits of an exhausted momma in the beginning.

infant twins sittingin bouncy seats with pacifiers

After a month or so I started to feel a little suffocated, like I was struggling to swim against a current of looky-loos and commentators. Everywhere I went people stopped me to make comments, take peeks, give unsolicited parenting advice and ask intrusive personal questions about my reproductive health. I would always try and smile, thank them politely, deflect question that I felt a tad too personal and make small-talk. The idea of glaring or even pretending I had not heard them and just wheeling on by went against the grain of my upbringing. My Texas born momma had always put social graces and manners above almost everything. A “you catch more flies with honey,” approach to the universe.

Every time we left the house we were met with questions like, “Are they natural?” “Do twins run in your family?” “Did you do IVF?” And statements like, “double trouble,” “you got your hands full,” “Oh my, I sure couldn’t do what you are doing,” “Bless your heart” and others. It would have been fine if we piqued the interest of just one looky-loo per store, but at times were stopped multiple times even in the same department. As a parent you time things almost down to the minute. You know exactly how much time you have before someone gets fussy, will need to be changed, needs to be fed, or will need a nap. Going to the store was taking twice as long because of these repeated though mostly friendly interruptions. I know that there are many parents out there who welcome this attention; who enjoy it. I am not that parent. I just wanted to get things done and get out, or I wanted an offer of help to coincide with that, “you got your hands full,” comment.

strangers

As my twins got a little older and could smile, coo and be generally adorable, the attention became a little more oppressive. People started crossing that grey area of acceptability; hopping that fine line fence. The touching started. When my twins were babies they didn’t wear shoes or even socks when we went out and about on hot days. I don’t know what it is about little toes, but they are one of the most potent forms of stranger bait that I have ever encountered. Women of all ages would come over in droves and touch or tickle their feet when I was trying to get something off a shelf or was putting something into the cart (always with my back turned). There is something magical and almost circus like about twins. We were a traveling sideshow and everyone was clamoring to get their 10 cents worth. They just couldn’t help themselves.

By this point I had hit a wall. Touching my babies without permission was the last straw. I could feel my mental bones grating against each other and my nerves were beyond shot. You see I had a 2 and ½ year old when my twins were born. I couldn’t afford to be a shut in. I had to ferry him to playdates, doctor’s appointments, indoor play areas, and pre-school while also keeping the kitchen stocked. My husband worked (still works) crazy hours and was away on business at least once a month so if we needed anything that couldn’t be purchased with Prime we had to go out and get it. We were out doing errands or at a store at least once a day.

When StrangersCross The Line

I began to adopt the persona of a defensive lineman while pushing my grocery cart or stroller at a breakneck speed. As people attempted to approach I kept pushing the cart while giving them my best closed lip smile and polite nod. This approach acknowledged their comment, but also conveyed that I was in a hurry and did not have time to chat. This approach is still serving me well almost 4 years later. I can spot someone who looks a little too interested (hurdling towards us like a moth to a flame) a mile away and am now able steer my family in the other direction. There are still however a crafty few that corner you in places that you can’t get out of like a check-out line or in line for the bathroom. This is when they bring out the big gun questions (usually about breast feeding, c-sections, and whether or not my plumbing works). Though I detest confrontation I have learned that it is ok to just say, “that’s private” and leave it at that.

Rather than shutting down commentators with snappy comebacks (though they are always on the tips of our tongues), or ignoring people completely it is best to just nod, smile and keep on moving. This method will never do you wrong.

destiny effertzDestiny Effertz is a mother of 3 boys; twin 3 year olds and a 5 year old. She worked for many years as a civil litigation paralegal prior to having children. Now she spends her days formulating new pie recipes, throwing epic kid parties, planning family vacations, and planning and executing pirate adventures and trips to far away planets with her boys.


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