I spent countless hours nursing my singleton and perusing Pinterest on my smartphone with my extra hand; Pinning nursery room decor ideas, infant photo shoot ideas, first birthday themes, and DIY decorations. I actually attempted some of them, too. Now my time spent on Pinterest includes recipe hunting for 5 minute meals toddlers will actually eat (don’t waste your time on this one, just buy a box of Macaroni and Cheese) and how to lose weight when your only means of exercise comes from chasing bare-bummed toddlers around the house (this is more likely to help with weight loss if you don’t eat the mac & cheese, just FYI).
I am no longer a Pinterest mom. It all changed the day my family of three added twins and became a family of five. I’ve always considered myself a realist when it comes to motherhood. I don’t shy away from the truth. I don’t sugar-coat my daily mayhem. I prepare for the worst and hope for the best and I can fully admit that I make parenting mistakes every day!
I’m a type-A personality and in most situations I learn best by doing, not watching (or being told how) and this is no different when it comes to life’s mistakes. I have to make the mistake in order to learn from the mistake. I’m hoping by sharing some of my bigger mistakes, it will help other MoMs to not make the mistake, or at least know they are not alone.
Mistakes I’ve Made As a Parent of Twins
Wishing the days away
One of my biggest mistakes made during these last two years of being a twin mom is that I continue to wish away my kids’ childhood! I’m so focused on getting to the next stage so this MoMing gig gets easier that I’m missing out on the here and now. I have a six-year-old and two-year-old boy/girl twins and I feel like most days are pure survival mode. Is this the best way to live? No. But it is what it is.
With every stage and milestone my twins reach, I’m counting down to the next, because the next stage will make everything easier. When I was nursing three to four times a night, I was wishing for just one feeding per night. And when that became reality, I was wishing they would sleep through the night. Once they did this I was wishing they would hold their own bottles….you get the picture. I’ve done this every stage my twins have been in and now two years in I realize how much I have missed. I should have cuddled them a little more and studied their sweet newborn faces for just a few more minutes, embedding it into my memory, because now my memories are few. I wrote down every “first” (smile, laugh, used a fork, blew a bubble-gum bubble) my singleton had and I can’t even tell you which one of my twins smiled first. The worst part of this mistake is that I still haven’t learned from it yet. I can honestly say that I make being in the moment a priority, but there are still days when I’m wishing for the next stage, hoping it will make life just a little easier.
Working opposite schedules
I blame every gray hair on the stress of childcare (I blame the twins for the wrinkles around my eyes). I never imagined A) that out-of-home childcare for three children (two being infants) would require THREE incomes and B) that even with a childcare plan in place, childcare is responsible for more than half my daily stress. Being a stay at home mom was never an option, so we had to get creative with our childcare situation.
My husband and I decided that working opposite shifts was our only option. He works days, and I work nights and we have zero days off together. This decision was a big mistake. It is still necessary, but a mistake, nonetheless. When most people are getting home to gather around the dinner table with their family and settle in for a relaxing evening, I’m headed out to start my workday. We both spend 75% of our time at home, alone, with three kids. This has saved us lots of money and has allowed us a lot of one-on-three time with our children.
However, I would advise against it. We have absolutely no flexibility in our schedules. I’m home all day and am unable to volunteer in my daughter’s class. I can’t attend the PTA meetings, and most party invites we have to decline. Date nights are few and my “me” time is my monthly chiropractor appointment that thankfully includes a one hour massage. When our employers ask us to come in early or work an extra shift, we have to decline. I have missed numerous of my daughters t-ball games, dance practices, and tumbling classes and when she asked if she could play basketball, I had to tell her no. Our schedule can’t accommodate another activity.
Our daily schedule feels like an extraction plan for a group of hostages; every single minute must be executed precisely or something bad will happen. We are a village of two. Our family help is sparse and so is money, so hiring help is for special occasions only. If you are considering opposite shift schedules, I would explore every other option. And if none of those work out, keep looking! For me, all the positives of this just don’t make up for the things I miss, the things my husband misses, and the time we do not have as a whole family.
Too much worry and guilt
I know I’m not supposed to compare my children, but still, I compare my children. This is another one of my big mistakes. The comparisons are never judgments or disapprovals of my kids; they are always out of concerns. I worry when one twin is excelling and the other one is falling behind. I feel bad when I compliment one of them for a task that the other one can’t do yet. I know this is irrational. I know that they are individuals working and growing at perfectly acceptable rates. With my singleton, every milestone was just more progress. Now, from my perspective as a twin mom, these milestone observations become comparisons and comparisons just cause unnecessary stress and lead me to another mistake I make: mother’s guilt.
I have lots of guilt! I have guilt because I don’t want to be a stay at home mom (the true heroes of the world!), I have guilt because I work outside the home. and because I’m pretty sure I’m screwing up this whole mothering thing! Guilt is something most people understand. And most of us also realize that it is a waste of time and rarely accomplish anything productive from it. Yet, it keeps me awake and fills my dreams most nights. With most mistakes, if you learn something from them, then they can be worth it. Guilt is the one mistake I make the most, and no matter how frequently it visits, I have yet to learn my lesson.
No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of worrying can change the future, and no mother will ever live guilt-free. Although I continue to make this mistake, I do have moments of clarity when I can recognize I did something right. Plus, it really helps when the kids tell me I’m the best!
Other random mistakes
I’ve forgotten to feed my singleton dinner TWICE in the last 6 months. I’ve left my dog at a family member’s home multiple times. I forget the diaper bag on most outings. When I do remember the diaper bag, I usually forget to include a change of clothes, resulting in my son dining al fresco, twice (luckily he still had a shirt and shoes on so we weren’t refused service). I sometimes get stuck in the food war with my children, where I make three different dinners for three different children and sometimes a fourth, on a really bad night. I’m pretty sure when my twins were crawling infants their 2nd largest food group was dog food.
Basically, I make a lot of mistakes, some more serious than others, but I’m not afraid to admit it. All moms, even the most amazing and attentive moms, sometimes feel they aren’t good enough. Mistakes are part of life and of course a part of parenthood. Laugh at yourself, admit that you’re not perfect, teach your kids that is okay to fumble sometimes and make mistakes. You are only human after all!
Amanda Hadley is a part-time photographer and full-time dishwasher, cook, maid and financial assistant to her 6-year-old daughter, two-year-old twins, and husband of 9 years. She loves to travel, take naps and Atlanta Braves baseball. Most days you will find her at home sifting through the massive piles of laundry and dishes, and getting as many cuddles as possible before the kiddos are too cool to hang out with mom.