And I Keep Going: Surviving Nights Alone with Twins (Plus Two)

nights alone with twins crying

Read how a mom of twins (plus two older kids) survives all the nights alone with twins while her husband travels for work.

I hang up the phone and the tears roll. They roll on down over those wrinkled lines and sad cheeks. They roll right on down to my two lovely babies. Their eyes wide, staring up at me… wondering what is wrong with mommy. nights alone with twins

There’s nothing wrong really. I’m just alone… again. He’s away for work… again. I wipe the tears and keep going.

I tell myself it’s not that hard. It’s not a big deal. There are plenty of parents doing it solo every day. So I just get on with the show and get through the day.

Some days are great.

Sometimes I wake up, say farewell to my husband as he rushes to catch the early bird flight, and then watch in amazement as my plans actually fall into place.

The kids wake up happy. They don’t argue. We roll through the day like a smooth yacht sailing over calm waters. We cruise on home to a pre‑prepared meal. We slide into our PJs, enjoy stories or dancing, call daddy to say goodnight, and then the kids flop into their beds and go to sleep. nights alone with twins

can't live without sin full of dishes nights alone with twins

I madly run around cleaning up, doing laundry, and getting ready for the next day. It all goes to plan. Eventually, I sprawl out in the bed all by myself. I close my eyes and think “Wow! I can really handle this solo parenting stuff.”

For a second I wonder why I think solo parenting is so hard sometimes (forgetting that it’s rarely this easy).

I think about all the things I am going to get done while I’m on my own. I think how much easier it is without the parenting negotiation, the constant scheduling, the activity updates, the financial management, the vacation planning. nights alone with twins

I think about how much more efficient a phone call can be. But then I think of my husband all alone missing us. I miss him. The kids miss him. We adore him and pray that he returns home safely.

Some days are truly horrible.

Sometimes the second he leaves, I wish desperately that he was still here. My son, “Master 5”, comes running down the hallway in a panic. “Daddy didn’t say goodbye!” “He did.” I tell him. “He kissed you goodbye when you were asleep”.

But my words are bouncing off the violent sound waves of his immense tantrum. I try to call daddy but he’s not answering the phone. There’s no calm end to this situation. The whole house erupts in chaos. Babies screaming, big brother shouting … nights alone with twins

mom and twins sleeping nights alone with twins

Somehow I fumble my way through the morning routine with coffee and Tylenol on tap. The twin babies have grown giant green snot-webs during the night. Everyone is miserable. I’m trying hard to not fall into a thought pattern of self-pity.

We make it to school 20 minutes late, forgetting library books and water bottles. After school drop, the baby twins are inconsolable. They both want to be held. They start screaming in unison. My ear drums vibrate. They want bottles and snacks and songs and cuddles and all of me. I rotate between singing and books until I’ve been pinched, bitten, and hair pulled one too many times.

The day continues. Plans failing. Appointments missed. Playdates forgotten. In the space of 12 hours I completely deplete the self-esteem bank. I’m energy poor. I’m at the bottom of the mountain. Dinner is Happy Meals or cereal. nights alone with twins

The children all feed off my negative energy. There is teasing or nit picking or nasty words spoken between my older two. I tell them they’re supposed to be helping me even more when daddy is away.

The reminder sets off Master 5 who must immediately call daddy. If he doesn’t answer his phone it’s going to be tantrum city again.

Eventually I get them all into bed. It’s late. I’m exhausted. I’m annoyed. For a second I feel resentful, thinking about my husband eating a nice adult dinner somewhere, quietly reading or having a long uninterrupted shower. nights alone with twins

But then I think of my husband all alone missing us. I miss him. The kids miss him. We adore him and pray that he returns home safely.

Most days are somewhere in between. But, in truth, even the really hard horrible days alone are survivable. And if you are blessed with friends or family nearby, you can usually round up some decent help during the day.

It’s the nights that are really tough. And that’s the problem. Nothing replaces your loved one at night. Not a cooked meal. Not a phone call. Not even an extra pair of hands. Because when all that helpfulness is done and dusted the night still looms ahead and you’re the only one answering the parent roll-call.

I remember facing the night alone with my first child. “I’ve totally got this,” I thought. And I did.

Then along came child #2 and suddenly it got complicated. “What do I do if they both wake up?” So I would make sure they were so well fed and so exhausted that they would sleep through like perfect angels. nights alone with twins

Except that more often than not, the opposite would happen and there would be chaos and screaming and tears. “I want my dadddyyyyyyyy!!”

I clearly remember nights of being overcome with that empty drained feeling, when all the tears are gone and there is nothing left except desperation for sleep.

nights alone with twins mom and her children

After a few years of having two kids and a traveling husband, I realized that all the planning in world doesn’t mitigate the fact that people (especially little ones) are completely unpredictable. And then the twins arrived. And I was terrified. How was I going to survive nights on my own with two babies and two kids?

I felt sure I wasn’t up to the task. I felt sure I would finally crack. This would be my undoing. And the reason I felt so scared was because I had been to the brink with two children and I remember feeling my toes curling up on the edge, the wind picking up behind me, willing me to fall … to fail. nights alone with twins

We all have a memory, a thought, a prayer. We all have a little something that keeps us going, keeps us moving in the right direction, saving us from failing on those nights alone.

For me, it is my own mother who was 24 when she had me, her fourth of five. I remember being little and my own father being away. I remember my mother staying strong for us despite all the difficulties she faced. I don’t ever remember her crying or ever feeling like she didn’t have things under control.

And that is how I’ve survived my first 14 months with the twins. Somehow I get through those long tough nights when I’m on my own and they both wake up crying. When that desperate feeling begins to creep up, I look at their little faces, tears rolling over pink cheeks.

In my mind I have a flash of fog and boots and scarves, and walking to school with my mother’s hand in mine… while she carried my younger sister and my three older sisters ran ahead. nights alone with twins

That little flash, that little memory, helps me through those long lonely nights. I think of her hand in mine and I keep going.

genfieldsGen Fields is an Australian mother of four – two boys (8 and 5 years) and identical twin girls (14 months). Gen has been a military spouse for 13 years, traveled to four continents and lived across Australia and in Hawaii. She is currently based in remote North West Australia. Gen is a blogger at perfectmummom.com and runs a document writing business www.penswift.com. She was once a suited up professional IT geek but now spends most days driving children around, punctuated by moments of diaper-changing, fruit-chopping and dancing Risky‑Business style.

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