All right, I think we know each other well enough now for me to confess.
I don’t find being a mom terribly difficult.
This is hard for me to share because I feel like I am in the minority. I empathize with moms struggling with breastfeeding (I had mastitis, blocked ducts, cracked and bleeding nipples, and concerns about supply too). I empathize with moms struggling with sleepless nights (I was a walking zombie by the time my twins were 3 months old). I empathize with moms struggling with tantrums and behavior issues (I am no stranger to major meltdowns in grocery stores). I have been there, and yet… I think being a mom is pretty easy.
Why this confession? Well, I have a 3 year old daughter and identical twin 1 year old daughters (all girls, all the time!), and I feel like I have a pretty good handle on things. My life is not perfect. My house is not spotless, and I do not always have a home-cooked hot meal for dinner (the babies may opt for yogurt for dinner, and I am OK with this).
I’m coming clean now because I feel like I’m living a lie by feigning difficulty. People typically give me a look of shock when I tell them I have three kids ages 3 and under (multiples no less). Well-meaning strangers expect me to look frazzled, but I am “put together,” (thanks to the help of my image consultant), well-rested, and generally chipper. I know I am throwing people off and I want to stop pretending like I’m struggling. I am not struggling with motherhood. Here’s my secret why: I keep my expectations extremely low.
I did not know what to expect when I became pregnant with my oldest daughter, but I knew sleepless nights would be ahead of me. I knew babies cry and it would take time for me to understand what she wants and learn how she communicates. Breastfeeding was going to be my biggest hurdle because I had absolutely no experience with nursing and I did not have a breastfeeding role model. I wanted to exclusively breastfeed, so I read numerous books on the subject and I talked to as many lactation experts as I could about it. I didn’t take a tour of the delivery hospital or birthing classes, I went to a breastfeeding class instead.
Learning I was pregnant with twins was life-altering, but I had to approach the situation with even lower expectations. The fears and worries associated with a high risk pregnancy are enough to debilitate any mom, thankfully I was distracted by all the intense symptoms of pregnancy I was experiencing (vomiting all the way through 34 weeks, then too tired, winded, and uncomfortably large to think about anything but just getting through the next minute).
Feeding two babies at once would be challenging, but I sought help from an IBCLC and the local Cuyahoga Falls Mothers of Twins Club. I found so much help and support beyond breastfeeding questions. I accepted meals and well-meaning friends dropping by to lend a hand. I did not know what to expect with twins, but I knew it would be exhausting.
Keeping my expectations low, reaching out for support/help, and doing a lot of reading and research on anything I anticipated as troubling. I am not an island and I have nearly worn a hole through my library card when it comes to parenting books, books on sleep, books on behavior, books on introducing foods and avoiding picky eating, etc. My husband gets a HUGE high-five for being totally on board with supporting me and the girls in every way and 100% hands-on. I have always said the only difference between me and my husband as parents is that I can lactate.
My twins are now 16 months old and I’m entering a new phase of independence (well, really their independence). I find great joy and accomplishment in the little things like getting the kids fed and off to bed on my own on the nights my husband is out playing golf. I find joy in the fact my husband can enjoy participating in a golf league despite having three little kids!
One of my recent great mommy moments was at the grocery store shopping with all three girls. One twin was strapped to me in a baby carrier, another was in the cart and my 3 year old was walking next to me when she asked if the store had a potty. She needed to pee. My twins are not full-fledged walkers, so figuring out how to get my toddler to the toilet quickly, while keeping the little ones safe and secure was going to be interesting. Also, I left the diaper bag in the car, so I really wanted to avoid a pee-pee accident. In less than 5 minutes, I managed keep a watchful eye on my baby in the shopping cart (awkwardly wedged in the bathroom door), while squatting and balancing about 20 pounds of baby strapped to my belly in order to hold my oldest over the toilet (because she’s little and would otherwise fall in). Then I thought, “Oh, I could pee too…”
I never imagined my life would look like this, but I just didn’t know what to expect, so I have really low expectations. If my daughter had an accident, I would have managed that too because these things happen. I expect the years my kids are in diapers and newly potty-trained will inevitably be filled with bodily fluids landing on me in ways I never imagined. I just have to make it work. But, when I do these things successfully, it gives me an intangible boost in mommy-confidence and I ride these highs like nothing else. I know there will be moments I’m questioning what to do (like when a baby refuses to calm down and fall asleep because it’s past her bedtime and she’s beyond tired. Instead of sleeping she’s crying her face off and it’s breaking my heart), but this too shall pass.
As long as my kids are happy, relatively clean, well-rested and well-fed, I got this.