I have just googled ‘How to cope with twin toddler tantrums’.
You have no idea how relieved I was when Google started to autofill the question for me, proving that we are not alone in our desperation.
This blog isn’t about my children, love them as I do. I’ve never subscribed to the term ‘Mummy blogger’. There are others who do it far, far better than I ever could (The Unmumsy Mum and Hurrah for Gin are two who have kept me smiling over the past couple of years).
But recently I’ve been asked why I don’t write about having twins more often. And the truth is far more prosaic than ‘this blog is a space for me’. Yes, my teeth did clench writing that – what a horrible cliché.
It’s because I never, in a million years, even considered that twins would be part of my life. Children, yes. And I had quite a bit of experience on that front, all that babysitting and helping out friends with their nippers. I look back now and laugh, hollowly.
From the shock of finding out we were having twins, to dealing with the ever more complicated birthday cake requests – and yes, I know it is months away, but apparently George Pig birthday candles in blue will be vital to my baking success – it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster.
Parenthood really isn’t how you imagine it will be. I got my first dose of this on the day of my first scan. It took me a good couple of months to let go of my preconceived notions of what maternity leave and motherhood would be like. The reaction of some friends and family didn’t help – from tears of laughter (actually, that one was a corker) to the often said phrase, “if anyone was going to have twins, it would be you!” Useful, thanks…
A couple of years down the line and I look back and wonder how we’ve done it. Not least because at times I seriously worried about our marriage, my sanity and whether we would all still be alive at the end of the day. Now we’re well and truly into the toddler years, and whilst part of me mutters like a stranger in the supermarket, saying as your children scream in rage and frustration, “you’ll never get these days again, enjoy them”, the other part of me wonders when we’ll be through this part of it all.
Yet as we navigate our way through the Petite Pommes formative years I am reassured by the fact I worry about my parenting. The day I don’t is the day I really need to be slapped round the chops with a wet fish. Either that, or my children will suddenly be grown up and then I’ll just have a new set of worries to worry about, and more grey than ever in my hair. At least by then I guess I’ll be able to have a five minute phone call without them vying for attention.
Like most parents, we want to create a happy and loving environment to raise our children in. We want to give them a secure and stable base to grow, flourish and have fun in. Feed them good food, love and knowledge, in all forms. The reality is it’s bloody hard to do that when they’re both railing against the world around them, against injustice in all its tiny toddler forms, forming a hit squad of surround sound.
This is the part the books don’t tell you. There may be a tiny section – perhaps a couple of pages devoted to multiples and how to cope with X or Y – but the reality is that yes, it is different with two of the same age. I need a book on how to cope when both of them are having a monumental meltdown and it takes 45 minutes to get them home from preschool, along the main road. A walk of 5 minutes, tops, along the main road. I can’t carry both of them at the same time, I’m not strong enough. So I ended up having to drag them, watched and judged by everyone who drives past. I need a book to tell me how to get both of them to sleep in their own bloody beds, which doesn’t involve me getting no sleep at all. You can read all the Mumsnet in the world – and there are times when that website has saved my bacon – but it won’t come and deal with a pair of tantrumming, competitive, sleep refusing toddlers. Even TAMBA, as brilliant as it has been with its courses and advice – doesn’t upload fact sheets as often as I need them.
These are all things which parents generally have to cope with. But not at the same bloody time. It doesn’t matter how many times my mother tells me that she knows what it’s like as my brother and I are only 13 months apart. Two at the same time is different. And sometimes that spills over.
To be honest, I need a book which tells me that it’s ok to be a shouty mum. As long as it isn’t the default setting. And which reassures me that, actually, as long as I’m trying my best, and doing the best I can, it’ll turn out ok in the end.
In the absence of that book, aimed just at twin parents – TAMBA, just shout if you want me to write one for you – then the validation and moments of sheer connection you get with other parents just has to do. Because at the end of the day, we all have children in common.
So, thank God for other twin mums and mums in general and bloggers and tweeters. Just knowing that you’re not alone can make a huge difference. Thank God that I can say sorry to my children and tell them that I love them, even if I don’t always like their behaviour. And thank God for those moments of complete serenity – like yesterday morning when they played happily together for two hours – which show me that actually, we will get through this one day, and we might even still be speaking to each other.
In the meantime, I’ll carry on not actively blogging about my children. Because, at the end of the day, this blog is a space just for me…