Before I had children I was really good at imagining what kind of a parent I would be. I was also really good at making assumptions about what I would or would not do. Once I became a mother to twin girls, I threw all of my assumptions out the window. It was survival mode for a long time – trying different things to see what would work and then finding new strategies after the old ones stopped working. Learning to go with the flow and that change is constant are two lessons I am reminded of each day. And even though my kids are no longer babies, I’m finding that these lessons still hold truth. As parents we have to constantly adjust to new routines, behaviors, and circumstances.
When I was pregnant, I imagined that the girls would have similar interests, personalities, and needs. Even though they are not identical twins (they’re fraternal) I assumed, as siblings, they would have comparable personalities. This couldn’t have been further from the truth! Right from the beginning they acted differently. Ashlyn napped like a champ and was a dream at night. She was sleeping through the night at four months (it took one night to sleep-train her). Madison, however, was sleep “challenged”, constantly crying unless she was held. I had to rock (or bounce) her to sleep every single night and she woke up numerous times.
As the girls grew, their personalities became even more defined. Their actions, how they interpret things, what they need from me, and so on. Ashlyn, my little extrovert, is outgoing and is always ready to try something new. She is quite the daredevil at times (my poor heart!). Madison, an introvert like her mom, is much more cautious and tends to put a lot of thought into things before trying them. She still likes to be held and relies on me a lot. Two very unique girls with separate personalities. I sometimes catch myself wishing Ashlyn would slow down and stop running/jumping/exploring and that Madison would get out there and explore or stop being so hesitant. But I’m realizing that it makes it much easier to be their mom when I accept them for who they are naturally.
Parenting is hard. And when you have two children close in age it can be challenging to figure out a good rhythm. Sometimes it can feel like you are going in circles without ever making progress. I often find myself asking questions like: What is happening here? What do you need? Can you please use your words? Help me understand. I know things will change. I know that what we are doing now matters. And yet I still feel the stress and anxiety about it all.
Matt and I struggle with being on the same page as parents. I am curious if most couples are in sync with each other. I tend to be more lenient while Matt is the disciplinarian. And sometimes we oppose each other’s parenting in front of the kids. A friend told me how important it was to appear united in front of your children and it makes total sense, yet it’s really hard for me to remember this in the moment. We’re trying to get better about backing each other up – even if we don’t necessarily agree. Do we always agree? No. We disagree quite a bit. But this needs to be discussed away from the kids. Work it out on our own – not when we are trying to parent. Work in progress.
For some reason, sharing the parent role is extremely difficult at times. I can’t tell you how often Matt will say to me, “Well the girls were great…until you got home.” Yes, they save their meltdowns for me. I’m told this happens a lot with moms, but I’m sure there are dads that get it, too. When Matt and I are both present, the girls tend to give us more trouble than if only one of us were there. It makes us crazy because sometimes it doesn’t feel like we can be together – all of us – without meltdowns and tantrums. Again, I know that this will pass. And in a blink they won’t be my little girls anymore.
I am learning so much as a parent – how to be the best version of myself for my kids, how to balance my role as a mom with my role as a wife and partner. How to bend and breathe. And on those days that seem like I know nothing about raising kids, I remember how far I have come and I let that crazy thought go.
This post was supposed to be a short essay on why toddlers can be terrible (kidding!), but instead it got a bit more serious. I hope you don’t mind the rambling of my message. I’d love to know if you can relate. I would especially like to hear from seasoned parents or anyone with kids close in age.