They say hindsight is 20/20. This is especially obvious to me, a mom of multiples. As my twins are rapidly approaching their twentieth birthday—almost full-grown men—I look back at their lives with a sense of awe and admiration. But I also reflect on my time as their mother (at times, a bit too critically) and see a few things crystal clear that weren’t back then. If only I could turn the clock back. Here is what having twins has taught me.
I’ll never get my pre-pregnancy body back.
Sorry but it’s true. I’ve gotten close—within five pounds close—but all my body parts have shifted south. And all that talk I heard about stomach crunches sculpting my abdomen? Lies. (At least for me.) You see, I gained a respectable 60 pounds during my twin pregnancy (at the time, that was more than 50 percent of my pre-pregnancy body weight), and something just had to give. For me, that meant the look of my stomach which was stretched beyond humanly possible. Obviously, the pay off was worth it—my boys made it to term and tipped the scales at 6′ 8″ and 6′ 12″ respectively, and spent no time in NICU. Yet, my body paid the price. My stomach still resembles a deflated balloon. Not that I’m complaining. Well, at least not a lot. Even after 20 years, I still on occasion stand in front of the mirror and pull that extra “twin skin” taut just to remind myself of what I used to look like, or fantasize about what it would be like getting that expensive tummy-tuck.
But it’s all good. (Really, you ask?) Yes, really. Clothes can hide a lot of body flaws especially with today’s shapewear as it smooths everything out. If you saw me fully dressed, you’d hardly know that my stomach is a bit scary to look at. Besides, a 50-something-year-old woman really has no business wearing a bikini to the beach anyway (unless, of course, she’s Christie Brinkley).
It takes a village (and a really good double stroller) to raise twins.
I remember once when I was about 20 weeks pregnant with my twins, I went shopping for nursery supplies. The sales women were very friendly and helpful, especially when they found out I was expecting twins. “Will you have help?” they asked cheerfully. I can honestly say that it had never occurred to me until that exact moment that I would need help. I don’t know what I was thinking my life with twins would be like. Perhaps I was caught in a prenatal fantasy, imagining two sweet cherubs napping peacefully rather than crying endlessly or refusing to nap. Fortunately, I woke up just in time. I immediately went home and began thinking about who I could recruit to help me out during those first few months—my mother-in-law, my girlfriends, the pre-teen next door. Thankfully I put a plan into action that saved my sanity.
No, you can’t do it all alone. Or, at least, you shouldn’t. Although it is possible to nurse or feed both babies at the same time, or even put them both down for a nap at the same time, there is a learning curve to this mothering multiples thing. I’d say about a two-month learning curve. And until that golden moment arrives when you can honestly say, “No worries, I got this,” get yourself some help.
It’s my own fault for buying a white couch.
No matter how well-mannered I thought my toddler twins were, it was just a matter of time before they put a few good muddy shoe prints on that pristine palate I called a sofa. It’s not their fault—it’s what kids do. Instead, it was my fault. What was I thinking? Fortunately, I learned my lesson. The next couch I bought was leather. Best. Decision. Ever. Leather can take a beating and still look great. Choose black or brown leather, and look for an overstuffed sofa with no tufting (the buttons eventually pop out making the sofa look ratty before it’s time).
And forget about that high-end screen door with the super sheer netting. It did its job so well, that my twin boys could barely see that it was there, and sadly ran right through it more times than I’d care to admit. In less than a year, it was worthless.
I bought those $40 Stride Rite toddler sneakers and $30 Levi jeans just once. Nine times out of ten, my boys would outgrow clothes even before they put them on for the first time. Instead, I should have cherished the hand-me-downs more, and opened a Target credit card sooner (you get five percent back with every purchase).
So what’s the take-away lesson here? Dark colors, rugged fabrics, and save the really nice stuff until your twins hit the age of ten. If not older!
I should have saved more for my twins’ college tuition.
Double duty tuition bites. Trust me as I’m in the thick of it right now. And, no, financial aid won’t bail you out as everyone else is vying for a piece of that pie. (Learned that the hard way, too.) While it’s true that the more kids you have in college at the same time, the more financial aid you will qualify for, schools don’t necessarily have to give it to you. In other words, qualifying for financial aid is no guarantee that you’ll get it from a school.
Instead be smart and open two 529 college savings accounts the minute those babies burst onto the scene. Some 529 plans let you add as little as $25 a month if your sign up for automatic deposits. Add birthday money and holiday checks from Grandma and Grandpa into the mix, increase the amount of your automatic deposit every year (some plans let you automate that as well), and by the time your twins reach 18, you should have a decent sum. (Even if your twins decide not to go to college, you can roll the money over to younger siblings without penalty.)
Furthermore, make school and grades a priority. Yes, your twins may be awesome soccer, tennis, track or [fill in the blank] athletes, but the chances that they’ll be recruited by a university are very, very slim (less than two percent of high-school seniors win NCAA scholarships). Instead, when they are little focus on language acquisition and then reading. If you have a pair of voracious readers, it will pay off hugely not only in good grades but in higher SAT/ACT scores, and ultimately in academic scholarships directly from the universities that your twins are interested in attending.
So, I’m curious….what has having twins taught you about parenting or about life in general? Please comment below!