As parents of twins, we all get a constant stream of questions from strangers about our doppelgängers: “Who’s older?” “Are they identical?” and even, “Who’s the good twin?” But there’s a whole host of separate questions that as parents of multiples we ask each other, especially when our kids are young. The number one inquiry? “When does it get easier?”
Good question, indeed.
Most veteran parents of twins will answer, “It doesn’t get easier. It just changes.” I agree, somewhat. As the mother to 15-year-old twins, I think it’s more like a roller coaster, with each stage having its ups and downs. But really it all boils down to you and what you can handle. For instance, are you immune to the chorus of two newborns crying at once or are you better at turning a deaf ear to toddlers tantrumming in tandem? Or, do you have the fortitude and the tenacity for dealing with school administrators who may not see your side of the classroom placement debate?
If you break it down, the first month with newborn twins has got to be the most difficult, especially for first-time parents. Talk about a baptism by fire! Not only is it emotionally difficult (think of all those postpartum hormones wreaking havoc) but physically challenging, too (think sleep deprivation). One newborn is demanding enough but two little babies (or more) who may have different temperaments and sleep habits can be exhausting and put any parent’s patience to the test. Yet within a few months, once you get the hang of breastfeeding or bottle feeding two at once, or feel like a human again once both babies begin to sleep through the night, you do hit a “sweet spot.” And then you’re rewarded for a short time with all the “firsts.” First smile, first laugh, first time rolling over.
And then it changes.
During the toddler years, your twins are off and running. In opposite directions. Always. You can’t possibly keep up with their energy. You can’t keep them clean. You can’t keep them in their cribs. Or in their beds. Your once pristine home becomes a battleground of toys. And those curious toddler twins enjoy banding together causing mayhem in your home or sometimes, sadly, in someone else’s.
Oh, the stories I’ve heard. One mom told me her toddler twins dumped several buckets of water in her walk-in closet. They wanted to make a swimming pool. The damage to her wood floor was in the thousands! Another mom’s twins locked her out of the house during a snowstorm. She was barefoot.
Still, the toddler years have their moments of bliss, too, like the day they’re finally potty trained. (Who would have thought that peeing in a toilet would bring such joy?) Nighttime is a bit easier too as a tired toddler can sleep ten hours, easily. Plus, they can actually feed themselves! They say, “I love you,” willingly and often. But the biggest reward during the toddler years comes by just stepping back and observing their lust for life. Their curiosity is insatiable as well as infectious. And so is their laughter.
And then it changes.
Welcome to the school years. Yes, your twins are gone for an entire day and your double daycare bills are a thing of the past. (What will you do with all the money you’re saving??) Or, if you stayed home with them, you’re now free to rediscover or reinvent yourself, not to mention shower. Maybe you can go back to school or start a new business. The sky’s the limit! It’s exhilarating! Ah, the freedom!
But hold on a minute. Although the school years can be a great time of life, educating multiples in a system designed for singletons can be challenging for some parents. Not only do you have to decide from year to year about classroom placement for your twins but you may also have to convince your school district that you’ve made the right choice. And what happens if one twin struggles either scholastically or socially while the other becomes an über student who makes friends easily?
For me, those early school years were exhausting. I remember dealing with pure “homework hell.” Both my boys needed lots of help during the primary grades to complete their reports—the mission report in fourth, the state report in fifth and then the country report in sixth. Bad enough trying to help one boy navigate through the writing process—how to find legitimate sources, how to take notes, how to organize the material, how to avoid plagiarizing—but two at once? Where’s my Tylenol?
But then it mellowed.
We’re in a period of family life now that I like to call the “Golden Age.” At 15-years-old, my fraternal twin boys are super students who can organize their time well and get their work done. (Good thing because I couldn’t possibly help them with their math now!) They’re potty trained, tantrum-free, and when they run off in opposite directions, I consider that a good thing. They’re too young to drive so that whole drinking-driving-texting thing hasn’t reared its ugly head…yet. Yes, they roll their eyes on occasion or back talk when they think we’re being “unfair,” but for the most part, they’re funny, intelligent kids. I like being around them. I know this may not last forever but for now, I’m lovin’ it.
So, in answer to the question, yes, Virginia, it does get easier.
What do you think?