It’s occurring to me now that one of the best and worst things about being a twin mom is that you cannot be there 100% for either child at the same time. When I am the only person available to care for them, it inevitably means one baby needs to wait to be fed, or wait to be picked up, or wait to be cuddled. It means one baby will always have to sit in the bottom seat of the stroller, stuck with an obstructed view of the world. It means I sometimes have to let them cry much longer than I’d want to.
I often think about what it would be like with only one child – how wonderful and relatively easy that would be. I could direct all of my attention towards that baby, and he or she would know what it is like to have all their needs met.
This morning, while I was preparing to feed Reid, Madeleine started to fuss. “I know it’s hard to wait Madeleine,” I tell her, “but I will feed you as soon as I am done with your brother.” She obviously has no idea what I’m saying, and it doesn’t help even slightly, as she continues to fuss as soon as I stop talking, but it feels important to tell her I’m not trying to ignore her. I try to drown it out while I focus on Reid, and silently pray that I’m not traumatizing her too much by letting her think that her needs don’t matter. (Maybe all twin moms should start a savings fund for their babes’ future therapy costs?)
When it’s Madeleine’s turn to eat, Reid inevitably gets put in the chair – which he hates now that he can move his arms and legs and head and wants to stretch out (and I can’t say that I blame him!). Of course, Madeleine is relieved – finally, mama!!! – but then Reid starts to cry, and I tell him the same story: “I know, Reid sweetie, it’s frustrating having to sit and wait. I’ll come pick you up when I’m finished.” He, of course, doesn’t find that comforting in the least, and cries even harder. I have to tune it out in order to focus on Madeleine, the baby who was just being tuned out minutes before, and I wonder what his future therapist will say about his trust issues (just kidding, sort of). He cries and kicks and cries and kicks….and then, eventually, he finds his thumb and settles down.
It’s hard to watch this happen – knowing that he had to do that because I wasn’t able to come and comfort him myself. But then, at the same time, I am so proud when it does. He doesn’t get to have a mom who always comes to love and soothe him right away, but because of that, he has learned that he is just as capable, if not more so, at meeting his own needs than I am. He is hopefully beginning to realize that, although there will be an infinite number of things in this world that scare him or bother him or make him sad, he does not always have to look elsewhere to have those feelings settled for him.
Once Madeleine has finished her bottle, I am finally able to pick Reid up and give him the cuddle he has been waiting for. I can see my face in his eyes, and this time I get a big smile from him. I hope that smile means no hard feelings, I know you’re trying your best. But maybe, probably, it just means I’m happy to see you, which I am more than honoured to accept.