Friday, April 29, 2011

Twinspin - Overwhelmed

It is morning. The dark sky is barely hinting blue when I see him. It's just after six and he is pushing a double stroller. I notice his blonde hair - wild and uncombed - caught in a florescent glow as he passes beneath a streetlight. In the stroller are two babies, swaddled tight. Maybe three, four months old. An unusual sight this time of morning.

But all I can think, as we go gliding past, is that somewhere in a warm bedroom under a quilt, a mother of newborn twins... is sleeping. I want to turn around and hug him right there. Yes, we're strangers. But not to the experience of having twins - of having two babies awake in the pre-dawn hours. Hours when more than anything your body craves, wants, begs for, feels as if it might die without... sleep.


I actually love this picture and all the lazy mornings when our little ones climb into our bed as soon as they wake up.

But you remember the exhaustion, right? Those months when you're trying to figure out if you will nurse your babies, bottle-feed them, or both. You are up most of the night and barely drifting back to sleep when you hear...crying. Not sure which one it is, you fling off the covers, sit up and sigh. Is it the one I just rocked to sleep? Or the other? During those months all days seem to seep into one long droopy-eyed marathon. Simple pleasures like a shower, brushing teeth, and sitting down, feel desperately out of reach.

Bless that hubby's sleepy heart, I think.

And then I think of my own hubby-hero who did his fair share of night feeds - never shirking a single mommy/house-keeping duty. Doug jumps right in the second he walks through the door. Always has. He fixes dinner, plays with the kids, changes a diaper, starts baths. I couldn't do it without him.


Bless his sleepy, domesticated heart.

There are different seasons of being overwhelmed.

The season of sleepless nights doesn't last forever. My boys have been sleeping through the night since they were six months old. But now, they're so active I'm pretty sure they could give Dash a run for his money.
And they're tricky. They don't dash in the same direction - they split. One goes one way, one the other. But ironically, while fully embracing their independence, there are plenty of times when they only want Mom.

Like here.


And two of these wrapped around my legs while trying to fix dinner is rough.

Or this.


When they're mad at you. And everything you set on their tray gets lobbed across the kitchen.

Then there's this.


Yes, that is Spencer biting Gordon as they tug-a-war over the little lawnmower. These two get along quite well, but occasionally, it takes some vigilant refereeing and a bit of ingenuity to keep everyone happy.

I'm going gray already (I color every few weeks - there's a confession for you), but not having enough eyes is making me age at warp speed.

Here are the boys on the kitchen table - digging the dirt out of my plant. I blink and they're into something else.


The other day I was trying to round-up all the kids and bring them inside for lunch. The girls scampered over to the neighbors' swing set. Gordon followed. I caught sight of him teetering down the hill and wielding a shovel. I ran to pick him up, leaving Spencer on the front lawn and just as I was topping the hill (Gordon and shovel in arms), I saw Spencer walking in the middle of the street with a white sedan rounding the corner and heading straight for him. I bolted, snatched him up with my free pinky finger (mommy-adrenaline in full throttle) and hauled two screaming, protesting boys into the house. With my chest still pounding, I went back outside and hollered to the girls (who refused to listen) that they needed to come home. In total frustration I thought, I can't even keep my kids safe in my own front yard! This is insane!

Maybe it's that my boys are now a constant spin of ambulating activity. Maybe it's that all five of my children are busy, it's still cold outside yet everyone has cabin fever, and I haven't recuperated from tax season. Maybe I need to accept that this is going to get harder before it gets easier, but I'm finding myself overwhelmed lately.

So I want some feedback.

What makes you feel overwhelmed? How do you cope? How do you keep cool under pressure, in the midst of babies crying? Or when being one mommy with only two hands feels like a handicap?

I don't think you have to be a twin parent to feel this way.



ps - I'll write about the "overwhelming" joy of twins next time. Promise.


  1. I just forwarded this to my son and daughter in law who have 2 year old twins. I'm sure she can relate!

  2. Amen sister!

    I loathe "the witching hour" - that time between when the oldest gets home from school and hubby gets home from work. Nothing makes 2 hours feel like an eternity than the witching hour. So it's cribby time for the Kiddos just to get some peace helping the boy with his homework. Some days when I'm feeling really overwhelmed the only thing I can do is cry.

    Hubby and i remind ourselves that this busy time is temporary and that things will get easier. And then we marvel at how far we've come.

    Your blog is awesome - thanks for sharing!

  3. Oh, Catherine, I do NOT have two sets of twins close together, so I have never been pulled in quite so many directions... I think it's fair to be overwhelmed. Remember, the days last forever, but the years fly by. (Did I hate it when people quoted that at me when my children were tiny and I was dreading the month-long days of toil? I can't remember. See? We forget the hard work and remember the good. Mostly.) I do love that first picture. So sweet.

    (Still waiting...She got my number from a friend last night and says she wants to talk to me in person. I think that's not a good sign, but I'm ready to know.)

  4. I found myself at Primary Children's one day, registering my three year-old for a chest x-ray. He'd been struggling to breathe for days. We had just come from our second doctor appointment that week and I was feeling stressed about him -- especially after the doctor used the word, "worrisome."

    My newborn had gotten his vaccinations that morning as well and was fussy. Also in tow were my five year-old son and a two year-old girl we were babysitting.

    After spending an hour at the previous appointment, everyone was restless and causing havoc in the waiting area. My calm was disintegrating. I felt like I was breaking under the weight of a perfect storm.

    Then my five year-old came running over saying, "Mom! Mom!"

    "What!" I snapped.

    "Mom, Hannah is a girl because Santa Clause made her that way."

    In that instant the clouds parted and I found my perspective again. "Wild and precious" says it all. I stifled a laugh and resolved to have a little talk about Santa when everything was calm.

    I'm sorry about your day. It's hard when you're outnumbered. I hope today is a better one.

  5. You have just confirmed all my fears of when my boys start walking! I am treasuring each day right now while they just roll around, but know that the next stage is too close for my comfort. You are amazing. Can we schedule a side by side pedicure someday soon?

  6. That picture of you and your kids is beautiful! What a gorgeous family you are. So much goodness in your face.

    Ah, yes, the twin toddler years...dizzying. In fact, I'll send you an e-mail with a short piece of writing I have from one Sunday a few years ago in which I felt like I had gone mad.

    I can totally imagine that moment when one twin had gone one way and one had gone another. My heart was racing for you at the thought of it.

    Overwhelmed? Oh, most definitely...."constant spin of ambulating activity"...what a perfect phrase. And, while I only have one set of twins, and they are boys, I highly suspect that boys are far more physical which means there are lots more fights to break up and they are far more likely to be in motion and into things. Yes, those toddler years are so intense. Coping? Laugh and lower my expectations...the two things that got me through some of that insanity...and prayer of course. I'll e-mail you soon.

  7. Grandma Honey - I hope she can relate! I'm worried this post sounded like one big complaint. But I wrote it after feeling particularly spent one night last week. Tonight, I listened to a group of Burmese refugees sing and I am feeling so very grateful for my life - and my wild/precious bunch.

    knit 1 knit 2 - Perspective is everything, isn't it? It really does help to remember seasons come and go. - that we can do whatever we need to with the given moment - hold onto it or let it go. So glad I'm not the only one who cries.

    Kerri - Yes, we all know the adage - but it's so true. The years are flying by! And in the end, hopefully my children remember the good too. Please let me know. Maybe a phone call is a good thing??? xo

    Melinda - I LOVE your story! Thank you for sharing. I need to lighten up sometimes - in a big way. Thanks so much for posting your thoughts here.

    Em - a pedicure side by side!??? When? You name the date! And yes, I was a champion of walkers, but I am now seeing the next phase: runners! It's a whole new ball game!

    Anne Marie - I'll look for your email. Love all your thoughts. As usual. Will correspond with you soon.

  8. dear cath...

    play pens
    crib tents
    dutch-door in a play room
    all equal safety and sanity
    my mom used them
    so did i as soon as it was impossible to keep toddlers closely supervised.

    call me if you want to talk. xox

  9. I simply adore that first photo of you and your littles. Love you.

  10. My kids are 23, 21, and 14 . . .and I "still" feel this way! :o)

  11. Triage.. grab the one in the most danger! Keep up the good work momma!

  12. So glad you're capturing all this emotion, not just the happy faces. I love it! I'm sure you've heard this line before "I don't know how you do it" and really I have no advice. Just yesterday keeping Ethen off the luggage belt and within eyesight was a challenge, and there were 3 other adults with me! We create quite a spectacle and here people stop, stare, and then snap a photo of us and our mayhem. Day by day, one day we'll look back and our kids will say, "Mom, I don't know how you did it."

    Happy Mother's Day!


  13. Cristie - dutch-door in a playroom - that's brilliant! Hmmm... The catch is the girls. They let the boys outside (we're working on this) and would probably undo any safety system I put in place. But I might have to call you! xo

    Michelle - love you too.

    Cecilia - Wise Mamma. I suspect you're right - still going in different directions - just faster and farther. Loved your perspective. Thank you!

    GreenGirl - Triage. Ah, the trump word. You are so right. We triage all day, don't we? Phew...

    Shir - I'm visualizing all of you in baggage claim and smiling. You painted a great picture. And I had to laugh over Dad's email - when he talked about his wrestle trying to change Ethen's diaper. Hope you guys are having a wonderful time! "I don't know how you do it" - is what I say about you. All the change, the new countries, the finding your way, making a new home every year. You're amazing! xo

  14. Cath...I have never posted a comment before but am an avid follower of your blog. I like you am a Mormon Mommy with 2 sets of twins and am overwhelmed all the time. Some ways I cope is going on a walk, calling a friend, turning on the tv for the kiddos while I make dinner(and not feeling guilty), having date nights with the honey, praying, and eating some chocolate! And if all else fails drink some diet coke! lol...I just love your little blog and you and your children are precious...I hope your overwhelming phase ends soon....hugs!
    Leah in Az

  15. I am glad I am not the only one that gets the mad face and has to used ingenuity when the biting begins. You are a fabulous mom! I loved just being with you and your kids the other day and watching you parent. You do a marvelous job. Love you!

  16. Hi, Cath! It's been a while, and I'm trying to catch up on my fav blogs. Oh, have had a week, haven't you? To echo some others, I don't know how you do it! Well, yes I are blessed with an amazing sense of perspective and a deep love for these little people you have been given charge of. You are a fabulous mom. Kent's boss told me when Sadie was born to cherish these days as they go so fast. At the time, my oldest was 9, with a 6 year old, 3 year old and a newborn. A pretty good span, and not nearly as overwhelming as so many others like yourself. I thought at the time that those days of no sleep (its really just been about 2 years now that I get sufficient, regular, uninterrupted sleep), pre-school insanity and sibling rivalry would never end. But strange as it is, I'm looking at my oldest moving out of my house in two years (what?), and I could be a Grandma in 6 years (again...what?) The interesting thing I am learning is that while those types of crazy days at home are over, the days are still crazy and demanding in other ways--they are more emotionally exhausting as we try to fortify these youth and keep them heading in the right direction. Hang in there, my friend! You are amazing. Sure love ya!


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