As a Mom of Twins, Are You Feeling Personally Fulfilled?

If you ask any mom today, especially a mom of twins or more, if she is feeling personally fulfilled with her daily life, and she may say “absolutely”! Another may answer that she is not. Ask another mom this question the morning following a sleepless night up with sick kids, and she may tell you … to bite her. When my first set of twins were six months old, my husband Bruce and I moved away from Northern Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, where we had lived and built our careers for nine years. We relocated, for reasons that included getting out of the crazy traffic of the Capital Beltway, as well as the desire to be closer to both of our families, and found ourselves in Gainesville, Florida. This particular city became our new home because Bruce received the best employment offer from a growing architectural firm there out of the several companies where he’d sent resumes in the various areas we’d considered relocating to. Though we were now closer to our families, we were not, however, in the same towns. In fact, we were still two hours by car from my parents, and ten hours from Bruce’s family. When the boxes were unpacked and we were finally settled into our two bedroom apartment, a particular realization of loneliness, isolation and culture shock descended upon me. My former life as a wife and professional no longer existed, and not only did we leave our home, city, jobs, friends and everything else familiar to us for the previous nine years of our lives, but I was now a full-time mom of two babies, and  …. well, that now summed up my life. Keeping constantly connected to friends on a daily basis wasn’t as easy as it is today. In 1995, the internet was just developing, and Mark Zuckerberg was only 11 years old. I kept in touch with my long-distance friends and family by phone, and was grateful when Bruce came home from work in the evenings. I loved my baby girls very much, and they kept me very busy. I took them up to our apartment pool, and for stroller walks around our complex, to the grocery store, the mall, and to a nearby park where a beautiful lake surrounded by a paved strolling/jogging path was it’s center focal point. I still, however, felt separated. Although I loved my life as a mom, especially after wanting to become a mom for so long, I missed my job … my old life. I missed enjoying my lunch hour with coworkers and friends, being challenged by projects at work, and needless to say, sleeping uninterrupted each night (but that’s another topic)! I took the advice of friends who were also moms and decided to contact the local twins club there in Gainesville so I could connect with other moms of twins. I also joined the Parents of Preschoolers group at our new church. Interacting with other women who were experiencing similar circumstances, or who were just wanting to form friendships, was the key for me to no longer feel alone and isolated. One area was still lacking for me, however. By the time my girls were about 18 months old and no longer breastfeeding, I contacted the creative department head who had been my boss in the corporation I worked for up in DC. We had discussed my freelancing for her before we had moved away, and I was now ready to work again. Granted, it would only be very part-time because my hands were very full with my toddlers, but I was ready to work, if only on a very part-time basis. Once I began to propose layouts and designs again, and receive rewarding feedback, I felt my self-confidence sky rocket. I had regained my ability to contribute my skills, talents and experience back into the career that I loved and had worked hard to build. I was an exhausted, fulfilled, busy but very happy mom! The paycheck that arrived every two weeks only added to the benefits of self esteem and growing self-worth. I was, of course, needed by my husband and my children, but knowing I was also needed in a professional capacity was enormously rewarding and fulfilling.  

My advice to mom of twins who desire personal fulfillment:

1) Realize that now as a mom, your life has now forever changed … but it can be better and more fulfilling than you ever imagined! 2) Count your blessings each day (your beautiful, healthy children, your supportive husband, the baby weight slowly ncoming off) because “a thankful heart is a happy heart” (yeah, I got that from a Veggie Tales song!) 3) Become involved in activities, organizations, clubs, church, and any other enjoyable activity where friendly human interaction is central to your involvement. 5) Take good care of yourself … don’t neglect your own needs such as exercise, wellness check-ups, quiet alone time, and regular salon/spa visits. 4) Hire a babysitter on a regular basis so you and your husband can go out and place “being parents” on temporary hold, and feel like “a couple” for a few hours. 5) Re-connect with your former career, or find a new one! My best advice is to find a way to work from home so that placing your children in day care or preschool too early isn’t an added expense for you, or time away from your children. (REMEMBER: they grow up SOOOOO fast!) And so to this day, two more sets of twins later, I’ve continued to enjoy my fulfilling life as a mom of now six children in addition to being a stay-at-home, work-from-home mother. I’ve also continued my involvement in my local twin club, church-related mothers organizations and ministries … all of which have kept me busy, productive, happy and, I believe, a strong role model for my children, especially my three daughters. If you’re like me, being able to stay involved with enjoyable activities, being available and flexible to plan my days around my children’s busy schedules, AND still being able to work from home to maintain and continue to develop my professional skills (and bring in needed income) could prove to give you a very rewarding life!

Twins Are ONEs That Happen to Come in TWOs!

Twins grow and develop first as womb-mates, …

… are born on the same day (with rare exception) … are dressed alike … share a bassinet … share a crib … share a bedroom … share, share and share some more. This doubling-up is true for identical or fraternal twins (including boy/girl combos … I know because I did it with mine!) For a while, most parents of twins enjoy pairing up our little duos because, well let’s face it, it’s fun, and they’re so darn cute! We’ve  lots of “twin sets” of clothing outfits, bedding, toys, etc., and we naturally enjoy them. Now, I’m not saying everything has to be exactly the same. Some little girl outfits are same style but are different colors, or the same pattern is found on your daughter’s dress which matches her twin brother’s pants or vest. The children themselves grow in an awareness and become used to this type of treatment … for a while. Then comes the day when one little girls falls in love with one dress that she must wear day after day, yet her twin doesn’t really show any interest in that same dress. Or, as his mom, you notice that one of your sons is very interested in a particular toy which his twin totally discards when given it. Twins or not, identical or not … each child is demonstrating his or her own unique individuality. As parents, we’re the first to recognize our child’s differences from the others, her likes and dislikes, his preferences and habits. I’ve witnessed my children as each began to assert his and her own individuality … and also as they’ve each gone after their own interests, different friends, sports, hobbies, etc., after having shared just about everything in the beginning. The experience is bitter/sweet when it happens, because as their mother, I recognize that this is all a part of growing up. As a parent of twins, have you begun to experience their asserting individuality? Independence from the other? A desire to be treated as a separate individual as opposed to a packaged-set? Two young ladies couldn’t be more different than my nearly 17 year old twin daughters. Each has specific talents, interests, friends (although all within the same group), style, mannerisms, desires, wishes, goals, and so on. They are fraternal twins, but I have to say that the same is true for their best friends, who happen to be a set of identical twins! Since as parents, we have no control over our children’s desires and wishes, it’s so important that we support, encourage and celebrate each of our twin’s differences and special characteristics which make each person who that person really is. So, although it’s fun to enjoy our little “twinkie-packs”, our little peas-in-a-pod, our little double bundles, it’s equally fun to experience the transformations as they blossom into the unique and wonderfully special young people they are becoming before our very eyes.

What Happens When One Twin is Excluded?

Twins arrive as a set, a pair, a side-by-side little couple of womb-mates turned room-mates. Some of us often refer to them “the twins”, especially when they arrive after or before a singleton or two. For those of us who have more than one set of twins, calling each them “the twins” may be confusing, but that’s beside the subject! What happens to our twin duos when they get older and begin to socialize and become involved in sports and other activities? What happens when one twin girl is asked by a friend at school to be her best friend? How does the other twin feel? Is this other twin automatically invited in activities that involve the other two girls simply by virtue of her twin status? Are the twins assumed to be an inseparable set … or, is one excluded and treated simply as a sibling of this classmate’s best friend? What would happen if one twin was invited to a birthday party and not was other? Another example would be a set of 10-year-old set of boy twins who are both interested in a spot on the school soccer team. If one twin is a stronger player than the other, is it assumed that both will make the team regardless of the fact that one is not as strong a player as the other? A set of identical 16-year-old twin girls played for two years on the junior varsity volley ball team at my daughters’ high school. In fact, throughout their entire lives, the girls have played on every team and have been involved in every activity together. Following varsity volley ball team try-outs, one of the girls learned that she had not made the team, yet the other had earned a spot. The actual words of the coach were, “I’m sorry, but one is just a more valuable player than the other, and please don’t just assume that you’re automatically a packaged-deal …” In my opinion, the coach could definitely have chosen a more tactful way of explaining his reasoning. Hurt feelings of exclusion combined with the discomfort and disappointment of believing he or she is perceived as less important, less wanted, or less talented than their twin cannot be an enjoyable experience initially. However, growing independently and realizing that twins, even identical twins, will at some point in life have different friends, interests, choices and dreams, can only enrich their lives as well as have them develop in maturity, losing the need and constant dependence on his or her twin. When the tears stopped, and the girls’ parents had finished consoling one while also congratulating the others, the young ladies realized that this unexpected change in their lives would present a perfect opportunity for each to grow individually. They could each assert some much-needed independence and temporary distance from each other. The time away from each other would allow each to miss each other, and perhaps discover a new appreciation for each other! There’s no doubt that twins share strong, unique bonds, but when the situation presents itself where one is included and the other is not, twins should take this opportunity to celebrate their differences, and spend some beneficial time apart. Have you experienced this type of situation with your twins? If so, how did you handle it? How did your twins handle the situation? An About.com article article called “When One Isn’t Invited” by my friend Pam Fierro and mother of identical twin girls further discusses this topic.

Please share your comments below … remember, your experience benefit all of our readers!

Blessings ~

Moms of Twins: What Can You Do When Your Twins Become Aggressive?

One minute your precious twin toddlers are playing quietly …

… so you take the opportunity to go into the kitchen and prepare them lunch. Just after spreading peanut butter onto one slice of bread, you suddenly hear a scream, and then another! In no time, they’re both screaming, hitting, and punching each other … what happened?! You immediately notice that they are fighting over one particular toy truck. “Luckily,” you think to yourself, “we have TWO of the same toy truck!” After giving each child his own truck, and placing some distance between the two children temporarily, you proceed back to the kitchen, where you’ve left the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches half-made.

Suddenly, the ear-piercing screams erupt again! You toss your banana-slicing knife down on to the counter top and race back into the family room, only to discover that one of the boys prefers to have BOTH trucks to himself! The greedy culprit runs and taunts his brother while your empty-handed child screams and chases his toy-hoarding twin as if he’d stolen one of his limbs!

As you rush over to break them up and spare blood loss, you realize that one had actually broken the skin of the other while biting his arm … good grief! After verbally correcting both children, hoping that your stern voice and serious facial expression has made an impression, and after washing and bandaging the wounded child’s arm, you think to yourself, “What am I supposed to do? How am I supposed to handle this? Are my children abnormally, overly aggressive? How do I put an END to this behavior?

Does this sound like you?

And as we all know, this scenario can involve boys, girls and both, so no mom is immune!

Toddler aggression is very common in singleton siblings as well as twins.

If you’re experiencing this type of behavior, you are NOT alone. So, first know that. Secondly, it’s only natural for any child (or person for that matter) to a react as a result of any type of provocation. Even newborns react by screaming and flailing their arms while experiencing unpleasant stimuli. As children age, however, they learn that hitting, punching, biting, scratching, for instance, are effective methods to defend or to assert their needs, wants or express an injustice of some sort, and are all quick releases of frustration that match their feelings. It’s instinctive, reactive behavior to want to fight back as a method for getting the point across!

Professor’s House, a home, family, and children information resources website posts an article on childhood aggression which states: In the early years, the hitting is pretty benign. They do it because they don’t know exactly how to handle a problem. They hit because they have been hit or scratched or pushed by other kids along the way. They hit because they are angry. They hit because they truly don’t realize that their actions can cause any sort of real pain or damage. In these years – the appropriate parental behavior is to try and teach kids how to take the high road. Children should learn to ask for mediation from adults rather than handle situations themselves.

The article goes on to say: (Another way) to keep siblings from hitting each other is to give them other options. Remember they are angry, mad, and frustrated. Help them find their words and help them find solutions to the problem that don’t involve the strike of a hand. What works for each of your children will be different. Part of the reason not to hit for a kid has to be what will happen to them should they decide to do it anyways. However, your goal is to help your child deal with what they feel in the moment and give them ways to control it. When you notice that they do, they should be rewarded. What the real issue is is self-control. When you teach your children how to control themselves, they will be far better in the long run. This self-control may entail listening to your child throw a fit or buying them a punching bag to release their anger. They should be told time and time again that hitting can hurt people physically and emotionally until they understand this fact. Chances are your child doesn’t want to inflict injury, but just wants to get their way.

When an argument arises between your children, please consider this …

Your children must learn to work out their own disagreements. Sometimes the argument has begun over something very insignificant, and if it has occurred in the privacy of your own home, perhaps allow the children to see what solutions they can come up with on their own. I am certainly not saying that you should let them tear each other to pieces, in fact, once the fists start flying, it’s time to intervene. But, if we as parents get involved in every single altercation that our kids get themselves into, we run the risk of making the situation a lot bigger than it actually is, and we don’t allow our children to find their own way of working it out. There’s nothing wrong with verbal expression … in fact, a good shouting match (without foul language and name-calling) can go a long way in your child’s ability to stand up for himself, to defend herself, to assert himself, and to debate in a healthy, creative way even at the young age of 2 or 3!

So, the key isn’t to stop the fighting, but rather to teach the correct and civil way to disagree.

When your children begin to argue, keep in mind these 3 tips:

1) Allow them to work out the problem themselves verbally. Shouting’s okay unless the volume could wake a sleeping baby or two! Intervene when you think it’s time to suggest a solution that the children could consider and debate.

2) Intervening and making too big of a deal out of a small issue (for instance, calling a family meeting together) could drag out an otherwise “no-big-deal” situation into a much bigger problem, and may only magnify the problem and cause more stress on everyone.

3) If or when physical aggression such as hitting, biting, scratching, etc., begins, immediately intervene and correct your children by taking the item being quarreled over away (“now no one gets it!”). Speak to each child impressing upon him or her that big kids don’t try to hurt each other, … that there are much better ways to argue or to express anger, …and sit them each in time-out for a cooling off period.

 

For the complete article from Professor’s House, go to: http://goo.gl/Hl5dn.

And for a lengthy, in depth mom-forum discussion about toddler twins and aggressive behavior, visit: http://goo.gl/A9ujn.