During my pregnancy, I complained about lost brain cells and how relieved I would be to regain them once my twins were born. The experienced mothers fell to the floor in collective hysteria.
My identical twin boys are now nine, and I realize the brain cells aren’t coming back. But I do have enough mental capacity to list a few qualities for mom-hood I wish I’d known up front.
1. Stockpile Toothbrushes.
Wise mothers warn you that boy babies will pee everywhere when the diaper comes off. I bathed mine in the bathroom sink. With each baby clad only in a diaper and strapped to a bouncy seat, I’d fill the sink, stuff a pacifier in Baby A, rip the diaper off Baby B and toss him in the sink, then grab the shampoo.
I expected the boys to pee in the water or spurt all over my front. I wasn’t prepared for the perfectly arced stream one of them released up and out like a cement cherub in a park fountain, straight onto his father’s toothbrush. It didn’t occur to me to throw it out, or even rinse it, until I saw it poking out of my husband’s sudsy mouth the next morning.
2. Ambidextrous Breasts.
I had seen a picture of the “double football hold” in a book, and was determined to simultaneously breastfeed.
One guy jumped on right away, happily sucking like a little calf trying to get from seven pounds to fifty overnight. The other yowled in frustration every time.
After endless hours of me spurting milk in all directions but the babies’ mouths like a leaky rotating lawn sprinkler, I devised a strategy. This involved a giant nursing pillow, six couch cushions, one baby starting on the left readying it for the other then switching to the right, the second guy latching onto the left, and finally both babies working away at once, and me quite proud but with my back and neck contorted like an Indian yogi. I barely made it six months.
3. Zero Regard for Personal Appearance.
When the boys were three months old, my husband and I joyfully danced off for our first baby-free date. After dinner, I sat in the darkened car with my breast pump, while he went for movie tickets. After pumping, I strode into the theater, proud of my good mother-ness. I could go on a date with my husband and provide meals for my babies! I smiled at my husband as I approached through the crowded lobby. He sprinted toward me, gesturing at my chest like a referee at a hockey game. I must be looking especially hot, I thought. But no, I had managed to re-hook my nursing bra to my sweater so that one boob was peering out of my top, like a pink and white baby kangaroo.
4. Recognition that your Kids Will Require Therapy.
As a parent, I quickly discovered I was not afraid to employ what some mothers- in-law might view as tactics bordering on the barbaric. When the boys turned two, we enclosed their mattresses in crib tents which looked like mosquito-netted Amazon safari beds. Ostensibly to keep the children safe and prevent escape efforts, these also ended any power struggle.
Double toddler nap time rebellion? ZIP! Whacked your brother in the head with a plastic hammer? ZIP! Twin laundry basket wrestling match ending in blood? ZIP! Mommy needs a break from the four inches of bathtub water covering the floor, and a shot from the leftover codeine laced cough syrup? ZIP! I would have kept them in those tents until first grade.
5. The Inability to be Embarrassed in Public by Potty Training Mishaps.
One sunny day when the boys were nearly three, I gratefully conversed with any willing mother by the picnic tables in a busy park, my back to the play structure. Unbeknownst to me, one of the boys approached a support post, dropped trow, and set about marking his territory like a baby wolf. I turned to get a head count, caught sight of him, and booked it toward the swings.
Simultaneously, a collective horrified gasp arose from near the slide, like wind being sucked out of a building through a revolving door. As I whipped my head around to see what the commotion was, my other little boy called out to me.
“Mommy! I’m a potty rock-star!” He, also with pants down, stepped aside to display a steaming pile of poop that would have made any mature St. Bernard proud.
As I pulled the plastic newspaper bags most humans use for doggie waste from our diaper knapsack, one of the mothers withdrew her hand from in front of her mouth. “Well,” she said. “At least he didn’t do it in his pants.”
6. Membership to a Moms or Parents of Multiples Club.
Sanity and reassurance arrived at the Sunflower Farms Fall Harvest Picnic where 74 twin and triplet families overtook the entire facility. With hundreds of children aged eight and under swinging from tree forts and cargo nets, and leaping from tractors, trash cans, and beleaguered ponies like Peter Pan’s Lost Boys on crystal meth, I observed the other parents chatting calmly by the cupcake table and completely ignoring the mayhem.
Finally! I thought. Here, no one would squint at me, silently questioning why I couldn’t control my kids. No one would care if one of my boys pooped near the swing-set. No one would judge me for allowing my husband to brush with a peed-on toothbrush. And doubtful anyone would even notice if my boob were hanging out.
That’s a short list of items I wish someone had warned me about before I was pregnant. Of course if someone really had warned me, I’m pretty sure I never would have gotten pregnant. But on the bright side, with what I do know now, maybe I could start a bidding war on second hand crib tents.