Raising TWO sets of TWINS....and REAL thoughts on Motherhood...
"I wish that someone would have told me how hard being a mother was going to be." - Leah
Strep throat hit our house and I was wondering how I would possibly have time for the Winter Project. I mean, I definitely don't want to tote a sick 6-year-old around town to find a person I feel led to. Then, the phone rang and it was my friend Leah. She had seen me on the news and she felt led to call me.
I originally met Leah when my twins were babies. I had joined a local twin mom group and she had twins that were six months older than mine. She had lots of wisdom to give me as a new mom to twins. Life became busy after my boys turned one and Leah and I didn't talk much. Occasionally we crossed paths over the years, but it was basically saying “Hey!” while we were both running to do something else.
She ended up having another set of twins – yes, two sets of twins – before her first set was even 2 years old. Life happened, and the years went by. When the phone rang and it was Leah on the other line, it was so good to hear from her. Most moms that know Leah, including myself, basically look at her like a superwoman. I mean, it takes a real superwoman to raise two sets of twins. Four in diapers at one time. I.Can't.Even.Imagine!
On the other end of the phone was a voice so full of emotion I almost didn’t recognize it. I could sense her connection to the Winter Project was strong. She said she felt moved by the stories, and had a story of her own. But she said it wasn't even about me sharing her story; it was about reaching other mothers. Her voice quivered with emotion as she talked to me, opening her heart to me and sharing about motherhood, faith, money, and marriage. She poured it out like it had all been trapped inside for the last four years. Then our children needed us and we ended the convo by setting a date for coffee.
I lay in bed that night, thinking about the Winter Project and all the stories that I receive in my inbox as well as calls. The stories are moving and touch me in an indescribable way, but I'd never felt led to share like I had Leah's story. The perception of motherhood before being a mom and after is one so dear to my heart, and one that I feel is perceived so wrong by many people.
Leah called the day before our coffee date and said, “Hey, I have a little one with strep and hubby has the flu.” I could hear her tone and her assumption that I would cancel. She assured me her housekeeper would be cleaning the morning of and the germs would hopefully be at bay, and I could sense the desperate need for a mom break. I replied, “I’ve been exposed to both, so no worries.” I heard a sigh of relief in her voice as she said, “I'm so excited you are coming over!”
The next day I was walking up her drive, and I smiled as I saw the drawings on the concrete. The outdoor living area was very homey and I could almost hear kids laughing. I rang the doorbell and Leah greeted me with a hug and a smile. She showed me around her home. Everything seemed so perfect and organized (which she assured me only lasted about four hours). There were hangings of homemade projects the kids created, pictures of the kids on the walls, all the beds were made and toys had a place. I asked if she followed a schedule and she said not really. I was thinking that my household cannot survive without a schedule, so this lady really must be a superwoman.
We ate together, prayed together, laughed together, and then set out on a walk to get fresh air. We came in from our walk and she took me to the closed garage where she told me of all the projects she wanted to finish, you know, when she finds time. We left there and headed to her office, where there were stacks of papers and projects to do, cups of coffee and one she was still working on. She told how she had envisioned life so differently – she had goals, went to college, planned to be a career woman, be financially set. She loved working. But life has its own way. She married, worked at a good job, struggled with infertility, and then became pregnant with her boys. She said it was all beautiful and she savored each moment of motherhood. She continued her career and balanced motherhood, then became pregnant again. She was excited to have another baby to love. But then she told me about walking into work with tears in her eyes because she had just left the doctor and the ultrasound showed two heartbeats… twins again.
You know, I'm not sure if singleton moms get it as much as twin moms, but I will admit I would be crying too, not because I wouldn't love the babies but because twins are hard. The hardest parts are those missed moments while trying to juggle two, and I know she felt those feelings. She had bawled and then called a therapist. The things that went through her mind – they had just bought a new car but it didn’t have a third row, she just gave away all her baby multiple stuff, finances, daycare for four, bedrest. A million thoughts before the baby girls arrived.
She made the decision to quit the job that she loved to embark on the stay at home motherhood journey. When envisioning being a stay at home mom, she pictured being that perfect mom who spends every minute with her children, does projects, makes scrapbooks and spends afternoons at the park. She imagined even becoming a homeschool mom, traveling for new experiences, soaking up every minute with her babies, printing pictures and putting every milestone in frames. Everything would be perfect, doing much of what her own mom did.
Instead, motherhood is much like a rat race with a few temper tantrums and blowouts in between, with a dash of those magical moments to keep us hanging on.
Leah told me, “My husband and kiddos are the light of my life, but on the dark side of mommyhood, I am often overwhelmed by this deep sense of uncertainty.” She talked about the number of choices on every side – school options, church, extracurricular decisions, discipline, nutrition choices, groceries, and on and on. “There are way too many self-induced expectations that often leave one feeling they have failed for the moment. I would like to share that, if you’ve experienced these feelings, you’re not alone, even though it sometimes feels that way.”
We are living in a world of Pinterest and social media, where the perception of motherhood is not what motherhood really is. The perception starts with cute little baby bumps, magical baby showers, 3D ultrasounds, elaborate gender reveals, but no one tells you how hard it can be. No one tells you that there will be days when you ask yourself, why did no one tell me how difficult raising a family really is, how lonely it can sometimes be, how marriage can seem like hard work, how quickly money can go out the door, how faith in God can waver, how the thought of cheap wine and a bubble bath almost seems better than a vacation, how a distant smile in the grocery store from another mom can make the day better, how friendships become different, how silence is cherished, how most days brushing your hair and getting a bath at the end of the day is considered success, how you will clean up poop from the wall, how your toilets will be clogged because of toys, how your bladder will never function the same, how it's easy to lose who you are to being a mom, how having a housekeeper twice a month is more important than getting your hair done, nails done or new clothes, how much you need sleep, how some days you will think you are a circus show on the road when going into town with your kids, how regularly you question raising your children and how it's so easy to compare ourselves to other mothers, and how you can love these beings you created more than anything in the world no matter how much they annoy you. I mean, if it was easy, Beyoncé wouldn't have hired six nannies for her (one set of) twins… just keeping it real!
My guess is, if you saw Leah in town you would think, “Wow, she has it all together and has two sets of twins!” But the truth is, as mothers, none of us has it all together, and we are all winging it every single day. We shouldn't be judging, and we shouldn't feel like others are judging. We are in this motherhood tribe and we should all be lifting each other up. So raise your coffee cup, spray your dry shampoo, be real, and give smiles… that's my motto! So thankful I was led to Leah, because I too am a mom just winging it!
Until next Tuesday,
The Waco Storyteller