I decided to pop out this afternoon. That phrase is certainly easier said than done. Nowadays getting ready to go to the shop actually takes longer than the task itself. It’s remembering all the ‘stuff’, gathering it together from the various places in the house and getting everyone out, in that small window of opportunity you have before the next part of the routine kicks in, or a nappy needs changing. All this needs to be done while keeping one eye on the three tinkers. One twin is on the move and therefore unpredictable, the other isn’t and is quite frustrated that she’s getting left behind. And Florence is just endlessly bored with waiting for me to get myself sorted out.
Once we’re out and about you’d think I could breath a sigh of relief. You’d be wrong. Usually while I’m out one of the three is crying about something. The crying tends to be when you least want it to happen – mostly in a public space – a park, a shop, a library. The worst thing is the double crying. I’ve even had all three crying at the same time – which is just awkward. When this happens it’s very hard not to join them. Now that would be awkward.
Whilst out and about, being a mum to twins is just a different ball game to being a mum to a singleton. I think it must be the double buggy – but people tend to just stare at me more. I don’t blend in anymore, I stand out or my pram does anyway and the four feet poking out of it.
Other mums often just look down at the pram, back up at me and give a sympathetic smile – a ‘rather you than me’ type glance. Others can’t help but actually stop me in my tracks and pass comment. Its usually when I’m feeling beyond tired after a night from hell, or a little harassed or just generally a bit fed up – this is usually when I’ll get someone’s inquiring face blocking my path and exclaiming ‘Awe, are they twins?”
It’s surprising how people aren’t quite sure at first. They look, they stare, the cogs start to whirl and then sure enough – they’ve finally concluded that, yes, these two babies surely must be ‘twins’. Some people are just so baffled by double trouble they just can’t comprehend what they are. In John Lewis the other day I was actually asked what the age gap was between them! They are exactly the same size – but she really must have thought I’d had one baby and then immediately got pregnant again. After I gave her a confused look she followed this with, ‘oh, are they twins?’.
So after the blatantly obvious has been established, then this is usually followed by a predictable conversation about whether they think they’re identical – and on discovering they’re not – they utter, ‘ But they look quite similar though don’t they’? Yes – they are like any other set of sisters – biologically linked and therefore bound to look similar.
I’ve decided to start playing Twin Bingo with all the other irritating phrases I hear being a twin mummy. ‘Ooh, You’ve got your hands full haven’t you’ – this has to be up there at the top of the list and one which I find so irritating that I’ve actually had to stop myself from being somewhat rude in response – other phrases include ‘So do they wake each other up’, and ‘How are you finding it…is it hard’. I know it’s only conversation and why should I get so irritated? I suppose twins are intriguing and rather fascinating – I’ll be the first to admit this. But all I really want to be able to do is go about my business – anonymously – like any other mum.
I was at the park yesterday, for example, minding my own business and helping Florence on the climbing frame whilst briskly pushing the pram backwards and forwards – anyone whose ever had a baby knows this is the universal action for ‘getting, or trying to get a baby off to sleep’. The babies were reclined and their hoods were over them, in a sleep position. I noticed a Dad was hovering near the front of the pram with his toddler saying ‘Go on then, ask her’, the toddler was clearly unable to string the sentence together so the Dad said to me ‘She wants to look at your babies’. I smiled and said, ‘have a peep but I’m just trying to get them off to sleep’. The last thing I wanted was the unknown toddler peering in, with her sticky, grubby hands and waking them up. I tried to push the pram away slightly and he was clearly offended – ‘She only wants to look, she loves babies and she’s not gonna hurt them’. All I wanted to say was just p*** off – they’re not a tourist attraction.
So is it any wonder that I’ve actually become a bit of a hermit. Staying in is the new going out for me. But Spring has sprung and the weather is warmer so I should really make the most of the sunshine – so tomorrow we will hang out in the garden – no one will stare and maybe, just maybe, no one will cry.