When a woman is pregnant with a child (or two) her body changes dramatically. Hormones, boobs, bump, more hormones… the body of daddy-to-be is not really affected.
When a woman gives birth to a child, her body is devastated. And after a C-section the effect of the change are indelibly marked on her body by a huge scar. The new daddy is untouched.
So how does a man become a father? Well, I do not know. Maybe it’s like in the movies. The first time he holds his baby… almost by magic.
Becoming a mum, on the other hand, is definitely something that hits you like a lorry while crossing the road. For me and any other mother of twins, the lorry was well over the speed limit when it ran us over! It hit me when I was lying in a hospital bed, several cables attached to both of my arms, half way through a blood transfusion. It was the middle of the night and the student midwife had just took one of the boys away after feeding. She came back with his brother and with a quiet voice she said “time to feed, mummy”. I opened my eyes, barely recognising where I was, and said “I have already fed him”. I closed my eyes determined to go back to sleep. She stopped for a second (probably looking at me puzzled). She smiled a little and pushed the baby into my arms. “You have twins, mummy”.
Oh crap! I do!
To be perfectly honest, we did not travel 500 miles with the boys in the car. And probably not even The Pretenders would have managed! Our last long car journey was a mere 150 miles each way. It was all I could take, but I was very proud of getting to the end (and back) without the aid of technology.
Although an iPad or a smart phone would have helped a bit, I am a fan of old fashioned car journeys. There’s nothing wrong with singing a song together or spotting things around us. In fact it’s a prime time to work on their literacy. They have no distractions and they can listen… it is a very rare occasion!
I picked one of those songs that have no end. This song is about an elephant that swings on a web and than go to call another one… it can carry on as long as you can count. We counted many elephants!
On the way back T fell asleep, so B, daddy and I talked about all the planes we saw in the sky. When your journey takes you close to 3 out of the 5 London airports, you cannot be short of planes to spot… trust me!
It was an unforgettable hour spent talking to only one of the twins. It happens very rarely to have only one of them to talk to and it’s usually on a trip to the doctor or A&E. This was great to see him truly enjoying having both of his parents’ attention for once. We talked about the moon and the stars, when it became too dark to see any planes. A very precious time for us and B alike.
Despite this positive experience, a question remains. In September we have a much longer journey planned. Should we use technology to help us or shall we trust in our ability to count elephants?
If you have read anything about our previous flights, you will know we are experienced travellers and prepared for any occasion. Flying with 3 year olds twins is much easier than with toddlers and requires less equipment that with newborns. A (almost) quiet and calm flight thought, was not what I expected.
In a nutshell, we sat down in our lovely and comfy seats. We had some food and then the boys fell asleep till it was time to land. If only all flights could be like this.
At the start of the journey, when people were still taking their seats, a lovely flight attendant quietly approached me and told me they were trying really hard to move me to a better sit near my partner and I simply needed to be patient. In a moment of honesty, I informed him that I was already sitting with my family and I didn’t need a better place. He turned is head towards seats D, E and F to see two smiling boys and a utterly confused husband. He apologised for the confusion and left.
A moment later B started to moan cos he wanted food and I did think that maybe I should have accepted the offer of a better seat after all.
As I said the rest of the journey was great and I can’t really complain. But we know that the proof is in the pudding, so that’s why when we woke up T for landing (we needed to move the arm rest) he started to say “I’m tired” every 10 seconds. Then the landing gear came out. T raised the tone of his voice and kept on saying “I’m tired! I’m tired! I’m tired!” and finally… we landed.
And all T had to say about that was “I’m tired!!!”
As the boys grow up, I have to adapt to all these new changes. Some are more than welcomed (no nappies! Yeah!), others are unsettling.
When the boys started to walk confidently and we reduced the use of the pushchair, it took us months to find a way to adapt. Every time we went out we had a long conversation about the pros and cons of taking the pushchair… in insight I simply think we wasted so much time.
The latest change is the fact that in certain places they do not need (or want) to be with mummy at all time. For example, last year in a soft play area they would have been with an adult 100% of the time, while now they go in and who knows if they’ll ever come out again!
I look up occasionally and spot one of them on the top level. I wave. I know they will probably come out when they are hungry.
I adapted to this very easily, especially while sipping a well deserved cup of tea OUTSIDE the play area.
The change I struggle with is this new sentence “I’ll see you there, mummy”. You will see me where exactly?? I need to see you here and now!
In our local country park, the boys feel so confident they would happily walk away by themselves. For example if I say “let’s go to the slides”, they would start walking in the right direction without making sure that I’m with them. Unfortunately mummy doesn’t approve of this strategy. This implies some running and some praying… running to catch up with them and praying that they will BOTH run in the same direction!
A few days ago we were in the car coming back from a friend’s house. Half way through the long journey, B surprised us with an announcement:
“Mummy, daddy… I am a girl”
Mummy and daddy were silent for a few seconds.
We have to admit that we are not very open to this sort of conversations, but we were trying to be very politically correct and modern…
Daddy: “Why you think you are a girl?”
B: “Because I say so”
At this point T intervened with a very matter-of-fact tone: “No, you are not”.
Unbelievably my husband and I kept a straight face.
Despite T best effort though, the conversation was not over.
B “Yes, I am T. I am a girl”
Daddy: “Who said you are a girl?”
B: “I did”
T: “You are NOT a girl. Boys have willies, girls don’t. You are a boy!”
Daddy (still without laughing): “B, do you have a willy?”
B: “No, it fell off”
We almost crashed the car!
I guess it depends on your definition of relaxing. Going to the seaside last year was definitely NOT relaxing, while going to see my family this Easter was a lot closer to the textbook definition. After 2 weeks in Italy I felt less tired… despite the early morning starts and the long fights between the boys.
It is sad to realise that going to work for 10-12 hours a day is tiring, but not as much as spending all day with the twins. It is not only physically challenging, but psychologically and emotionally draining. Despite the long afternoon nap, it almost feels like there’s no rest bite. There’s always a fight about a toy, someone to take to the toilet or a spilt drink to wipe. Nothing like this happens in my office… except the occasional spilt cup of tea, I guess.
In a day with toddler boys there’s a lot of running, a large amount of screaming and a good dose of fighting. The word NO is essential to keep order and the word SORRY is often used: by the boys to each other, but also by embarrassed parents to strangers…
Sorry my child stepped on your shoes
Sorry my child kicked that bird (at the zoo)
Sorry my child pushed yours down the slide
So how can I consider this holiday relaxing? Well, it’s simple, there’s always someone there to help. When they wake up at dawn, nonna gets there first. When they want to be chased, auntie Co runs to help. When it’s the end of the day and I had enough of T moaning about his big toe hurting… someone else can help with putting them to bed.
Strangely enough this doesn’t happen on an average week night!
Tomorrow B and T will go to their first “solo” swimming lesson. No more mum and daddy to hold them and make sure their are safe. We will be by the side of the pool, but we won’t be needed in the water anymore.
If you have read the previous post “Just keep swimming”, you already know how important swimming is for our family. We don’t do it to keep fit or so that the boys can become Olympic swimmers, we do it because it’s our family activity. We love the individual time we spend in the water with each twin and the together time when all of us have a shower and get dressed. We love it!
We started when the boys were only 5 months, so it has been over 3 years now… rain or shine we have always been in the pool on a Saturday morning. They have grown so much in this time! I still remember having to give them a bottle of milk after the lesson as they were starving. They still ask for a snack now, but certainly not formula milk! We moved from baby swimsuits to swim nappies to children swimwear. Mostly importantly of all, we never had a poo in the swim nappy! A true miracle.
At the end of their last lesson (only B was present unfortunately), the swim teacher gave B a huge hug. She was sad about them moving on, like a primary school teacher at the end of year 6. I almost cried.
It is amazing how in all these years, we didn’t simply teach them a life skill. We didn’t simply spend time together as a family. Looking back at each kick and dive, it now feels like the boys were learning to swim (almost), while we were learning to be parents… almost.