Saturday, May 21, 2005

Parenting twins can be a struggle

By Mylea

Everyone would agree that seeing twins always excite people and to see triplets heightens that excitement even more. We often go goo goo ga over them being dressed alike; we want to know if they have the twin perception thing going on, what are their similarities? and so on. If they are identical as on lookers we want to know how mom and dad tell them apart, if they ever mixed up the twins and gotten confused and so on. If they are fraternal, say a boy and a girl, we want to know who is the more dominant. Which of them is the oldest etc?

What we never stop to take into consideration is, are they good babies? We just assume they are. How is mom and dad dealing with two little ones at the same time, unfortunately mostly mom. God forbid if one parent is in the arm forces or has a career that frequently takes them away from home. Let me give you a true-life scenario.

I am acquainted with a couple that dad is in the military; they are the proud parents of twins, a boy and a girl. When I first met them, the twins were 8 months old and dad was being shipped off to Iraq, my services were enlisted to care for them. When I first met them, I myself had the usual reactions that most people have in the presence of twins because they were and still are very beautiful children. From right off the bat the first day of caring for these children, a red flag went up. Not necessarily, a bad flag but one of confusion, when mom dropped off she seemed hesitant to leave. About an hour later, she called to check on the twins, they were playing at the time so the report was good. An hour and a half later, things took a drastic turn, her little 8-month-old twin started to scream and lash out, as I had never before seen a child of this age do. I went over and tried to pick her up and comfort her, she wailed even more and proceeded to try and through herself out of my arms as if my very touch was to painful to bare. At this point, I decided to place her in a crib designated for her to see if we could establish a comfortable secure place for her. She screamed even louder and even proceeded to rub her face mercilessly into the bedding. I then picked her up and placed her in a swing, thinking that maybe motion would calm her down. There she continued to pitch a royal fit; this had gone on for about an hour until she collapsed into a deep sleep in the swing. Mom called again, I explained I was not if she was just nervous about being here her first day or if something was wrong. It was then the truth came out, this little precious to look at 8- month old had been throwing fits of this nature since birth and it is with anyone, even mom and dad. This was the reason for mom's nervousness, as she had changed daycare two times already because of screaming. Mom informed me that anytime this child became sleepy, this is what we had to look forward too, unless she falls out before it hits.

Mom picked up both children after work, I could sense she was uncomfortable, but I assured her that we liked a challenge and would try to work with her and the twins.
For two weeks straight, the tantrums at naptime continued although had shortened tremendously. We realized it was important to establish a routine for this child so that she knew what to expect next to mentally prepare her for going to sleep and it seemed to work.

Just as we were giving high fives and patting each other on the back, about week three the odds once again struck. The ever so sweet twin boy went into a natural rage one day, this we has never experience, his twin sister, who had to be in a swing to fall asleep looked on wide-eyed as he kicked and screamed uncontrollably. Unlike his sister, he had much force behind his kicks even to the point of being difficult to pick up. The strength that this now 9-month old exhibited wowed us all, we had to literally take turns setting him between our legs with full bodied arms wrapped around him to subdue him. Now I am thinking, what in the world have I gotten myself into this time. Then it hit me. This poor mother, here she is all alone for an unknown extended period of time working full-time during the day and full-time at night. Up until this point I had no idea his behavior mirrored his sisters, but more so at night. My heart went out to their mom, who loved these two beautiful children more than life itself.

The twins are now 2 ½ years old, mom decided to change jobs to spend even more time with them, even though it meant taking a pay-cut. Dad has been sent to sea again for another tour of duty and now we have the normal fits by the twins escalated by the terrible twos. Mom admits, she feels as if she is about to have a nervous breakdown. Normally, we would not still have children in our care at this age, but the human factor kicks in everyday when we see the exhausted look on this loving mothers face. Yet, she refuses to give up in hopes that one day the rage that her twins seems to have been born with will just stop. Her only request at this time in her life is to have just one day, when they both twins can go 24hours without a rage attack. The beautiful thing in all of this is, she never complains or speaks of having any regrets; she continues to deal as best she can. All the while helping others as she silently suffers with her twins' behavior.

So, if you are friends of someone with multiples, help them out as much as you can. Most of the time, they will never ask for your help because to them that makes them a failure at parenting. Reassure them that they need a break also. Even if their twins' behavior is not as the above described, there may be other things going on that they cannot bring themselves to share. By your offering to baby sit while they go out to dinner, or take the children to the park or just to have a play date with your children and they can do the same for you. This is not to say that parents with single birth children may not need the extra help as well, what I am saying is parents with twins especially if both twins show similar behavior never really get a break. Be a friend and help them out, what goes around comes around.

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