Apr 2, 2012  •  In Aerin, Baby, Claire, Motherhood, Parenting, Personal

More Difficult Than Twins

The first few weeks without J’s parents weren’t too bad. I really thought that I could do this.

But in the past week, Claire has started to act up.

My parents think that it’s because up until now, Aerin was still a young infant — just kind of there, taking up room and requiring only the most basic needs met. But now that she is really starting to become interactive, not only demanding more of my attention but also garnering more from others as well with her smiling, cooing demeanor, Claire has begun to take notice.

And she does not like it.

Before, she wouldn’t mind if Aerin would play with her toys or her old baby products. She wouldn’t mind to see Aerin strapped to my chest, just as long as I was still paying attention to her too.

But now, she cries when she sees Aerin lying in her old activity gym. She demands to have Sophie back (even though she has never taken much interest in the popular teething toy). And whenever she sees me with Aerin in the Bjorn? She will whine for me to pick her up too.

She has even begun to hit me and her little sister!

This was what was the most upsetting out of the numerous things that went wrong last week: knowing that Claire — now a year and a half years old and at a stage where she requires much love and attention to thrive and be happy — is not receiving nearly as much care as she deserves.

There is also the fact that Aerin, who is now 5 months of age, needs a lot more from her caretaker(s) as well.

J and I have decided that I need help. But finding a part-time nanny to lend me a hand will also require a lot of work on my part, which I am already reluctant to do because I am so. Damn. Tired. ALL. THE. TIME.

Additionally, J’s parents are returning for three months starting next month. J thinks that we will only need help until then, because when they come they can help out with the girls once more. However, this poses two problems in my eyes: (1) I am reluctant to hire someone to leave only as the girls get used to her; (2) I do not want Claire to have to go through “losing” loved ones again. After all, in the past six months, she has “lost” her aunt & uncle (who moved to Shanghai) as well as her grandparents — all of whom she saw regularly and clearly loved and bonded with.

If anything, I would prefer that Claire’s grandparents do not see the girls too often when they come, because it almost seems cruel to have her see them almost every day for three months, only to have them leave for months again. However, J thinks I’m being silly in this regard.

Children need structure and routine. They crave consistency.

I am at a loss as to what to do.

My mother was talking to my aunt the other day and she told me how my aunt, whose first two children are 15 months apart, says having kids this close in age is harder than twins. She should know, as her own daughter actually has twins so she has seen firsthand how difficult twins can be.

I know that this post calls out as a cry for help, but it isn’t. I just need a place to vent in these minutes before J heads off to work for the day. We are still considering possibilities for childcare and help (believe me when I say that I have looked into all possibilities — we have been doing this since I found out I was pregnant with Aerin), but none of them are great.

I must stop writing now. All I ask for as some prayers for these rough months ahead.

19 Responses to “More Difficult Than Twins”

  1. Stephanie Phillips:

    Jenny, you do sound overwhelmed. Here’s my $.02, for what it’s worth.

    1) I would not limit J’s family’s time with the girls. Children do thrive on consistency and routine (and I’m a big advocate of them) but they also are nurtured through love. Any love from caring adults will serve to build confidence and trust and, ultimately, happiness. Additionally, you can create real rifts in your family by controlling too much.

    2) You do need help and you should go ahead and get some now. Perhaps you’ll still need the help in several months, and maybe you won’t. My daughters are two and have had three nannies in their first two years of life. The result is that they are outgoing, trusting children who understand that the people we introduce them to are good people. It’s been a very positive experience for us.

    3) Parenting two children with such a small age gap is HARD. It just is. Don’t make comparisons, though. It is not HARDER than anything else, it’s just hard for you. I have twins and own a twin parenting website and I cannot tell you how trying those comparisons have become to me. Parenthood (No, LIFE) is not a contest. Your personality (and those of your children) have made some challenges seem more difficult and others seem very manageable. Don’t weaken your discussion of this time by making it into a more/less comparison with other parents.

    Good luck, hang in there. It really does get easier.

    • Thanks for your input. I’m sorry if you took offense at the comparison at all; I was merely repeating what my aunt had told my mom and thought it might make an interesting title for the post. I fully realize that everyone’s situation is different.

      As for my in-laws, I must admit that I have an ulterior motive, and that is so that it will be easier for me when they leave. They usually take Claire out every day with no regards to her nap time which means that not only is any schedule thrown out the window, she expects to go to a new and exciting place each day which I try to do but is difficult to do with 2 kids by myself…these transitions were very difficult when they left so I will definitely be talking to them about it when they come. By no means do I want to limit their time with her — I was thinking aloud when I wrote this part. (And this is the problem with hurried, unedited posts that are written in 5 minutes!)

  2. No advice, just support. Much love to you!

  3. I’ve been lurking for a while, but thought I would finally comment. My first two children were 17 months apart, so I can relate to some of your problems. We live in NJ, with no immediate family in the area (nearest loved one is 10 HOURS away). I never hired help, and we made it through alive!

    What worked for us was setting boundaries and just sticking to it. Eventually our toddler figured out the new rules and stopped torturing us. For example, at first she would not let me nurse the baby to sleep. She followed me around crying, slamming doors, and trying to climb on my lap. So, I bought a bunch of baby gates and blocked her into the living room so that I could finally nurse the baby and get him to sleep. The first few days she screamed and cried at the gate for the entire 20 minute nursing session. Of course I felt like a horrible mother. But I stuck with it, and she stopped acting like an insane person.

    Fast forward 4 years, and my kids are the best of friends. I am so glad I had them close together. It feels so hard when you are in the thick of it, but this is just a phase. It all passes so quickly. I am completely confident that you can do this! And even if you do hire some help for right now, I really don’t think you’ll need it long-term.

  4. Stephanie Phillips:

    Oh I absolutely see that this is a vent and you working through your feelings, I’m not offended. I have posted on my site many times and had to sit back and reevaluate my feelings based on feedback I received.

    For the in-laws, I would think it’s going to turn into a lesser of the evils situation for you. Is it easier to have the peace of mind while they are there and give up the naps, etc? Is it going to be better to establish some boundaries and parameters, even at the expense of conflict with them?

    As far as being able to do it on your own- you CAN! You do not have to take your kids out every day (or even every week) to be a good mom. You don’t have to teach amazing things every day to be nurturing your girls. I cannot tell you the mommy guilt that I’ve battled while my girls have been growing. Just do what you can and don’t dwell on what you can’t. Your girls have years and years ahead that you can look forward to. The first two years are tough and exhausting, so don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do it all.

    I promise, Claire and Aerin will have no idea that you didn’t take them to museums. ;) The best advice I was ever given by a veteran twin mom when I was overwhelmed by going out was to *just keep doing it.* It gets easier and easier.

    (This comment is all over the place. Commenting at work leads to scrambled thoughts.)

  5. Stephanie Phillips:

    Well crud, this is supposed to be up there. Sorry!

  6. Jenny, I love you and I miss you! Hang in there. I miss the girls so much, actually… Every single day, we miss them! I hope that things get better and sending my hugs from Shanghai.

  7. Obviously I’m not a mom so maybe this is bad advice, but why don’t you get a part-time nanny for now, and have her continue coming when J’s parents are in town (even if on a lesser schedule), so that his parents don’t have to function as “the nanny” when they’re here if they want to do other things while they’re in town as well? It might help with the consistency issue.
    I’m sorry that you’re so stressed out! Praying for you and your decision.

    • That is actually what I am hoping for…but both my husband and his parents don’t see the need to have ANY help when they are here. We are still in the middle of discussing it.

  8. zoe:

    No advice, just ::hugs:: But I would also have to say don’t worry about the girls “losing” loved ones! I used to throw a fit every time my uncle had to leave because he was one of my favorite people in the world, but I would have much rather gone through that every time than see him less! Claire and Aerin will be OK, and they’ll be that much more excited to see their grandparents next time!

  9. Molly P:

    Just this past weekend, I was re-reading my journal from when my kids were around these ages as well (19 month old, 2 month old) and I managed to laugh at how crazy it was. It would take me an hour just to get everyone buckled into the car with all of the bonelessness, rigidity, hitting, and other antics to prevent me from doing ANYTHING. I cried a lot. I felt like a failure. It passed. My kids are best friends now.

    No matter what age difference, Claire would be adjusting to having competition around (a “second wife” as my pediatrician put it). I often think that 2nd kids benefit from NOT getting 100 percent attention- they learn to share love earlier, accept limitations. They also (eventually) get a ton of happy attention from their older sibling. It sounds like Claire is going through a very natural phase. It’s okay to validate her feelings, to tell her it must be very hard, ask her if she’s angry, to even allow her to be a baby (she IS one too)! (Surrender and you’ll see how fast she’ll get over it.)

    I would recommend relaxing your expectations (on yourself!). As a friend with three kids once told me, if everyone is fed, clean, and has had some love by the end of the day, you’re succeeding. You’re doing great!

  10. You’re such a good mom, Jenny. Hugs :-)

  11. Michelle:

    Jenny, hand in there. Just get help, whether it is part time or your in-laws, help is help. There will never be perfect help. Decide what is most important to you and focus on that. Are you looking for help for your kids or,are you looking for help for a clean house? Never forget that Happy mummy = Happy babies.

    By no means am I detracting the challenges that you face with Claire and Aerin but there are a lot of twin moms out there, me included who will not agree that having two so close in age is more difficult than twins. It is difficult when you have little ones who ALL want your attention AT THE SAME TIME. Whether the age gap is zero (twins or multiples) or 13 months or 2 years, IT IS STILL DIFFICULT. I have 5 month old twins AND a very active 34 month old. Sure, the age gap is bigger but as you said it, the older they get, the more demanding they are.

    Regarding your in-laws, from what I have read, they have been tremendous help to you. As the previous poster said, what’s more important? Your sanity or Claire’s routine? What about speaking to them about somewhat maintaining Claire’s routine? Know that it is not easy for them to keep an 18 month old entertained too. Whatever it takes to be of help to you, they arê trying.

    My own mom flies 8000 miles to spend time with my oldest when she was a singleton and stays 1-3 months at a time. Sure, we had clashes so I understand about how grandparents can mess up the routine but keep in mind that all they want to do is to help you and bond with this grandchild, NOT to mess up your routine. After several such visits and me voicing out the importance of routine, my mom gets it now. Routine is how we survive without help,and after they leave, we have to regain momentum. As much as I know my daughter will feel the ‘loss’ after they leave and how routine is sometimes disrupted, I will still welcome my mom/parents with open arms. The love that my daughters will receive outweighs everything else.

    • Thanks for your input. As I have said to Stephanie Phillips above, by no means was I saying that I definitely have it harder than moms of twins. I know that every situation is different, and was just relaying what my aunt had told my mom (and thought it a good title for the post).

      As for my ILs, we will def be discussing their involvement when they come, because as much as I want them to see their grandkids as much as possible, Claire just does not sleep well, throws much more tantrums, and just isn’t the happy kid when they take her out every day, skipping naps and her not going to bed until 9pm.

      As for your comment about how routine is how we survive without help, I am not sure that I entirely agree. Yes, it makes things easier for us, but for Claire (and many other kids I know), they really are happier and do better on a routine. I am not obsessed with scheduling my kids, but I do place an emphasis on their getting good rest and I honestly don’t believe that she gets good rest when they are here. But again, I definitely do NOT want to deprive them of their time with her, so we will need to compromise.

      This entire post was written in about 5 minutes and it was just basically my thinking aloud and venting, so I’m afraid that a few things were misconstrued by some readers, and for that, I apologize.

      • Michelle:

        Hi Jenny, there is no need to apologize! We are just exchanging views. My apologies if I came across too harsh.

        I wholeheartedly agree that babies and kids do better on a routine, my 3 little ones are no different. For my case, I just feel that having a feed schedule for the twins helps me much better with the overall routine. I can work my 34 month old routine into the feed schedule i.e. her drop off/pick up from daycare, baths, naps, meals etc., Without having this structure, I would not have been able to survive without help.

        I hear you regarding naps and sleep. I am very protective of their naps and sleep. In fact, even for my 34 month old, I make sure we are home for her naps on weekends!

        Take care Jenny!

  12. Wendy:

    I understand you on different levels. My daughter is only a couple months younger than Claire and even though she’s still an only child, she definitely goes through periods where she is testing her boundaries. Can’t imagine how much harder it would be with two! We just got through a “tossing food all over the floor” obsession and I gave her short yet age appropriate time outs (removing her from the table for maybe a minute). It took a while and I definitely doubted myself through the whole thing but we just got through it. Phew! (Until the next thing, right?) I hope what you are going through with Claire is short-lived and that the boundaries that you set with her will ultimately help her grow. :)

    Re: grandparents, I’ve gone through the same thing myself except they are my parents. They also live far away and they just indulge her when they are around and the sleep routine is out the door! :( The first time it happened, I really resented them for it but I finally established some boundaries with them. They are coming this weekend and although I’m a little nervous since I’ll probably have to restate the boundaries with them (those grandparents!), I’m feeling a lot less anxious. Don’t know how your relationship with your in-laws are though but I hope you can come to some sort of mutually beneficial agreement.

    Hang in there! I enjoy reading your blog since I am thinking about having #2 soon. )

  13. Eek565:

    Your post really resonates with me, because I have a lot of the same struggles right now. I have a toddler son and a 4 month daughter. The hardest thing for me is realizing that I can’t control everying relating to their happiness. I will disappoint them. Every. Day.

    What I’m trying to teach my son and myself is that I have to rely on God. I don’t think I knew what it meant until now. I’ll keep praying for you and for me!

  14. Kate:

    Hugs to you! I really appreciate how honest your posts on motherhood have been. I am seven weeks away from having an infant and a pre-toddler and it helps to know that I won’t be alone in feeling overwhelmed and stressed at times. Thank you!

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