PARENTS

Parent Of Twins? No Need To Apologise

31/01/2012 19:23 | Updated 22 May 2015
TwinsPA

When I imagined motherhood, I pictured strolling purposefully along behind a pushchair, humming a happy tune as my baby looked fondly into my smiling face.

I didn't expect that I'd often be found dodging potholes in the road or swearing my head off as I attempted to fit my buggy through a medical centre's door.

Little did I know that there would be plenty of places I wouldn't attempt to visit, or shop at, or that if I did, I'd leave destruction in my wake.

Such is the lot of the mum of twins, triplets or more. Thanks to the simple logistics of getting from A to B with more than one child of the same age in tow.

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Not for us the luxury of always walking on pavements, easing ourselves into our local family doctor's surgery or browsing in Primark without knocking £50 worth of tops to the floor. And that's a lot of tops.

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The first year of having twins passed. But I recall plenty about our trips out and about, and how often they were thwarted, sometimes thanks to something as simple as the insufficient dimensions of a gate or a walkway.

Sometimes I used to say in as loud a voice as I could muster "Come on girls, they don't want our money in here!" and bound out of the store (usually Primark) with my head held high.

My friends with twins have had similar experiences.

Jackie, mum to twin sons, aged eight, says: "I felt quite helpless when my boys were first born. People didn't understand this, but I was frustrated at asking for help a lot, then saying I was sorry for asking.

"Having to do everything twice was hard and I was exhausted. I seemed to be forever apologising. When people parked their cars on the pavement and I walked in the road, I even apologised if someone came the other way, when they looked at me as if to say what are you doing?

"I couldn't fit on the pavement. When I think about this now, I can see I wasn't thinking straight actually, there's nothing wrong with having two babies at once, and it wasn't something I did to deliberately inconvenience other people."

Last year on holiday as I sipped a cappuccino in a seaside cafe while the rest of my family tucked into cream teas, there was quite a spectacle going on. It took me right back to those early days.

On another table a new mum and dad of twins were attempting to also enjoy coffee and cake while their babies slept.

Instead they were answering questions about their cute bundles who remained oblivious to the fuss.

"You've got your hands full," came the inevitable observation, quickly followed by the sometimes equally popular: "I'd rather you than me."

Plenty of us have been there.

The mum looked tired, the dad looked tired. The coffee looked tired by the time they came to drink it. They spent too much time responding to the well-meaning banter of strangers instead of making the most of their time together.

As they got up to leave, so did we.

"I'm sorry," the mum whispered to me as we met in the foyer, fumbling to get her buggy down the steps and worried that my way out was blocked.

I put my hand on her arm, gave it a little rub and smiled the biggest smile I could.

"Please don't apologise," I soothed, trying not to imagine how overly forward I must have seemed. It's not every day I go round rubbing people on the arm.

Pointing to my girls, I added: "That's where you'll be in 11 years' time." The woman also smiled.

"Eleven years?" she said, "I'm struggling with four days."

I didn't really know what to say so I offered another smile and platitude.

"Looks like you're doing brilliantly to me, look after yourself."

And with that of course she was gone, now struggling with the buggy through the cafe door.

Hardly an earth shattering exchange, I'm sure you'll agree. But there in those few moments we witnessed the day to day preoccupations often (not always) felt by parents of baby twins - other people's curiosity, trying to grab some peace, talking to strangers and getting up and down steps.

And the obligatory apology for getting in someone else's way.

When my daughters were younger, I said sorry all the time, just for us being there - not for anything they'd done as they sat contentedly in their buggy or tootled around as toddlers.

Sometimes I didn't venture out and I ruled out travelling on many occasions for fear of inconveniencing other passengers as well as the rigmarole needed to get on and off.

I wish I'd realised that my two babies in a buggy weren't an "inconvenience" to anyone and if someone viewed them that way, then that was the miserable so and so's problem not mine.

I hope an over forward rub of the shoulder and a sympathetic smile went some way to helping a new mum relax in Wales last year.

The next time someone apologises to me for the audacity of having a double buggy in the same room as me, I think I'll tell them the same thing:

Don't be sorry for having twins!

Have you got twins? Does this ring bells for you?

What's the most irritating situation you've been in - shop aisles too small, double buggy trapped on the station platform?

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