Stuck in the Middle

Early one morning last week, Luci woke up before her brother. Usually, when one twin wakes up, the other does too. Simultaneous morning wake-ups are not pleasant, as Nicholas cannot stand it when I must set him down on the rug to tend to his sister, even though he always gets picked up first. This, because I cannot take eardrum-piercing cries first thing in the morning, and because I don't want his screams to wake up Isabella.

Luci always, always waits patiently in her crib while I change her brother's diaper and get him dressed.

But on this day, her morning squeals don't awaken her brother. I tip-toe into her room, and instead of two little heads popping up to greet me, there is only hers.

The room is dark, as it is in the early morning hours now, and I leave their sound machine on. She has just awakened, and so is not yet anxious to start the day. I carry her to the glider in their room, sit down, and rock with her.

Luci puts her head on my shoulder and closes her eyes. Her warm breath is on my neck, and her small body is cemented to mine.

For five glorious minutes, there are no other sounds in the room but the gentle gliding of the rocker and the white noise of the sound machine. Her brother is asleep, and she is completely relaxed and blissed out in my arms. And in that moment, I realized that this act of a mother rocking her sleepy child, something that most moms experience daily with their babies, is something extraordinarily rare in my own.

I constantly feel as if there is not enough of me to spread amongst my children. Their needs often materialize simultaneously. They are hungry at the same time. Crying or tantruming at the same time. Wanting to be picked up or comforted at the same time. And these concurrent demands for my attention make me feel paralyzed and powerless to give them what they need. I am only one person.

I'm sure this occurs with close-in-age siblings too, but with twins and a preschooler just two years older than they are, the pit of need runs deep. It is often impossible for me to fill it.

Running triage is a way of life, and has been for the last 11 months, but sometimes it's overwhelming. I cannot rock two babies screaming in unison, and so I rock none. I feed them at the same time, and yet one is seemingly always upset because he/she (most often he) has to wait a moment more than is tolerable to receive his/her next spoonful. If I'm playing with one, the other needs half of my attention, because he/she is dangerously close to crawling under a table. And of course, there is Isabella, who is not quite as high-needs, but has her own set of issues and emotions that often conveniently materialize when the twins are at their worst.

I wish I could grant each of my children one-on-one attention. I crave alone time (that need never goes away), but as I'm sitting on the floor with them, as I do everyday, stacking blocks with one, holding the other playing with a ball on my lap, and reading to Isabella all at the same time, I wish there were three of me to give Isabella, Luci, and Nicholas exactly what they deserve - an unshared and uninterrupted piece of mommy.

11 Responses to “Stuck in the Middle”

  1. # Anonymous Ness

    You are doing *everything* you can. What kid could possibly ask more of their mother?

    Some children out there, would wish to have just a quarter of what you give your children each day.

    I hear you. What a great moment for you & Luci. Knowing that she would normally be quiet and peaceful, you could easily have run off for 5 minutes of extra peace for yourself (or coffee, or heck allowed yourself a loo break!) that speaks volumes about your mothering!  

  2. # Blogger Jesser

    Even with two, I find myself constantly trying to just be in the moment with Ben. I know Tabby doesn't mean to be, but she is larger than life and it seems like just answering her questions monopolizes most of my time. Frustrating sometimes ... but I am at least aware of it and strive to do all I can to make it fair. You are the same way. You recognize it and I'm sure it will improve over time. But I really understand your frustrations about not enough one-on-one time with them as babies.  

  3. # Blogger Lis Garrett

    I still feel like I'm running triage with my kids, even though they are 10, nearly 8, and 4. There are never enough hands, never enough arms, never enough eyes, never enough of anything. One (or two) kid is always getting left out and/or left behind.

    All any of us can do is our best, and it sounds like you are.  

  4. # Blogger Sunny

    What a precious moment with Luci. One to plant firmly in the memory bank.

    I worry about this a lot too. My son loves to cuddle all the time, and now that the twins are on the way, each moment of cuddling is bittersweet, because I know I won't be able to do it much come April. :(

    But you know what? Then I start to think about how life is all about trade-offs. Yes, I'm sure each child could benefit from having you to him/herself. But what about all the enrichment they are getting from having each other? Maybe not as much right this minute, but in the future. They will grow up and experience life together. They may be the best of friends, or they may not be. My brother and I are 25 months apart and have never been close. But I can still say I am a better person because of him. I have fond memories of playing Mario Brothers in our basement together, bonding the way only siblings can. I can't imagine family vacations without him! We laughed a lot throughout the years, and I wouldn't trade him for the world.  

  5. # Blogger Mom24

    I think any mother with more than one child feels this conflict...of course if you only have one then you feel guilt that you're depriving them of siblings. You can't win.

    Why don't dads agonize over these things?  

  6. # Blogger My Wombinations

    It's hard. I know it is for me, so I can't imagine throwing another kid in the mix. Your kids will be ok, though, perhaps even better for it.  

  7. # Blogger Andrew

    Nicely written.  

  8. # Blogger Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog

    Oh, sweetie. :( I kind of understand, but I can't fully understand as I never had the amount of little ones at one time that you have right now. I'm glad you got rock Luci and I hope you get those peaceful, solitary moments more often.  

  9. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    Oh. I do believe it will get better. Hopefully once you are settled into the new house and they have separate rooms. My grandmother likes to tell me that my aunt was a rough baby, but an easy toddler. I hope that will be the situation for you. Has pre-school started yet?  

  10. # Anonymous Anonymous

    Lately, I'm having similar feelings of wanting to clone myself. There are times when I feel like T gets more attention just because younger and has more physical needs. It's my new goal to spend more 1:1 time with G. I also struggle with the work- home balance. When things get really hectic, it feels like I'm doing a half-assed job at work and the same at home. If I had another me, I could do a better job at each;-)  

  11. # Blogger Heather

    I know exactly how you feel. Someone is always in need of something. You are doing your best and your children are loved and well-taken care of. They are lucky to have you.  

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