I recently read an article about a twin Mama’s journey through and eventual emergence from what she called the “baby cave”. Essentially, she was saying the first 2 years of her twins’ life had completely changed her routine where every waking second was devoted to her baby twins. Surprisingly, this article really hit home with me. What I thought was the new regime in my life was really just the time I was spending in the “baby cave”. While my cave dwelling has lasted to just over the 2.5 year mark, I completely recognize and sympathize with the complete selflessness this other multiple Mama has also endured.
When you first have a baby, many women start to recognize that their life will never be the same. This isn’t negative; in fact, it’s the opposite. You’re thrust into a journey of selflessness, thoughtfulness, and genuine hard work; both physical and mental. The snuggly baby, or babies, you nurture through their first months quickly turn into fearless explorers with their own opinions on exactly what should be on/off limits; in the case of my twins, everything is fair game from attempting to climb onto the stove, using team work to unload their dressers (despite the “child locks” that are installed on them), and painting our walls with their food of choice from their meals. The days are filled with passionate emotions, basic needs, and wants of a tiny little person finding their way in our crazy world. After a while, as a Mom, you lose, or perhaps just tuck in the back of your mind, any sense of your own wants.
That hair cut you were hoping to schedule; not likely!
That 5 minute shower you were dreaming of since you woke up at 5am; good luck!
That pee break you’ve been dying to have for the last hour; better invest in some adult diapers cuz a break ain’t happening! (I jest about the diapers…or do I…?)
For us twin Mamas, the duty of care isn’t just two-fold – it’s exponentially more involved. Think about it; your two babies aren’t in these isolated bubbles where you can tend to one’s needs and then tend to the other’s. Oh no; the babies play and feed off the other. While this may be useful as they grow up (two heads are better than one), as babies and then as toddlers, twins present a unique and intricate challenge. (Don’t even get me started on having more than twins… I don’t know how those superhero Mamas do it!!) From tandem breast feeding, to learning to crawl/walk, to eating solid foods, to the terrible twos, a twin Mama is constantly prioritizing, re-prioritizing, calculating, analyzing, all on the fly and often within a couple seconds. It’s no wonder that we live in the Baby Cave for the first couple years of our kids’ lives!
And then, one random day you realize your babies/toddlers are all of the sudden little kids. Maybe it’s watching them ride their new trikes in the driveway, or watching them play with other kids, or hearing them string together some of their first sentences. All of the sudden, you realize you’re walking out of the Baby Cave. The last 2-3 years have been so hectic that it can be easy to overlook the newfound independence your kids are gaining each day. Baby needs/wants were replaced by toddler needs/wants and those were then replaced by middle-age toddler needs/wants. The responsibility of being a mother never goes away. If you’re one of the lucky ones, there will always be younger offspring requiring your guidance, nurture, and discipline – for the rest of your life. Along the way though, you also get to start reclaiming some of your own identity. You’ll be able to get a hair cut (or two!) each month. A morning shower isn’t quite such an arduous task to plan. You’ll get a couple minutes to pee knowing no one climbing on the stove.
I think we’re just starting to emerge from our Baby Cave now. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll never have a social life that doesn’t include my kids (until they’ve grown and moved away…hopefully not until they’re 30) but I do see a time when I’ll be able to take 20 minutes and get that hair cut I’ve wanted since April (it’s August now). I went to pretty extreme lengths to have my kids in the first place (not to mention an extremely traumatic pregnancy) and I consider it an honour to be able to have them be the centre of my life for as long as they’ll let me. However, I think all of us are looking forward to emerging from the safety and confines of our cave to experience what life has in store for us now because the possibilities are limitless!