Toddler Times Two? I Salute You

Toddler parents: There are some among you who deserve a special shout-out. You’re warriors of a different distinction. I’m talking about those of you who have not one but two or — have mercy — three toddlers.

Perhaps your “perfect” pink-hued, albeit over-romanticized, pre-pregnancy vision included two angelic little girls — one year apart. You dreamt of tea parties, matching quilts and two sets of pigtails cheering one another on at the soccer field. 

I don’t need to remind anyone what fantasy looks like when it’s hit with big, bad reality. You, Toddler Parent, now have a 1-year-old boy (vision be damned) who somehow started walking — fast — at 8 months. And you have a 2-year-old girl who spends every hour of every day trying to find a way to send him back. 

Add you have all the other treats we’ve talked about here at Toddler Time — the potty, the picky eating, the par-for-the course tantrums and you find yourself picking out patterns not for those matching quilts of your daydreams, but for your own padded cell. 

Can it double as a wine cellar, please? 

Next-level challenges

There’s another level still. In my work as a postpartum doula, I’ve known several parents who were gloriously competent but also, possibly, clinically insane by the end of the day, because they were in the midst of a special kind of chaos: I’m talking about moms and dads of multiples. 

These are parenting heroes. I know because I’ve looked briefly into their worlds: Once, a family with triplets that I’d worked with as infants called me back for a four-hour shift a year later so that Mom could attend her doctor’s appointment in peace. 

It was quite a scene: Sweet potatoes everywhere, more water on me than anyone else at bath time and discovering that one of them had put himself down for his afternoon nap in the middle of the hallway while I was dealing with the shenanigans of the other two.

It was madness, it was overwhelming and it was also delightfully fun.

But then, it was easy to enjoy the circus knowing I could leave in a few short hours. The parents of multiples and close-in-age toddlers I see out and about don’t have that luxury. 

They’re sort of like normal parents, only superhuman and better organized. They have a game plan, a tricked-out dual stroller, a super-cool diaper bag — and it’s loaded with everything — Veggie Booty, an Allen wrench, plus four tickets to tomorrow night’s Twins game, bestowed upon them at random by a passerby at the mall because these parents are magical and enchanting and deserve more attention, admiration and random acts of kindness. And Twins tickets. Obviously.

Toddler-Times-Two Parent, I’m in awe of you. You’re the walking, talking definition of “in the trenches.” You have one with a nut allergy and one who wants nothing but PB&J. You have a break-dancer and a cuddle bug and you have a righteous fear of potty training. 

Said Carrie Jarvis, a St. Paul mother of twin boys, “The most challenging part about having two toddlers is having two little independent beings take off in opposite directions — both literally and figuratively. I have taken them to the playground by myself only once in two years, and it was last week, because I can’t keep up with both of them and keep an eye on both of them at the same time.”

Seeking, accepting help

Did I mention, Toddler-Times-Two Parents, that you’re rock stars? I have very little advice for you, because you’re self-made pros. If anything, I would tell you to seek and accept any and all help — as often as you can. Take those Twins tickets, cut in line at the stadium restroom, too!

And after each long, laborious, lovely day, let the “good parts” wash over you like the rose-colored sham of a matching quilt daydream. The good parts — as you know them — include literal armloads of hugs and kisses as well as a built-in playmate who can’t be rivaled, no matter how intense the sibling rivalry. 

Said Jarvis, “They are the very best of friends. The other night there was a thunderstorm. I heard one of them cry and then I heard the other one say, ‘It’s okay. Just thunder. Hold my hand. Now kiss.’”