Yesterday was another single-handed day, though thanks to help from a very kind friend it wasn't quite the challenge as I was expecting. But, it did get me to thinking about just how tricky getting out and about with two tinies in tow is. The other day a mum of one asked me how I managed as she found it hard enough to juggle one. I almost choked on my latte as I spluttered 'Jugggle? One?!" in incredulous tones as I tried to keep track of the mass of eels that constitutes my four boy family.
To be fair to her I found number one the hardest to come to terms with. I hated the constraints that travelling with pushchair, change bag and querulous baby imposed on my life, but looking back I don't know what all the fuss was about. Taking care of one, single, solitary baby, would be like a spa weekend to me now; a haven of serenity filled with rest, relaxation and space for contemplation.
I firmly believe that had things gone to plan and we had ended up with just the three children we bargained on, life would have been much simpler. Of course caring for a baby is always hard, but just one could have tucked under my maternal wing as I chased around after his brothers.
Two, however, pose a much greater problem when it comes to the days out required to keep two lively boys from trashing the house/killing each other/tormenting their mother over the summer holiday months. Take our recent trip to Center Parcs. Husband had taken the firstborn off for some male bonding on the water slides, a fortuitous surprise meeting with another mum from number two's nursery meant he had been whisked off to try out the baby slides with her son. Which left me with just the two babies, bobbing happily in bright orange swim seats.
At first this was the picture of tranquility, until the moment that the wave machine started and the entire population of the pool descended on our hitherto peaceful spot. Twin one got splashed, and given his choleric nature, let rip with a tantivy of objection as loudly as his baby lungs would allow. Twin two, no doubt shocked by the ruckus in the seat next door, decided to join in and there was I, clinging onto two rubber rings filled with red, screaming babies, thinking 'Now what?'.
It was a choice between joining in with the howling or somehow manhandling twins, rubber rings and me out of the pool without drowning anyone, then getting them out of their rings and into towels without dropping anyone. Option one seemed the most attractive, but I'm a mummy so I can't give in to the fear, so there I stood trying to slide the stuck fast ring off twin one, as he yelled in protest, while trying to stop twin two from floating off into the wild, blue yonder of the wave pool.
When I finally managed to extract them both there were no hands left to rescue the rings. Cue someone walking off with the rings, clearly thinking this was their lucky day, so to add to my struggle with my slippery little suckers I had to chase after her to retrieve my precious rings.
Once the rings were back with their rightful owner, and the babies wrapped up and calm in my arms all I could do was sit, jiggling each one on my knees and wait, impatiently, for my husband to return and relieve me of one so I could function again. Just one example of the fun and games that is the lot of a roaming twin mummy - and that's with people around to help out.
Yesterday was a similar assault course, which variously included a purportedly child friendly restaurant complaining bitterly that my double buggy was blocking off another table, despite the fact that they had huge swathes of the restaurant cordoned off, and that I was with a party of mums and kids whose spending would probably make up the loin's share of that day's takings. Then I found my bus of a car had been blocked in on both sides by other drivers, making it near impossible to actually get the children back into it. Fortunately I was with other mums who could prevent my boys from flinging themselves under the wheels of other vehicles while I attempted to wedge each one in, but when you're on your lonesome then they just have to take their chances in the traffic.
Perhaps it's just life's way of telling me that I should reside in purdah until the boys are old enough to look after themselves, but those four walls don't have close in quickly when you are locked inside them with four boys high on summer holiday freedom.
So maybe I should just pass on these tips to those of you lucky enough to have only ever had to juggle one baby at a time. If you see a twin mummy in trouble, please do lend a hand, she could do with some extras and she might even forgive you for asking if they are twins if you can be of some use to her. And, for your own sake, if you see a baby bus with four child seats inside, give it a wide berth in the car park, you car's bodywork will thank you.