Friday, April 16, 2010

Forced Parenting

Note: We are still in a holding pattern...32 weeks and 3 days happy.

This post has been gathering steam for some time, so I apologize for it's length.

In my recent boatloads of free time I've been planning two vacations Mr. W and I want to take with the noodles. Both of them were vacations we intended to take anyway, but are now reworking to accommodate the little guys.

The first is to San Francisco in July. Noodles will be just over 2 months old. This was a scheduled visit to the Italian consulate we pushed back because we need noodles' birth certificates to finalize our Italian citizenships. This will be a travel "dry run" of sorts. Easy trip, familiar surroundings for us, and an opportunity to test out a nanny we've identified. Of course, we'll also wander our way 6o miles to the north, to my favorite place. Mommy is going through withdrawal and needs her wine. Mr. W and I joke that we must break noodles in the right way, so they will grow up to be good little winemakers.

The second trip we have planned is to Italy in September. I've spent the last few months researching travel needs and trying to work out potential bugs. Noodles will be close to 5 months old and if the nanny works out in July, she will travel with us on this trip too.

I've talked with a lot of people who travelled with infants, including multiples. Many have said it is the easiest time of all to take them places. These same people have well-adjusted kids who seem easy-going and flexible as they get older. A triplet mom told me that often whatever disasters she imagined were far worse than anything that ever happened. I'm sure she's right.

Then there is the other camp. The parents who cast a horrific look at me when I mention our plans and tell me I'm completely frigging nuts. These people lecture me about how I have no clue what I'm in for. They shake their heads, roll their eyes, or make reference to 'my lifestyle' not being so accommodating anymore. Interestingly, these people often never left the house for the first 6 years of their kids' lives. Their kids don't adapt well to change, outside stimuli, and generally behave crappy. And here's the real truth - in the majority of these situations, these children were accidents-popped out like little farts in the wind. These parents didn't battle IF. They were never told they couldn't have children. They never had something ripped out from inside their bodies. They never had something die inside and then carry it around for months afterward. Mr. W and I labeled them "forced parents." Now, I am sympathetic to hardships others encounter, but my sympathy runs thin when people talk about how they went off the pill and couldn't believe they got pregnant. Like, the next day. Well, WTF did you think would happen?

And this brings me to my favorite forced parenting story. I've been picking a friend's brain who had 'accidental' twins. Interestingly, she's had virtually nothing positive to say about the experience. She dishes me most of the crappy side of things, and rarely shares so much as a single glimmer of enjoyment. I've chalked this up to her odd personality traits and the fact that she gets pregnant just by casting a glance her way.

So the other day I decided to try a different route. Her husband stopped by to bring me info on a product he was selling that I asked about. I expected his usual cheery self to inject some humor into raising twins when I asked. However, when I expressed our extreme excitement and travel plans, he grimaced. His face sunk and then he stared at me like a deer in the headlights. He quietly suggested I wasn't prepared for what I was about to experience, then mentioned every time he comes home from a business trip, he walks into a disaster. He let out a big sigh, then got up and left.

As a last ditch effort, Mr. W decided to call the friend's husband. You know, just for guy talk. Mr. W half jokingly asks what advice he can give for raising twins since ours are coming soon. The friend's husband says, "Dude, if I had to go through it all over again, I'd run the other way."

We were both speechless. Is it possible we are that naive?


  1. It all comes down to the parents' attitudes. My good friend has always been adventurous with a real zest for life. Her DH is in the military, so for the past 7 years, she has lived in several states far from family. She now a has 3 children under 6. DH has been deployed twice since having children. She has traveled with all 3 alone at least 5 times. Can't even count the number of times with the two oldest. Middle child flew from East Coast to Hawaii at about 6 weeks. She continues to live her life as she did before kids. She also says it's never as bad as she imagines it will be. Her kids are flexible and well-adjusted. I am in awe of her. And I am impressed with you and your hubby. Good for you! Enjoy and don't even bother to listen to these killjoys! Maybe even end the relationship (make me personally want to slit my wrists with all their negativity at this joyous time in your life)Sheesh!
    Long-time lurker, Kathy, who is very excited for you.

  2. I think it also has something to do with the personality type of the parents. You know that study that found that people who win the lottery are not, a year later, any happier or sadder than they were beforehand? I think parenthood is like that too. It's hard as hell in the beginning, and there are times when it sucks and even this IF-er was thinking "What did I do?", but then you start sleeping more again and get over it. And you start realizing all of the fun and rewarding parts, and then choose to focus on those or focus on the crap.

    So, yeah. You have no idea what you're in for, but then you adjust. I don't think some people can.

    Just my .02.

  3. I think your attitude is fantastic - that you CAN travel with kids. I admit that life with baby is more complicated than I could have guessed, but maybe this is my own inadequacy at developing a schedule. To that end, a friend of mine just recommended a book called: On Becoming Baby Wise by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. I'm just beginning to read it, but it advocates what you suggest: incorporating your children into your life, rather than centering your life around your children.

    The first several weeks with a newborn (or two!) are rough. Keep in mind that your hormones will be shifting, you'll be recovering physically and you'll be adjusting to 'round the clock feedings. It can take you by surprise ("what have we gotten ourselves into?!") but by the time the twins are 2 months, you'll all be doing much better.

    Oh, and so if you're planning to visit Napa in July, perhaps I could meet you guys for a glass! Napa is about an hour's drive from me.

  4. It's going to be fine! It's not going to be easier, but it will not get easier as they get older. Taking a long trip before they can walk is going to be so much easier than when they are able to get up and move around. I have met many families that are overwhelmed with one child. This says more about the parents than the child(ren). You will have a blast and create great memories with your family. Again, it won't be easy but... it does not get easier as they get older! You have twins, that is your reality... don't stop living because of it.