There’s nothing a Mom fears more than looking bad in front of other Moms. Its strange because we’re all in the same boat. We all fail at some things (like getting the twins to nap more than a half hour, in my case), delight in small victories (solid foods!) and keep right on going. We talk about these things with each other, laugh about our little errors and false starts, admit to our own failings… but only some. I’ve noticed that with many Moms, especially first-time Moms like myself, we like to make light of our stumbles, but only to a point. There is a guardedness that no one speaks of, a fear to admit too much. Sometimes I can hear the wheels turning in the minds of fellow rookies to the Mommy game: how many silly mistakes can I admit to before everyone thinks I don’t know what I’m doing? When will the eyebrows raise and the facial expressions change from amusement to judgement? How much can be said before they “find me out” ?
I had a similar situation today when a friend came to visit. I was on my 120th (or thereabouts) straight hour of solo twin duty (Jungledad is still on that bloody volcano) and became increasingly nervous before her arrival about the state of my house. I’m not going to lie, after a week of caring for two cranky little up 24 hours a day teething babies, my house was a total disaster area. The night before the visit, after I finally got the twins to sleep, I stood surrounded by toys and dirty bibs, magazines torn to shreds by little hands and thought- how much can I get away with? Can I just tidy a little bit and trust that she’ll understand the week I’ve had and not judge me? Well, she didn’t judge me, I didn’t give her the chance. I desperately wanted to go to bed, but I stayed up until midnight doing laundry, vacuuming and scrubbing, making everything sparkle. And why? Would she have even said anything had I left things the way they were? Probably not. And even if she did, why should I care? I usually pride myself on doing things my own way and not obsessing over what people think. In fact, one of my favorite all time books is Richard Feynman’s “What do you care what other people think?” a truly hilarious piece of literature.
It became apparent to me as the clock struck midnight and Cinderella was still scrubbing pots and pans, that I seem to care very deeply what other Mothers think. Its funny, if my best friend (who doesn’t have kids) came over (not likely as she’s thousands of miles away from this jungle), I would not have lifted a finger to tidy because I know she would have just laughed with me about my predicament and helped me do the dishes. The friend that did come over may have done the same thing when given a chance, I’ll never know. I was too nervous about the fact that we haven’t known each other that long, and she has one child instead of two, and that child is not in diapers. Would she remember? I didn’t want to risk it for a teething biscuit.
I have noticed that twin Mommies seem to be a bit more open with other twin Mommies. I think this is because no one is truly prepared for twins. No one can stay in control of twins all the time, can parent twins without mishaps, and we all know it. I don’t know what its like for singleton parents, but I imagine it involves perfect parents following the perfect schedule with a perfect child. Having perfect days, days where they don’t suddenly realize that during the 30 minutes they thought their babies were finally napping they were actually helping each other take off their diapers and pooping in the crib. Days where their baby starts screaming hysterically, then their other baby starts screaming hysterically, and the combined stereo effect shatters the delicate mirror of sanity they keep in their minds. Days when so much vomit, milk, and pureed vegetables have been flung at them, they can’t even tell what color their shirt is. Do they have days like that? I don’t know. Maybe I should just work under the assemption that they do, that they won’t judge me, because judging them to be the type of people to start judging is very judgemental.