Flo and Archie will be four months old this week. I can’t believe how quickly time is flying past. They’re much more aware of each other now and are making the most wonderful sounds. Flo attempts a few roll-overs most days now and Archie did a full flip onto his front today without any warning. His expression of permanent surprise (a la Father Dougall from TV’s Father Ted) is still highly entertaining as is Flo’s ability to crack a smile at any given moment. Feeding is increasingly a juggling act as they become more and more wriggly in their bouncy chairs and it doesn’t seem possible that in just a few months, we’ll start weaning.
I don’t know if it’s post-natal comedown, hormones getting back into synch, overtiredness or just my somewhat gloomy nature (or possibly all of the above?) but I seem to be at the complete mercy of my emotions. I thought because I’ve had a baby before and being an older mum, I’d be better at all the emotional stuff but it appears not. It goes without saying that I love these babies with all my heart. They’re joyful, flourishing little chaps, fun to be with, cute as buttons, and in rude and robust health. On good days, I feel like Supermum, skillfully juggling the demands of our expanded household and smugly lapping up praise from strangers in supermarkets while rustling up a tasty supper, keeping my body hair in check and even doing a spot of light weeding in the garden. But on tough days, I feel overwhelmed by the weight of responsibility, stifled by the tedium of domesticity and wrung out by the military-style logistics required just to do the nursery run or to meet a friend for lunch. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so nerve-janglingly hyper-sensitive and seem to go through days of being constantly and inexplicably on the brink of tears. I well up when singing nursery rhymes to an oblivious Flo and Archie at ‘Bounce & Rhyme’, get a full throat lump and lip tremble when those peskily adorable kids and military wives do their Jubilee thing, and can’t even look our local Big Issue seller in the eye for fear of wanting to adopt her.
A few weeks ago, an(other!) unkind comment from a thoughtless geriatric reduces me to a gibbering wreck while at the supermarket. I go home, unpack the shopping, and add: ‘Grow thicker skin’ to my to do list. It sits just below: ‘Don’t be too proud to ask for help’ and ‘Stop denying that having twins is hard work when people say “that must be hard work “ even when you know bloody well that it is‘.
Respite comes in the form of my wonderful Mum (and fairy godmother) who comes to stay for a few days while my Dad is overseas. I meet her off the train and even as I see her crossing the platform, I’m fighting back tears of relief (again, the crying thing) as I know she brings with her unconditional love, fuss-free help with the babies, and endless patience to read every single Meg and Mog story to Evie each night of her stay, not to mention a Marks & Spencer’s store card and a devout love of coffee shops which we indulge fully during her stay. We talk, talk, talk and she tells me I’m doing a great job of this motherhood thing and that I should be proud of myself. It’s the very best kind of praise and when we hug our goodbyes at the end of her stay, I cling to her like a child and miraculously manage not to sob – well, at least until I get back into my car anyway.