Published in the Casper Journal October 19, 2011
I’m the mother of twins. Hooray! Hooray! Friends warned me that there would be twice as many diapers, twice as many feedings, and twice as much crying. “Never mind,” I thought. “By now I’m twice as good at being a mother.” Besides, one mother told me that the first six children are the hardest, after that it “just gets easier.” Now that I have nine children, I’m
expecting my second wind any day. Unfortunately, all I’ve experienced so far has been total chaos.
I’ll never forget the day we blessed our infant twins at church. After six previous baby blessings, I was sure I understood special occasions. I knew the routine: invite special family members, prepare special food, dress the babies in special clothes, and expect a special feeling all day long. However, I wasn’t prepared for the challenging experience of guiding a family of 10 through a supposedly “special” day.
At 4 a.m. Sunday morning, my two-year-old woke up, fussy. At 5 a.m. my seven-year-old came in, saying she didn’t feel well. At 6 a.m. my 10-year-old threw up. By now, we were all awake and getting ready for church. We chalked the queasy stomachs up to dessert from the night before, and by 8 a.m. were all dressed and posing for pictures in the front room. The two sick children weren’t smiling, but we assured them that they could wait in the church foyer during the service. Before we drove away, I grabbed an empty bucket. Looking back, I should have grabbed two buckets, or ... make that five.
At church, we deposited both sick children in the foyer with the bucket, and made our way to the front of the chapel, our extended family unashamedly taking up two whole benches usually occupied by “season ticket holders” who were slightly late that day.
During the opening hymn, I tried to put thoughts of sick children out of my mind and enjoy the “special” feeling. When my husband carried the first twin to the front of the chapel for his blessing, our baby was the picture of sleeping perfection. However, just as the prayer started, a loud SQUEAL erupted from the microphone. Everyone in the congregation jumped. Our poor baby, his little ears right next to the mic, started screaming. All that could be heard for the duration of the blessing was the squealing microphone and the baby’s crying. I don’t think anyone in the room had a very “special” feeling at that moment.
As the first baby blessing ended, my husband, clearly shaken, handed the screaming baby to me and took the second twin. Wishing I was an octopus, I balanced the distraught baby in one arm and tried to tackle our restless toddler with the other, all the while straining to hear the second twin’s blessing above the first twin’s crying. When the prayer finished, my husband and I weren’t the “special picture” of family perfection I had hoped for. Both twins were upset, our toddler was running up and down the bench, and we were worried about sick children in the foyer. I quickly exited to feed the noisiest twin.
I returned to the chapel 20 minutes later to find that several family members had left. “Where is everyone?” I whispered. “Sick,” my husband responded. I imagined a nauseated crowd gathering in the foyer. As the service ended, our 12-year-old leaned over and groaned. “I feel terrible,” he said. “Just hold it together for a picture,” I pleaded. We gathered up the babies and remaining family and exited the chapel just in time to see our oldest daughter lose her breakfast outside the front church doors. One of our other children, his face pale, raced outside after her, carrying the infamous bucket.
“Everyone outside for a picture,” I begged.
Dragging the Bishop along, we steered him clear of the soiled sidewalk and onto the lawn, pleading with our sick family members for one, quick smile. Just as we snapped the picture, our oldest son lost it on the grass. The Bishop, suddenly clueing into the situation unfolding around him, bid us a hasty farewell and went back inside.
My husband handed me a baby and rushed to the bathroom, past well-wishing church members, to get some water and towels. Holding both crying twins, I ushered our depleted children into the car. “If you need a bucket, sit in the back. If a bag will do, sit in the middle seat,” I instructed. We bid our extended family and friends a hasty farewell and sped home.
As we walked through the front door, our five sick children collapsed in the living room and I dropped into bed, shaking with embarrassment, disappointment and disbelief. My careful planning and motherly skills had been reduced to mere survival mode. No special feeling today. Whoever said that motherhood gets easier was wrong.
But then again, maybe raising twins has made me better at something. If my first baby’s blessing would have been such a disaster, I would have cried for a month. But for children numbers seven and eight, it took me only a good nap before I started giggling at the memory. By that evening, all 10 of us were gathered on the bed, feeling much better, holding our precious twins, and laughing, twice as loud.