When I my twin sons were born, my husband and I were living in Los Angeles for a few years. As I was pushing their ‘stroller’ down the street one day, an Angeleno lady stopped me and said, ‘Oh my God! Twins! You are so blessed!’ You can’t help but be impressed by the enthusiasm of some Americans. I think I mumbled some kind of agreement, but in my sleep-deprived fog, feeling like a milking machine, ‘blessed’ wasn’t at the forefront of my mind in that moment.
When my sons were five months old, we all moved back to Wigan. Anyone who knows Wigan, knows that it feels a very long way from Santa Monica in California. This time, pushing my ‘buggy’ down the street, a middle aged-lady looked over and saw me. Without hesitation, she winced at me and exclaimed with concern, ‘Oooh! Twins! Hard Luck.’
My initial reaction was to laugh and think, ‘I’m not in LA anymore.’ There was also a strange feeling of relief in the recognition that not every waking moment should be motherly bliss. What I was going through was emotionally and physically draining at times, as well as beautiful and wondrous. The pressure to ‘enjoy every moment’ was proving to be an impossibility and somehow I had thought I must be ‘doing something wrong’. It was nice to have an acknowledgement of that, even though I thought the lady must be a bit of a misery guts!
But in those two encounters, I had experienced the polar-opposites in perception and viewpoint. Two completely opposite reactions to my situation as a twin-mummy. If it was me who was dishing out those ‘pearls of wisdom’, I could well have been socially shunned at the West LA parents of multiples meetings for telling an enthusiastic twin-mamma it was ‘hard luck’ that she’d experienced a twin birth, in the same way that I’d have had a few funny looks telling my Wigan mum friends that they were ‘So Blessed (add unwaveringly positive American accent)!’
The way we perceive the world has such a massive impact on our mental health and when I started my mindfulness practise, I started to understand that somewhere in the middle was the best place to be. The pressure of knowing that I was ‘so blessed’ yet feeling ‘so exhausted and so grumpy’, made me feel guilty at times but it also helped to recognise that I had been given the most amazing gifts. To think that it was ‘hard luck’ that I had had two babies at once was a rather gloomy outlook and far from how I felt about my circumstances, but it took the pressure off and helped me to smile through the tough times, acknowledging that things could be difficult and that was ok, but also short-lived and transient.
Since starting my mindfulness practise, I have learned that allowing the difficulties or hard-luck to be there and being kind to ourselves as we experience them, allows us to more clearly see the blessings when they are right there in front of us, too.
Here are some good articles on mindful parenting that I have found interesting: