When I was pregnant with the twins I found myself wondering quite often about whether there was space in their lives for two mummies. I didn’t know any other two-mum families ‘in real life’ or online either until I came across the My Two Mums blog halfway through my pregnancy, so I had no model as to how it could be done. We spent a lot of time chatting together as we tried to define our roles toward these tiny people who weren’t even born, imagining what life might be like with newborns, babies, toddlers and children.
At that time there were two certainties: that our children would be of my genetic material and I would carry the pregnancy, and that Kirsty would give up work and stay at home to raise them. In fact, she gave up work when I was four months pregnant, which struck our neighbours as being VERY odd when 37-weeks-pregnant me was still commuting in to London every day!
They were born and it was awful, and after a horrible first week truth be told I didn’t want much to do with them. I spent most of my time hooked up to an electric breastpump and weeping over Grey’s Anatomy whilst Kirsty rose to the occasion and excelled at mummyhood.
She has always been the stronger mother, the tireless mother. She is the mother who is delighted to see them in the morning, who used to mourn their frequent naps because she didn’t see enough of them. She is supermum, she’s my inspiration and role model.
We have different strengths. Hers is motherhood. Mine is – well, it’s not motherhood. I’ve come to love them deeply, of course, and I adore being a mother, but I wouldn’t be a good stay-at-home one. I’d be a babies-run-feral-whilst-mum-is-on-twitter one. Kirsty loves staying home with the twins and is constantly finding new ways to enrich their days, whereas I am tremendously grateful that I get to do the comparatively easy gestating them bit, which I am quite good at if I say so myself, and then get to hide in the office when the going gets tough! We both feel like we’ve won.
I do feel that the twins are incredibly fortunate to have Kirsty for a mum. And in some ways they are quite lucky to have me too – who else would painstakingly document their days and lovingly craft albums of their babyhoods for them to treasure when they are grown? Who else would teach them what noise a fish makes? (It’s an almost noiseless noise, if you’re wondering, the noise that you make when you open and close your mouth vigorously. My children had mastered it by their first birthday.) Who else would seek out boxes of just the right size to squash them into and take them to visit Grandy in their box, so that they could poke their little heads out and make her jump?
We have different relationships with them. Kirsty’s is nurturing, mothering. Mine is – well, it’s not. And I thought that it would be.
Recently Lysander has begun to express a strong preference for one of his mothers. Needless to say, it isn’t me.
It’s actually very sweet. I love to watch how much he loves her, how every time she walks past he stretches out his arms to her, confident that she will scoop him up and cuddle him. How we would spend all day long on her lap if he could, and then tuck up in her arms to sleep. It makes me feel so proud of her for being that mum, and so full of love for him. But it’s not what I had imagined for myself.
Balthazar, bless him, is still just as happy to come to me. I did lay down with him last night at around bedtime and as I snuggled him in the crook of my arm I said “Night-night Nenky, it sleepy-time. See you in the morning”. Like Lysander he’s not very used to me putting him to bed as I’m usually cooking dinner at bed-time, but where Lysander would have found it upsetting Balthazar’s face just cracked into an enormous grin and he looked at me out of the corner of his eyes like he was expecting a punchline to come any second. He still finds me the funniest person in the room and even though he too expects most of the ‘mothering’ to come from Kirsty, comes to me frequently to show me his toys, pull my plait (he likes me to tickle him with it) or simply to say ‘Ahhhh!’ and launch himself at me with his teeth bared for a rather wet and dribbly kiss.
I’ve been wondering again recently whether there is a place for two mothers in a child’s life. And I see, from examples like my friends Kirsty and Clara with their beautiful son, and my friend Alex who is an incredible mum to her four children even though she birthed just two of them, that there is. But I’m not sure that there is the same place for two mothers in a child’s life. I just don’t know.
Like all phases, I expect that this one will pass. Soon Lysander, my blue-eyed little plumpkin, will start asking for me to pick him up again and not so that he can more easily launch himself into Kirsty’s arms. Soon, probably, my sweet little Nenky will start to cry when I pluck him from Kirsty. It will pass.
I hope that it passes swiftly. I miss cuddles with my baby.