incompetence

“Mine are three. It doesn’t get any better.”

That’s what she said to me as I wheeled my two baby girls into daycare this morning. “I’m sure they keep you busy. Mine are three. It doesn’t get any better.”

Well, I guess there’s no “It gets better” project for twin moms.

Which sucks, because for the last few days I just feel like life is hard. I feel incompetent. Like, not only can’t I do it all, but I can’t even do the little bit that I want to do. The little bit that I thought was achievable.

All I want to be when I grow up is an English professor. I’m beginning to think it will never happen. I’m beginning to think I won’t even get my freakin’ masters, let alone a PhD, because it’s all I can do to take two classes per term and stay on top of my coursework. A full load for most people is three courses, but two seriously puts me at my limit. And don’t even get me started on studying for my comps exam, which I’m supposed to be doing somehow on top of and outside of my course work. I truly cannot find the time. Not that I know where the time goes, except that there is always someone to be held or fed or changed, forever and ever, amen. Sometimes I manage to make dinner, or do a little laundry, but please don’t look at the tumbleweeds of dog hair on my floors or my dirty toilets and sinks. We’re just getting by here. Every night that we put two babies to bed feels like a victory.

And yet a few of my profs found out I hadn’t signed up to take the comps this term, and they told me I should take it, so I decided to give it a try, despite the whole not studying thing. And then I had a disaster morning and a baby peed on me, and a car seat came unbuckled in my moving car, and earlier daycare drop off was a nightmare, and I was ten minutes late for the first day of the test, and the door was barred to me, and there were many many public tears. And then someone fought for me, and I got to take it after all, and I’m still pretty sure I failed. And I still rallied for Day 2, the essay portion, and I think I did ok on 2 essays, but I needed to write 3, and I just didn’t have an answer for any of my other options, so I came home, and went to bed. I am not used to feeling this incompetent

I can try again in the spring, and I will make a study schedule and try again in the spring, but I just feel so defeated. I feel like it is such a battle to just make time for my academic pursuits, and I know that it’s not going to get any better, and then I wonder about all of it, and what I’m doing with myself. And we have to maybe move again at the end of this year, and I have to maybe start a new life in a new place all over again, and make a life for two small people, and it’s just exhausting.

I feel like a broken record lately, “But I have two babies.” Two babies. So small. I underestimated them. Perhaps I overestimated myself. It’s just so very hard sometimes, and I can’t even really explain the hardness, except to say that it is. And right now it feels a little too much for me. Two classes I can do very well on top of two babies, but graduating might just prove to be too much.

So there’s that.

I was afraid to even write this because I know my family reads this now, and I know they will freak out and also give me a bunch of platitudes about how I can do it. But I just need to feel my feelings, right now, and this is what I’ve got.

 

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28 thoughts on “incompetence

  1. In ten years, when you really are a professor, you will look back and remember how tough it was but it was so worth it. Everything is temporary. Everything changes. Just breath because you really can do it.

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  2. It’s hard, even with just one. I’ve found that things really do start to get easier. There are things that get harder, and things that stay the same, but there are enough parts of it that get easier that the other parts of your life start feeling better and more in line again.

    Maybe I’m naive, because I obviously don’t have two kids. But I honestly believe that Mama at day care spoke without really understanding where you are.

    You are smart and capable, and this will happen in time. What you have to learn is to be patient — perhaps the great secret of motherhood. ;)

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  3. Adulthood is a lot harder than I expected. And I haven’t even been brave enough to attempt motherhood. I’ve flopped on the bed crying that I suck at life more than once recently. The dog hair and the dishes and the laundry. It’s all a lot. Adding in the grad school and the twin babies… I’d be worried if you WEREN’T feeling overwhelmed! Even though it’s sometimes seems impossible, I am confident you’re doing better than you think you are!

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  4. It is hard. Having kids is hard. I can’t imagine two. All I can say is ask for more help. Help to take care of them. Help for study time. Help cleaning your house. Yes, some mom’s SEEM to be able to do everything, but I found out a secret… they often had either paid or unpaid help. Ask. Please.

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  5. Shame on the mom of the three-year-olds for being a downer. She should know that telling you it doesn’t get easier is not helpful and typically NOT TRUE. I haven’t attempted to get my PhD or anything, but life is way easier at 2.5 that it was in the baby days. I bet you’ll figure this out. That’s what twin moms do.

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  6. One of my professors in my PhD program said this to a mom of a newborn in my cohort and a mom of four a couple of cohorts ahead of me: “You wouldn’t be here if we didn’t know you could do this. You will do it. How you will do it may look different than it does for others, and that is okay.”

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  7. It will get easier, if only because children aren’t so needy forever. I think you should give yourself a break and remember a lot of people (me included) can barely keep it together with only one kid at a time AND no school work. Everything in my house is covered in pet hair. In a few years you’ll read this back and think “I am SO GLAD things are better now.”

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  8. I am in awe…. your girls are 2 months older than mine. I’m happy if I can get a shower!!!! I made dinner tonight, proper dinner no packets, from a recipe and everything! was dead proud of myself! thats my biggest accomplishment in ages!!! I was a Nanny for 20 years I’ve done this…I can raise children and have done…. now they’re mine I have no idea what I’m doing!! :) Two babies is hard work!!!
    A woman stopped me in Target the other day and said it DOES get easier! She said she wished someone had stopped and told her when hers were little.

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  9. I can only speak as the parent of a single child, but it does get better. (Also, I hate that mommy-hazing thing that the other parent did to you.) Infants are needy. And even when their immediate needs aren’t being tended to, having just tended to something for them at the expense of the dog, or yourself, leaves you spent.

    It will get better, and like everyone else said – down the road, when you’re teaching, you’ll pat yourself on the back for doing it. And I’d bet that when your girls are adults they’ll brag about how you did it while raising them.

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  10. There are plenty of other mothers who’ve experienced much worse. Consider this: There are other mothers who don’t have the luxury of getting to choose whether to work or not. There are mothers who don’t have husbands to support them. There are mothers who never get to watch their children grow up because they’re too busy worrying about supporting those children.

    So I say, before bemoaning your possible career’s fate, maybe you should count your blessings that you have a choice, that you have a supporting husband, that you do get to watch your girls grow.

    While you may have goals and dreams that you still carry, you have to realize that you will have to make sacrifices for the betterment of your children. This won’t be the last time that happens. While this realization may suck, if you get used to it now, it won’t sting as much in the future.

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    • Daniel:
      Seriously? This is the comment you leave after reading this post? Most of my blog is me counting my blessings, singing the praises of my family, and how much I love my babies. I decided to be vulnerable and honest about something MANY women (as evidenced by the other comments, and uh, reality) experience: the tension between work and family. Something MANY men like yourself never experience. My husband’s career has never had to budge, and our commitment to it has never been questioned. When someone has to stay home with a sick kid, 9 times out of 10, it has to be me, even if I don’t have any absences left, because his job isn’t going to budge. Maybe you should take a look at your own blessings (or what I would call privilege) before you tell me my concerns aren’t valid and that I should just get used to making these sacrifices. Motherhood is full of sacrifices, yes, but I will not stop fighting the fact that it means way more sacrifices for moms than dads. Of course I’m aware of my socio-economic privilege, that I get to pursue a career I love while many don’t have these opportunities. I will never stop fighting for others to be able to make their own choices for their lives.

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  11. As a perennial student, I can tell you that school gets harder and harder the more of a “real life” you have. I send you much love and encouragement (and empathy), as I am back in school again getting a post master’s certificate to be a Nurse Practitioner. I believe that you’ll be able to accomplish whatever you want (and being an English Professor is certainly in your future if you so choose). Sometimes it takes longer than we want, sometimes the path is a little less direct than we want, sometimes we get to what we thought was the goal only to change that goal — but as a strong, smart, capable woman you definitely have the power to achieve your dreams. You are also blessed with a great husband and beautiful children, and they will be there to support you in this journey; as will the rest of your friends and family. Hang in there.

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  12. This post really hits home for me. My husband and I met in graduate school – I left with a master’s degree, and he pushed on to complete his PhD a few years ago. Like you, all he has ever wanted – and I think all he is really qualified to do – is to be a professor. He has been lucky to always find work, though the placements are temporary; this is now his 5th year on the job market for a tenure track job. And like you, I have had to leave two careers in order to care for my children and follow my husband around the country, each time starting over with a new apartment, new job, new friends…it is so very hard.

    I can tell you that the parenting generally gets easier, or at least it has for me. My three-year-old plays nicely by himself for long periods of time, and he is also terrific at entertaining our 8-month-old while I scramble to do a few chores between work/dinner/bedtime. Of course there are still tantrums, meltdowns (both theirs and mine), and just plain bad days, but I definitely feel that it’s easier than when my first child was little and really needed me all of the time. Soon enough your girls will play with each other and give you a bit more freedom, even if it’s just to make a pot of pasta.

    Hang in there! And if you find you have some free time here and there, I think your blog rocks and I hope you can keep posting.

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  13. Sarah,

    I’m being vulnerable and honest as well. I’ve read your blog plenty of times, and while you do “sing praises,” I see, quite often, a downer tone to many of your posts. All I was saying was at the moments you feel like life is “too hard” or “nasty, brutish and short,” that’s when you should recall those “songs of praise.” Sorry you took that post wrong.

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  14. Sarah, you are amazing. To come through everything that’s been thrown at you over the past year with grace and a positive outlook is no small feat. I feel incredibly overwhelmed each and every day and I don’t work outside the home (because that’s what being a student is: work). Also, Sue is right. That daycare mom spoke without thinking. I have had many moms of multiples tell me that the first year is the hardest and that it gets easier after that. That was certainly my experience with my son. By age three he was dressing himself, feeding himself, able to be occupied with crafts or toys for nearly an hour… And they can talk! And follow directions! And they’re done teething! It’s wonderful, really.

    And Daniel? Your patronizing comments are not only unnecessary but unkind and, pertaining to Sarah’s expressed level of gratitude, untrue.

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  15. So, I’m not a mom to twins, but I am an adoring aunt to twins. And they just turned 3. My brother said that the months around turning 3 have been the hardest for them since the very early weeks. So, it could be that mom was caught on a bad day and spread her debbie-downer message to you. But…life with walking, laughing, talking, hilarious (frustratting!) toddlers is AWESOME. You will get there, and your twins will be proud of you.

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  16. I want to take your course when you become a professor. And this post? Absolutely necessary. It’s relieving for me to read another woman’s honesty that puts words to, like you said, a lot of our own hearts. We are just too scared to voice it lest it be criticized like you are being criticized now. So thanks.

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  17. Mom to 3 under 2 here (DD1 is 3 and my twins are 18 months.) You know what? Some things get easier. Other things get WAY more difficult. We are at the “everybody wants something different at the same time and we’re going to cry if we don’t get it and brother took my toy and sister hit me in the head and it’s really cool to run two different directions on the playground and, “hey mom – look at me standing here on this table” stage. The dinner-bath-bed process is like running a gauntlet EVERY. NIGHT. It’s exhausting. The house still doesn’t get clean. The laundry still isn’t done. But, it’s our new normal, and we’re finally ok with that. We adjusted. You will too.

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  18. Yeah, Daniel. Sarah’s posts about loving Jesus, sewing skirts, rocking babies, and eating peach cobbler get me down too. HUH. Are we even reading the same thing?

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  19. Don’t give up! I felt similarly with just one (very fussy) baby, but it does get easier. Our next door neighbors have twin girls and they say the first year is very hard (and looking back, it goes by quickly). Don’t be too hard on yourself! I think as a mom, if you never feel like a failure, you are doing something very wrong.

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  20. I have had the same thought–that there SHOULD be an “It Gets Better” for twin parents. I
    Mine are seventeen months old and I’m here to tell you, It Does! I Promise. It’s still two babies, and it’s still twice the work (also twice the love and fun) but it really gets so much better. Hang in there. Also, you deserve tons of credit for pursuing your dream! Don’t give up! Sorry the daycare mom had to be a downer. I’m sure she was having a bad day/bad moment. Too bad she didn’t realize the power of her words. Hang in there and Keep on Keepin On! xoxo

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  21. She’s wrong. It does get easier. We didn’t have twins, but 3 in five years. I can’t do the advanced math it takes to work that out, but I’m pretty sure I changed diapers for 14 consecutive years – and the oldest is only 13 now. Anyhow… It does get better. I promise.

    There are a lot of great days ahead. The day you change your last diaper is a great day. The day the Bufflo Girls can buckle themselves in their car seats by themselves is a great day. The day they learn to ride a two-wheeler is a great day. The Saturday morning you wake up and discover they have gotten up, made their own breakfast and entertained themselves while you slept in is a great day. Your life loaded with great days ahead.

    I have found that my antidote to feeling like life has ganged up on me is to use gratitude as a tool. Not the kind of false gratitude your man Daniel is talking about up there, where gratitude is measured against others having it worse, or a guilty gratitude where we berate ourselves for having it so good, but the kind of gratitude that realizes that this feeling will pass and that today, I have everything I need, even if today does kind of suck, and tomorrow is another day filled with wonder and struggle and love and work and surprise and sorrow and joy.

    The truth is, some days just plain suck and that’s ok. It will pass. Every single day of our lives aren’t meant to be filled with rainbows and unicorns and hobbits. When I can manage to use gratitude to find something genuine to feel grateful about without comparing myself to others, I can usually turn my day around. And some days, the only way I can find my gratitude tool is to tell others that I’m having a shitty day, and give them an opportunity to help me find it. And that’s a pretty joyful thing.

    xoxoxo

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  22. You are amazing! I have a niece with 6 month old twins. She is privileged and has round the clock care. I have been to lunch with her and it was overwhelming in the equipment and effort to get them there. I don’t see how she does it! Then there is you, who is doing so much more and trying to dream a dream for yourself! Girl, pat yourself on your back. I’m amazed at your story! Cheers!

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