You know those mothers who just look absolutely comfortable and totally in control? They glide along with their light-as-a-feather pushchairs (complete with stylish, yet educational toys), all slim, with casually-styled shiny hair and flimsy scarves. Effortlessly popping in and out of shops whilst holding a soya latte, stopping for a chat with a fellow perfecto-mum on their way to an organic baby massage class.
Now look over to the other side of the street. You see that hot-mess of a mother with the pushchair that looks like a cross between a tank and a train? The one with sweat streaming down her face, tugging at the hem of her too-short top that keeps riding up to reveal a saggy, stretch-marked stomach that looks like an empty hold-all? That's me, that is.
As a twin mum I have realised quite a few things about myself over the last 20 months or so. I can get myself and 2 toddlers ready for work/childcare in under an hour. I can lurch from red fury to convulsed in hysterics depending on my twins' mood. And I will always, always look just a wee bit chavvy pushing a pushchair. This is a fact. I don't know if that's because the pushchair is twice the size and trickier to manoeuvre, so it always tends to look like a bit of a struggle, or whether the chances of both twins sitting there contentedly are fairly slim and therefore I have more "hot moments" than a mum of a singleton.
A "hot moment", by the way, is a term coined by my sister (or my mum, can't remember) which perfectly describes how you feel when you are in public and you are wishing with all your might that you were in private. A good example is taking your baby to the weigh-in: essentially you sit around with other mums and their babies until your number is called, you strip you baby off and place him/her onto the scales, find out the new weight and it's all written in a little red book. Simple. Except when all the other babies are peacefully asleep in their perfecto-mums' arms and yours is screaming his face off, you're wearing a winter coat that you can't take off because there's nowhere to put the baby down, and then he does a massive poo on the scales. Hot moment. Weigh-in with twins? Double hot moment.
Maybe it's other people that make me feel like a mess rather than a perfecto-mum when I'm out with my twins. I do get pitying glances and comments that people think I can't hear (I've had twins, I'm not deaf ...and by the way you're standing a foot away from me). The first time I went out on my own with my babies they were probably around 4 weeks old. I'd planned the trip carefully in-between feeds, got them into the car, driven to a shopping centre, proudly parked in the parent and child section and transported them inside in their pushchair. As I was going through the entrance a woman passed me, turned to her friend and said "poor cow". It stopped me in my tracks a bit because I thought I was doing really well up until then. The twins were both asleep for goodness sake! How could it possibly have looked like I was struggling?! I've also overheard comments about my pushchair - someone once loudly declared it a "monstrosity", whilst another nudged her friend and said "look, there's a double pushchair" to which she replied "yeah, but LOOK at it!" (By the way, it's a Baby Jogger City Select and it's brilliant).
I think when you have twins you have to accept that it's quite a different experience to having a singleton. Yes, your pushchair might not be the most elegant, there will usually be at least one baby crying, your tummy will never be the same and you can't get into some shops, but I'm fairly sure most people in the street are looking at you with wonder and awe. Just the way I look at mums of triplets.