Having to Choose

I’ve come to realize that I will never experience what it’s like to pour myself solely into one child. I will never experience giving my attention and my care in a way that is whole and undivided. Even if my next pregnancy and birth produces a singleton, I will still have to meet the needs of my firstborn twins. I will never be a mom to just one.

I’ve heard women worry about having a second child. They feel like there is no way they could love another baby as much as their first. They feel like there isn’t space enough in their heart to love another baby.

It was never a worry I’ve had to experience. I always knew there was room enough for two (and more) in this heart of mine. I believe that when there are babies in our womb, our heart carves out a space uniquely fit for them. The love meant for that child pours out from that space for the rest of our lives. It never runs out.

Yet, that is two babies to love and care for. And because I’ve never been able to mother in a way that is whole and undivided, a certain kind of mom guilt hits immensely at all times of the day. A kind of mom guilt that only other mothers of multiple children will understand.

The guilt of having to choose.

There is only one mommy. And there are more than one of them. So, a mommy has to choose.

Choose who needs mommy more in that moment. Choose whose needs are more urgent. Choose who gets your attention. Choose who gets the love.

I learned very early on that it just isn’t possible to meet every need at every second. Sometimes, one of those babies can, and must, wait. Some needs take priority over others.

And every time I have to choose, my heart divides in two. And the mom guilt hits me like a bus.

I’m lucky to have a “village” of help to love and care for the boys when I can’t. Yet, even though I’m happy their needs are being met, I’m insanely guilty when I’m not the one meeting those needs.

When the twins were especially young, I would rock them to sleep at night individually. And on especially hard days, I would cry over them, asking:

Did I do enough for you today?

Did I make you feel seen?

Did you notice when I had to pick up your brother and you had to keep crying?

Did you see me trying?

Did I make you feel loved? Did you feel safe?

I pray that as they grow, this is the part they won’t remember-the choosing. Or, at the very least, I hope they see that I tried. That even when I was spread thin, I continued to stretch myself beyond my limits to make sure they each felt special, they each felt cared for, they each felt secure and they each felt the immense love I have for them both.

I hope they see it in the little things. In the funny faces I make to one while I change the others diaper. The cuddles I give one twin while I feed their brother a bottle. In the songs I sing when I put them to sleep.

I hope in the little things, they see my want to be there for them both. That if I could, I would meet their needs at the same time. If I had ten arms and eight legs, I would do it all. If only they knew the way my heart broke when I had to choose. If they could only see I would be there for both of them, every minute of everyday.

Day after day, I feel yanked in two directions. But I pray they never feel that. I pray my love never feels yanked or divided. I pray they never feel they were put on the back burner or feel they were unfavored. That they see I chose based on urgency and not favoritism.

I pray that love pours out from that special place in this heart of mine that is uniquely carved out for them. They never wonder, or even joke, about who is favored by mommy. That I love them both with all I have. That they both feel chosen, even when mommy has to choose who needs mommy most. Because I would choose them, all day and every minute if I had the ability to do so.

And I pray they always know that, somewhere in their own heart.

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