The Kindness of Strangers

This past weekend I took a quick trip to Toronto for the wedding of two of my oldest and dearest friends. It was 36 hours of no babies. That’s the longest I’ve ever been away from them.

But here’s what I wanted to say: Holy crap it’s been a long 2+ years!

That thought smacked me in the head yesterday morning as I lounged in my hotel room, sipping my Starbucks latte and watching bad reality TV. I had had an inkling of it a couple weeks ago when I took the day off work to do laundry and grocery shop. I was in line at the grocery store when I noticed a familiar double stroller in the next row. I smiled cautiously at the mom, who was rhythmically rocking the stroller containing two bucket car seats. As a twin mom in a grocery store, you get used to the stares and the smiles. I could tell she was a bit frustrated at how long the cash line was taking, I could see the math being done in her head – how long since I fed them, what time is it now, can I get them home before someone sleeps which will totally mess up the naps …

“Twins?” I asked.

“Yes,” she answered, probably for the tenth time that day, bracing for the inevitable double trouble or you certainly have your hands full comment.

“I have twins, they are almost 2. How old are yours?”

“Six months,” I could see her relax a bit. I peeked into their car seats, four big eyes staring up at me.

“Six months is hard,” I said, fighting my impulse to be shy, knowing that there are things twin moms need to tell each other. “It really does get easier though.”

“Really? How did you get them to nap? Are they in the same room? I can’t seem to get them on a schedule!” The questions came pouring out. We chatted, I told her my experiences, how Thea would never nap without me, how Jude was up every two hours in the night until he was 18 months, how frustrating it was when Thea was ready to switch to one nap, but Jude needed two, my “car nap” trips to drive-thrus and empty parking lots.

Our lines moved ahead and we parted ways, “You’re doing an amazing job,” I made sure to add. When I got back to my car, I felt emotional. I felt like I had managed to transport back in time and that I had just had a conversation with myself. There was something cathartic about it. I guess because it’s over, the baby part anyway. I don’t underestimate my toddlers and the challenges that are ahead, but I really did make it through the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life so far.

I remember when Jude would be up 4 or 5 times a night, I would rock him back to sleep after a little milk, and I would just tell myself over and over again that this was not forever, that one day he would sleep through the night, but I was never very sure if that was true. It certainly didn’t feel like it was. And now it is. Now I can take a trip to Toronto alone and know that they are fine. I can slowly start to put myself back together, remember who I am and what I need.

Maybe this post isn’t just about having kids, but about challenging times in general. Maybe what I’m trying to say is that I understand faith now. I understand trust. I get it that survival is really just knowing that everything changes, the good and the bad. Survival is holding onto the good, and knowing that the bad will soon be just a memory. Survival is believing that there is a path we are on, even if we can’t quite see it. Survival is checking out the bird’s eye view every once in awhile, and recognizing how long and winding that path is.

One time last year, after a particularly harrowing night and equally disastrous day, I was wandering around the grocery store really just for something to do when a woman approached me.

“Twins?” she asked. I fake smiled and said yes. She leaned in closer, clearly ignoring her husband and child behind her.

“I am a twin,” she said, her eyes glistening, “My brother and I have the best relationship. I was really hoping that I would have twins, because we had such an amazing childhood.” I stared at her in disbelief, trying to imagine hoping for twins. “I know it was really hard for my mom sometimes, it is not easy.” She peeked into the car seats. “You’re doing an amazing job.” She said. It was what I needed on that day. It got me through to the next day.

Yes, it’s been a really long 2+ years. And as much as friends and family have been instrumental in supporting me, I am in awe of the kindness of strangers. Sometimes just a few kind words can make all the difference.

If today is your rough day, know that you are doing an amazing job. You really are. Check out your path, and know that you are right where you need to be. You’ve got this.


P.S. Now that I DO have two kids who sleep through the night, I’ve started working on an epic sleep post, so stay tuned!


About Sarah Tombler

I live in Ottawa, Canada with my husband and our twins. I work for the Public Service, and I have been a vegetarian for 18 years. Over the years, I have started to understand that what we eat effects us, through mood, weight and positive thoughts. I am working towards cutting most animal products from my diet, in an attempt to live a life of compassion, and to do what I can to help this small planet of ours. I also love letting people know that the secret to happiness may be as simple as what we put in our bodies. View all posts by Sarah Tombler

2 responses to “The Kindness of Strangers

  • victorioka

    Sarah, you are awesome. This post made me cry because it really does feel like talking to yourself and giving yourself the advice and support that you either didn’t get or couldn’t take in at the time. I always want to talk people a novel because there is so much to know, so many ways to say, “yes, it will eventually change, just hang in there the best you can because they just need you to stick with them”, but it’s hard to know how much is enough and how much is too much. It’s hard to remember if I would have believed someone or understood that I was not the only one going through this.

  • daraplease

    As a less experienced mom of a single ten month old, I am looking forward to reading your sleep post. I have enjoyed your entries. Found you on offbeat family.

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