My first inkling the Mommy Mafia existed was when I found myself in a crowded doctors’ waiting room with my two-week old twins asleep at my feet. The room was filled with mothers talking a mile a minute, looking proud, frazzled, drowsy, worried, lonely, bored, happy, and totally kaput. It sounded like a nightclub without the music. Without the sexual tension. Without the fun. Yet, still quite entertaining.
I was seeing my doctor about a pinched nerve in my upper thigh which was terribly painful and made me look like I was walking with a watermelon between my legs. Within moments of my arrival a woman holding a red-haired toddler screeched at me.
“You must never put babies in capsules. Don’t you know that the angle means they’re at risk of having their respiratory tracts cut off?” she said.
“No, I didn’t! Should I be worried?” I asked. But, before I had a chance to reply, she found something else that I was doing ‘wrong.’ My babies were dressed in matching white jumpsuits. She told me I should never dress twins in the same clothes.
“They will have identity problems. You’re encouraging other people to treat them as one person.” Hello, Nazi Mom.
Then I noticed the lady to my left who was literally shaking. I asked her if she was okay and she grabbed her little darling and told me she was terrified. Why?
“He’s had a runny nose for five days. I’m sure he has caught something incurable. This is my third trip to the doctor this week. Maybe I should take him to casualty?” she said.
“I’m sure he’s fine. I mean, he looks okay to me. Not that I’m a doctor,” I said, speaking softly. But she ignored me, running out the door, presumably straight to casualty. I imagined, with every step she took, she was already planning his funeral.
Hello, ER Mom.
Behind me a woman was holding a potty in one hand, a little girl in the other. What was going on? Before I had a chance to ask her, she read my mind. “There is no way I will let her sit on anybody else’s toilet seat. She might catch something.” Hello, Germ Phobic Mom.
I slid back in my chair, extremely thankful that both twins were fast asleep. I’d only caught a couple of hours shut-eye the night before as the moment I got one baby to sleep, the other baby would wake up crying. There’s nothing amusing about having to deal with two screaming babies at 2am. I couldn’t imagine how easy it must be with one baby. Just being pregnant with one would be a cinch after this, not to mention breastfeeding one baby. Starting motherhood as a mother of two is motherhood by baptism of fire. Still, after losing my first to miscarriage, having twins felt like the clichéd double blessing. Plus, I’d convinced myself that all the exercise from dashing between the cots, patting one bottom here, the other bottom there, in a desperate bid to settle two at once, will eventually help me shed my pregnancy weight. As I was smiling at my babies, a woman approached me and without saying hello, she asked, “Did you give birth naturally?”
“No, I had a caesarian.”
That was all the ammunition she needed.
“Why did you have a caesarian?” she asked.
“Well, if I didn’t, one of the twins would have died. He was a footling breech,” I said, almost apologizing. But that wasn’t good enough for her. She launched into a long incoherent speech about how caesarian rates in the western world have sky rocketed. “All these women are too posh to push. I think that’s disgusting,” she said, slapping her leg with her two-years out of date Vanity Fair. Hello Natural Birth Interrogator Mom
Thankfully my name was called and I was able to escape a further grilling as I carried the boys into the doctor’s room. During my examination the twins were blissfully quiet; hypnotized by a ceiling fan waving a piece of purple streamer from its blades. A remnant from a recent celebration? I grimaced as the doctor prodded my upper thigh. The prognosis was not good.
“There’s absolutely nothing you can do. It will just fix itself,” he said. Great, I thought. Then, the moment I stepped off the table and bent down to kiss my little boys, they started crying – a whiff of breast milk was all it took to set off a feeding frenzy. I quickly debated the idea of doing the double breast feed in the waiting room or whether I should brave the ten minute drive home with two crying/hungry babies and reasoned the latter would be best for all. Feeding twins in public is very tricky; partly because you need a large feeding pillow and partly because you need to take your entire top off for easy access to both breasts. And while I don’t mind exposing some of my post baby body, I wasn’t about to expose my entire torso.
So I hobbled to the car park in the pouring rain. Just as I was about to get myself in the car, I was accosted by yet another mother who stood alongside me, putting her two darlings into the neighboring car.
She gazed at my sleeping babies and asked, “Twins?” I said yes indeed they are twins and was expecting her to repeat the comment most people say to me, “How do you do it with twins?” when she pointed to her own little darlings and said, “Mine are eighteen months apart. That is much tougher than having twins.”
How strange. Did she really think that having just one baby and then a year and a half later having a second baby is anything like having two babies at once?
Big deal, I wanted to say. Mine were born two minutes apart! Was she serious? Deadly. Then, as an afterthought, she stuck her head out of the window and yelled, “My son was walking at ten months!”
Hello Olympic Mom.
Suddenly, I understood the politics of motherhood. A world where women exist in a different world, where mothers belong to distinct ‘groups.’ It was like realizing the Mafioso is alive and kicking in your neighborhood. How on earth was I going to survive the Mommy Mafia? And would I be drawn into their spell and become a member too?