Congratulations and condolences: incorporating burden, love and community into identity as a mother of multiples

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It's difficult to explain what defines being a mother of multiples (MoM), other than that it's more of everything involved in mothering-work, joy...equipment. This essay will combine personal and philosophical insight to explore the intertwining of burden, love, and community in building identity as a mother of multiples.

In the "more" of MoMhood, three things stand out. Initially salient is the utter burden of infant twins. MoMs say that "it never ends": somebody always needs you, and somebody's needs are almost always not being met (babies', Daddy's, Mommy's). For me, burden was the primary experience of mothering multiples for several months. Simultaneously, however, two developments help MoMs cope with the burden. First, MoMs say that their capacity to love increases. Loving multiples requires work to know and develop several selves at once-including Mommy's. Second, the community of MoMs is a source of comfort and understanding. For example, MoMs are less judgmental and more supportive than other communities of mothers. They taught me to resist cultural norms of intensive mothering, and that I'm a "rock star" just for being a MoM.

Thus, this essay argues that multiple motherhood is defined in large part by extra burden, love, and community-and that none of these things would be what it is without the others.


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