I realized that my blog name is “twin mom” but I have never written anything specifically about twins. I’m a member of a lot of “twin parents” or “parents of multiples” groups online and I’ve run across the same complaint many times. Twin parents hear a lot of “Well I have 4+ kids they aren’t all the same age but still…” or “I had two kids that are 9 months apart, it’s the same thing”. It drives twin parents crazy, and then people actually get offended when we admit that it drives us crazy. So, I’d like to give you the chance to have a “peek” into our world, in the hopes that maybe you will understand why these comments sometimes drive us nuts, and why sometimes parents of multiples cling to each other for support. So here’s a list of reasons why it’s much different. Try to remember these things when you think “that twin mom is just playing-up her situation…it’s really no big deal”
- When our kids were born we had to buy two car seats. We don’t get to purchase a car seat, have a child grow out of it and pass it down to the next child. That’s two car seats, and guess what, when they grow out of said car seats, we have to buy two more!
- Going to the store alone when your twins are infants is next to impossible. You have to use a carrier of some kind. My husband and I chose to use their infant car seats which doubled as carriers. Guess what: Two infant car seats and a diaper bag fit into a cart…that’s ALL. So you can go to the store alone, you just can’t buy anything bigger than a pack of gum.
- Our kids start walking at the same time. Even if you have kids 9 months apart, the older child is going to walk before the younger one. Which means that you only have one child to hunt down and stop from making a mess. Plus then, eventually you are able to teach that child “DON’T TOUCH THIS”, granted you have to turn around a couple of months later and do the same thing to the younger child. But consider two children, walking at pretty much the same time, but in different directions, tearing two different things up, and trying to teach them BOTH “Don’t touch this”. That’s a twin parent’s LIFE.
- The terrible twos. Remember when your child threw a fit in the middle of the supermarket? Or when they ran around the department store like a crazy person? Or when they had a meltdown at home because their favorite movie wouldn’t play? Imagine having two of them, and one is running around the store while the other is having a meltdown. Or one is having a meltdown at home while the other is BREAKING your DVD player trying to get it to work for THEIR favorite movie. TWO kids going through the terrible twos AT ONCE.
- Potty training. Yeah you would think it would be easier because they would see each other doing it, but it’s not. They try to close the lid on each other while the one is sitting on the toilet. Or one flushes the toilet while the other is trying to use it, which scares him to death.
- The blame game. When you have kids that are somewhat far apart in age (not born on the same day), you can pretty well figure out who did what. For example, there’s no way that your infant spilled milk all over the kitchen floor, but when you have two kids at once who are the same age and both testing their boundaries, unless you see it happen, you have no idea who did it, and they will both blame each other.
- The popularity and stupid questions. Parents of singletons, do you ever go to the store and people gather around your child and say “What a lovely 2-year old! How much did he/she weigh when they were born?”, “Are they a singleton?”, “Was it a hard pregnancy?”, “Is your child natural?”, “How much weight did you gain during your pregnancy?”, “Are they healthy?”. These are questions that twin parents get almost EVERY TIME we go out. It got so bad for us as we lived in a medium-sized town, that the Wal-mart employee who greets you at the door would spread the word that “the twins are here!”, by the time we made it back to the movie section, there was a gathering of employees around our cart making it impossible to move or shop. Complete strangers would follow us around the store asking crazy questions. In what world is it ok for a stranger to ask about my medical history or that of my children? That’s the world that twin parents live in.
- Increased doctor’s appointments. This happens from the moment the doctors find out that you are pregnant with twins. You know those ultrasounds that singleton moms are sooooo excited to have? Well twin moms have them EVERY TIME they go to the doctor, and the plus side is that when you are GIGANTIC, they take EVEN LONGER and your back spasms so bad that they allow you to take breaks so you don’t go into labor. Ohhh…and it doesn’t stop after they are born, because twins are usually born premature, so they have to go to the doctor A LOT. Plus they usually don’t get sick at the same time, so it’s almost 4x as much as going to the doctor with a healthy singleton baby. (I had to go to the doctor once a week for a month and a half with the twins until they reached 6 pounds).
- The long/involved stories and anecdotes from strangers. When parents of children of differing ages go out in public, they don’t hear comments like “I had a baby once”. “I know someone who had a baby once”, or “I was once a baby”. Nor do they have to politely listen to the 10 minute story that follows. Parents in GENERAL are busy, not just twin parents but ALL parents are busy. Just like all other parents, twin moms want to get in and get out of the store. Instead, we hear “I knew some twins once”, “I knew someone who had twins”, “I am a twin” etc. Then we have to politely listen to a long drawn-out story. It’s kind of exhausting. Plus, if you catch us on the wrong day, we immediately call our friends and make fun of you!
- Going to sleep at night. Yeah…remember the countless nights you stayed awake with your child trying to get them to go to sleep? When they were infants, your eyes were red and puffy, you lived on caffeine, and were incredibly short with people? When they were toddlers and got out of bed in the middle of the night, you simply let them slip into bed with you so you could go back to sleep? Being a twin parent is a whole new ballgame. For about six months, my husband and I got about 2 hours of sleep a night. My husband drank 5 hour energy drinks like they were water and STILL fell asleep. Wanna talk about edgy? I answered the phone with “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” or “THIS BETTER BE AN EMERGENCY”. As toddlers, they won’t sleep without each other. So one has a nightmare, gets up in the middle of the night, and I’d love to just let him slip into bed with us, but the problem is that they’ve slept together their whole lives. When the sleeping child no longer hears the breathing of the other child, he instantly wakes up. We have it down to an actual science. You must have the child with the nightmare back in the room in 10 minutes or less or both children will be wide awake. Oh and…even if the other one wouldn’t wake up…the awake child refuses to sleep with mommy and daddy as their twin is in the other room, and I have FRATERNAL twins…I can’t imagine what people with IDENTICAL twins go through. Oh…and let’s not even talk about the time that one of the twins was admitted to the hospital. Talk about not getting any sleep. My husband stayed home with the “well” twin, and I was at the hospital with the sick twin. NO SLEEP! They spent three days looking for each other. I was so glad to reunite them when I brought him home from the hospital. I knew it meant that I would get some sleep!
- The constant assertion that “it’s no different than having more than one child or children close in age”. Believe us when we say, there’s a HUGE difference. Being a parent is difficult in general, it’s VERY difficult for twin parents, EXTREMELY difficult for triplet parents, and goodness gracious, I don’t know how parents of more than 3 kids of the same age at the same time make it through the day. We don’t say these things because we think that we are better than a singleton parent, in my opinion, good parents are just good parents regardless of the amount of children. The thing is though, don’t reject something you know nothing about. By no means would I tell the parent of a child with no legs that “it’s no different than having an infant that can’t walk”. How would I know? Being a parent is just difficult, but when a twin parent is venting to you because of something specifically related to the fact that their kids are twins…don’t try to downplay their issues. There’s a reason that there are support groups for parents of multiples.
- Buying two of almost everything. You know that awesome toy that you bought your child that they lost interest in so you just passed it down to one of your younger kids? You know how your older child grew out of their clothes and you just passed them down to your younger child? That doesn’t happen in “twin world”. In the world of twins you buy one cool toy, you might as well buy two of them. All of us fall into this crazy trap though, because we think: “instead of me buying two of this particular toy, why don’t I buy one of this toy and one of this other toy”. Well…the twins will be having none of that. They are only interested in the toy that their sibling has. Sometimes, even if you buy two of the EXACT SAME THING they actually can identify the exact one that they want and fight over that. (I’m sure that some singletons do that too though). We don’t get to “pass down clothes”. Fortunately many of us have family and friends that are willing to help us out, but generally, the twins grow at about the same rate, and then when they grow out of it…you are just kind of stuck looking at it. OH and when you want to give it away, it’s a PAIN. People are all for taking clothing, but a twin parent has TWICE the amount of baby clothes, and most people don’t want two of the exact same outfits.
- The constant comparison. This isn’t always from strangers, believe it or not, the worst of it comes from us as parents. See…you as a parent may look at your toddler and think “my older child was talking by this point” or “my older child knew his colors by this point”, and it may be true, but you can’t really be CERTAIN can you? When you watch two kids grow up together you end up thinking: “why isn’t THIS child doing what the other child is doing?”. It’s a constant battle that you have to deal with. It’s an internal thing that you can’t really just “get over”. It’s something that none of us are proud of, but there’s not much we can do about it.
- The challenge to stay one step ahead of them. I have friends who have kids who were telling me about when their kids started crawling out of their cribs. When I told them that the twins were doing it, they were really surprised, because the twins started this REALLY YOUNG. Finally we caught them in the act and found out why. One child was helping the other by boosting him up out of the crib. Then we separated their cribs. They were still doing it. Wanna know how? The child who could climb out on his own would throw all of his blankets and stuffed animals into the other child’s crib. The child who could not get out on his own would then take these blankets and stuffed animals and throw half of them on the ground. The child who is on the ground would then make a pile. The child in the crib would then pile the blankets and stuffed animals into a corner, step on this pile, tumble over the side of the crib onto the soft pile of blankets his twin brother made. Yeah…they think TOGETHER. They weren’t very old when they started this. They learn fast. When you have one kid who tries something and fails, and possibly gets hurt, it takes them a while to come up with another scheme. When you have twins, they are both thinking out the problem and working together (even without talking) to fix said problem.
- The empty nest is SUDDENLY empty. I’ve not experienced this yet, but it’s something that twin parents are told to prepare for. When you have children who are even 9 months apart in age, generally they won’t leave the house at the same time, so your nest slowly dwindles to “empty”. Apparently, twins usually leave at the same time and a lot of times they will leave TOGETHER. Now, my boys are two years old, and today was a rough day, so I’m not sweating that right now….but just know that we all think about it, even in passing…it’s there in the back of our minds.
- Twin talk. Twin talk is a real thing, look it up. It’s a form of communication that twins have with each other. My kids do it, I’ve actually never met a pair of twins that don’t do it. The problem is, YOU can’t understand it. The other problem is, it delays actual speech. So, I have a child who doesn’t like to talk…instead, he chooses to “twin talk” with his brother (which sounds like gibberish to me), and then his brother translates. It’s like trying to teach someone who speaks a foreign language how to speak English, except you don’t speak their language and you don’t have anyone to teach you. Every “twin talk” is different, so I can’t even go to someone else’s twins to learn.
- The pregnancy. Yes we have more doctor’s appointments, but do you remember when you were pregnant and craving that strawberry pie? Or maybe it was steak and French fries? Well, in a lot of twin pregnancies (mine included), we crave things that make us sick to our stomach to even think about eating. I craved bacon so badly, but the THOUGHT of eating it made me nauseous. I finally asked my doctor why, and she said that in a twin pregnancy, one twin will cause you to crave something, while the other will cause you to feel nauseated about eating it. It’s almost like your body is having two separate pregnancies. Fun huh? Then you become a raving lunatic because you just HAVE to have that bacon, but you can’t afford to keep getting sick! Oh…and remember later in your pregnancy when you had to sleep sitting up because you felt like you couldn’t breathe? That happens earlier rather than later in a twin pregnancy, and when you DO lay down, your babies are ANGRY. They don’t have much room as it is, so if you lay on your side, one baby will kick the bed, if you lay on the other side, the other one will do it. So…you will be quite a while without rest…that is until your doctor hands over the sleeping pills.
- Keeping everyone else straight. I know a couple of people who have kids that look similar that have to constantly tell people “no,…THIS is Billy…..THAT is Bobby”. Let me let you in on a secret, my twins look NOTHING alike, and people STILL get them confused. People that have known them since BIRTH get them confused. It’s ongoing.
- Keeping YOU straight. You know how you have one kid that loves chicken while the other one loves beef? Or one kid wants the crusts cut off the sandwich while the other one would be happy if you gave them extra crust? Eventually you just get into a system. You’ve gotten so used to it that you are in a system. With twins, it’s harder to remember that. So, you end up cutting the crusts off one sandwich and giving it to the wrong kid…never fear though….they work it out and switch their food on their own once they get older.
- The fear that you did it wrong. See, when you have one kid at a time, you can look and say “man I wish I did ________ differently” and with the next kid you can. With twins, you are doing it for two kids at once. So if what you are doing doesn’t work out…guess what! You deal with the consequences TWICE!
Again, none of this means that the job of being a singleton parent isn’t hard, because like I said, being a parent can be hard. I wrote this because I know a LOT of twin parents have these same complaints and just wish that others understood them. So, there it is. I hope that it was eye-opening for some of you, and for the parents of multiples out there, I know many of you laughed while reading some of these things…so I hope you enjoyed the comedy and enjoyed knowing you aren’t alone!