“Double-Double- This- This, Double- Double That-That” has so far proven to be the most accurate and timeless answer to “What’s it like having twins”?
None of us can deny that there seems to be an uptick over the last 5 years in the adoption of “new” holidays and its hard to keep up for sure but I’m all for any occasion that acknowledges and celebrates a miracle, let alone two! National Twin Day was on December 18th and it’s a day we love to celebrate!
RELATED READING :: Mom’s Guide to Having Twins
I will never forget seeing that first ultrasound almost 17 years ago and being stunned as the nurses giggled with joy as the sonographer explained and pointed to “Baby A” and “Baby B” on the screen. I remember trying to feel something because they were clearly feeling, but I was drawing a blank. The anxiety I had two weeks earlier when I first discovered my unplanned pregnancy was gone and the peace that I had the week before after processing the new plan to be a mom was now gone too! I was sitting there and baffled that I could not think of a single time I had ever seen anyone actually take care of two babies. I couldn’t think of a single tv show, personal relationship or anything that I believed that could assure me this could even BE done by a single mom or what it even meant for me maternally. I had no subconscious file to pull from and so for the next few weeks as I shared the news with family and close friends, this left me just repeating the only thing that I was sure of, I was about to have twins. So, I began the humble journey and set out to learn everything that I needed to know to be the best mom I could possibly be and twice the mom I needed to be. Though I’m no expert and still evolving with each new stage as my girls are, I want to be sure to encourage other mamas with just a few things that I’ve learned along the way with hopes to provide assurances that I too had to seek out or just something relatable even if you’re not a mom of multiples.
The Perfect Perspective
This picture above cracks me up because the way their little infant hands and mouths are positioned they look like they are reciting lines from one of the 1970’s mobster movies. I can laugh at that now but on this day, I was so frustrated sitting in a popular photo studio of a shopping mall trying to get some perfect holiday photos taken. (Translation: Trying to keep two babies fed, dry, awake and cool in spite of the appointments being backed up, the waiting area being hot and the overstimulation that comes with having mixed age and restless families juggling the same). After all, the other moms in my parenting classes had done it with their singletons, all I’d need was a bottle, a diaper and a squeaky toy- “it would be perfect and worth it!” I should’ve known I was playing a different game when I had to alternate nursing TWICE because there wasn’t enough privacy or space for my regular tandem feeding, neither wanted the bottle, to wait for the other to fully finish or burp and it seemed impossible to keep one awake while the other nursed. By the time we were called back, my normally smiling babies were just…well done. They wanted out of their outfits, out from under these lights and out of this entire place. In the moment, I thought I was being resilient- sticking it out and working twice as hard jumping around like a clown to try to get them to laugh, to smile, heck just LOOK at the camera. It was here that I learned one of my first lessons- Redefine “Perfection” – for us that meant our version of, had to be practical. The way things worked best for me in these early years was to manage my expectations of the “perfect” plan A up front especially if it was based on someone else’s experience and child and just plan around B (them)- perhaps that was a subtle hint from the ultrasound I should’ve known- we’d always need more than one plan. The real plan each day became to nourish and nurture them- if I thought they could handle more (showing up somewhere, doing something, etc.) we tried- if I was mistaken- we shut it down and turned around- sincere apologies but guilt-free. My perspective had shifted, I trusted my instincts now and I paid attention to my babies. I didn’t put pressure on myself nor let anyone else do it for me. My babies were happy and they were perfect whether or not it was captured.
The Dynamics of a Duo
As my girls got older, their personalities really started to blossom and around age six you could really only tell them apart by that. It can be easy to think, especially if you dress them alike or if they are monozygotic twins like mine, that they are the same or more similar than not. Truth is, they are as different from each other as my other two children are. Once I recognized this I was able to help them appreciate how their similarities as twins and their differences as individuals was all a part of what made them special. This can be hard to notice because they can bloom at different times, they too can be in the habit of conforming to the other’s interests, mannerisms and even social relationships before they feel the desire to bend in another direction. This could feel unnatural to them, especially if they’re close- they won’t always know how to verbalize what feels like a conflict and they might need assurance that it’s okay for them to BE who they’d like without the pressure of being alike. This was key for what seemed like the following six years that took us into junior high. The biggest task for me as a mom was taking time to SEE them blooming and nurturing that- pouring into them praise, shining light on them to build confidence and pulling out the weeds and thorns that made it difficult on their relationship (jealousy, envy, feelings of neglect). This was not only great for their friendship with each other but in other relationships at school and church who like their twin, may not have identical interests or personalities, but they know that they can still share a genuine and special bond. I’m not going to lie, this can be humbling. You won’t always like what you’re seeing, you won’t always feel balanced- one will need more attention than another at times and then puberty comes and is like unpredictable rain showers that either throw the weeds into a frenzy or try to soak out the soil you’ve finally meticulously managed to figure out. Helping our children to see themselves is one of the greatest tasks we have as parents and I believe as mothers we are predestined to be master gardeners and we have everything we need to help them grow. It’s beautiful.
It’s important to teach them so that they can teach others, that although they came into the world two at a Time they were created to be one of a Kind
Treasuring the Time
We’ve had some life changes over the last 16 years, including adding 2 more siblings to our family. At every phase it has been important for me to be intentional with my relationship with my twins. From the very beginning we’ve always had our “beauty-doll time” but that admittedly became harder to keep up with as needs and schedules changed and the family grew. Being twins they already had a great deal of practice in patience- “waiting your turn” is the norm- but what happens when it never feels like their turn again? I’ve talked to a couple of moms that share that they’ve struggled with maintaining the same level of connection with their oldest child once a younger one comes along and it causes so much guilt but also feels like a hopeless situation. With twins that can be amplified because well, your available time and lack thereof can rob you of the quality that you need with EACH of them. It was important to me that the girls were as equally excited about having a little brother and then a sister as we were, and this meant we had to be intentional with making sure they were in an emotionally healthy place to do that. No resentment, jealousy, no neglect. (Same thing we’d already been fostering). One of our current favorite things to do that not only makes them still feel important enough for my time, but has really been helping me to cherish these quickly fleeting last years of high school with them is that I take turns “tapping them in” the kitchen while I’m cooking. This helps me prepare them for real world independence but also gives us time to laugh and chat about things less interruptions. I love that this has created a space for them to ask about the history of a recipe or a memory I can share with them about it. Another weekly go-to of ours is to alternate weekly shopping dates. I’ll grab one of the twins for errands one day, while the other hangs back and we typically grab a treat from somewhere and just have fun being silly or doing car karaoke in between stops. I love this because I’m able to check-in with them in privacy but also provides a much needed break of the monotony that can be teenage parenting (Translation: nagging) .
Parenting twins at each stage for me has had its challenges, but also its sweet moments. (I understand though that even the best cookies need both the salt AND the sugar).
I’ve been grateful for the coming and going of each stage- sleep training, potty training, learning to walk, to talk, to self-feed, to self-dress, to read, to tie shoes, etc. All of these things used to seem so hopelessly far away at some point and now… we’re looking at driving and going to college fairs! Two things I’m certain of is having twins has given me ample opportunity to learn by fire and the grace to grow in it. I’ve learned to treasure it all, past and present and this has subsequently gifted me that assurance that I needed and didn’t have during that first OB visit for the future.
Affirmation: I can be the best mom for them, because we as mothers get to choose the standard- and above all, I choose joy, peace and love in all its forms.
So “YES!” parenting twins takes twice as much attention, nurturing and resources in every aspect but it is also very much similar to the concept of the “double-time” benefits as we know and appreciate. It is twice the honor, the love, the joy, the pride and though there will be many passing stages that require resilience, the aforementioned rewards, are for a lifetime.
We enjoyed our “Double the Blessing Day” and hope all you Twin Mamas did as well!