“That one is so much chubbier!”
“Awww, she must be the shy one.”
“This one’s going to be the talker!”
From the moment they are born, twins are compared. Which one weighs more? Which one eats better? Who is the better sleeper? Who is the more content baby? I’ll confess that one of my initial thoughts at seeing the doctor hold up my very first newborn twin was, “I can’t wait to see if her sister will look like her!”
At first, moms and dads compare their twins as a way of getting to know them. Trying to find the differences between these brand new little people helps you feel more connected to them. While drowning in the simultaneous care of two newborns, you desperately cling to anything that makes you feel competent. Comparing your twins is a life line.
The problem comes in that fact that comparisons get more and more limiting as twins grow older. Thinking about one being better at something, automatically makes the other one worse. When one is seen as especially athletic or artistic, it’s hard not to for the other twin to be thought of as the “un-athletic” or “un-artistic” one. While one is twin more of something, it makes the other an unspoken less.
No one wants to grow up being constantly compared.
Twin parents need to understand that comparisons will naturally happen. I’ve come to terms with that fact, especially now that my twins are five. Well-meaning people often inform me that one is taller than the other or one’s hair is longer, right in front of both girls. As a result, one has said she wished she had longer hair while the other wishes to be taller, all because of the constant comparing. Every time it happens, I want to say, “Yes! They look different, because they are different! Can we please talk about something other than their appearance?” My only response so far is an abrupt redirect. ”Hey, why don’t you tell them about your class pet?”
Thank God for that bunny.
I can’t stop others from comparing my twins. However, I can make sure comparisons don’t come from one of the biggest influences in their lives: me. I can focus on what makes them who they are, instead of measuring them against each other. Someday, tough comparisons will be made and I’ll wish we could just treat them like the same person. I dread the day only one twin is invited to a birthday party or to a school dance. The day may come when only one makes the team or one needs some extra help at school. Those days will be tough, but it comes with being different people. Differently gifted people.
What I can do is focus on helping them find their unique gifts and encourage them to follow their passions. I need to do that, knowing that just because they are good at something, doesn’t mean they have to like it.
Right now, one twin is very compassionate and adores younger children. Her sister is wildly curious and has an unquenchable thirst for figuring out how things work. Compassion and curiosity are wonderful gifts, but I have to be careful to not let each child be defined by them. Just because one twin is compassionate, doesn’t mean the other couldn’t be a wonderful teacher or health care professional. Just because one twin is curious, doesn’t mean the other can’t become an amazing scientist or inventor.
I never want to place my twins in a box I helped create. I won’t let myself, or anyone else, limit the possibilities of who they can and will become.
When they are grown, I want my twin girls to look back over their childhood and be able to say that their mom encouraged and believed in each of them. I want them to understand and use their unique gifts. Above all, I want them to be able to say that their mom loved them for exactly who they were and was always, always proud of them both.