The other day, my 3-year-old girl twins and I were shopping at Target while their older brother and sister were at preschool. I just happened to spot this shirt while on my way to check out the clearance rack, as I’m a big cheapskate and hate buying things full price. Hey, when you’re buying for as many kids as I have, it adds up! This shirt was so painfully cute, though, I really wanted to get a matching set for the little girls. It’s perfect, since we always refer to them as The Monkeys, and they’re currently obsessed with wearing All Things Pink.
It wasn’t meant to be, though. I searched the racks and didn’t find another shirt like that one in any size. I think it was the only one in the store. And since my girls honestly have more clothes than they need anyway, we just moved on, and went a little crazy perusing the junk at The Dollar Spot.
I kept thinking back to that shirt, though, and remembering how often I’ve heard from other twin moms how they HATE the phrase Double Trouble. Besides “you’ve got your hands full!” I’ll bet it’s what we moms hear most often from usually well-intentioned strangers approaching us in public. I personally don’t hear it all that much anymore. Usually it’s from some kindly grandfather-type, which makes it that much easier to tolerate. My kids are getting old enough that we aren’t as much of a spectacle. I really think it’s our strollers that attract the attention, more than the children. Your eye might pass right over a couple of kids walking together, but two matching children in a stroller? It’s gotta be twins! Let’s go see!
I really hated all the attention with the kids were little. I don’t know why I was so ridiculously self conscious about it, but I was. Looking back, I think I was just stressed out and worried about the kids throwing public fits, because it’s the same feeling I get now when my 4-year-old, who has autism, starts hollering and people start looking our way. I dreaded people dashing over to see us, though – I found it downright annoying! And since I had two sets of twins, only 17 months apart in age, we were a spectacle and a half, walking around with our big quad stroller. People never believed me when I told them we’d be approached at least a dozen times until they’d go shopping with us for the first time. I remember my preteen daughter’s best friend taking a trip to Costco with us, and later on saying, “I felt like a celebrity!” Indeed. I was so freaked out by all the attention, that I actually made this shirt on CafePress and wore it to places like, say, the home and garden show. Places I knew people would fall all over themselves to get to us and say crazy things.
I’m pretty much over it now. And truly, I regret being such a baby about all of it. It IS special having twins, and it’s true that a lot of the attention you get for it is positive and uplifting. Heck, strangers smile at you at the grocery store! So now that my twins are 4 and 3 and I’m not constantly being heckled in public, I’ve grown to really appreciate the specialness of it all. I’ve actually come to realize that I know something that all those people don’t know. Having twins is a blast. And it IS double trouble! When you realize the house is way too quiet, and you don’t hear anything except muffled bursts of maniacal laughter – uh, yeah. That’s double trouble all right! Those little monkeys get into way more mischief together than they do on their own. And it’s really cool, too. It’s not a burden, it’s not a nightmare, it’s not a cross to bear. I’ve gotten to where the comments rarely bother me, because I feel like it’s sort of like my own little secret. These folks who give me that “smellin’ onions” expression and say things like, “better you than me!” have no idea that they’re really paying me a compliment. Having twins is such a special blessing, and the fun and amazing moments way outnumber the crazy, I-want-a-do-over-with-this-parenting-thing moments.
And, in the spirit of Autism Awareness Month, I wanted to extend that notion just a bit. I’ve also come to realize that having a child with autism is a blessing as well. I get lots of sympathy for having an autistic child. I know you guys hear the numbers as often as I do – 1 in 150 kids today are diagnosed with autism. How can you not hear about it? It’s in every magazine, newspaper, and on every TV program. Yay for that, really – awareness is awareness. It’s frustrating to me how all the news is so depressing and hopeless, though. You NEVER see parents going on Oprah to say things like, “My autistic son is such a joy to our family. He’s bright and sensitive and I love seeing how his mind works. I can’t wait to see what his future holds.” Hey Oprah – if you want someone to come on and say some hopeful things like that, give me a ring! I could go on about this for fifteen more paragraphs, but we’ll save that for another post. My point is – I feel like this is another happy little secret of mine that nobody knows about! It’s what led to me starting up my other site, Autism is Beautiful.
So don’t sweat hearing things like, “Double trouble!” Almost without exception, people are just a little starstruck by the notion of twins and want to say SOMETHING. They have no idea you’ve heard that fifteen times already since you entered the mall! Smile and nod, smile and nod.