I’ve found that I mentally separate moms of twins into two categories. On one hand are the TWIN MOMS, who are really into having twins. They wear the t-shirts, have the bumper stickers, their kids always match, etc. On the other hand are the twin moms. Lower case. They are the ones who were always too strapped for time and/or money to order the t-shirts. Bumper stickers aren’t necessary, because any clever messages can be traced in the dirt on the back of the minivan. If their kids match, it’s because the last load out of the dryer was reds and everyone pulled clothes from the laundry basket.
The Twins Days Festival is really geared toward TWIN MOMS and their offspring. I’m more of a twin mom. Lower case.
We attended at our twins’ request. As we pulled into the parking lot, my boys were excited to see sets of twins in matching outfits. Attendees had decorated their cars as well. “What’s so special about being twins?” my 8-year-old singleton grumbled.
Oh, that’s a fun one to answer at Twins Days.
As we entered the high school where registrations were being taken, I was overcome by a wave of emotion at the throngs of identically dressed twosomes and threesomes. I was excited for my boys. In our quest to treat twins as individuals, I think we often go overboard and treat them as though being a twin is somehow a weakness that needs to be hammered out of them. We frown at sets of twins with rhyming or alliterative names. We tsk-tsk parents who dress their twins alike. We want them in separate classes, with separate friends. It felt good to be in a place where all the pressure to prove I’m fostering their individuality is removed, and their sameness is accepted for what it is.
The sameness is not just accepted, but celebrated. It seems a lot of effort is put into looking identical at the Twins’ Days Festival. These twins all matched completely – haircuts, clothing, shoes, glasses, hairstyles, purses, jewelry, etc.
I’d made a terrible mistake. Two terrible mistakes, actually. First, my boys were not dressed exactly alike. (This is because I am a twin mom [lower case] and just felt proud that I had the same shirt in two different colors clean at the same time.) Second, my boys have very different haircuts, due to a series of unfortunate attempts at saving money on haircuts. (Lesson learned.)
There weren’t many sets of twins or trips whose parents had made my mistake(s). Or if there were, they blended in with all the other non-twins. I was asked if my older three were triplets. I was asked if Miss A and P were twins, when G was standing right there next to them. The boys were not obviously twinnish enough, and I felt like I’d short-changed them.
This event highlighted how very lower case I am.
For most of the evening my kids’ social anxiety kept them very calm and well behaved. I received compliments. But as the kids got more comfortable with their surroundings, things escalated until they were having a four-way chasing/wrestling/punching fight that resulted in multiple minor injuries. As the violence progressed, I thought, “If there’s any public place where this probably won’t be unusual, this is it.” Based on conversations with the moms of multiples I know in real life, face-punching is sort of twinspeak shorthand for “hi, how’s it going?” But the whole evening, I only saw one other set of twins punching each other in the face. I have no explanation for this.
So, Twins’ Days made me feel inadequate. It made my daughter feel jealous. But it made my boys feel fantastic. Don’t mock me, but I’ve shed tears over how much they liked being there, and how they clearly identified so closely with all of these other people who sprang to the earth paired with another. It was such a powerful experience that it made me want to convert to TWIN MOM. Whether we subject the whole family to the festival in the future, we’ll definitely take the boys back each year, for as long as they want to go.
Aside: I had the pleasure of meeting up with Kim Schmidt, a HDYDI reader and mother to an 8-year-old singleton and 3-year-old twins, all daughters. She’s writing about the Twinsburg festival for American Way magazine, and I hope she’ll let us link it here when the piece is published. She blogged a bit about the festival here.
Next year, HDYDI meet-up in Twinsburg, Ohio!
Jen is a work-from-home mom of 5-year-old twin boys, and two girls ages 3 and 8. She also blogs at Diagnosis: Urine, where she examines the finer points of potty training failure.