For the first time in a long time, I have a lot of twin-related things to say. My boys are two months into their kindergarten year, and they are growing up before my eyes. But this is a post about my older singleton daughter.
She was not yet 2 when we dragged her to our ultrasound appointment and discovered we were expecting twins. Over the next three months our daughter went from having an active mother who played with her and didn’t allow TV, to a mother who lay exhausted on the sofa all day and expected her to entertain herself watching Caillou.
When the babies were born it got worse. We couldn’t afford for me to quit my job, but we also couldn’t afford daycare. My employer allowed me to work from home most of the time, so we all huddled in my office: boys in their bouncy seats, Miss A in front of Caillou, and me on my laptop, working. They cried a lot – we all cried a lot. And if all three kids were crying, the one who was fed last and whose diaper was changed last was the oldest one.
This summer Miss A started acting out quite a bit. She has just turned 8. She began to lose her temper and physically go after her siblings. She would claw at her own thighs or chest, and scream, “You’re lucky I’m not doing this to you!” She’d hit herself, kick the walls, stomp on the floor, slam doors, break things… She’d lose her temper over requests that she wear sunscreen, or a reminder that it was almost bedtime – and she could scream for hours. One night she carried on until well after midnight, screaming and drumming her heels against the wall.
The other kids told us they were afraid of her. We were afraid to leave them alone with her.
We took her to see a family counselor, and she’s also meeting with her school counselor. In both settings, all she wants to talk about is twins. She wishes we’d never had them. She wishes she was one of them. She worries about them. She hates them. She loves them.
Our family isn’t very twintastic. We have rarely done matching outfits, and because they are the same gender our twins are verbally grouped as “the boys,” rather than “the twins.” We don’t belong to twins’ clubs. This summer’s trip to Twinsburg was the most twinnish thing we’ve done. At first I thought that might have sparked Miss A’s rage, but then I traced her outbursts to a month or so before the Twins’ Days Festival. I love my little boys – each one of them, individually – as I love my little girls. She doesn’t understand that for all of the emphasis society places on twins, our family had been hoping for a singleton. She believes it’s the opposite – that everyone is secretly hoping for twins, and secretly disappointed to get just one baby at a time. She believes a parent’s love grows exponentially with each additional baby, like the work does.
When she is older I can tell her how we felt at that ultrasound; how overwhelmed and terrified we were, and how terribly hard it was for the next couple years. But for now, she’s hurting and longing for the other half she never had.
Jen is a work-from-home mom of 6-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.