Not Twin Enough

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Categories Mommy Issues, Multiple Types, Parenting Twins

We have never tried making it a big deal that we have twins in our family. It came to us as a complete surprise when I went to see a doctor on my 16th week. I went because ‘my fundus was too high’ and I thought something was wrong. I’d google ‘high fundus’ at least once a day and skip right past the first reason: multiples pregnancy. In my wildest dreams never did I think I’d have to deal with that outcome (the night before my ultrasound, as I was up all night with a teething 10mo old I told my husband that if indeed there were more than one occupying the space I wouldn’t be coming home after the delivery). But there they were in the ultrasound, two adorable beating hearts.

When they were born we called them by their names. I was put off when someone referred to them as ‘the twins’, like they were a unit and not two individuals with their own personalities. I used to place them in our singleton bassinet-stroller so that people in the park or mall wouldn’t bother us with comments or questions. I often wondered about the ‘twin bond’ and if that was something that really existed or something that would develop between any same aged children that spent all of their time together from birth. Whatever it is, I love watching them interact with each other. There is something in there that makes me feel like they are in a world of their own at times.

A week ago I was talking with an acquaintance. Beth was telling her how she and Joshua are both 3 years old and I mentioned how we don’t refer to them as twins. She said ‘why would you? They only share a birthday. It’s not like they’re real twins’.


Now what?


I was too puzzled to say anything that made sense so I ended the conversation pretty quickly. As I walked away and thought about it I was offended and angry by this notion that just because our twins are a boy and a girl they somehow are ‘lesser’ twins than identicals (or twins that are not identical but look alike to a strangers’ eye). Sure I’m aware of the hierarchy that exists in the twin world but to not call them twins at all was utter craziness (specially by someone who doesn’t have any twins to ‘brag’ about).

As I’ve been thinking about the comment and how it made me feel I realized that while I certainly don’t promote their twin-ness I am not willing to have someone take it away from them either. Being twins doesn’t make them any more special than the singleton child next to them but it is part of who they are. They are blessed and cursed for a lifetime for having to share their most magnificent moment, being born. And by definition that is what being a twin is. The rest is just the icing on the cake.


What are your thoughts on this?

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19 thoughts on “Not Twin Enough”

  1. I really, really didn’t want to call them the twins, but when baby #3 came along I did so because it was efficient in referring to them and their different age/stage. I feel like my twins aren’t “twin” enough because they do.not.get.along. They shared a uterus, a birthday and that is it. As a multiple myself I expected a little for them to be close but frankly they are siblings who just happen to be the same age. Definitely not “twin” enough in my mind.

  2. Hi

    Our twin boys are 3 now and I often refer to them as “the twins” but I think you have to take the context into consideration. We also have a 6 yr old singleton as well which to me, has the same negative connotation as you think twins does. We all know the bond that can exist between twins…something a “singleton” can never have and may feel left out for that very reason.

    We had names picked out before they were even born and it goes without saying that we always call them by their names. But when you refer to them in the 3rd person. i.e. “Did you grab some snacks for the twins” or “the twins have been sick”. I don’t see it as a negative thing. It is something I am very proud of and I like it when people ask me about them. Sure, you get the same type of questions each time and because I work full time I know its something my wife gets a lot more than I do and it gets frustrating for her.

    Of course they are individuals and should be treated as such. We like it when people acknowledge this by getting them separate cards for birthdays and the holidays but when people ask.. how is your eldest and the twins… I don’t see that as a negative…. just a reminder of how lucky we were….

  3. I hate it when people refer to our youngest two boys as “the twins” – (we have an older son as well) – the first Christmas we celebrated with N and G every single present they received that wasn’t from us was addressed to “The Twins” – I am adamant that they are G…. and N….. not.”The”. “Twins”. …Family is slowly learning, but they must be trained as awful as that sounds.

  4. I have boy triplets – a pair of identicals and a fraternal. It drives me nuts when a couple of my friends refer to my identicals as “the twins.” Since there were three born at the same time, they aren’t twins. Personally, if I’m referring to them collectively, I call them “the boys.”

  5. I have fraternal twin girls, my only children, so I have the luxury of referring to them as “the babies” or “the girls”. It dawned on me several months ago, when we read a book that noted “twin cats”, that at about two years old, they’d never really been introduced to the word or concept of “twins”. I actually thought that was pretty funny!

    I have found it really interesting that there does seem to exist a “hierarchy” among twin moms (I belong to a MoMs group). First seem to be mo-mo twins, and there are a couple of mothers who always point that out…and will ask other mothers of identical twins if theirs were mo-mo, too.

    It almost feels like a way, among mothers of multiples, to try to discern if the twins were conceived via IF treatments. Either way, it feels uncomfortable to me.

  6. I get around the “twins” thing by calling my boys (fraternal) “the brothers”- obviously you can’t do that for b/g twins but for us it speaks to their relationship as well as their relationship with their older sister.

  7. @ Pip – I tried “the tykes” when my twins were younger but once the third was born I felt like I was leaving her out if I called just the twins “the tykes”. Ahh… the things we torture ourselves about.

  8. I have always referred to our fraternal boys (and only children) as “the babies,” but now that they are 3, I can’t really get away with that anymore and usually say “the boys.”
    We also try to reinforce the brother relationship with each other over the twin-ship, although if we are reading something that references twins, I will say, “they’re twins, just like you guys.”
    My in-laws call them “the twin-sicles” which drives me absolutely INSANE!

  9. My fraternal twin boys are only 11 weeks old and they are our first babies. I also want them to have their own identity and prefer people refer to them by name and not as the “twins”. We usually just call them “the boys” since they are our only children, very rarely do I even say twins unless I am asked how many children I have. At the same time I think it is amazing they are twins. There is something so special about having a buddy from the moment of conception. My two have a bond already that is so much stronger than being sibling, they are twins! Even though I want them to have their own identity and to be free to be their own individuals I also want them to be proud they are twins! That is something so special that very few people get to experience. I feel blessed as their mom that I get to peek into their little twin world.

  10. That is just freaking ridiculous. Not twins? Was she joking? I’d like to give her two infants to care for for a week and ask her again.

    In regards to the stupid “hierarchy”, its just human nature to try to out-do each other. Singleton moms do it just as often as us Multiple moms and its silly all around. I certainly don’t discount another mom of twins in any way by virtue of how their twins came to be, or their zygosity.

  11. That’s really one of the stupider comments I’ve heard about twins. I mean, honestly, what else are twins?! I wouldn’t read anything into it.

    As for calling them “the twins”, we are very clear that we don’t do it and request that family not do it either. And by “request”, I mean get quite firm since some tend to like to. We do have a third who is four years younger, so I just call them by name or call them my “big kids”. They are also boy/girl twins.

  12. I have three boys- an older singleton and identical twins. I don’t like packaging them together and stripping them of their identities by calling them “the twins” either, so we usually call them “the little boys” or just by their first names. We have two other sets of twins in our extended families, so “the twins” isn’t a very descriptive statement for us anyway.

  13. I have identical girls who are 3. I didn’t call them twins as I always called them “babies” since I had read somewhere not to call them “twins.” This was so foolish as now that they are potty trained, they strongly object to being called babies and I can’t see to break myself of the habit!

    And, yes of course, fraternal twins are twins too! I find myself correcting people all the time when they call my girls “real twins” which drives me nuts!

  14. Apparently I don’t have “real twins” either since mine are also boy/girl twins. What kind of stupid comment is that??

    I actually never call them “the twins” – not really consciously but we just say their names (and we do have a singleton, too). Maybe b/c they are a boy and girl?? I don’t know.

    People rarely even comment or ask if they are twins these days. My son is about 4″ taller and 10lbs heavier than his sister. They do have similar traits but a big size difference. When my youngest is with us, it just looks like I have stair steps (they are only 2 years apart).

  15. I got a new one this week. It was “Oh are they twins? But they’re not identical? So what are they?” LOL Like identical is the only kind of twins. We get so so many positive comments about our girls that I don’t mind when people ask me if they are twins. But I don’t make a big deal about it either. I have two daughters. They are 13 months old. Yep, twins.

  16. People ask me “Are they twins?” -“Yep, they are…” – “But they are so different…” “Yes, they are… So?” We used to comments like that, but the one you’ve got really ticked me off…

    “Only share a birthday.” “Only”, seriously?

    They share everything from the moment of conception: every breath of oxygen I made, every huge hamburger I ate so they can gain more weight, they shared tiny “apartment” with little room to move, they kicked each other before they were even being born. Each of them didn’t pick a date to be born, the one is out, the other have to go too. The snuggled next to each other in the NICU, they kept each other warm and safe. They slept in a same bed for months. They shared every drop of my breast milk, which I pumped around the clock just to barely keep up with the supply. And now almost 2 years later they share special language, that no one understands, they take care of each other, bring loveys and toys to cheer up the one who’s sad…

    Babies born on that same day at that hospital JUST SHARE birthday with my boy/girl TWINS!

  17. I used to fight, hard, for our daughters to be referred to by their names, as individuals, instead of as “the twins” and a pair. I did so especially because they are identical. Over time, though, I came to realize that their twinship was important to them. They wanted to identify as part of a twin pair, and it took Poupee@The Twins and I pointing out that she would never imagine undercutting the bond between her adopted identical twins that was the wake up call to realize that it was okay for them to be “the twins,” when they wanted to be, and J or M when they wanted to be.

    I, for one, don’t think that fraternal twins are any less twin than identicals. Twins (or close-in-age siblings) who look very much alike have a set of social experiences that are different than those who look difference. So what? They’re no more or less twin than any other.

    The similar situation we deal with is that we have identical twins who look significantly different. People think nothing of saying, “They’re not identical.” I’ve learned to counter that by gently educating them: “Identical just means that they have the same DNA (or, came from the same first cell), so they are identical in that way.”

  18. I know exactly how you feel. Whenever we take our kids (b/g twins) outside to play, the neighbor kids yell “the twins are out!” and come running over. At first that really bothered me. Then I started to thinking about it and when they talk one-on-one with the kids they call them by name. I start to think of it along the lines of “the jones’ kids are coming out to play” and it is just an easy way for people to refer to both kids quickly.

    I also remember someone at Starbucks asked me what my kids were called because even though they were born at the same time they weren’t really twins. Her thought was that only identical twins were actually twins. By some miracle I politely said to her “because they were born at the same time that makes them twins, they are just fraternal twins not identical twins.” Some people!

  19. I have never had a problem with referring to my boys as “the twins”. Being a twin is an awesome and special thing, why would I want to deny that? Of course they are individuals and I treat them as such, referring to them as “the twins” is identifying and endearing. We celebrate their “twin-ness” and their individuality. There is no denying the fact that our boys are their own people. They couldn’t be more different if they tried. Maybe they’ll decide at some point that they don’t like us calling them “the twins”. At that point, we will stop. But until then, we’ll continue to honor the twin in each of them.

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