Fighting the Urge to Compare

I am not one of the twin moms who shuns the idea that my kids are a unit. They were born together and I regularly refer to them as “the boys on my blog and quite often in real life. I figure if I had two boys of different ages I would likely shorthand it to “the boys” anyway. I have dressed them either alike or similar since they were born because it’s cute and it’s easy. I think the fact they were born together is incredibly cool and should be celebrated. Yes, they need to be individuals, but since they are fraternal twins there hasn’t really been an issue with individuality. They are so different in temperament and personality and have been since before they were born. They also look different. One has always had more hair. One struggled with weight gain. One had horrible reflux. When I was pregnant, there was the active one and when they were born the bald one, the pukey one, the small one. As they have grown they have taken turns being the clingy one, the needy one, the cuddly one.

The fact of our situation is that there are two children of the same age and developmental station living in our home. If one is doing something the other isn’t, it’s difficult to not compare. Sure, one had to walk first, right? But when it was the same one crawling first, then walking first, then climbing and running first, it made the other seem to be falling behind. When one was saying words and the other was only grunting, we doubled our efforts to help the one we viewed as struggling. (All the while both were well within the expected range for those skills.)

Now they just reached their second birthday and had their 2-year checkup. In the past 6 months we have seen our littlest guy who struggled to gain weight (who was born 1 ounce heavier but by one-month was a full pound smaller) get not just a little bigger, but much bigger than his brother. Suddenly people are asking how far apart they are in age, since there is now a 3 inch and 4 lb. difference in size. I admit was scared to go to the appointment because while I knew one had really grown over the summer (He went through 3 shoes sizes since May!) and the other hadn’t.  was terrified we’d learn he hadn’t grown at all, or worse yet, he would have lost weight. I was afraid the doctor would question why he isn’t growing, why he hadn’t gained weight. I was questioning my own parenting, were we doing enough to make sure he’s eating the right foods? Should we be doing more? Was he really not growing, or was his brother just growing faster so it seemed that he was staying the same size? If we had only one kid that age would we have even noticed his slow-down in growth? Would we notice that he is wearing the same shoes he’s had since Spring is his brother hadn’t gone though so many pairs by now?

I dreaded that appointment for a month.  The good news is that he did gain weight, and height, though admittedly not much. He’s always been on the low end of the percentile chart, but he’s on the chart and his line is moving in the right direction. He’s healthy and happy. He’s just small. The doctor wasn’t concerned about his size or weight. She has a much better perspective of seeing them as two different kids, just two more patients that happen to share a birthday. I was relived to know he did gain some weight. And he did grow a little. I was even more relived that the doctor was fine with his checkup and deemed him healthy.

It’s hard not to notice he’s smaller than his brother. It’s hard to not compare. I have a friend whose twins are 2 months younger, who once told me she always worries about her kids whenever we get all four of ours together because her kids aren’t doing the same things mine are doing. I tried to reassure her that she shouldn’t compare our kids since 2 months at this age is a big difference. In another year they’ll have gained all those milestones and all be about the same skill-wise. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t do the same thing with my own kids. Why is that one doing such and such and the other isn’t? Am I doing enough to make sure one doesn’t fall behind? Maybe the hallmark of a good parent is to worry about these things, after all, I want the very best for my kids equally. How do other parents fight the urge to compare?

Jen Wood is a former computer geek turned stay-at-home-mom to amazing, vastly different and newly minted 2-year-old twin boys. You can follow the daily adventures of our family as we navigate the crazy road of twin toddlerhood, home preschooling and attempt to raise happy, well-adjusted citizens at goteamwood.com.

6 thoughts on “Fighting the Urge to Compare

  1. I compare the boys all the time. My fraternal twin boys are 22 months old and almost exactly the same in weight/height. It is hard not to compare them to my older son and what he did and when he did it. It is even hard to not compare the twins in their development. One started walking a good 2 months before the other and I was sooo worried! Thank you for letting me know that I am not alone!

  2. My boys are age 4, and we have even more grounds to “compare” them now that they are into preschool activities like writing and learning letters, etc. I would encourage you to enjoy the relatively simple carefree days of toddlerhood when academics are not in the picture. I think having twins actually gives the benefit of expanding the range of “normal” – in other words, I know that a rough stage for one will end in a few weeks, and the other one will enter his “stage” thereafter. I’m blessed that they seem to take turns being difficult. This must be God’s way of giving me only what I can handle!

    Its easy to compare in the preschool years, because my boys have radical different approaches to how they learn best. They will very likely learn at entirely different paces. I know I will be challenged in meeting their very different needs, simultaneously! With my older son (age 9) he gets undivided attention on his math homework from me several nights per week. He needs extra help to understand even the basic math, and it has challenged me in new ways, to meet his needs! How will I handle two kindergarten boys plus my fifth grader, Lord only knows.

  3. This is a great post.

    I, too, compare my boys to each other, but I compare all four of my kids to each other also. My boys are identical (we think) and their height and weight gain has always been very comparable, but if it hadn’t been I would have been freaking out. It’s just natural. And I think comparing my boys to each other has helped me catch some situations where one needed more help and wasn’t getting it, or where they’d been switched at school and weren’t placed appropriately for their respective skill levels.

    Where I think it’s important NOT to compare them, is when you’re telling other people about them. You don’t want them thinking one is the smart one, one is the mischievous one, one is the skinny one, one is the sweet one… my boys are very similar in looks, abilities, and temperament, but my one son already tells people he’s the crazy one and his brother is the smart one.

    But who, really, doesn’t compare their children to one another, or to their own baby book stats or childhood memories?

  4. I have 3 1/2 month old twin boys and I have already caught myself comparing them. My boys are fraternal and completely different. One is 2-3 lbs and a couple inches smaller the other is growing like a weed, one is loud the other sweet and laid back, one is temperamental the other perfectly happy 99% of the time. They really are two completely separate babies with the same birthday. Although I know this it is still hard for me to not compare them. Why did one roll over first, “talk” first, why can he hold his head up while his brother’s still bobbles some, why did one smile and giggle first and the other only chuckle very occasionally (is he not a happy baby?). As much as I don’t want to compare them it is so hard not to. I just try my hardest to remind myself they are twins and I think that is amazingly special but they are two completely different babies.

  5. I think Jen nailed it. It’s only natural to compare them. Don’t beat yourself up over it. My husband and I talk about it, but outside of that, whenever anyone asks me a question about ‘who’s more this, or who’s more that’, I just shrug and say they go back and forth.

  6. Oh my gosh, I don’t feel bad when *I* compare them. Because its mostly just “Oh A needs to go up a size and C is fine where she is.” But it drives me NUTS when other people compare them because it is not nearly so innocuous. My grandmother was just telling me how C is “the reader.” They are 14 months old. They can’t even read! And she was basing this on an hour of time spent with them!

    I think what really bothers me is the comparisons that people wouldn’t make if they weren’t twins. If they were different ages it would be “Oh, how nice, they both enjoy reading.” Or “Do you think C will enjoy reading as much as her big sister?” But instead people feel the need to label twins. The Reader. The Athlete. The Smart One. The Wild One. Like only one twin can like reading or sports or school.

    Sorry I wrote a novel but 14 months in, its already driving me crazy! Comparing their developmental milestones seems mild by comparison.

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