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.