Let Them Be Different

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Categories Parenting, Parenting Twins, Perspective

Jack and Ben are 6 months old TODAY. I cannot believe it has been half a year. I keep trying to type how I feel, then deleting, then typing, then deleting, then typing…it is just so hard to put the last 6 months into words. I just love these little boys.

One big thing that I’ve had to tell myself almost every day is, “Let them be different.” It is such a big part of having multiples. I’m sure it’s hard not to let yourself or others compare your children in general, but even harder when they are growing up at the exact same time, right next to each other. I feel like they will always be looked at side by side.

This one is larger than that one, that one is rolling over and the other one isn’t yet, this one loves tummy time, that one can’t stand being put down, etc. The list is endless and will only be added to as they grow up. I can’t even imagine what it will be like once they start school.

People mean to come off as interested and observant with the boys, but for a while when someone would say, “Oh, so he is the bigger one!” I couldn’t help but feel like they were saying, “And that must be the runt!” I know nobody meant it that way and they were really just trying to be nice and notice differences, but it’s hard to keep that protective motherly instinct tucked away.

Are they both getting the exact same amount of milk? Do I need to give this baby a little extra milk to “catch up”? Have I made this baby giggle just as much as his brother today? How do I get this baby interested in rolling over like his brother? I just rocked this cranky boy to sleep, so should I rock his brother or can I just lay him down?

It can get really draining, always trying to treat them the same. I just had to realize that in this instance, “sameness” does not mean “equality”. I had to learn to let them be different. Anytime I feel pressure about where they both are in comparison to each other, I just repeat that in my head. “Let them be different, Sarah. They are different and that’s how it should be, and it’s wonderful.”

I love them both and as long as they feel that, everything is okay. They will thank me later for not trying to make them into the exact same person.

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Different is okay, Mom.

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Sarah is a stay-at-home mom to 3-year-old Cameron, and fraternal twin boys, Jackson and Benson, who are 1.5. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a BA in Dance and teaches ballet lessons part time. Her husband is in his third year of medical school and part of the United States Air Force. When free time pops up she enjoys digital scrap booking, reading, bubble baths, and dates with her husband. She hopes that she can provide a realistic, but very up beat voice about life with twins, and ultimately motherhood in general.

9 thoughts on “Let Them Be Different”

  1. Beautiful post! My girls were much older than 6 months before I came to the understanding that I could embrace both their differences and their similarities and get myself out of a parenting-by-competition mindset.

  2. When they were babies, side-by-side, It was hard for me to know whether my boy-girl twins were both trending normal. They were so different in every way. I had one very flexible baby and one more tense one; one baby who crawled a few months earlier than the other. I always worried about the baby who lagged behind in any given area but eventually found it useful to realize that my sample size was far too small to determine what was in the range of “normal.”

    At 24 months, both my kids are fine, meeting all their milestones, and it’s (somewhat) easier for me to relax my worries about whether they’re learning/developing/growing fast enough. But now, they’re old enough to start understanding and internalizing the things that others say about them. We just spent a lot of time with extended family who they’ve never or rarely met, and I answered a LOT of questions along the lines of, “Is that twin the outgoing one?” and “Is that twin shyer?”

    There are value judgments that come along with personality traits like outgoingness and shyness, so I spent a lot of time giving very politic, value-neutral explanations about the personalities of my kids. It was kind of frustrating, but I heard my more nuanced explanations repeated by family members to other people, so I feel like I made an impact.

    1. Oh, that make a lot of sense. Good to know for the future, I’ll need to think through how I want to respond to those kinds of comments. Oh twins!

      1. In my case, it’s a more subtle distinction. One of my kids is a little more sensitive. It takes her a little longer to come out of her shell and warm up to someone, but then she’s very outgoing with that person. My other kid is a little more flighty. He’ll run around and hug everybody, but he doesn’t engage with people on a particularly deep level, if that makes sense.

      2. I think one of the reasons I worry about this so much is that it feels like the gateway to more critical comparisons, along the lines of, “That twin is the smart one, and that twin is the jock.” I hope to be able to instill in my kids that they can both work hard in school, and they can both practice physical activities to the best of their abilities, and these aren’t things that are limited to one or the other.

        I recently read “Siblings Without Rivalry,” which deals in part with some of these comparison issues between siblings (not twins specifically). Your kids are a little young for a lot of the ideas in the book (so are mine, at two years old), but it might be useful for you to pre-read, if you have any free time for reading.

        1. Yes, that’s exactly the real worry. That’s a good way of putting it into words. I don’t want my boys to always put those kinds of “critical comparisons” between them. I just want them to grow up as normal brothers, you know?

          Thanks for the book suggestion, I’d love to see if my library has it.

  3. It is really fun for us to get to see first hand that every kid is really an individual. I have found it so rewarding and relieving to be able to put my other mom-friends at ease with this observation. Milestones, teething,eating solids, potty training, sleeping in through the night, you name it, all children do things at their own pace and we get to witness that first hand. In a lot of ways, that makes us a new kind of “expert”.

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