Fairness in Parenting – Fair Is Not Equal

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“It’s not fair!” is the child’s rallying cry, often accompanied with a stomped foot or protruded lower lip for emphasis.

How often do your children say, "It's not fair?" Do they really mean, "It's not equal"? That's probably true. In our efforts to make things fair we don't make them equal.

My response? “No, it’s not equal. ‘Fair’ and ‘equal’ are not always the same thing.” Or, far more often, my daughters hear me say, “Fair is not equal.

I aim for fairness in my parenting. There’s plenty of unfairness in the world. My kids should be able to rely on me to be fair… and they do. As far as I can recall, I’ve always been able to respond to accusations of,  “That’s not fair!” with an explanation of how I determined the perceived inequity to be fairness.

For example, when M tells me she hasn’t had her share of snuggles, I will remind her that she received an hour of my undivided conversational attention while J read by my side. When J tells me that M gets away with more instances of rudeness, I point out that M finds it harder to control her impulses, so my expectations of J are higher. J also gets more benefit of the doubt in arguments between the sisters because of her track record of telling me difficult truths. When J asks why I always ask whether she’s remembered to write her name on her homework, I tell her it’s because she forgets more often than not. When I ask M to double check whether she’s answered every question on her homework before I even look at it, it’s because I know that’s a weakness.

I suspect it’s a lot easier to be fair to same-gender twins than to children of different ages. I can imagine that a younger child might perceive an earlier bedtime as unfair, not realizing that the older sibling had to slog through early bedtimes at the same age. However, demonstration of parental efforts toward fairness over time should earn our children’s trust.

The world is not fair, I tell my girls. It’s not fair that their parents are divorced while other kids have parents who will stay married forever. It’s not fair that they have three mommies to love them when others get only one. It’s not fair that learning comes so easily to both M and J, while their friends struggle with reading. It’s not fair that I can fit comfortably in an airplane seat while other people can reach the top shelves in my kitchen without needing a stool. A completely fair world would be rather boring.

I shared with my daughters my recollection of part of Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron“. In Vonnegut’s dystopia of 2081, in an attempt to make everyone equal, strong people are made to wear weights and smart people have their thoughts interrupted by distracting sounds to bring everyone’s abilities down to the same level.

Fair isn’t equal. And life isn’t fair. But we parents can be.

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Twinfant Tuesday: Getting to Know Your Children

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Categories Individuality, Parenting Twins, Perspective, Twinfant Tuesday23 Comments

“Comparison is the thief of joy,” Teddy Roosevelt warned us.

What you have is what YOU have.  Comparison to others can make you feel down,

There’s definitely some truth to that. If you measure your quality of life by comparing it to the lifestyle you perceive others to live, you’re going to be miserable. But how much more joy can be gained from realizing how good we have it?

Parents compare their kids. We compare them to ourselves. We compare them to their siblings. We compare them to their peers. We certainly compare them to statistical averages. “Oh no,” we say, “an average girl can say 50 words at 16 months and mine only says 40!” Or, “my boy already says 50 words at 16 months and the average boy only says 30. He’s a genius!” We forget that the child is a unique person, never intended to be the average of all children in her country.

Parents of multiples can’t help but compare our same-age children to each other. There’s a silver lining to this, though. The comparison highlights each child’s unique personality and quirks. You might not notice how athletic one twin is except in contrast to his more verbally precocious brother.

It's only when we compare ourselves to others that we see what is special about us.

I used to ask new parents what their baby was like. 99% of the time, they’d give me an odd look and shrug. “I dunno,” they’d say, “Eats, poops, sleeps. Acts like a baby.”

It was years before I realized that the contrast between twins had granted me the luxury of identifying their unique personalities well before they were talking. I knew who my twinfants were, in a way that many of my singleton parents did not know their children.

J and M at 12 months old were already demonstrating the personality quirks they have at age 9.

Shortly after J and M’s first birthday, I had this to say about them:

First of all, both M and J are very easy-going, cheerful, low-maintenance babies. They’re both extremely opinionated, love to play together, but can entertain themselves too. They’re affectionate, active and very very very very verbal. They know the rules, but they both enjoy pushing their boundaries. They both love to eat and are growing rapidly. They’re still very small for their birth age, but very advanced in their physical, linguistic and social skills.

8 years later, so much of this is true. My girls are cheerful and relatively low-maintenance. They’re opinionated and capable of playing together and apart. Their verbal abilities are off the charts. They still love to eat what they love to eat, although M’s repertoire is pretty limited. They’re still tiny, but are proven athletes, scholars, and great friends.

M is a people-pleaser. Around new people, or folks they don’t see too often, she definitely comes across as the dominant personality. She smiles and chatters and shows off. Even when she’s doing her own thing, you can catch her checking that the new person is watching her. She loves to explore new spaces, but she checks in with Mommy often for a snuggle.

This is all accurate. M puts herself at ease in new situations by showing off her strengths, usually in mathematics. She’s very aware of her audience when we’re out and about, which is why she’s so easily embarrassed by me.

She’s a pickier eater than J and some days will eat only bananas. She’s getting to be an expert at the sippy cup, so we’re hoping to stop bottles altogether soon.

She was already a picky eater. Well, that hasn’t changed. It’s just magnified.

[M is] quite careful when encountering new objects or acquiring new skills. She tends to figure out how to do things before she tries, and gets frustrated quickly if her attempts fail. For instance, if a toy she wants gets stuck behind something, she starts fussing immediately. Because she does learn how to do things before trying them out, though, she catches up to J very quickly on physical skills, and often surpasses her. For instance, she crawls much much faster than J ever did.

M continues to be a perfectionist, so much so that J skipped a grade while M stayed behind to work on her time management. The girls have an optional after-school cultural performance this week. J can’t wait to get on stage. M is declining to participate because she doesn’t think the class had enough practice to perform to her exacting standards. As far as surpassing J, that still happens. J is still sore that M skipped several swimming levels ahead of her when they took swimming lessons at age 4.

J is defined by the word “determined.” She picks a goal and works and works and works on it. She may fail any number of times, but she keeps trying. This means that she learns physical skills sooner than M, but she falls far more often and has to try the same thing over and over. She’s already running, and has so much to accomplish that she’s been skipping naps recently and falling asleep in her high chair during meals.

J is incredibly determined still. It permeates every aspect of her life.

J likes to push the rules, although if she knows she’s about to break one, she shakes her head at herself and looks around to see if anyone’s going to stop her. She stops immediately on being told “No,” unlike M, who needs to be told “No” multiple times before reacting. She can often stop herself from breaking a rule: there’s some vigourous head-shaking, and then she turns around and runs towards me with a huge smile on her face.

J has excellent self-control. She hardly every makes the same mistake twice. M’s reactions, on the other hand, tend to run away with her, although she always apologizes after she’s calmed down. As she explained to me yesterday, “I feel my feelings and then I don’t say anything about them until they explode like a volcano.” Impulse control is a challenge she’s working to overcome.

J has an extremely good sense of balance, and can navigate her way into very tight spaces. She’s constantly moving around, usually walking, but every now and then, she’ll decide to lie on the floor on her back, very quietly, for a couple of minutes, before resuming her rambles. She likes to carry things around, even things that are too heavy for her. She likes to push toys along the floor while yelling “Eeeeeeeee” at the top of her lungs.

J’s constant motion is the reason I Santa bought a trampoline. She is also the daughter who will come up to and ask if we can read and snuggle. “Hugs make everything better,” is her signature phrase. Now, instead of yelling “Eeeeee”, she makes up silly songs to belt out while bouncing off the furniture.

Twins just bursting with personality! The contrast between these identical has highlighted their unique personalities thruoghout their lives.

J is the least picky eater I have ever met. She’ll eat anything I give her, and is very decisive about being done when she’s full. She simply turns her head away, and refuses to open her mouth.

J is still an adventurous eater. She recently ordered sliders topped with raw onions and chili. When the waitress checked to make sure she’d understood correctly, I confirmed that J loves raw onions.

There are, of course, ways in which M and J have changed as they’ve grown. J’s compassion for others and desire to right the wrongs of the world is astounding. Yesterday, she reported to me that her class has finally reintegrated the genders at their lunch table after having established a “girl side” and “boy side”.

M’s creativity is unbounded. This shows through in her story-telling, inventions, artwork, and, most recently, her CS First programming.

Getting to know your children may just be the greatest gift that comes with twins in that exhausting, overwhelming first year.

Those of you who have twinfants, what parts of their personality can you see already?

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Mommy-Daughter Date, Single Mom Style

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Categories Birthdays, Mothers' Day, Older Children, Parenting TwinsTags , , 3 Comments

My birthday is 6 days after that of my twin daughters. Both usually fall in the same week as American Mothers’ Day. In the widest conceivable stretch, all three events occur within a 9-day period. We’re nothing if not efficient.

This year, Mothers’ Day fell on M and J’s birthday. My birthday was the following Saturday, the day before yesterday.

Sadia and her daughters do a lot of celebrating in May.

On Thursday evening, M informed me that she wanted to take me out for a birthday/Mothers’ Day treat. Her grandparents had given her a Starbucks gift card for her birthday and she wanted to spend it on me. This is probably not what they had in mind, but I have the world’s sweetest kids.

Here’s what J presented to me. She’d made me birthday breakfast in bed:

Birthday breakfast for mom from a 9-year-old. Nutella on toast.

Toast, cut into shapes, spread with Nutella, with “Love Mom” and “Best Mom” inscribed in royal icing. Seriously, sweetest kids ever.

M was insistent that our Starbucks celebration be exclusively ours. Her sister was not invited. I told her that I’d arrange a solo playdate for J so that she and I could have our mommy-daughter date.

We happened to be leaving an after-school school-sponsored event when we had this conversation, so I decided to see whether I could locate my girls’ best friend’s family, whom we’d just seen. They were still there. I asked whether they’d be willing to have J over. They said that they could make it happen the very next day.

They would pick J up from school with their daughter while M went to after-school care. I could pick M up at the regular time. It would be nice for their daughter S to get to play with J, since Mom and Dad have been quite occupied welcoming their one-month-old into the world. (Aren’t they wonderful friends? I wouldn’t dream of asking anyone else with a newborn to watch my kid!)

A 9-year-old's preferences for a mommy-daughter date.

M and I had a lovely time. I took her out for dinner at Mimi’s Café and then we headed to Starbucks for dessert on her dime. She got a chocolate milk and brownie. I got a decaf soy java Frappucino and cookie. We talked the entire time, about her friends, what she’s been reading, the state of the dwarf planet Pluto, what I’ve been doing at work, and the importance of feathers in art.

Age nine feels like a watershed between little girlhood and tweendom.

I was not allowed her to kiss her in public, but M did want to sit in my lap. I was not allowed to take photos, but she took my arm everywhere we went. She told both the waitress and the barrista all that we were celebrating. She didn’t mention her sister to either of them, which was a first.

I loved this one-on-one time, in no small part because I knew that J was having an equally good time. It also helped that there wasn’t any time pressure on us to retrieve her. Both my daughters (and their friend) would get tired around the same time, so we would very naturally ending up picking J up in time for bed.

We’re planning a mommy-daughter date for me and J in the near future. M will head off for a playdate with a different friend.

Making quality one-on-one time is a challenge for any parent with more than one child, but it’s all the more challenging for a single parent of multiples. If you’ve ever wondered how you can help the single parent in your life, how about offering to watch one or both children? Don’t be offended if he or she doesn’t take you up on it right away, or ever. It really is the thought that counts.

I’d never been one to think of my birthday as anything but another day of the year, but this year, my girls made it truly special.

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4 Essential Values Kids Learn from Being a Twin

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Categories Parenting Twins, Perspective34 Comments

Today’s guest, Nina, is a working mom to three boys—a five-year-old and toddler twins. She blogs about parenting at Sleeping Should Be Easy, where she writes everything she’s learning about being mom and all its joys and challenges. She also covers topics like how kids learn, family life, being a working mom and life with twins. Visit her at www.sleepingshouldbeeasy.com.


When I found out I was expecting twins, I worried about the challenges of raising them. How was I going to afford two babies? What madness would my body go through carrying twins? How will my then three-year-old react to welcoming two new siblings? And how in the world am I going to survive the newborn stage—times two? With all these worries, I had a difficult time convincing myself of anything positive about twins.

Fast forward two years later, and those challenges were well worth it. However difficult caring for twins may be, I love being a twin mom and the benefits of raising them.

But then I realized that not only was I benefiting from having twins, but so were they.

In many ways, my twins are learning important values because they’re twins. Sure, singleton kids can learn these as well, but twins face and own these values much sooner.

Life as a twin teaches children important values that will serve them throughout life. Guest post at hdydi.com from Nina of Sleeping Should Be Easy

Here are four essential values my kids are learning because of being a twin:

#1: Patience

From birth, each of my twins didn’t get the same amount of attention we showered our eldest with when he was our one and only. Not only did they have to share attention with our eldest, they also had to share it even as newborn babies with each other. Few newborn babies ever have to deal with that.

All through infancy and into toddlerhood and beyond, twins learn the value of patience. There’s just no way they can get everything they want right this second. Maybe one wants to read a book but mama is changing the other’s diaper. Strapping one child into a car seat means the other has to wait for his turn. For every task done to one twin, the other must wait.

#2: Compromise

I had a proud mama moment the other day. Both boys were in their room and I assumed they were fighting over a favorite stuffed animal. Instead, I see them walking out, each with his hand holding onto the stuffed animal. And in unison, they announce, “Sharing!”

My boys squabble every day. But with every fight, they understand more about the art of compromise. They learn the concept of turn-taking from the get go. Sharing becomes a part of our family dialogue, as it must be if you have a twin. And they know that if you want something the other has, a great way to get it is to give him something else just as desirable in exchange.

Having a same-aged child next to you every day is bound to test and improve your level of compromise.

#3: Teamwork

Growing up with a twin means having an instant partner in crime. You’re in this together, going through the same challenges.

While being part of a twosome can be a test in self-identity, being twins means having a lifelong sidekick. You also have someone you need to watch out for, and a comrade to face the same challenges right along with you.

#4: Being a good friend

Perhaps most importantly, twins learn the value of being a good friend from the get go. They’re thrust in social situations with another child the same age. They learn social cues such as when to back off, when they’re wanted and how to make others feel better.

They empathize and put themselves in another person’s shoes effectively. They realize that they are, in fact, not the center of the universe and instead must consider those around them.

And they’re compassionate. A twin is likely to offer a crying brother a beloved stuffed animal in an attempt to make him feel better. He’ll call, “Come!” to his twin, excited to show him something cool. And they’ll have each other to laugh with over things only they can understand, every single day. Can’t beat that.


Raising twins is hard for parents, and being twins can be just as challenging for kids. But it’s not without its benefits, some of which they learn early on.

They learn patience and compromise from having another person to consider. They understand the value of teamwork and being in this together. And they know how to be a good friend, both to one another and to those around them.

Having twins has been a blessing to me as their mom. But being a twin has also taught my kids valuable lessons they learned from having one another.

What benefits have your kids learned from being a twin? Let us know in the comments!

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Toddler Thursday: Are Twins Easier?

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I wrote this post when my twin daughters, J and M, were 19 months old.

In some ways, having twins is easier than raising an only child.

  • When one twin develops an obsession with an article of clothing, they can easily wear it every day, since you already have two from all their matchy-matchy baby gifts.
  • When you say “naptime”, they hear “time to play with Sissy without Mama around to bother us” and run to the nursery.
  • You realize that most of the cool new things they’re learning are not a typical phase in child development at all, but an embodiment of their individuality. You don’t worry about averages or typical ages to reach developmental milestones, because kids are just all different. Even identical twins. Or perhaps their being monozygotic makes the differences that much more noticeable.
  • You can say, “Sissy picked up the toys she was playing with, so clearly you’re old enough to put yours away.” This does not in fact cause them to pick up their toys, but you feel no guilt in being thoroughly disgruntled.
  • Strangers’ constant comments about how precious they are almost inspire them to keep bows in their hair. Almost.
  • They understand firsthand that being kicked hurts. However, they continue to kick things… and people.
  • They know how silly they look when they throw tantrums. They throw ’em anyway.
  • It’s easier to cook for three than for two. Most dishes I cook with a pound of meat and a couple of vegetables get consumed before they go bad.
  • You essentially do the same amount of work (one bath, one bedtime story, one set of meals) for twice the kisses and hugs.
  • They understand, and live by, the meaning of “Share”.
  • Some amount of competition is good for them. “She’s walking? Maybe I should try it.” “She said ‘please’. That worked pretty well. I think I’ll give it a shot.”

In what ways are twins easier than singletons in your family?

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The Twin Bond and School

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Categories Health, Parenting Twins, Relationships, School, School-AgeTags Leave a comment

One twin starts to feel sick herself at the prospect of going to school while her sister stays home - and it's not for any lack of love for school! - How Do You Do It?

My daughter M stayed home from school today.

I’m pretty sure her immune system caved in the aftermath of Texas-wide high stakes standardized testing. It appears that M has more in common with me than just our tendency towards perfectionism and gift of the gab. During high school and college, I invariably started running a fever immediately after that last of my final exams, having seemingly exhausted all my immune energies. I did the same after completing my Masters thesis.

The STAAR tests left this bright and high-performing third grader sick from the stress.Even though both my daughters are excellent test-takers, and have aced all their practice tests, the general atmosphere of stress got the better of M. My daughters reported that in the past children have been sent home the day before the tests, after throwing up from the stress. As M wisely noted, when reporting to me that science and social studies were tabled in the run-up to these math and reading tests, “The STAAR is just getting in the way of my learning.” I’ve been looking forward to these tests being over so that the teachers can get back to teaching.

M woke herself up coughing on Saturday morning, following a delightful school field trip we attended the day before. She was most pathetic, but perked up over the next few hours once she had a good breakfast and plenty of fluids. She seemed well enough to attend her best friend’s birthday party that afternoon, but come bedtime, she was warm to the touch and complaining of aching limbs.

On Sunday, the cough continued and was joined by a runny nose. Although the fever stayed away, the headache she complained of in the evening made me decide to keep her home on Monday. Her twin J asked if she could stay home to care for her sister and I responded with a straightforward, “No.” Both J and I had runny noses, although Austin allergies could have very well been to blame. We got into a rather detailed conversation about the nonspecific immune system, which I enjoyed thoroughly. J complained of no other symptoms….

Then morning came. I asked J to get ready for school. She brushed her teeth and then remembered that M would be staying home. I saw the realization dawn on her face and she suddenly got very pale.

“I don’t feel good, Mommy. I have a headache and an everything ache and I think I have a fever.”

I checked J and felt nothing approaching a fever.

“But I’m sick, Mommy. I’m queasy. I don’t think I should go to school.”

I told J that if she continued to feel ill, she could ask to see the school nurse, who would call me if she needed to come home. I was quite certain, though, that her queasiness was more to do with being without her sister than fighting off a microbe. After all, it was she who felt most strongly that she needed to be in the same classroom as her twin.

“But mom,” she explained, quite patiently, “the nurse will only send me home if I have a fever. What if I need to come home with no fever?”

Against the protestations of the usually very reasonable J, I loaded both girls in the car to go to school. M sensibly suggested that we switch their booster locations so that J would be able to exit the car in the school drop-off lane without having to climb over her sister. For entirety of our short drive, J attempted to illustrate how genuinely ill she was, coughing dramatically and clutching her belly. I told her that I was completely convinced that both she and I were fighting off whatever had rendered M unwell, but that our immune systems were up to the task.

I was struck by the contrast between this and M’s reaction to J staying home sick earlier in the school year. M was concerned about her sister, of course, but it never occurred to her to miss school. She certainly didn’t feel ill at the thought.

As soon as we got home, M headed to the bathroom. She washed her hands and opened that door saying, “Hey J! Let’s play Webkinz…. Oh. I forgot.” She was able to laugh at her own forgetfulness. She and I spent much of the morning playing pretend with my “grandchildren”.

Mommy and daughter play pretend.
This is Balance, my grandson. Or perhaps grandcat. He knows he’s a cat and likes to groom and bunny-kick his siblings, but he can talk and is getting lessons in literary analysis from his 8-year-old mother.

M didn’t mention J again until after lunchtime, when she asked how many hours it had been since we dropped her off. When we picked J up from school, I asked her how she’d felt. She said that around 1 pm she had developed a headache and gone to see the nurse, who had told her she had no fever and recommended a good night’s sleep. J’s symptoms could very well be entirely physical, but I suspect a strong emotional component to them.

In the car, on the way home, the girls exchanged notes about their days. J told M that science was back on the menu at school and that they were working on the life cycle. M was disappointed to had missed the lesson. J had picked up M’s homework and was glad to report that they didn’t need to write a reading summary this week. M was disappointed. She loves homework and gave herself some today while she was home with me.

M told J about her day, and noted that she couldn’t find her tiny stuffed hippo, Oliver, anywhere. “Bad parenting!” J responded with a giggle. Oliver was located minutes after our return home, after I insisted that the girls’ dirty clothes make it inside, rather than in the general vicinity of, the laundry basket.

Today reminded me of the time when J, home with an ear infection around 6 months old, cried inconsolably for hours. I was convinced that she’d ruptured her eardrum, but the doctor saw evidence of nothing beyond run-of-the-mill ear infection. As soon as I picked M up from daycare, where I’d taken her to be able to focus on J, J calmed down. She had been missing her sister, not crying from pain.

J is very protective of her sister, at least when they’re not arguing. M adores J, but sees no reason to mother her, instead projecting her maternal instincts on her stuffed toys. Identical they may be, but their relationship isn’t particularly symmetrical. I don’t think it needs to be.

How do your twins react to being apart?

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When that Second Set Arrives: How Hard Can It Be?

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Categories Multiple multiples, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Perspective12 Comments

Hi. I’m Michelle and I have two sets of twins. Nineteen months apart.

Here is a quick visual of what that looked like:

Twins times two. Tips from a mom who has survived the first years and flourished!

And I think this picture was taken by my parents as they were getting ready to fly home after helping me for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure… but I think I’m crying in this picture.

And, even though my memory is really really sketchy about this time and the two years that followed, I think I can muster up some advice for those moms who are expecting their second set of twins.

Get Help. No, not like help in the head although there are going to be times that you feel like you need it. Hire as much help as you can afford for as many days a week you can afford. Hire babysitting help. Hire someone to clean your house. Find that 6th grader who loves babies who would be willing to hold/feed/play with any of your children. Piece together what you can. And, don’t be afraid of letting the person go who isn’t helping. You need another you! Find that person.

Twins times two. Advice from a mom who has been there!

Get Out. No, not like run away and never come back. More like, get out of the house without babies at least one day a week… you need a break. It is not a sign of weakness or that you don’t love your kids. But you first need to love on yourself a little bit. You are a better mother if you can walk away from being a mother… even if it is for a little while. Listen to yourself and what you need and put those needs first.

Twins time two. Michelle now has flourishing preteens and tells us how she did it!

Photograph the heck out of all of it. First, because you won’t remember any of it. Second, because having two sets of toddlers won’t last even though you feel like this is the worst hell imaginable (e.g.. every outing where one of them said, “I have to poop!” and EVERYONE had to go into the bathroom together). Make sure you get as many “ugly” photos as you do with everyone matching and smiling. Actually, get mostly ugly photos and videos of tantrums and messy house and potty training and the food everywhere and the two or more crying at the same time. You will look back… believe me you will… and want to go back again to hug and love on those babies and to help out that poor mama who is doing the best she can and still feeling like it isn’t even 1% enough.Twins times two. Thoughts from a mom who's been there.

On your best days you will be doing a good job if you are only meeting basic needs: food, changing, loving, and maybe reading a story or two. Forget the glitter painting and stamping and crafty crap that you always imagined you’d do with your kids. DON’T look at Pinterest and see what you could be doing… yeah, if you had one child. Your child is not missing out and glitter is so everywhere.

Make friends with other Mothers-of-Multiples. These will be your sisters-in-arms. You will need them like you need a nightly glass of wine. They are the ones who during an outing won’t bat an eye when YOU have to go to the bathroom and you ask one of them to keep an eye on your kids. They will empathize, sympathize and encourage you… and agree that no one understands.

Twins times two. You can do this.

Find a good parenting class. Mostly you’ll learn that you are doing it right… and you’ll learn not to worry about the small stuff. You’ll learn to let your child fall and not rush over. You’ll learn that listening is the best communication tool that you’ll ever cultivate. You’ll learn that other parents are going through EXACTLY THE SAME STUFF at the SAME TIME. This is called child development. Make friends with the stages… they are necessary for healthy growth. And, sometimes these classes also have FREE CHILDCARE!

Say this Mantra: THIS WON’T LAST. THIS WON’T LAST. Because it won’t and you don’t get a do-over. The potty training, the tantrums, the middle of the night wake-ups. These all go away… as do your babies.  So let toys be everywhere and in every room. Let them ride mini big wheels in the house on a rainy day (heck, on a sunny day so you can get dinner made!). You will remember these crazy times as being your favorite times. You are striving for happy… and peaceful… and loved. Mostly loved.

I remember an older mother of four teens saying that she’d go back to the infant and toddler time in a heartbeat. At the time I thought, I will NEVER wish for that! And, you know what, I’d go back in a nanosecond. You will too. Just wait. You’ll want to go back in time and tell that mama that she is doing a GREAT job… and you might even stay to do a load of laundry… or six.

twins times two and one more. Michelle has managed, and so will you.

Finally, as my husband reads this over my shoulder, he says longingly, “It goes by so fast!” It won’t seem like it at the time, but it does. Do whatever you can to enjoy the time. Find help, get out, take lots of photos, have a mantra that helps you stay sane, learn about child development so you know why some of the most difficult states (in stereo with twins) are the most necessary!

Michelle blogs at www.twinstimestwo.com where she tries to piece together those lost early memories from mothering two sets of twins and where she tries to record the daily joy and chaos of being a mother of multiples.

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Toddler Thursday: Two vs. One

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Categories Parenting, Parenting Twins, Singletons, Toddler Thursday, ToddlersTags 22 Comments

Don’t hate me, but I love toddlers.  Yes, there are tantrums and days full of “I do it!”, but there are also hugs around your knees and the adorable language I call “toddlereese”. I was an early childhood education major in college and spent many years teaching young children before I became a mom.  These experiences helped me immensely when my other three children were toddlers, so much so, that this stage has always been my favorite. Then I had twins.  They are 19 months old and I am tired. Just for fun I used my Iphone to record our morning.  I won’t bore you with the video or the entire morning, but here’s a transcription of part of it:

It’s 8:00 and Oliver, my 4 year old, is due at school at 9:30. I still have to get myself, Oliver, and my 19 month old twins dressed.  I’m already feeling frazzled and I’ve only been awake 30 minutes. So far I’ve fed all five kids and have kissed my older two boys goodbye as they left for school with their dad. I meant to wake up earlier so I could get myself ready in peace, but Rhodes slept with us last night and kicked and squirmed so much I didn’t sleep well. When my alarm went off I opted for 30 more minutes of sleep.

8:05 I’m standing at my sink brushing my teeth while Oliver is taking a shower. Laurel has toddled into the bedroom and is rummaging through my night stand. Rhodes is standing at my feet whining to be picked up.

8:07 Oliver has gotten soap in this eyes and is screaming. Rhodes is still whining and Laurel comes back from the bedroom covered in cuticle oil.

8:08 I grab Laurel and put her into the shower with Oliver. I’m rinsing Oliver’s face and hair when Rhodes’ whining escalates into crying. I glance at him to find he’s hit himself in the mouth with my hairbrush and has a bloody lip.

8:09 After a quick cuddle I put Rhodes in the shower too and cross my fingers that it will clean off the blood and keep him entertained long enough that I can get dressed. It’s at this point I’ve realized the extra 30 minutes of sleep weren’t worth it.

8:10 I’m in my closet trying to squeeze into a pair of jeans that I swear fit last week (Darn Easter candy). I make them work and throw on a blousy shirt in hopes of hiding the muffin top my now too tight jeans have caused. I do some lunges on my way out of the closet. Yay! Multitasking! I’m exercising and stretching my jeans!

8:11 All three kids are playing so I take the opportunity to throw on my makeup. I realize that Rhodes has chewed on all my makeup brushes and they are wet and gross. I use my fingers to apply eye makeup and blush.

8:13 My hair is too dirty to pull back but there is no time to wash it. I briefly toy with the idea of using one of Laurel’s head bands to hide my roots and greasy part. I decide I’m too old for that and use a bobby pin to pull just my bangs back.

8:14 The water has gotten cold so all three kids are fussing to get out.

8:15 While I’m getting Laurel out and dried off Oliver escapes and runs thru the house soaking wet.

8:17 Both twins are dry and as I’m walking them to their room to get them dressed I slip in a puddle of water. My bottom hurts and the twins are crying because I yelped when I fell.

8:18 We make it to the twins room and Oliver joins us. He’s still naked and is fussing because he wants to play on his older brother’s Itouch. I try to ignore him while I’m picking out clothes.

8:20 Rhodes and Oliver are now dressed but Laurel is nowhere to be found.

8:21 I find Laurel in the utility room eating dog food.

8:22 Laurel is throwing a fit because I’ve disturbed her second breakfast and Oliver is still whining. Rhodes is pushing cars around the playroom.

8:24 I’ve given in to Oliver and allowed him to play with the iPod Touch. Laurel is dressed but now Rhodes is crying about another bloody lip. He was crawling too fast, fell on his face, and bumped his lip on the car he was pushing.

8:26 Rhodes is calm. Oliver is calm. Laurel has once again disappeared.

8:27 I find Laurel in the bathroom where she is happily shredding toilet paper. I decide the mess is worth the peace and go looking for our shoes.

8:30 Victory! Everyone but Oliver has on shoes. He is pouting because I can’t find his Buzz Light Year socks.

8:33 Negotiations are complete. I’ve convinced Oliver to wear plain socks in exchange for allowing him to play with the Itouch in the car on the way to school.

8:34 The twins are gone. The house is quiet. This. Is. Bad.

8:35 I find them both outside. They have crawled through the pet door and are splashing in the bird bath.

8:40 I have wrestled the twins into new clothes. I’m sweating and grouchy. If I hurry I can make a cup of coffee to take with me.

8:42 I put all three kids in front of Curious George and head to the pantry.

8:43 Oliver is screaming because the Itouch’s battery is dead. Rhodes is screaming because Oliver is screaming. Laurel is in the pantry looking for cookies.

8:44 I’m charging the Itouch and holding Rhodes. Laurel has decided a cereal bar will work since we have no cookies. She has squished it while bringing it to me so when I open the package the bar crumbles to the floor.

8:45 Laurel is on the floor rolling around in cereal bar crumbs crying for cookies. I decide to not change her out of the sticky, crumb covered clothes.

8:47 I’m now holding Laurel and Rhodes and trying to put a coffee pod into my Kureig using my teeth. The twins explode into giggles.

8:50 Coffee’s made and we are on the way to the car. Everyone is happy!

8:51 I drop my bag and as I bend over to get it I spill coffee all over my shirt. I briefly contemplate sucking it out of the fabric.

8:53 Oliver is buckled into his seat. The twins have decided it’s time to ride bikes and are fighting over a ride on toy. Rhodes pushes Laurel and she is MAD. I scoop her up just as she’s lunging to bite him.

8:56 The twins are buckled into their seats but are not happy about it. Laurel is screaming for cookies and Rhodes is screaming because he can.

8:58 Silence. Everyone is watching the video and we are finally on our way.

I’m sure many of you a shaking your heads and smiling because you have been there. You know how it feels to run from one problem to the next all while trying to keep the day moving and actually be productive.

This post is so funny and painfully true. One morning with toddlers is a messy sticky comedy of errors!

There are several universal truths to parenting toddlers. These apply whether you have one or five. All parents of children this age can relate to these things:

There is a constant battle between independence and needing/wanting to be cared for.  It’s hard for them to decide what stance they want to take in any given situation and it’s even harder for parents to read what their child wants.  What’s ok one day just might not be the next

You will witness wonderful creativity. I’m always amazed how toddlers can turn anything into a toy or game.  I watched Rhodes play this afternoon with a cup, bowl of water, and a rock for over 30 minutes. Never underestimate their ability to entertain themselves without toys or technology.

Toddlers crave and respond to routine. The need for a schedule doesn’t stop at the end of infancy. Knowing what to expect and what’s coming next is reassuring to children of this age.  I find when I stick to our routine that tantrums are greatly diminished.

Parenting toddler multiples is very different.  I was naïve and really celebrated when my twins turned one.  I remember telling a friend “They are sleeping through the night, nursing is done, and they are learning to walk and talk. Things are bound to get easier now.” So far that hasn’t happened.

Parenting twin and singleton toddlers  are distinct experiences.

Here are the ways I find parenting toddler multiples different than singletons: Whether you admit it or not you are always comparing them. When I was parenting my singleton toddlers comparisons usually happened at playgroups or in online forums.  The anxiety of “Why aren’t they____?” was usually confined to that situation or to the few moments I’d spend replaying my day.  Now I find myself not only constantly comparing them, but also trying to compensate for imaginary weaknesses.  For example Laurel’s language is very advanced.  Her adjusted age is only 17 months and she’s already stringing together words to make sentences. Rhodes isn’t doing this.  He knows several words, but isn’t close to speaking in sentences. His speech is exactly where it should be for his adjusted age, but I find myself grabbing a book and pulling him into my lap more often than I do Laurel.  I’m constantly repeating his gibberish back to him correctly and engaging him in songs. None of this is done intentionally and I know I’m intuitively trying to encourage his language development because his sister’s is so advanced. If he was a singleton the poor kid wouldn’t be subjected to my constant singing and chattering.

Everything is more.  The noise, the mess, the laundry, the…   you get the point.  Laurel is a screecher and Rhodes is a yeller. Happy, sad, mad, all require screeching and yelling.  My house regularly sounds like a pet store.  Double the toddlers means the playroom regularly looks like tornado hit it. Unfortunately both twins are “dumpers”. They love nothing more than to walk up to a basket of toys and dump it out.  They don’t do this to look for a specific item.  They just enjoy pouring all the toys. When you have one child that screeches or pours toys it’s annoying.  When you have two a bad day can bring you to your knees.

Outings require pickiness.  I have a friend whom I love dearly but I will not bring the twins to her house.  She has an elderly grouchy dog, a very tall slide, and a sunken living room.  With one toddler I could manage all these variables by keeping the child in my line of sight.  With two toddlers who are inevitably drawn to different areas I just can’t do it.  I’ve also run into this when choosing parks and restaurants with out door seating (is it fenced?).  Any place I’m going to have to follow them around in order for them to be safe is out.

Confinement is necessary. My morning adventures would have been much easier if I could have gotten us ready to go out from our playroom.  We have put a lot of time and effort into making it a room that is comfortable for adults as well as fun and safe for the twins. There is really nothing they can do to hurt themselves while playing in it. The furniture is bolted to the walls, all outlets are covered, the floor is soft, and most importantly they can’t go in separate directions.  It’s so nice to have a place where we can spend time and the twins will be safe without me needing to be in two places at once.

You can’t mess with naps. When my singletons were toddlers there were times when I’d force them to make do with a nap in the car or go without one altogether.  I’d pack lots of snacks and expect to have to keep them really busy. Most of the time this would work and we’d get to enjoy whatever event was happening during their nap time.  Unless it’s a once in a lifetime event or an emergency I won’t do this with the twins.  Not much is worth the risk of potentially having two tantruming toddlers.

Toddler relationships  Children of this age generally don’t play together.  They usually engage in parallel play (side by side) or spectator play (observing and mimicking).  Very rarely will two toddlers actually interact during the same activity.  Laurel and Rhodes play together.  They will roll balls or cars together or look at the same book and chatter to one another about it.  It’s amazing and adorable. I have to say that this is my favorite part of this stage.  I love watching them interact.

This season of my life is challenging to say the least.  It’s full of rushing, managing, planning, and adjusting. Despite these difficulties I can’t remember a time I’ve been happier.  Rhodes and Laurel are amazing and I’m so blessed to call them mine.

What differences have you seen raising singleton toddlers vs. multiple toddlers? 

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The Twinkle Diaries

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Twins Separating Spontaneously

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Categories Christianity, Development, Identical, Parenting Twins, Relationships, SiblingsTags , , 5 Comments

The Togetherness

My identical twin daughters, age nearly 9, are going through a major relationship realignment. They’ve always been very twinny twins, much to my initial surprise. They still sleep in the same bed, despite nominally having separate ones. They’ve asked to be in the same classroom for the past two years and foreseeable future. They identify as twins above all.

These twin sisters have always wanted to be together.

Don’t get me wrong. They’ve always had their unique personalities and interests. M is the chatterbox. J is a talker, but she has moments of thoughtful reflection. M doesn’t. M prides herself on being a mathematician and loves to perform feats of mental mathematics for fun. J likes math too, but prefers mathematical concepts to hard numbers. J is enormously protective of her sister, I suspect at least in part because of her frontonasal dysplasia, whereas M is surprised on the rare occasion that J’s feelings are hurt. M is cautious, while J is my risk-taker.

J and M with mommy as toddlers.

They both love to read and are intensely social. They both have fabulous senses of humour and a love of wordplay. They’re both smart and insightful and self-righteous and persistent and messy and forgetful and my favourite people in the entire world.

The Divergence

I’ve always said that I would support my children’s religious choices and do my best to educate them to enable them to make their own decisions. I’m an atheist, but have raised my daughters within a Christian community and with age-appropriate knowledge of the Bible.

For the past 9 years, I have been taking my children to church. Just over two years ago, they chose the church to attend, and thereby their own denomination too. They’ve attended the Kids’ Kingdom Sunday school program and developed deep friendships. They both feel very much at home there.

Or rather, they both felt very much at home there.

At age 8, identical twins start down different faith paths as one choose Christianity and the other atheism.

This week, M informed me that she is atheist. She’s been thinking about her beliefs for about 6 months, starting during the period during which we were apart. She is very much at peace with her choice. Her biggest concern was how to break the news to her sister. I told M that as long as she was honest and respectful of both J’s feelings and beliefs, it would be okay.

That same night, with very little fanfare, M decided that she was too hot and wanted to sleep alone. J wanted snuggles and crawled into my bed. For the first time that I can remember, M slept in a room alone. J has done so before, but never M. She’s growing up and growing independent. It struck me that with that small step and the much larger faith decision, M is started to tread her own path, not in active contrast to her sister, as she’s done with math, but spontaneously, organically, and age-appropriately.

J took the news of M’s atheism surprisingly well. When I asked if she wanted to talk to me about how she was feeling, J retorted that I wouldn’t understand. I reminded her of the church community members who would understand and would be available for her to talk to. She said she would call them after she’d had some time to think.

And so it begins, the gentle individuation of my monozygotic daughters. I had feared that this tearing apart would wait until the teenage years, when my daughters will additionally be forging identities separate from me and the family unit. Perhaps this will make the teenage years a little less terror-inspiring? Or at least only as terrifying as that of their singleton peers?

Have your multiples been independent from the start? Or has their inter-dependency evolved over time?

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National Reading Day: Books About Twins

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Categories Book Reviews, Books, Parenting Twins4 Comments

Books About Twins As a past elementary school teacher (having taught kindergarten, 2nd, and 4th), it’s no surprise that I love books. I prided myself on having one of the largest (and most organized) classroom libraries in our school. When I left teaching to be a mom to Audrey and David, I brought all of those books home with me! One thing that was missing, however, was books about twins! In the past year, I’ve been on the hunt for books about multiples for our children. As a way to celebrate National Reading Day today, here is what I found:

In my searching, I also found some books for adults:

Do you have any favorite twin books? Share with us in the comments!

My Random Musings
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