Twin Advantage – Playmates and Best Friends

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Categories Family, Fraternal, Love, Parenting Twins, PreschoolersTags , , , 4 Comments

I’m sure we’ve all heard it before.  We’ve heard it in those comments from strangers who said that they always wished they had a twin.  We’ve heard it from other parents of multiples.  We’ve heard it from multiples and twins themselves: there’s something very, very special about being a twin.

It’s often this twin connection, this twin bond, that strangers like to inquire about – Do they have their own twin-speak?  Is one more dominant?  Do they like to hold hands or snuggle together?  Do they get along?  Do they always want to be together?

A twin has a built-in playmate and, hopefully, a built-in best friend, too.  I mean, twins can’t have a sibling any closer in age!  And I know that I loved having siblings close in age to me (my sister is 16 months older than me, and my brother is 15 months older than her) as I spent so much time with them and they became my best friends.

And I have to say this ultra special sibling connection is one of the greatest blessings and advantages about having twins.  While twins are especially demanding in the first year or two of life, part of the reason I think they get easier with the passing days and months and years is that they have each other.  As a parent, I don’t have to entertain them myself all day long.  I don’t have to come up with things to do for them.  They can play with each other.  They can talk to each other.  They are siblings, playmates, and best friends, as well as being twins.E13My twin daughters may not be identical, but they still have this great bond.  Now, at the age of three years, I love hearing them play together, hearing them giggle, watching them smile, holding hands and hugging of their own fruition, apologizing, kissing boo-boos, and pretending.  I love how they encourage each other (though sometimes it may mean double trouble for mom and dad!), share, care, and love each other.

My daughters will always have each other to share their lives with, step by step.  It’s so unique!  And I know it must be that bond, that connection, that people are often jealous of!  They want their children or themselves to have a best friend for life.  They want to have someone who has always been right there with them through all of their lives, through the good, the bad, and the wonderful.

While I know that some twins don’t stay best friends forever (sad!), and often end up going their separate ways, I hope that I can continue to foster their love and affection towards each other, so that when they are grown and have their own lives and families, they will still have each other, though maybe not in a physical way.

Twins are a blessing indeed, aren’t they?  Even if some days that blessing only seems to be for their benefit and not ours.

Are your twins best friends? Do they share a special bond?  What have you done to foster it through the passing years?

ldskatelyn is the proud mama of twin daughters and a four-month old bouncing baby boy.  She counts her multiple blessings everyday and love that her kids have each other, as she loved having all of her own eight siblings growing up!  Find out more about her and her family at What’s up Fagans?

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Creating a New Community

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Categories Attitude, Community, Loneliness, MoM Groups, Mommy Issues, Other people, Perspective, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , , , , , , , , 10 Comments

This is a story of failure.

Nearly two years ago, in August 2011, I learned that my family would be moving to El Paso, TX from greater Austin, where I’d lived for a decade, where my kids were born, and where my job was. My husband at the time was a soldier, and the Army had issued him PCS orders to Ft Bliss.

Being an Army wife made me an near-expert in military acronyms. PCS stands for permanent change of station, as opposed to deployment to a combat zone, which is considered temporary… even though many deployments are longer than a soldier’s stay at their “permanent” posting. My favourite acronym? POV, for personally owned vehicle, or what you or I would call “car.”

We’d known there was a chance we’d have to move shortly after he returned from Afghanistan in July 2011. My husband’s entire unit, with a handful of exceptions, would be moving to Ft Bliss, El Paso. Right until the day he got orders, he was assured that he was in that handful that would get to stay at Ft Hood, near(ish) Austin. I was the rare Army wife who got to stay put for years. Two tours in Iraq, one in Afghanistan and a PCS to Korea, and my soldier had kept coming back to Ft Hood. I assumed we’d just stay again and registered the kids for kindergarten.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=205082121919581953142.0004dfdce58c935ca63d2&ie=UTF8&t=m&ll=31.007557,-102.134399&spn=1.51596,8.778076&z=4&output=embed&w=300&h=250]

Once we learned we had to move, we had two weeks. We ended up moving the day before the girlies would have started kindergarten with two of the other kids on our street. My employers agreed to let me keep my job. That’s right. They. Let. Me. Keep. My. Job. I was moving 600 miles and one time zone away, and they said, “Sure, Sadia. Keep doing what you’re doing, except from your new house instead of in the office. And we’ll keep paying you what we pay you.” Now that, my friends, is how you support military families.

I put my most positive face on the move. It would be an adventure. We would build a new community after relocating. We would learn all about the culture of the Borderlands. I would finally have my chance to learn Spanish. My commute would go from an hour+ each way to run-a-brush-through-my-hair. I made sure I had plenty of mommy cards and business cards in my wallet.

I tried to make friends at my daughters’ school. The only person who bit was one German army wife. I tried to make friends at the girls’ dance studio. I made one friend the whole year I was there. I joined the local professional choir, and made two deep friendships that I suspect will last the rest of my life. I tried to join the local mothers of multiples group, but it had been inactive for years. I considered starting one myself, but none of the twin moms I ran into ever reciprocated the interest in developing a relationship. My daughters, too, tried to make friends, but my notes to parents inviting their kids for playdates or dinners were never answered. With the exception of the elderly couple next door, people on my street didn’t talk to each other. I was deeply grateful to a friend of my husband’s from their time together in Korea. He, his wife and their two sons were almost the entirety of our social network.

I’m sure there were a lot of reasons that I wasn’t able to find my niche. The other Army wives didn’t have careers. The other career moms didn’t, for the most part, speak English, and my attempts to morph my French and Italian into Spanish didn’t cut it. I didn’t really end up having that much time to find a place for myself in El Paso. In February 2012, my husband informed that our marriage had ended. It took 90 days to get divorced and another 60 to find, purchase and move to a new home back in greater Austin. J, M and I were residents of El Paso for a total of 359 days.

We didn’t move back to the same neighbourhood in which we’d lived before. Actually, we’re not even in the same Central Texan suburb. We have an enormous network of amazing people from the last time we lived in the area, but we’ve also managed to develop that community within our new neighbourhood and school that I was desperately seeking in El Paso.

Our first playdate at M and J’s new school was initiated by the other mom, not me. As it turns out, she was a twin mom, but hadn’t realized that my girls were twins too. My daughters’ Girl Scout troop leader and I have become good friends, and I’ll be co-leading the troop with her next year. She offered to carpool my kids and watch them in the afternoon for an entire week so they could attend Girl Scout camp with her daughter without my having to miss work. I hit it off with a mother whose daughter is M’s good friend and, as luck would have it, she’ll be my daughters’ teacher next year. When I called her on Tuesday last week to chat, she asked if my girls could play hooky from summer camp to spend the next day with her. All three girls had a blast, and their future teacher got a baseline on their reading and math abilities so that she can be ready to challenge them in second grade. Sunday morning, I got a text from the neighbour two doors down, asking whether her daughter could spend part of the day with us while mom finished up a paper for a summer course she’s taking for her nursing degree. We moved here 315 days ago.

I don’t know what the difference was between our El Paso experience and the one here in Central Texas. Perhaps my loneliness was obvious, despite my attempts to hide it. Maybe I was just too desperate in El Paso for people to want to befriend me. I’m certainly more confident on my home turf. Perhaps my social cues are that of a Central Texan and not of an El Pasoan. Maybe it’s that Austin is a college town and many of us, perhaps the majority, are transplants from elsewhere who have had to start over here.

I really thought that the girls and I had personalities perfectly suited to the Army lifestyle. We’re all intensely outgoing, able to start up a conversation with just about anyone. We’re all comfortable trying to learn new languages… me more than the girlies and J more than M, but still far more adventurous than the average American. I thought it would be easy to connect with new people, no matter where we were. If all else failed, I’d find my tribe among local moms of multiples.

What I found, though, was that moving from Austin to El Paso at age 32 was just like moving from the United Kingdom to Bangladesh at age 8. I couldn’t find my footing. I couldn’t find my sense of home. No matter how hard I tried or how long I stayed, I was always a foreigner. I tried to normalize things for the kids in El Paso, but I was desperately unhappy. As I’ve said many a time, my happiness at returning home was far greater than my sadness at getting divorced. Pathetic, huh?

If nothing else, this detour taught me where home was.

Sadia is the mother of 7-year-old monozygotic twins, M and J. She lives with them and their 3 cats in the Austin, TX suburbs and works full-time as a business analyst. She co-parents at a distance with her soldier ex-husband and his teacher wife. She decided to retire her personal blog, Double the Fun, when the girls entered elementary school in order to better protect their privacy, and was delighted to have the opportunity to keep a foot in the blogosphere through HDYDI. She also blogs at Adoption.com and Multicultural Mothering.

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Friendships Between Twins

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Categories Birthdays, Friendships with Other Multiples, Identical, Multiple Types, Parenting Twins, Same GenderTags , , , , 2 Comments

I mentioned in my last post that we would be throwing a combined birthday party with another set of twins from my daughters’ classes. It went swimmingly. I had a great time, and it seemed that everyone else did too.
3 sets of identical twins and a little boy pose over a birthday cake

As luck would have it, the first guests to arrive were the other birthday girls’ cousins, who happen to also be identical twins. This happens to be the first photo I took but features no fewer than 3 sets of identical girl twins, plus one little brother.

My third reaction to the picture after a smile and an “Awww, how cute!” is to ponder how rare it is. I’ve seen statistics putting identical twins at 0.4% of all births. The girls in the photo, though, have no awareness of being part of a rare phenomenon. Some people just come in pairs, in their reality.

My girls have a number of twin friends. I’m partly responsible. I can’t help being drawn to other parents who face similar joys and challenges to the ones in my life. Chance meetings turn into play date arrangements and play dates turn into friendships. The girls in the picture are among the first twins my daughters have befriended outside my influence. After all, I don’t control who they hang out with at public school. M and J also became close friends with classmates in kindergarten, two boys who are identical twins. We don’t get to see HDYDI’s Tracey’s boys as often as we’d like to, but J and M talk about often and consider them close friends.

My girls definitely notice when their friends are twins. They use the word “twins” when describing their friends to me for the first time. They have a number of friends in after school care who are fraternal twins, but I’ve noticed that in those cases, they’re usually much closer to one sibling than another.

I recall a conversation I had with my daughters when they were 4. We’d run into a friend from my Mothers of Multiples group, along with her young boy/girl twins. When I pointed out that they, too, were twins, one of my daughters said, “No they’re not! They’re not the same.” When I dug a little deeper, she said that twins had to be the same gender. I got the impression that twins, to her, were identical only.

Now, at age 7, my daughters certainly accept fraternal twins into the fold, but they clearly feel a deeper connection to other identical twins. I wonder how it would be different to fraternal twins. I only know the identical experience in any depth.

Do your kids have an awareness of being multiples? Are they friends with others? Are they drawn towards twins of the same “type” as themselves?

Sadia is raising her 7 year-old girls in the Austin, TX area. She is divorced and works in higher ed information technology. She is originally from the UK and Bangladesh, but has lived in the US since college.

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A Myriad of Multiples

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Categories Classroom Placement, Education, Multiples in the News, Relationships, School-AgeTags , , 1 Comment

When I was in elementary school, there were three sets of identical girl twins in my grade. They were even in the newspaper.  I remember the picture that went with the article, with the six girls sitting stacked on a slide at our school’s playground.  (I never imagined that one day I’d have my own set of twins! )  As it turns out, my school’s meager three twin sets pales in comparison to one Tennessee school with fifteen(!) pairs of twins.

Double Take! Twins Explosion Hits School (video via Nbcnews.com)

With only 611 students at Castle Heights Upper Elementary School, thirty twins really seems like a lot.  And of course, where there are multiples, there are urban legends surrounding their conception—maybe it’s something in the water? Of the fifteen twin sets, three have been reported to be a result of fertility treatments, while the rest were ”luck.”  “We were in Vegas when it happened…” joked one mom.

Parenting twins raises all sorts of questions that parents of singletons don’t need to worry about.  One of those questions is whether or not to separate twins when they reach school age. Do you remember Sadia’s  experience with each of her girls in separate classrooms, and then separate grades?  Dr. Nancy Segal, who appears in the news clip, was here yesterday at HDYDI to address the benefits of separating, or not, twins in school and to give her recommendations for school policy on twin placement.

And when it comes to befriending other twin pairs, one of the Castle Heights dads jokes that the kids “don’t have a choice at our school!” What an interesting circumstance!  While juggling my own multiples can certainly “keep my hands full,” it does make me wonder what it would be like for them to have other twins to relate to. (And can you imagine what it would be like as a teacher at that school?!)

Do your multiples enjoy friendships with other multiples?

 

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