Toddler Thursday: A Singleton Mom Tries to “Get” Twinniness

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Categories Individuality, Parenting, Parenting Twins, Toddler Thursday

Consider me a convert to the twin mystique.

As a singleton myself, I’m often baffled by my twins’ relationship with each other. Honestly, I’ve wondered if being a twin is somewhat of a detriment – the sharing, the constant presence, the neighbor that calls them both by one composite name – and I’ve downplayed their twinship in order to honor them as individuals. I’ve always been wary of the super secret wonder twins bond that I’d heard so much about but hadn’t seen up close.

RebeccaD sees the twin relationship bloom between her toddlers, but can't fully understand it. She's not a twin.

As my boys grow in toddlerhood, their twinniness is coming out full force. I’m now convinced that there is something between them that makes their experience of the world very different than a singleton’s. I often have to check my own singleton perspective and accept a new way of seeing things.

I wouldn’t say that my boys have a secret language, per se. But they practice a word between themselves for a long time before I can understand what they mean. For example, about a month ago, they were saying something that sounded like “Annie.” They would trade the sound back and forth all the time. Finally, through my careful deduction and their increased skill, I realized they were saying “I need.” Currently they tell each other something that sounds like “mo-nay” (Mayonnaise? Money? Monet?) – I have no idea what that means. But I bet it will become clear pretty soon. Meanwhile, they look at me like, “Why aren’t you getting this?!”

Now that I let the boys pick out their own clothes (mostly), I’ve discovered that they prefer to match. I feel kind of embarrassed, being “that mom” with her matching twins, especially since I rarely dressed them matching as infants and they don’t look much alike. From my singleton perspective, I expect them to make choices based on individual preferences. But for my little twins, the only thing better than wearing your favorite shirt is your brother is wearing it too! One twin’s joy is incomplete without his brother’s joy.

The boys also have their own complex system of economics. M drinks so much smoothie at a sitting that I decided to get him a bigger thermos because I’m tired of constantly refilling (after he throws it across the room in frustration). Typically, R barely drinks half of his smoothie. My singleton brain thinks, ‘M needs something, I will give it to him.’ Well, it was a big flop. R instantly laid claim to the thermos, the way he does with anything new, and M acted terrified of the thing. He actually ran away when I tried to give it to him. After some deep breathing to quell my exasperation, I realized my error. I should have given it to R. He would have tried it out and realized he didn’t want it; M would have seen that R had it and therefore would have wanted it. Such a maze, but so normal to them.

My singleton brain also works against me when one of my boys is injured. Tonight, M fell off the bathroom stool and hit his head (many tears and a goose egg, but he’s fine). R was very concerned and reached out to hug and pat his brother. When M calmed down somewhat, R skipped off to another activity. But when M started crying again, R was right back at my side, trying to take M’s blanket, begging me to hold him. Again, I was so frustrated. I just wanted to cuddle and comfort my hurt little boy. But that was thinking like a singleton. I finally realized I had two hurt boys. Where there is shared pain, there must be shared comfort.

I try hard to treat my twins as individuals – we do one-on-one time occasionally, they often choose to play separately, and they are both hitting social milestones in their own ways. But truly, their dynamic is a entity unto itself. The way we treat one twin is always affected by his brother. I’m starting to appreciate that individuality and twinship are not diametrically opposed. My boys’ powerful connection to each other is one of the most important things in their life and that’s really beautiful – something MORE than singleton, not less. I’m a lucky mom to be able to witness and support the unique way my twins love each other.

Is anyone else late to appreciate the twin connection? Are your toddlers surprising you as they choose to be more “twinny?” Twins with twin children, is it easier for you to understand your kids’ bond?

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RebeccaD has 8 month old fraternal twin boys, R and M. She’s a teacher-turned-SAHM in San Francisco who loves dance, quilting, and geeking out over DIY projects. Having twins is challenging her perfectionism in the best possible way.

4 thoughts on “Toddler Thursday: A Singleton Mom Tries to “Get” Twinniness”

  1. I don’t really have any experience, but really enjoyed reading your insight to the whole twin relationship. It reminded me of a book I read; Her: A Memoir by Christina Parravanni. In the book she talks about what happened during the time of her twin sister’s death. It also talks about the intimate relationship they shared and the struggles she had to go through when her sister died. If you like to read, this might be a good book for you to check out.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. That sounds like an interesting read. A friend of mine has adult twin brothers and one recently passed away. I can’t even imagine. I hope and pray that my kids never have to go through that.

  2. That’s so cool! I haven’t seen it as much in my twins, but perhaps I’m just not noticing. I only know that they’re much more aggressive, impatient, and competitive than my singleton. Mine are also b/g, perhaps that makes a difference?

  3. THANK YOU for saying this. I have been hyper-vigilant about fostering each of my twins’ individuality (they are 2 and a half), but I have been noticing that, against my efforts, they take comfort in doing things the same. I keep trying to divide them, but they enjoy being in the same bed, wearing the same hats, dancing the same way. I blame a documentary I saw when pregnant with them about these 50-year-old co-dependent twin sisters who had never married, still dressed alike, and lived together.

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