Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the public’s perception of having twins is vastly different from the reality of it.
I know I usually post about something specifically related to raising emotionally healthy twins. I’m going to deviate from my theme this week in light of a recent conversation I had with a mom of singletons. She was observing my twin daughters tickle each other and she commented how lovely it must be to have twins who are best friends and always love to be with each other. I replied, “Yes, it must be lovely,” because I honestly did not know from firsthand experience.
Let me explain: my twins do love each other. They may even be each other’s best friend. But do they always love to be with one another? Uh, no. They, like most human beings forced into a permanent space-sharing situation, need time apart. They need time with other people, and they need time alone.
Back to the well-meaning singleton mom’s misguided comment — it got me thinking: what other myths do non-twin parents believe about having twins…?
So here is my list of the top five misconceptions about having twins – and the necessary dose of reality in response.
1. “Your twins are each other’s best friends.” Yes, they are – at times. But then there are the countless other times when they are each other’s mortal enemies. And that’s when child-sized military protective gear becomes necessary.
Another variation of this myth is that having a twin means “someone always has your back.” Yes, someone always has your back — or your Mickey Mouse flashlight. Or your favorite watch because hers broke.
2. “You have two little helpers!” You say ‘double the help,’ I say, ‘double the mess.’ Potato. Po-tah-to.
3. “The nighttime routine must be so much easier because they have one another for comforting.” And yet just last night I was sleeping on the floor of my children’s room, waiting for the child with a nightmare to fall back asleep. Having her sister there never seemed to provide the comfort I had hoped. I returned to my bed after both kids were asleep and said to my husband, “I thought that, as parents of twins, we were entitled to some perks – like not having to be there as they fall asleep because they had each other.” He replied with a snore. Sigh.
4. “Potty-training must have been easier because if one was ready, she would motivate the other.” This conclusion is very logical and it may very well be the case in other families. In our family, however, where both children are very strong-willed and insisted on wearing “big girl panties,” one daughter was using the potty consistently and the other was quite fine peeing on the kitchen floor or her carpeted bedroom floor — or, I wish I were kidding, the floor of Target. I then wised up to the fact that she would be far behind her sister. Thank God diapers go up to Size 6!
5. “I bet they finish each other’s sentences.” Now, that’s romantic. But one would more accurately conclude something different in any twin household where one frustrated child is yelling: “Stop interrupting me!!”
Is having twins joyful? Yes, absolutely! But we don’t give up the right to complain simply because we have what others wrongly perceive as a magical parenting experience. In fact, if you think I have “double the joy,” then I would also like to claim “double the stress” because I have not one crayon drawing of a castle on my living room wall, but two.