I truly believe that ALL first time mothers are overwhelmed. Do I think that one screaming infant might be a little easier than two … sure I do! However, the combination of pure emotion that new mothers feel, paired with a lot of uncertainty; mixed with a little excitement is one cocktail that is much the same.
Friends would often say to me, “I can’t image having TWO at the same time!” To be honest, I can think of so many situations that other parents have dealt with that I can’t ever imagine getting through. So where some moms may envy my ability to manage, I envy all the other moms for their unique and very personal experiences. We truly are the same –
I think many of us desire to make sure that our children feel special and unique and most importantly, loved. The task seems simple:
Show your children love, and they will accept it. Tell your children you love them and they will believe it. Remind your children how special they are, and they will embrace it. Sounds easy, so why isn’t it working?
From the time my daughters were infants, they had separate rooms; were dressed differently; even had their own birthday cake. Some mothers of multiples would find this appalling. I have met a lot of people that have told me that “my husband and I were: wrong, selfish, and even neglectful for separating our children.” This decision did not come without research and lengthy discussions. I have always found it interesting how often people forget the “one” part of the twin definition. Many people focus on the “two” part and thus begins a paired journey that will last forever.
It can be difficult to understand the importance of referring to my children separately unless you have experienced it within your own family. A “problem” that may seem silly to some has become much more than that to my children. Hearing “the girls” for the last 6 years has become a common phrase. Although it is not said with any malice intention (as my husband and I have also done it) it has become a tough habit to break.
The commonalities between them are a blessing – but the differences between them can be an unwanted discussion that is starting to affect their self-esteem. Like in any family, siblings will differ – where one might me more analytical, the other might be more creative. Where one might be more athletic, the other more artistic. However, with same-sex-twins, these differences are sometimes viewed on a scale of strength and weakness. As a mother, this can be heart breaking.
My first-born, by exactly one minute, is a typical alpha child. With the dominance and presence to shake a room full of people, she is hardly a “wall-flower.” She is engaging, energetic and seems fearless in her approach to most tasks. She can walk up to any child, older or younger, and find something to talk about. She is a quick learner and generally excels at anything sport related.
Verbally, she can debate almost anything with me – good or bad. She is quick to understand the consequences of her behavior and can often dictate the correct punishment/reward. “A” is loving, sensitive and independent. She is the first one to give into her sister as a way to keep the peace. But push her and she’ll certainly push back! Those characteristics have equated to a pre-determined assumption: she will be into sports, excel in school and will be a social butterfly with very little problems making friends.
“B” is my younger child. (As if one minute truly has that much of an impact when it comes to age.) “B” is our “highly sensitive child.” She is the first one to cuddle with me and embrace my affection, but also the first one to misinterpret my words. We have learned that we must choose our words carefully with “B” or she will inevitably view it negatively.
“B” has a talent for dance-related activities. She is meticulous about her drawing, coloring and writing. She is conscientious about any task she ventures in to, but needs to “know” that we LOVE what she has done. She is cautious about who she speaks to, but once comfortable – dominates the conversation, asserts herself and has no problem taking charge.
“B” demands attention. She has this desire to please and if she thinks she has upset you, she reacts emotionally. One on one, she is very loving and easy-going. She wants to just be with you and that quality makes my heart melt. Those characteristics have equated to this pre-determined assumption: she will probably not do as well in sports, but excel in the arts. She might have trouble making friends as she gets older and will be a little slower to grasp school concepts.
I can’t even begin to express how wrong these assumptions are. Although there might be some validity to their strengths and weaknesses, this pigeon-holed type of mindset can be daunting.
Trying to get those around us to understand that IF you compare them directly, the scale of strengths and weaknesses will be obvious. But if you view them each as a six-year-old girl, they are independently right where they should be.
My children are at an age where they can understand when someone compliments one’s ability and questions the other. It has been my job to constantly remind them that they are unique and special as individuals. I have explained to them that people have a tendency to compare “twins,” but they should embrace the uniqueness of who they are and avoid listening to anything that might stray from that. These are lessons that I hope will be fully understood with time.
As we journey through Kindergarten this year, both “A” and “B” are each thriving independent from each other. They are in separate classes and this has helped them to be more confident. My husband and I are also starting to see some of those perceived weaknesses develop into strengths. Watching them evolve has been wonderful.
Have you ever had a similar experience with your own child/children where you have felt that they were being unfairly compared? What did you do to help them stay confident?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog from mother of two, TwinMom112.
Photo credit to the author.