Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Parenting Multiples

Here's something I've come to believe as a mom of twins: We're just not meant to have more than one child at a time.

There's the issue of time, effort, exhaustion, expense, breastfeeding, number of arms/hands to hold and carry them, and all that. But really, I believe it boils down to the fact that they just don't get enough individual attention. They have to share everything, which is great, because they learn to share very early, but sharing everything also kinda sucks. Like sharing a birthday and sharing Mommy & Daddy's attention, without having the separate distinction/priviledge of being the oldest, or being the baby. Being one minute older doesn't really count.

Maybe this is only true of my kids. Or maybe it's only true with girls (translation: drama queens). I don't know. With my kids, even though they are very closely bonded and hate to be separated, they also really enjoy being recognized for different things or accomplishments. Unfortunately, this also means that the desire to be recognized individually creates some of its own competition.

For example, just this weekend in Vegas, I was praising them both for how well they are swimming and how proud I am of them. They both wanted me to tell them that they swam better than the other. Or that they were the first to swim.

I wonder if it's worse with identical twins. Thank goodness Kate looks like Daddy and Emma looks like me. At least they get to be distinct in their looks (and personalities). We can rave about the beauty of Kate's long lashes and Emma's freckles. They've also developed different favorites, which helps them have things that are their own, without having to share.

Kate likes light blue and Cinderella. Emma likes pink and Ariel. So we know that the light blue clothes and Cinderella toys belong to Kate. The pink clothes and Ariel toys belong to Emma.

At the same time, having twins is awesome. They have a built in playmate and friend wherever they go. They end up with double the amount of toys and clothes. They comfort each other. They stick up for each other. Oh man, when they stick up for each other, it practically makes my heart explode with joy. Even when they knock other kids around while doing it. I know its wrong, but seeing sweet, gentle Emma shove a little boy to the ground in defense of her sister is secretly satisfying.


siobhan said...

i don't know, i think that's just true of kids in general. my girls, admittedly close in age, have the same issues. but i know that i'd rather deal with those problems than the ones my nieces have as each being an only child.

we've tried to help each develop their own interests and ensure they get alone time. mallory plays piano and sioban ice skates. mallory played soccer while sioban did dance classes. when it's time for mallory to practice piano, i kick the other kids out of the family room and she gets alone time with mom or dad, which has the added bonus of helping her look forward to practicing! they take turns riding with dad in his truck to pick up his dry cleaning or run to the office. and they get competitive about it anyway!

my #2 and #4 are four years apart and their birthdays are a day apart. and two and three days after christmas, at that! so i anticipate birthday struggles with those two.

i think your struggles of time, effort, exhaustion, and so on are totally valid as a mom of twins, but it might be possible that the other concerns are somewhat universal. or maybe it's just applicable to twins and people nuts enough to have kids 17 months apart!

NIKOL said...

Well, you know Kristin and Joey are almost 4 years apart - and they compete all the time. Joey will talk about how he's the most special because he's the oldest. Kristin will counter with how she's the most special because she's the only girl. And they both get antsy sometimes if they feel like we're spending too much time doting on Simon instead of paying attention to them. Sometimes I feel like all they do is bicker! So, sibling rivalry happens regardless of age spacing, I think. But I can totally see how it would be intensified when twins are basically seen as a package deal all the time. It must be hard for them to assert their individuality. It's great that you foster their separate interests. I think that's very healthy.

One of the doctors here at the hospital is a twin. And she and her twin dress alike for our Christmas parties and stuff. If they're together, they dress the same. I think that's damn creepy with adults.

Kris said...

Gosh, I didn't realize that competitiveness was so common. I don't remember being competitive with my brother, so it seems weird to me. A lot of the other families I know don't *seem* to have the problem. But maybe looks are deceiving. Or maybe they're the exception rather than the rule.