“My name is Abby and I am the mother of twins.”
“Welcome to the mothers of twins support group…”
It’s just in my mind, of course. I don’t go to any such meetings. Early on, I had plenty of opportunities to join groups when my girls were babies but I honestly couldn’t imagine using precious baby-free time to sit in a room with other moms every other week and eat light refreshments. There was so much I’d rather be doing, like sleeping. I got through their baby years the way our early pioneer foremothers did: I circled the wagons and held off the barrage of poop, pee, and spit up until the savages retreated to their naps.
I’m just kidding. My daughters, now almost twelve, were never really that bad, although I’d have to be hypnotized to remember the majority of their first two years of life. It’s all a blur. I do remember feeding them with a special nursing pillow (“My Breast Friend,” Boppy’s odd cousin, with sharp angles and a fabric slipcover featuring psychedelic, dancing bears and giant, building blocks that spelled words like CAT and DOG) that allowed me to feed them at the same time. None of this nursing discreetly in a parking lot stuff for me, no sir. I had to be in bed and shirtless for everybody to be hooked up correctly.
I also remember long walks pushing their stroller. We lived in an older neighborhood with wonderful, tree-lined sidewalks so we’d make the circuit around the block and head back. We had a double stroller but for the first several months the girls were too small to occupy a seat alone. Instead, they were tucked in together like they were still in the womb…but with straps.
When they were a little older, their personalities began to emerge. Ella loved to sing and dance around in a dramatic fashion. A somber ballet was playing out in her head, no doubt. Lucy on the other hand was all about the facial expressions: Anything for a laugh. They were both bossy and very verbal, so there was nothing quiet about our home. They liked to debunk the stereotype that girls are dainty by wrestling each other at some point every day. I liked to debunk the stereotype that moms break up daughters who wrestle by sitting on the sofa and watching. They giggled and giggled until a pigtail was pulled or an arm got scratched then it was over. I would pull them into my lap and say, “That’s what happens when we wrestle,” as if I didn’t think it was a great form of pre-nap entertainment.
They crawled then walked and their teeth came in but unlike better moms, I didn’t write anything down. I don’t know what their first words were but I do remember Ella saying “Maybe so, Baby Ho” so I knew their intake of Dr. Seuss books was more than adequate. They played together and were each other’s best friend/worst enemy.
I stopped dressing them alike somewhere around kindergarten. For some reason, we’re expected to keep them identical (even if they’re obviously not) at all times. So if one poops out the back end of her striped onesie do I have to change the other one too so that both of them now have matching polka dot onesies? That sounds like too much laundry and maybe a level of hell. (An eternity of rolling a huge boulder up a hill with Sisyphus would be better than trying to remove breastfed baby poop stains.) I still got a few matching outfits out of them on Sundays but that eventually ended too. They wanted to be independent of each other, their own woman. Deep down, I suspect they felt comfortable loosening their reliance on each other because they knew the other sister was never going to be that far away.
This year, we decided to put them in two different schools for 6th grade. It was a difficult decision but an attempt to preserve the fragile ecosystem of twin sisters. I get it. I understand being compared to a sister, only mine was two years older than me. Teachers met me with certain expectations, often unrealistic. Having a twin is even worse. As a parent, when I try to praise one, I end up dissing the other one. Everything is political when it comes to vying for pecking order with your siblings. So we’ve decided to do the only thing we know how to do, keep going. Keep making mistakes in spite of our best intentions and start saving for their future therapy sessions. The most I can hope for is that they will someday enjoy the benefits of having a sister. They will do as I do with my sisters, complain about their childhood and bemoan their parents’ parenting. They’ll be so grateful to have another person who completely understands their crazy family. At least, they’ll bond over something!