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Are they twins?

"Tip #10: You will not get tired of the attention you get with the twins."
by Carla Shelley Anderson Wardin

Here is the hard truth about all those ridiculous comments people make when you go out with twins: you would get ridiculous comments if you went out with a singleton. There was one particular incident that has always stood out in my mind. When we lived in Hawaii, I decided to stop at the grocery store on our way home from the beach. My son was tired and sandy from his day at the beach; I brought him in the store wearing just a diaper. This elderly woman stopped my shopping cart to comment on my adorable baby... girl. This is exactly what she said to me, "Some babies, you just can't tell. But, her, well, you can tell that she is a baby girl. And she is the most beautiful baby girl I have ever seen." Granted, my son was bald until he was almost two and he had big blue eyes, not a lot to go off of. But I knew this woman was just trying to say that I had a beautiful baby, so I thanked her and moved on. I received countless other comments, people cooing at my baby in the check out line or exclaiming, "He's not yours?" (I have never understood that comment-- are they trying to say I look young or that I steal babies?)

No, I am not saying that the comments--or the frequency of the comments--is the same for twins and singletons. I'm saying that people have a knack for saying ridiculous things in the face of adorable babies, especially that first year. Even now that the boys are 14-months, the amount of comments we get is much less. I think several factors play into twin D-List celebrity status. While we still get many comments from strangers, two infant carriers were much more eye-catching then even a double stroller. I think my stroller isn't as obvious as a long tandem stroller or side-by-side, and when the babies are facing two different directions (here is a link to photos of my stroller), I'm not sure people always notice there are two babies in there. The last factor is the gender of your twins, girls being the most adorable. I kid you not, when I would go out with my friend who has one little girl, people would ignore my twins for the sweet thing with big brown eyes and a ginormous bow on her head. I really think that little girls are simply irresistible, but when there are two or three of them, you probably have, at the very least, C-List celebrity status.

There are comments that I do not appreciate. At Chick-Fil-A, a girl behind the counter asked which "hurt more" to deliver, twins or a singleton. (Yes, I told the store manager.) I also was not a huge fan of people stopping me when I had a crying two and a half year old and three-month old twins who were due for a feeding; there is a time and a place for everything. I still haven't understood how having children 18-months apart is the "same" as having twins, not saying that wouldn't be challenging. Nor do I enjoy long family histories of who had twins when and why someone feels they are next in line to have twins, according to their family genealogy, as I struggle to keep three kids under control on an aisle in the grocery store.

With all of that being said, yes, I enjoy talking about my adorable boys. As Carla said in Every Other Twin Book is Wrong, "Think of it this way. You just spent nine months creating two, tiny perfect human beings. You're the parent, so you think they're the greatest things in the world. You spend every waking hour--and many hours you with you were sleeping-- taking care of their needs. Of course they're fascinating and adorable! How could people stop from asking you about them?" Agreed. I spent my twin pregnancy going to OB appointments, bi-weekly ultrasounds, restricted to modified bed rest, stopping pre-term labor, and struggling through a week of unproductive labor before delivering two beautiful identical boys at 35-weeks. I was blessed to take them home with me, only staying one extra day on the peds ward-- not even the NICU. A friend of mine described her girls to me as "blessings." I've heard friends describe their children as blessings before, but the way she said it, and how she and her husband interact with their girls, yes, I believe those girls are blessings. I thank God every day that I am the mother to these boys and pray that I will be the mother to them that He desires me to be-- not the Perfect Mom, but their perfect mom. I enjoy talking about my blessings.

I don't mind answering questions. I don't mind saying they are identical or explaining the differences between identical and fraternal twins. At the Children's Museum, a little girl--not a twin-- came up to C and O and said, "Oh! Mommy, there are two of them!" I told her that they were identical twins. Her mom says, "That means they look the same, but they are different on the inside, just like you are different than your brother." I loved that she felt the need to tell her daughter that identical twins are still individuals. I absolutely love when little kids come up to the stroller to talk to the babies. I remember doing the same thing as a little girl, completely obsessed with babies. I don't mind when the old ladies want to talk to the babies or ask D if he is "helpful." Those first couple months I felt like all D heard was, "Are you a helpful big brother?" As if his only job in the world was to help his mom take care of his brothers, instead of being a two and a half year old-- that one got to me when we heard it all the time. But, talking to D was better than ignoring D, and D actually was-- and still is-- a big help.

How you interact with "the public" is how your children will learn to interact with others. They may be infants now, but you are forming an opinion or attitude that will grow inside of you and eventually grow inside of them. Begin putting into practice now how you would like your children to interact with others. If someone makes a completely off-putting remark, such as the gal at Chick-Fil-A, deal with it properly. I nicely informed the manager and explained why it felt wrong to me. I did not get sassy at the register. If you don't have time to talk to people or aren't in the mood--sleep deprivation does not always make you the friendliest of people-- then smile and keep walking. You don't know the motives behind why someone is commenting on your twins. I remember this incident around the time the babies were 4-months old. A woman stood staring at the infant carriers while I stood in line. When I was getting ready to leave, she kind of stood in front of the stroller and said, "Are they twins?" I did my little smile and said, "Yes," prepared to keep moving. She went on to explain that she came to town for pressing issues--her father was very sick and in the hospital-- and that she had delivered triplets no less than a month ago, all of whom were still in the NICU, while her young son stayed with her husband. There was more to her story and I ended up talking with her for quite awhile. I still say a prayer for her because I cannot imagine the stress she was under. And that question, "Are they twins?" isn't always as foolish as it sounds. Twice in the first six months of C and O's life, I asked women how old their twins were (trying to avoid asking that very question) only for them to say, "Oh! They aren't twins." One woman was pushing a double snap and go with two infant carriers and the other pushing a side-by-side with toddler girls in the same shirts. Both women watched friends' children. I didn't see the babies in the infant carriers, but the toddlers were born within a month of each other and she had been watching her friend's child since birth, the matching clothing being the means to keep track of the girls while out in public.

I really, truly feel that people are just trying to be nice.  No, they don't always say the right thing, but neither do I. What was the first thing I said to my friend with triplets? "I don't know how you do it!" I hear people with twins say to triplet parents all the time, "I always remind myself that at least I don't have triplets!" (A fact that does indeed get me through rough nights-- at least there isn't another baby in here crying.) But, us twin parents, who hear these comments every day, still say them to triplet parents, and triplet parents say them to quad parents, and I can't even fathom quintuplets or sextuplets... But these children are our blessings. And going through a pregnancy with multiples, especially after a high-risk pregnancy, makes you even more aware of the blessings you have in front of you. Ignore the rude, out of line comments. Most of the time, people will just ask you the same questions nearly every time you go out. As Carla says, "Rude comments on the Internet included people asking, 'Which one is older? Do you dress them alike? How can you tell them apart? And... 'Are they twins?' I personally don't think any of those are rude questions. I think they're common questions" (Every Other Twin Book is Wrong). Even now, as a parent of twins, I like to chat with other parents of twins I run into, asking them the very questions that they most likely hear from everyone else.

Yes, poorly timed conversations can be annoying. But, Carla is right; I still enjoy talking about my boys. I do not see a day in the future when I will not smile as someone tells me I have beautiful boys or to enjoy these days that fly by too fast. I completely agree!


jace+3 said…
Fellow twin mommy here. I've been a little disheartened by all the negativity about the general public's reaction to twins so reading your blog was refreshing. I really appreciate the bit about our kids learning how to respond by how we respond. Nice job.
Kimber said…
Thank you!!

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