Although multiple births are steadily on the rise, raising two or more children at the same time is still a unique experience. From the moment people discover you are having twins they react differently toward you, make incredible assumptions, ask some very interesting questions and often provide some strange and usually unsolicited insights.
Our twins are now 7 and are boy / girl, and they have an older brother who is 12. So, we were new parents in that we had two new babies but we weren’t new parents.
During the twins’ first year we had many people approach us and ask us if our two new babies were twins. My tired and sarcastic self wanted to say no, but the more polite side of me prevailed and I would yes. The next question usually was what are they. In the circumstance where our daughter was wearing a dress and our son pants and shirt, again tired and sarcastic me wanted to say babies but polite me replied a boy and a girl.
The interesting thing is we have come back to this question over the last year. Our daughter decided to cut her hair very short. So now, instead of asking if our twins are boys or girls the assumption is made that they are both boys. It is an interesting insight into how strong certain stereotypes still are. Is wearing a dress or other ‘girl clothing’ really the only way to tell if a young child is a boy or girl?
Another common question was always are they identical? There were so many ways tired sarcastic me could answer this, however polite me would simple say “well…..one looks like me and the other looks like my husband.” Thankfully on the outside that is also true!
Usually after we’ve established that our twins are boy/ girl, another stereotype that makes an appearance. The comment that often follows is something like “oh you have one of each, the perfect family!”. I would assume that most people think their family is perfect regardless of how many girls or boys you have, I know we do. Plus, trying to fit a family of 5 into a world built for 4 is extremely challenging…..but that’s a topic for a future blog!
As parents of twins who are now 7, we have discovered that there are a variety of ways you can react to these type comments and questions – with offense, indifference, with an air of superiority or with laughter. My husband and I do our best to choose laughter, usually laced with some sarcasm. As with parenting in general laughing at the craziness and chaos of it all makes it easier to cope. But as parents of multiples we need to realize that usually all those questions and comments are really more about what the people asking the questions are feeling and not about us or our children.
Parenting is challenging, fun and crazy no matter how many kids you are raising and we are all going through the same things. As parents of multiples it is best to remember that all the funny and sometimes insensitive questions and comments we hear remind us that it is special to have the opportunity to raise two or more children at once.