One of the most fascinating, yet often the trickiest, aspects of raising twins is nurturing their individuality. It can be quite a challenge having two little humans in the house who are exactly the same age and experience the exact same things, yet they respond to or are affected totally differently by what is happening around them.
Recently this topic came up as part of the conversation in the one twin mother’s groups that I belong to. A mom complained how members of her family kept comparing her twins and commenting on their differences. The other moms all started comparing notes on how people are always commenting on things like how one baby’s gross motor skills are so much more developed than the other, and how one twin has been labelled grumpy and the other a little socialite. If these were two siblings born a few years apart, these differences would not even be noticed. But because they are twins, it’s these comparisons that, I guess, even as parents we make as well. It’s really hard not to compare, but when you’re a parent and someone else starts commenting on this, it does get annoying, and it makes you even more determined to demonstrate that they are unique and their development is quite where it should be.
I guess there is something to be said about nature versus nurture in such a scenario. In our case, our girls are treated equally, yet they are not treated the same. This may sound like a contradiction, but I say this because they have totally different personalities and often respond quite differently to the same situation. For example, I recently started working part time, and when I leave for work in the morning HJ will scream hysterically and is quite distraught when I leave, while her sister doesn’t even blink an eye lid, often waving to me with a sweet “bye bye”. Both these responses have a devastating effect on me. I feel sad that my one little girl is so upset that I’m going, and on the other hand I feel sad that my other little girl is not phased at all that mommy is going away for the day.
I love them equally, I spend as much time with the one as I do with the other, and yet my leaving in the morning affects them totally differently. HJ has always been a lot more clingy than AG. AG is our little miss independent. While HJ likes to sit on my lap and play with her toys, AG will quite happily sit on the other side of the room and page through a book on her own. But while AG can sit for ages in one spot doing one activity, HJ has a much shorter attention span and will eventually move off my lap in pursuit of other fun. These basic differences in their social interactions with me has made me even more conscious of how I treat them and even more determined to ensure that I spend equal amounts of quality time with both of them, engaging in worthwhile activities that enhance and nurture their differences.
For me, when I look at my girls, I see two totally different little people. For one thing, they are not identical twins – they look quite different – different hair colour, different eye colour etc. They are just two siblings who happen to share a birthday. And I think this is an important attitude to have. While they may be a little team and will always be seen as “the twins”, or little gangsters, as we sometimes refer to them, they are completely individual little people and need to be nurtured in a way that will always recognise this.
It’s just so interesting to see their little personalities developing, and how they learn and respond to everything around them.
This toddler phase is such a fascinating time of discovery and we are loving seeing our little girls grow, and having so much fun being twin parents.