Twins – a mum’s perspective

My friend Janet Penny, baby photographer extraordinaire, has asked me to write something for her gorgeous photography website. Something about having twins. So I did what any person does. I Googled. There are plenty of “Top Ten Tips” sites and literature. The word that seem to be mostly associated with this experience is survival.

I was lucky enough to be blessed with a daughter before having my twin boys. I am so grateful to have had my singleton daughter before my twin sons. While much of the intimacy of holding, feeding, observing and caring for a single baby is often lost in the sheer drudgery and relentless grind of feeding, changing, cleaning and calming of twin babies, much of the fear, the unknown and the insecurities are gone too, if you’ve been through it before.

My sons are non identical, but this doesn’t stop people from remarking on how they can’t tell them apart. Annoying and bemusing in equal measure. They are very different in character which again, seems to surprise people. Why? This would acceptable in siblings, and yet twins seem to generate certain expectations.

As a parent you are constantly aware of the need to be fair. As a parent of twins, this need is multiplied. Must give equal attention. Must not  ignore the well behaved one, while the fractious one needs calming. Must remind oneself and society of their individuality. There is something about having twins that sharpens the parental duty of equal distribution of attention. Whenever I took a photo of my baby twins together, I took almost pathological care in taking a photo of each one on their own too. ‘Til this day when buying them clothes, I make sure the items are similar in style, for equality, yet different in other ways (this doesn’t always work, you need to pick your battles…). Having twins is a lesson in human individuality, but also commonality, and compromise.

A lot is made of the stages of childhood and not enough of the stages of parenting. The hard graft of early years is now over. (Anyone who has potty trained twin boys will have an immunity to excrement worthy of a pig farmer). This stage has been replaced by the school years parenting. Instilling good academic habits (I will not say how much I hated maths too), helping with home work ( Yes I know it’s boring), navigating social minefields (that girl is a bully, but we will called her “troubled” instead). The next stage will be adolescence <<shudder>>. Then …I’d rather not look too far ahead!