Yep. I’m going to do it. I’m going to write about ‘things not to say to a twin mum’ by recounting all (well some) of the things that have really got up in my grill. I am absolutely well and truly aware that here are already a veritable plethora of pieces in existence BUT I think after surviving the ordeal of twins so far (from conception to 14 months) I have won the right to have a bit of a go. As an added bonus, if I write it, I’ll be less likely to take it out on the next person who pokes their head in the pram and says something as brainless as ‘are they twins?’
*Disclaimer: I’m not generally a whinger. In fact, I come from a long line of women who steadfastly adopt the ‘Pollyanna approach’ and can always be relied upon to find out how things ‘could be worse…’ and my glass is always half full. And most importantly, I love my little balls of energy so much it hurts and wouldn’t have anything any other way, but sometimes one needs to have a bit of a cathartic whinge.
“I know what it’s like, my kids are close together in age”
Yes you absolutely do. Having children close in age is exactly like having twins in the same way as walking is the same as flying. They are both modes of transport. The only thing like having twins is having twins. People who say this to me often follow it up with saying things like ‘I had two kids under two’ (or some other age range) and proceed to tell me just how tricky that was. Yes. I get it. But fancy having two kids under 1? Under 6 months? Heck, under 24 hours old and you can’t even get out of bed yet because you’re still all drugged up and numb with a catheter. It’s even better when they go on to say that they actually think their situation is harder. Dude, it’s not a competition. It’s all bloody hard.
“A boy and a girl?”
The comments are usually just like this – fragments of a sentence with the upward inflection which suggests it is a question. It’s an odd question. I sometimes wonder if we’re looking at the same babies. I’m all for gender neutrality and I have a penchant for Scandinavian baby clothes (especially anything from ‘Baby Goes Retro’) which sometimes involve rainbows, but I would have thought the blue blankets, beanies and pram hood might have been a give away. After being asked this so so so so many times, I asked a perfect stranger ‘which one do you think is a girl?’ They point to Paddy and say ‘his lashes and his hair, he’s so beautiful he looks like a girl.’ I’m not sure whether this means they think Bede is ugly? Or just plain enough to be a boy.
“You look tired/double trouble”
I grouped these together not because they are an obvious pair, but because I despise them both equally. Once, I was taking my quite young boys for a walk and a middle aged woman told me that I looked tired. It infuriated me. She could have chosen to say ‘good on you for getting you and two babies dressed and getting out the door today’ or it’s a nice day for a walk’ or even just ‘hello’. Better yet, she could have chosen to just say nothing. I stewed over this for ages and wished so much that I’d actually said something like ‘yeah well you don’t look that great yourself – what’s your excuse?’ As for the latter, I usually meet this with either a smile and a half hearted ‘that’s for sure’ and a sort of smile or complete indifference and ‘yeah’ depending on what kind of day it’s been. Despite the fact it is complete madness 99% of the time, I still refuse to believe that they wake every day and think ‘right, how can we really eff around and make life difficult for mum today?’ I treat it with the disdain it deserves.
“You’ve got your hands full/they must keep you busy”
Yep and yep. Once, after hearing this one too many times my husband said to a lady ‘if you think our hands are full you should see our hearts.’ He really did. I nearly laughed that he had actually said it and couldn’t even look up until we had left the vicinity of the person who caused this response. An equally appropriate response might have been ‘thank you Captain Obvious.’
“Did you have them naturally?”
People are so intrigued by twins and I absolutely get this. We are a bit of a spectacle and do draw attention to ourselves with our oversized pram taking up the whole footpath and all that jazz. But people that I don’t know from Adam have asked me the most intensely personal questions about how my boys came into being and I don’t know why. I’m not sure if this question is about their conception or their birth and I’m not sure why it matters to anyone – what does naturally mean anyway? They also ask if twins run in our family. I am tempted to say, “no they just walk’. Maybe one day I will. For the record, here’s a list of the twins in my family –
My husband is an identical twin, his father is a fraternal twin. He has fraternal twin nieces. My older brothers are twins and there are another two sets of twins amongst my first cousins. Perhaps twins cartwheel in our family?
This is not an exhaustive list BUT I thought I better stop before I become a whinger. It is really nice when one in one hundred people stop and say something lovely like ‘you are so lucky’ or tell me stories about their twins. That’s nice mostly because I know it’s possible to survive being the parent of twins but also because, it’s always better to say something lovely than something shitty. It’s ok not to say everything you think and it’s also ok just to wonder some things.