Hi all! Big thanks to Christina for allowing me to share my experiences with you. My name is Robert, and I’m new to parenthood (I have an 18-month old daughter), but one thing I have extensive experience with is being a twin. Unless you’re in the middle of a drug-induced bender or you’re a narcissistic douchebag, how many people can say that they became best friends with their reflections? It’s weird, but I think that my “twinness” has helped to mold me into a pretty good father – and for parents of multiples, this could be the case for your kids as well.
Let me provide you with some background on how I arrived here. Two days before my birthday, my parents were concerned that “the baby” in my mom’s belly wasn’t moving. They feared the worst when the doctor ran his tests – but after twenty minutes, he entered the treatment room smiling and said, “The reason why your ‘baby’ isn’t moving is that you’re carrying two babies and there’s not much room for them to move around. I don’t know how I missed that, but oh well – good luck!”
In a 30-second span, my parents’ emotions ran from:
“Yay! Our baby is alive and well!”
“Say what?! TWO babies? Where did you get your medical degree? Clown College? How could you miss this??”
“Two babies? Aw shit, we’re screwed.”
Forty-eight hours later, we were born – and because I made my debut a brisk 62 seconds after my brother, I’m known as the “bonus baby” who technically shouldn’t even be here. Ever since that day, we have been inseparable. We hugged each other in our crib as newborns, we had our own secret language, we feel each other’s pain during an injury (it’s not an urban legend), and we rarely go a day without seeing or talking to each other. If you’re a parent of twins, you may think that you know how strong their bond is – but you really have no clue about the depth of it. In my mind, no bond (with the possible exception of parent-child) is stronger than the one twins share.
Are there twins who aren’t as close as my brother and me? Of course. I just happen to think that they are the exception and not the rule.
With that said, here’s how my experience as a twin prepared me for parenthood:
If you didn’t discover this valuable nugget earlier in life, it’s definitely a lesson you learned once you had a child. That transition is a difficult one for some people, and I know a handful of folks who will never have kids because they always want it to be about them and nobody else. The great thing about being a twin is I learned very early that it was never going to be all about me. We shared extremely cramped living quarters for nine months, we share a birthday, we share friends, we share looks, we share DNA, we share interests, we share…well, pretty much everything (except for our wives. That would be weird). It’s pretty tough to be selfish as a twin, and once my daughter arrived, it was a much easier transition to put her needs first than it would be for some others.
My family was far from poor, but we weren’t rolling in the dough either. We never rocked designer gear growing up, we didn’t have the latest video game systems, and we didn’t go on fancy vacations every summer. Yes, I understand that a lot of American families are going through the same thing right now, but it’s different as a twin. As a kid, I learned that I never needed material items to be happy. All I ever wanted was to be close to my twin. Now as a dad, all I ever want is to be close to my daughter. Funny how that works, huh?
I know that you don’t have to be a twin to understand what unconditional love is. However, twins have a head start on learning this dynamic because we unconditionally loved each other before we arrived on earth. We played together, terrorized together, learned together, laughed together, and cried together. It’s a big difference when you’re experiencing all of that with a person who’s the same age as you, instead of with a sibling a few years younger or older. It sounds cheesy, but my twin is a part of me, and I’m a part of him. Once my baby was born, it wasn’t much of a shock to witness that same bond manifest with her.
Parents of twins – if you absorb one thing that I type here, please ensure that it’s this: Make sure you do not refer to your twins as “the twins” in front of them and make sure that nobody else does either. I know it seems innocuous to do so, but subconsciously they’ll start to think of themselves as this two-headed blob called “the twins” instead of being unique individuals. Trust me; it’s difficult enough as it is for twins to celebrate their differences. Back in the day, I remember my youth basketball coach saying, “Hey Twin! Check-in for Steve!” I asked the coach, “Which one of us should go into the game?” The coach snapped, “You both are the same person! It doesn’t matter who goes in!” Ouch. It’s 25 years later, and I remember that as if it happened yesterday. As any set of twins will tell you, we may look alike, but we’re very different (he’s smarter than I am, but I’m a better basketball player – which would’ve been useful on that day when he went into the basketball game instead of me). Being a twin helps me to ensure that my daughter embraces her individuality because it was hard for me to achieve mine when I was growing up.
In other words, I love the hell out of my twin. I would kill or be killed if it meant protecting him from danger, I will always be available for him if/when he needs me, and I thank God every day that he’s in my life. As parents, I’m sure you feel the exact same way about your children too. Being a father means the world to me, and the bond between us prepared me for the unique bond that I have with my daughter today.
Since I was the terrorizer and not the “terrorizee”, I don’t have firsthand knowledge of how tough it is to raise twins. Whenever I ask my mom about what it was like, she face-palms and damn near grunts herself into unconsciousness. When I ask my dad about it, he says, “Ask your mother.” That tells me everything I need to know about how difficult it was for them. The good news is that we’re fathers to three beautiful girls (two for him, one for me), and our bond with each other continues to grow stronger each day.
If you’re a parent to multiples, hang in there. They will drive you bat-shit crazy on a regular basis, they will fight with each other, and they will destroy everything that isn’t already destroyed to begin with (and that doesn’t include navigating through the stupid questions strangers will ask, such as, “Did you conceive them naturally?” or “Which one is the bad twin?” or “How do you breastfeed both of them?” or “Do you have to be doubly good as a parent since you have twins?”). Just remember throughout all of the chaos, these kids are forming a lifetime bond that will stay with them forever and help them become pretty damn good parents in the future.
Do you want to know what the best part of this is? Twins love their mamas, and once they become adults – they will thank them for all of the sacrifices they made.
We’re living proof of it.
I’ve enjoyed sharing my story and would love to hear if any of you know first hand what I’m talking about.