I’m Still Scared

When I was pregnant with my twins people often told me how hard it was going to be. Some of them knew what they were talking about and some of them didn’t. Truth is, I never could’ve prepared myself for the realities of having twins. I’d hear those words and say, “yeah, it’s going to be so hard” with a smile on my face.

I was just so happy to be having babies at all, you never could have convinced me that it would be anything other than perfect.

But then the first year happened. We loved them the very best we could that first year, but to be honest, so much of it was survival mode. This baby is happy so now get this other one happy. And time to switch again. Change this diaper, now that one; ugh, this one pooped and I just changed her! Time to eat again? You all know the drill. Want to know the thought that kept me going?: At least by the time they are toddlers, I’ll totally have this thing figured out.

Boy was I wrong!

Sure, they’ve turned into these little people that make me laugh on an hourly basis and they have all these ideas about how their world should be. But my anxiety levels have sky rocketed thinking about all of the things we’ll be dealing with over the next few years.

Big, important decisions that twin parents face.

Like kindergarten.

We still have about a year and a half before they start, but I’m seriously starting to stress about whether or not they should be in the same class. Only moms and dads of multiples have this decision to make and it’s such a hard one! Friends of ours that are twins used to tell us about how they hated school simply because they were never allowed to be in the same class. And here’s the thing to me – kindergarten is such a big deal because it is their first year in school and above anything else, I want it to increase their love of learning. Period. They LOVE to learn right now and I’m terrified that actual school is going to take that away from them. And my kids really hate being away from each other for too long.

When they’re apart they think and talk about the other one constantly. But they are also two very different people (duh) and will be very different students. My son has focus like I’ve never seen before in a four year old – heck, I think he has better focus then I do as a 35 year old (yeah, he clearly didn’t get that from me). He analyzes and processes and does something over and over again until he understands it. It’s amazing to watch. My daughter on the other hand, is wildly creative. If something isn’t working for her she creates a new use for it or she makes up a game or a story. The things she can come up with blow my mind and usually make me laugh.

But what does that look like in a classroom? And what does that look like in comparison to each other? Right now, they constantly want equal recognition for things, but that’s never going to happen in school. People used to ask me when they were newborns if I thought I’d keep them in the same class and I laughed and said, “Who knows? I’m sure their personalities will tell us in a few years.” But I’m just as perplexed as ever!

Is anyone else obsessed with the show This is Us? Oh, I heart this show so much because it’s so very real. If you watched a few weeks ago (*spoiler alert*) you know that the twins on the show basically fought over a girl. Kate wanted Sophie to be her best friend while Kevin had a crush on Sophie. And this all takes place at their 10th birthday party. When we find out that Kevin ended up marrying Sophie later in life it appears that, that very moment, was a turning point in Kate’s life too. But here’s the thing that scares me most of all (yeah, yeah I know it’s a tv show so stay with me): these kids, who came from extremely loving parents who did the very best they could, still end up fighting over a girl and maybe even holding resentment toward each other for the rest of their lives. Right now, if we find our kids fighting over something the rule is that nobody gets it. But how long does that last?

The other day Olivia said, “I don’t like the way you hold your pencil Ollie, but I do like the way you color.” I can’t decide if she’s a little teacher or a little mommy in the making – maybe both, but she says stuff like that all the time. They’re completely honest with each other, telling each other what they like and don’t like about one another. Sometimes it’s great and sometimes it’s extremely hard. Sometimes I just wish I had the excuse “well honey, they are older” or “baby, they’re just trying to learn what you learned a few years ago.” But twins really do learn at different speeds. I have watched one kid go through a growth spurt before the other. That terrible four month sleep regression that newborns go through – Oliver was first and then Olivia once he was done (let me tell you about what a fun month that was). With potty training, both of mine also had a period of back sliding after we thought we had conquered the whole thing. Again, Oliver was first and then Olivia. And it’s been true with their personality growth too. But it’s not like I can look them in the eye and say “well, you’re older and they will get there.”

I’m just nervous that they won’t see these differences as the beautiful things that make them individuals, but instead will constantly compare themselves to the other based on the praise a teacher gives them or a grade they get in school.

I want to be the mom who writes about twins with answers and who has it all figured out and who can give you the best ways to raise twins. But I’m not sure I can ever be that because there is still so much I’m trying to figure out on a daily basis.  

And please, please, please – stay best friends forever.

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4 Responses to I’m Still Scared

  1. Tricia February 4, 2017 at 6:19 am #

    There’s one longitudinal study about separating twins by Tully et al. It basically studied over a 1000 sets of twins being separated or kept together. The conclusion was that there were positive effects of keeping them together with NO negative effects. Some twins felt anxiety and depression when separated, particularly identicals. But the overall message was that it should be left to the parent to make the decision not the school. Schools generally have a HABIT but not a policy on twin placement. It’s worth a read!!

  2. KATHERINE BIRKBECK
    KATHERINE BIRKBECK February 4, 2017 at 7:24 am #

    Thanks so much Tricia – I will definitely check it out!

  3. Amy February 11, 2017 at 6:08 pm #

    Mom of 11 year old boy/girl twins here…and an educator of 22 years and an elementary principal for the last 9 years. There is no right answer.

    My son is focused and tested into the gifted program in first grade, which my husband and I recognized about him by the time he was three or four. My daughter is in talented art and a good student, but she has to work harder for it than my son.

    We separated them in three-year old pre-k (my request) and as their elementary principal, I kept them separated through fifth grade. My daughter is super motherly and also very competitive. I felt like my son wouldn’t have the opportunity to blossom and shine if left in class with her because she would try to control him, so to speak.

    They started middle school this year, and I made no requests about separating them, deciding to leave it to chance. They have one of seven classes together and it has been fine. In fact, neither had any other friends in that class, so they’re glad to have each other. But they’ve each had the last eight years to establish their own friend base and strengths.

    I do have parents who request their twins be separated and some that request they stay together. I’m especially sensitive and feel a connection with twin parents, so I usually honor their requests in kindergarten. Then I check in with the kindergarten teacher about how she felt the year went before placing them in first. However, if twin parents solicit my OPINION before starting kindergarten, I always share my own experience and encourage them to give separation a chance.

    All of this to say…it’s a highly individual/personal choice.

    Best of luck…it’s been a wild, fantastic ride so far.

    • Amy February 11, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

      Mistyped my email

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