Parenting twins | being fair…
I grew up in a unique family situation. I was a pseudo-single child within a complex surrounding of anything but single. I have an older half-brother who I never really knew and an older full brother who I wasn’t raised with. I was raised partly by my father’s mother who had 8 kids before taking me in. But all that said. I experienced an upbringing more closely aligned with that of a single child. I didn’t have to compete for attention and I didn’t really learn about sharing, at least not in the same way I’ve been confronted with through raising my girls.
When we first heard we were having twins… it was overwhelming and brought on such massive gratitude that we coasted a few weeks on that alone. As I’m sure anyone would experience after such an extended period of trying for a baby. But quickly something else snuck in. Something I didn’t blog much about because it felt well, unappreciative. The feelings of WTF – How am I going to raise twins? What do I even do to prepare myself? How do we afford this? I remember first expressing some of these fears at around 9 weeks but it ended about there.
My initially thoughts of, fu*k we need two of everything…. How are we ever going to afford two of everything! Luckily were mostly quelled by this communities wonderful comments and I was reassured that in fact we didn’t need two of everything – except maybe patience, love and hours in the days.
I continued to research and somewhere I clung to the idea of fairness as my answer to all the difficult questions. Something like, “When in doubt – treat them fairly”. Initially this seemed to work for just about everything… until it didn’t.
From the beginning I tried my best to make everything as fair as humanly possible. Part of this was just the reality that we were all exhausted and it made things simple. We didn’t have to exert any real brainpower at 3 in the morning if we knew they both would be eating. We just did it. If I nursed one – I nursed the other. Tandem nursing and its overall success for us just continued to reinforce the process of treating them equally.
If one got individual attention – so did the other. I always posted the same number of pictures online and even kept track of how many kisses they got. I’m not joking – I remember feeling horrible if one got more attention, like I was choosing favorites if one got more kisses. We always woke one twin when the other was hungry and when they started eating solids they received the same offerings down to the number of puffs. Yes I counted them! And I still do sometimes.
I’m now at the point where I’m realizing all my months of counting cheerios and equally dividing my time… was well counterproductive. My focus on counting turns and making sure everyone got the same opportunities is essentially creating unreasonable expectations. My girls are not alike… In pretty much each and every way and their futures will not hold identical opportunities or experiences. They should be getting familiar with this reality not being conditioned into an unrealistic expectation that life will always be fair.
I think it was only last week… That our kids went out separately with just one parent for the first time since infants. These kids are completely linked and I’m beginning to realize I overdid being fair just a bit. What it comes down to is what works for one… Rarely works for the other and that’s OK. These girls are smart and what seems fair to one often seems like the short end of the stick to the other. I think I took the idea of treating them fairly and instilling equality and replaced it with the idea of treating them identically. Two very different concepts.
We aren’t hearing, “that isn’t fair” but I know it’s only a matter of time. Instead what we are hearing is: “Ainsley isn’t sharing. That’s Harlowe’s favorite new pie toy too”! Or, “sister, trade pie toy now. Harlowe’s turn” followed by a shove and hysterics. Don’t get me wrong we equally overhear, “Harlowe loves Ainsley” or “Harlowe snuggle” or “Ainsley helps sister with pie toy”. Along with “Harlowe did it, broke new toy, momma fix it. Toy Broken”. Its all relative!
We are guilty of buying two of a number of items just because initially it’s easier but we are finding more and more our girls are clinging to very different items. As well as treating their same items with different levels of care. So, two of everything isn’t the answer for us either.
What it comes down to for us is creating reasonable expectations, finding discipline that fits each child and developing rewards that motivate them as individuals. We try to stick with the concept of trading over sharing, which has its pro’s and con’s but it seems to work with our girls.
Transitioning thinking is a process but being less concerned with fairness will be rewarding.