Twins: twice the fun?

A girlfriend in Adelaide has recently (late October) given birth to identical twin daughters. Her first born had just turned 3, so she now has 3 girls under 4 which makes for a lovely family unit – but, wow! What a lot of work.

We converse sporadically through FB and email, and recently I received a lovely newsletter-y update with photos. I was actually surprised she was even up to hitting FB as I didn’t think she would have either the energy or mental strength to do this. This is nothing against my girlfriend. I just remember the drain of the first few months when Kid2 arrived. The age gap between Kid1 and Kid2 is just under 3 years, and I remember very clearly how tired and stretched I was. I can only imagine my girlfriend’s current journey with sleepless nights, endless feeding and a 3yo who wants you to play but doesn’t have the capacity to understand why you are just not free to address their every need.

For the parents of twins there always seems to be one of two responses: either ‘how lovely, twice the fun’ or ‘OMG twice the work’. As a twin, I see the other side – the responses are usually ‘how wonderful to have a twin – you must be best friends’, or ‘so you have to share everything?’

I briefly caught a show the other night (not on ABC1 but on cable) on identical twins which focussed on adult twins and how they managed their ‘twin-ness’. One set of identical males twins had even married another set of identical twins. The troubles started when one of the marriages failed, as for both these pairs their strongest loyalty was to their own twin – not their spouse. Another set of twins were single women, probably early 40s, who did everything together – they didn’t seem to have progressed much past the childhood relationship and were complete dependent upon each other.

Often with twins there is also the question of ‘twin-abilities’ – those special abilities, such as reading each other’s mind, finishing each other’s sentences, sensing when the other is in pain or distressed. It always seems to be identical twins that have these skills.

My sister and I are non-identical (or fraternal) twins. We do not even look much like sisters. She is slender, tall(er), fair and blue-eyed, while I am rounded, shorter (by about 10cm), dark brunette and brown-eyed. She is very much like my mother – the resemblance has increased with age, while I take after my father.

We do not have any twin-abilities. At times I am sure we do not even speak the same language or live on the same planet. I love my sister but in no way would anyone, even those who know both of us, accuse us of being alike or confuse one for the other. For both of us, living in different states has provided us relative freedom from comparison and, to be honest, the constant judgement twins can impose upon each other.

Yet by mother’s reckoning, as wee bubs (6 weeks of age) we simultaneously refused our dummies and took to sucking our fingers – matching fingers but opposite hands. For me it was the middle & ring finger on the right hand, for her the same on the left. An odd choice of sucking implements to begin with – but how coincidental that we both did this the same day. Perhaps at one stage there was that link.

When I think of my girlfriend’s little babies I wonder whether they will have ‘twin-abilities’? Will they be friends? or frenemies? Will they love the comparison or hate it? Will they be very separate individuals, or two sides of the same coin?

The twin thing can be very over-rated, but I wish the two babes the happiest and healthiest of lives. For their mum I wish that a good night’s sleep is not too far away.

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3 thoughts on “Twins: twice the fun?

  1. Wow! What an interesting read! I had thought that ‘twin abilities’ were for all twins; I had not realized that this was more for identical twins than fraternal. Your finger sucking story made me smile, too. Thanks for sharing these insights into the life of a twin!

  2. My mum is an identical twin, and we have grown up with an aunt who is exactly like my mother. They still buy the same clothes, books etc on the same days in the separate towns they live in!

    Unfortunately as they have aged they have become less close, and my mum is adament that she is her own person, and nothing like her twin.

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