March 6, 2015

Why Get Mad When You Can Make Someone Smile?

If you're a member of the twin mom community on the internet you have probably seen or been a part of a discussion/blog/article by and for twin parents that addresses the comments so many of us receive. All the twin mom blogs have their lists (which are pretty much universal as most strangers are highly unoriginal in their questions and comments), Twiniversity has an article or two about it and twin groups on bbc and fb get those posts ALL the time. It happens to all of us. It can be annoying, I know, but I wonder if we're coming off a bit bratty as a community when we make these lists of the "stupid" things people ask or say to us. Yes, some of the questions or comments some people get are inappropriate or rude but majority of the time it's the simple curiosity of a person who doesn't know much about life with twins.

Why are we upset by that? Why is it stupid to ask someone if there children are twins? I'd rather they ask if they're not sure. And if you think that every person who asks if they run in your family is trying to find out if they're natural or not I think you're a bit of a conspiracy theorist. Most people don't care about how you got pregnant but more than one set of twins in one family is pretty cool! I just feel like we're being touchy when we should be enjoying making people happy and meeting new people. Hear me out.

One thing I will grant is that it's a little more annoying when you're in a time crunch. However, you're never under an obligation to stop if you don't have the time. To tell you the truth we don't usually have the time so I will apologize if I have to rush people but I don't blame them or get annoyed with them personally. There's a joke that the twin mom has got everyone fed, changed and happy so she has approximately 46 seconds to get something done. This is true but if someone looks like they want to chat or just look at the babies I will take a few of those 46 seconds to stop because where's the harm in it? It's good for me, it's good for the babies and it's good for them. Win all around.

In case you think I just don't get out much or something here's what it looks like when I need to run to Target, Wal-Mart or the grocery store for a few things (usually happens once every 2 weeks or so).

It takes me about an hour to get ready and get out of the house. This includes packing the diaper bag and preparing bottles or nursing before we even start getting ready to go. We change diapers and sometimes full outfits because it's almost inevitable someone will have a poosplosion or puke on their shirt. Ten minutes to strap in and double check all straps, etc. (I'm crazy about the car seats) and five minutes getting everyone and the stroller into the car. We get to the store and as soon as we walk in someone is smiling at us. I judge by body language if they really want to stop and chat or just smile from a distance. Some want to chat, some just coo or cluck or say "Oh! Twins! How cute!" The ones that stop (usually older women, grandmother-types) almost always say the exact same things. Here's where those lists from around the web come in. Every twin mom has heard these things that I generally find harmless and will happily answer the first few times I am stopped:

"Awww are they twins!?" - "They are!"
"Boy and girl?/Two girls?/Two boys?" (sometimes they guess wrong) -  "Two girls. That's Juliette and that's Vivienne."
"Identical or fraternal? How do you know for sure?" - "Identical. The doctors said so. Also, look at them."
"My cousin's uncle's daughter has twins!"- "Aw, that's so cool."
"I always wanted twins!" -  "Haha, you say that now, do you want to take them for the night and find out for sure?"
"You must have your hands full!" - "Yes I do! But thankfully my husband helps a ton and we have family nearby!"
"You look too young/too good to have had twins!" - "I'm 30, but thanks and I just bounced back really well I guess!"
"Do twins run in your family or your husbands?" - "Both!" (Note: Identical twins are not hereditary but I rarely want to get into this with strangers.)
"How do you tell them apart!?" - "We just know! But they have differences if you really look!"
"You're blessed/They're beautiful/Good luck!" - "Thank you!"

Sometimes I get one or two, sometimes it's all of them. It takes me five minutes, they are happy and we all move on. I have never been asked if they're "natural" outside of a medical office. I have never been told "double trouble" or asked which one is my favorite or whether or not I am breastfeeding. I have only once been told that having two close in age is the same thing. So many twin moms hate this one especially but I saw her boys in action. They were 1 and 2, and it was definitely close enough. Not to mention if someone says this they're probably struggling! They're not downplaying how hard twins are, they're just relating to you. This mom just was just trying to connect with me and even she apologized for insinuating she knew what newborn twins was like. And I told her that her life looked harder than mine did!

Am I unique in that I don't have the bad experiences other twin moms have or are other people overreacting to the innocent (or under-educated?) curiosity of strangers? Is it really that annoying when someone just wants to take a peak and smile at your little ones?

See that's the thing: I have found that people are not stopping me simply to ogle the mysterious phenomenon of identical twins and pry or insult me - they stop me because babies are cute and two babies are even cuter! Sure sometimes they're a little pushy, but they also just want to feel really good for a second. I dare you to try feeling grumpy or sad or pissed off when there are two adorable faces beaming up at you. Two faces that remind you that there is beauty in this world and to cherish the simple things. You can't do it. You have no choice but to feel better, even if just for a moment. I see it every time someone stops me. Even if it's just the elderly woman questioning their type or a little girl giggling at them asking their names.

I'm happy if I've made just one person smile simply by leaving the house with my two tiny people. I choose not to be annoyed or made to feel like a spectacle. I welcome it (to a point of course)!

I will share my one really bad experience during my 14 months as a twin carrier/mom so other twin moms don't think I'm completely out of touch. I never said it never happens, just not as often the internet makes it seem. This woman not only insulted me but thought she knew more than me and then topped it with an unnecessary overshare that really threw me. I was at the check out counter at Wal-Mart back in May. I was 30 weeks pregnant (so roughly the size of a mini-van) and buying baby books and the cashier noticed there were two of them:

"Oh, two baby books, are they for twins?"
"Yes they are!"
"Yours or someone else?"  (I almost laughed out loud because I was so huge but I just smiled.) "Mine! Due in a month!"
"Oh god, that's crazy. Better you than me! I'd die if I had two at once!"
"Yeah, I guess you got that right! We're excited!" (I would have left right then but she was still checking me out!)
"Do you know what you're having?" (The baby books were covered in pink polkadots but I played along.)
"Identical girls!"
"Well you don't know that for sure right?"
"Yup, we do. The doctors are certain they're girls and I've had like 10 ultrasounds."
"No, I mean like you can't know they're identical yet."
"Oh, yeah, no they definitely are. Ya know, the ten ultrasounds and stuff."
"No, that's ridiculous, you can't know they're identical until they're born and you see them. Obviously."
"...Oh... ok. I guess you're right."
"Yeah, see my grandmother had identical twins and had no idea until they were born and then they were both stillborn."
"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Gotta go..."

So if I needed to I would say there are three things twin moms never need or want to hear:

That we're doomed just because we're having two kids at once.

Arguing with us about what type of twins we're having.

And for the love of God do not share your relatives or friends dead twin stories with us!

Especially when our twins are still in utero!

The whole exchange was just in bad taste and left me feeling like crap for a few days. But that's when I made up my mind to let it all slide and seek out the positive interactions. What choice do we have as twin moms? We're in this from the second they're born and we will never stop hearing the same things over and over so instead of complaining we need to make the best of it (just imagine what it will be like for our kids later in life!?) If we let it get to us we will forever be miserable.

The way I see it is we can choose to have an uphill battle and try to educate or berate everyone who makes a false claim about twins or insinuates that our lives are over or we could just not pay them any mind and get on with living those lives, much to their dismay. After all, most of us knew nothing about twins before becoming pregnant with them so we can't blame people for reciting what they've heard or googled.  I say embrace the quips, answer the questions and if someone insists they know more or insults you keep your head up high and seek out someone else who is in need of a smile! Nothing will make you feel better quite like your kids making someone else feel good!


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