I was born an identical twin. This doesn’t just mean my sister and I look alike, but we share the same DNA make up and birthday.
Some interesting facts about the start of my journey is, I am five minutes younger than my twin sister. This information has been a key factor in decisions made by my parents throughout my life. Statements in regards to my maturity and decisions on which of us got key responsibilities were based on this factor.
I have only recently learned to not refer to myself as “we” and “us”.
I still fight with feelings of guilt concerning not including my twin sister in every aspect of my life.
As a child, my sister and I could tell if each other were having a bad day or even had a bad dream. There were days I would just be sad for no reason at all and then find out my sister was having a difficult day and vice versa. I don’t think this happens any more. But we don’t see each other often enough to know.
I’ve realized as a mom that it’s actually important to let my fellow moms of twins know what my journey has been like in an effort to assist in them understanding the perspective of being an identical twin.
I remember the day my sister and I looked at each other as little girls and suddenly said, “We’re not the same person?”
It actually was very difficult growing up to see my self as an individual. Especially because my mom dressed my sister and I in the same clothes.
A key note about this is that, my mom’s reason for dressing my sister and I the same was often time to stop us from fighting. It didn’t matter if I said my favorite color was blue, if Cherrel got pink, suddenly I really wanted that color.
I remember if I had a great dream one night about something amazing happening in my life and Cherrel wasn’t there, I would wake up feeling very sad. Like I killed my sister.
When day dreaming about my future, I felt the weight of guilt to include my twin sister in these plans.
Everyone compared my twin sister and I. It’s something that happens naturally because we seem like we could be the same person. So of course everyone searched for small differences.
Growing up, I knew most friends and family saw me as the less attractive one, the more boy like and the immature one.
Unfortunately because there is constantly someone to be compared to, I felt stuck in these labels.
As teens, my twin sister and I literally went through emotional break downs as we attempted to grasp the concept of not being the same person and being capable of doing life apart from one another.
There were some friends who stood by us, helping us through the adjustment. There were also some who were less helpful as they decided to “rip the band-aid off” and exclude one of us within group events to “help”. Unfortunately I was the least desired twin in these particular instances.
I often feel shocked at the way my life turned out when compared to my twin sister. As the one that often made the most mistakes and was the least desired by boys, I never guessed I would be the first to get married, have kids and run a successful business. I’m uncertain my mom would have believed the same.
I was the one that struggled most with feeling included. I struggled most with self esteem. I often had no problem taking the blame or receiving less than or poorer quality than my sister. I always believed this was my role.
Perhaps these aspects of my growing up has made me the type of person that wants to be honest about the disappointing attributes within myself and my style of parenting. I didn’t expect I would come this far any way, so why not be clear about the parts of my life I fail at?
The best advice I could give to a mom of identical twins is to nurture each twin’s singular identity. Encourage their individual likes but don’t cut them off from feeling capable of achieving something the other twin may be good at.
Do your best to not set each twin on a path. Meaning, don’t decide what each twin will be more likely to achieve first. Don’t let their life decisions be based on who does what first. Graduating first, first to have a relationship, first to get married, first to have kids- these competitive scenarios are not helpful for twins.
Encourage others to be sensitive to the manner of which they include each twin. My mother-in-law who is also a twin, bought my twin sister Christmas gifts during my first Christmas in a relationship with her son. It was really kind of her because I was suddenly a part of another family that did not include my twin sister. It helped the adjustment.
Get excited about the aspects of each twin that aren’t easily seen. Encourage them from a young age to have their own individual dreams. I hope this helps the journey of your twins go a little smoother than my journey has.