Having twins is crazy, mesmerizing, beautiful and unexplainable. Also, overwhelmingly hard.
You work constantly, as a mother, to make sure each individual boy knows how very unique and special he is. All the while knowing how many countless ways they are very much the same. Same birthday. Same gender. Same wiggly teeth. Same hair. Same shape of ears. They have this special bond of always being right next to each other, to experience life. Together. Since the beginning. Piled on top of each other nursing as little preemies. Rolling into each other, biting each others arms under the baby gym. Holding hands, running and spinning crazily as little toddlers. Tangled legs as kindergartners watching TV together.
The best of brothers. And sometimes the most biggest of bothers to one another. Then, just like that, something happens that illuminates how unique and different they are and, ironically, you get a little sad. Or concerned. Or worried. Even defensive. Maybe protective. Perhaps over protective.
One of my twin boys had a difficult time sitting up as a baby. Gross motor skills did not come easy for my little Baby A. My pediatrician and a few of my friends and family thought it would be a good idea to consult some outside help. Cue the mama pride followed by insecurity. And fear. And worry. He qualified for physical therapy and occupational therapy services. Just him. Not his twin brother. Ouch. My heart. I didn’t want him falling further behind… his brother.
The thing that’s extremely difficult as a twin parent is not comparing them. NO MATTER WHAT. But, it’s virtually impossible. Even if you’re aware, a little hyper-conscious and (over) sensitive to it. My little guy excelled under the amazing support of Infant and Toddler Services. He sat up unassisted, started army crawling and began walking a few months after his brother. I actually had a hard time with his discharge from services. I wanted his kind, encouraging physical therapist to keep coming. In hindsight, maybe I was a little submerged over my head in twin boys, somewhat homebound, and adult interaction deprived. I was extremely grateful for her help. Her expertise. And her encouragement.
Fast forward to today. Five or so years later. I pulled a letter from one of my boy’s backpacks. I learned that he qualifies for reading intervention. Ugh. That word. Intervention. My heart skipped a beat. Or maybe it momentarily stopped beating. It had to be my fault. All of the sudden, my pride couldn’t remember how to write my name or remember the date as I needed to sign the sheet to return to “the reading specialist.” Next, I began to explain to one of my twin sons that he would get extra help and learn super cool skills to become a better reader. Just him. Not his twin brother.
I put on my positive, upbeat game face and I sold the reading intervention program hard to my first grade boy. For several important reasons: there’s no shame in needing help and there’s no shame in being different from others, even your twin brother. We all excel in different areas and we all need help sometimes. Every last one of us. I believed every word I said. I still got worried about my son’s reaction. Until, my son that needed intervention started jumping on the couch. He started giggling and saying, “I’m going to be a better reader than Asher!” Pure competitive brother joy on display. He was so excited that he would learn special skills that his brother didn’t “get to” learn. I could have cried. Because I saw his innocent, hope-filled reaction, and it was just awesome.
Dang it, grown-up pride. What happens to us adults? Why can’t we all be so excited? Like the jumping on the couch kind of joy when we need help. And somebody offers to help us get better. I’m saving the image of my sweet six year old boy’s reaction. I know I will soon retrieve the beautiful moment. I may have to elbow it away from my stubborn pride. The next time(s) I react, and go into defensive mode and get all puffed up and “I don’t need help-y,” I will remember my first grader’s excitement and willingness to learn and get better. I will remember his pride. The best kind of pride. The kind that makes this mama’s heart swell up. I just can’t wait until he proudly reads his first book to me. I should probably start practicing jumping on the couch.