Twins, Maternity Leave and all that…

Newsletter, Issue 19

Well it’s been a while and you’d be forgiven for replying “Hi, stranger” as I stopped e-zines rather abruptly almost 2 years ago. As some of you know, the reason was due to the wonderful news that I was pregnant with twins (though the twin bit was a real shock!) and the limited energy I had for anything extra alongside a tough pregnancy.

I can hardly believe my twin sons are now 15months and no longer babies – what a rollercoaster of emotion, logistics and learning! As I am fascinated by relationship, twins are a particular gift. Unlike my first son, where his attachment, and inevitable separation issues, were all focused on me, my twin sons are as connected to each other as they are attached to me. Though they still get separation anxiety, they also almost always have company. The relationship between them develops and grows as they play peekaboo together, giggle and babble away and blatantly or sneakily steal each other’s toys.

Relationship Learning alongside Twins

You may be wondering what I have learned about my relationship with my husband over the last few years. As you can imagine, having twins has thrown up all of our own relationship hotspots, particularly given the inevitable sleep deprivation. We were so glad we had done some work on our relationship before the twins arrived, even though it had come from necessity and was a painful time. We realised the most useful skill we had developed was to be able to recover a sense of togetherness (I must stress not usually instantly or neatly!) when we were at loggerheads or angry with each other. We survived their first year and have a real sense of achievement at how we’ve supported each other, pulled together as a team and held onto our sense of humour – well most of the time… But there are many years ahead, including teenage years, so wish us well as we navigate and learn about how to handle each new phase as parents.

I wonder what you have been thinking as you read about twins? What you imagine? One thing that multiples seem to create is a reaction, and seemingly a permission to ask anything of a complete stranger. Whilst any question says more about the person commenting than the multiple parent in front of them, it can have a real impact. I am lucky that most of the time I can smile about the oddest comments or avoid an inquisition unless I am in the mood, but it’s a big topic of conversation between multiple mummies.

What NOT to Say…

So I thought I’d share a few tips on what NOT to say to a parent of multiples. I hope it makes you laugh as well as think, and yes, they are all real examples:

“OMG that must be impossible, how do you do it?” Given there is no returns policy with kids, your fear and doubt at my parenting skills (or really your own) to juggle 2 or more is really making my day.

“Are they natural?” Sorry, would you like to ask some more intimate sexual details of their conception, like who was on top? Oh no my mistake, maybe you want to know if we’ve had years of heartache and treatment and somehow in this chosen to have more than one?

“I would kill myself if I had twins / triplets” Well, it’s a good thing we’ve had them and not you then.

“you poor thing” Ahhhh… the pity card. Of course it is such a hardship to cuddle, care for and play with my gorgeous children. How could I possibly enjoy my life now.

“Are they identical?” A basic fact even my 6yr old grasps is that boy/girl twins cannot biologically be identical (yes… one has a willy, and one doesn’t), and if you are asking this of single sex twins please have a good look first!

“Which is the oldest?” Oh sorry, how rude of me not to tell you who of these children you will never see again are infinitesimally older by minutes.

Positive Comments…

So, next time you can’t resist saying something to a parent of multiples, please make it positive, supportive and BRIEF to make their day:

“What gorgeous kids – how lucky you are” especially if they are acting up!

“Bet they’re double / triple the fun”

“Looks like you’re doing a great job with your kids”

“I bet they are angels too” wonderful when kids are behaving badly in public, though a big encouraging smile is probably best

“Do you want me to catch one?” help is often welcome if they are running off in different directions.

“Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask all the usual twin/triplet questions” this should get a big smile!

It’s good to be back writing about relationship and I am looking forward to working with individual and couple clients again. So if you hear anyone complaining about their relationship, why not challenge them to do something about it instead. It’s worth it.


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