As a Twin Mom, I understand that the journey through parenthood is truly unique for parents of multiples. The challenges and victories are different than those that parents of singletons experience. But so are the moments of joy and happiness.

When my twin girls, Katie and Lauren were two, I came across a book, Multiples Illuminated: A Collection of Stories and Advice From Parents of Twins, Triplets, and More. This book provided me with many laugh-out-loud moments as well as invaluable advice and insight as to what it really means to raise two little ones at the same time.

I’m excited for the arrival of the new book, Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years. This new collection of stories has provided more real-life parenting experiences and given me a glimpse of the upcoming years with my twin girls. This is a must read for any parent of multiples.

Here is an excerpt of Individuality, Mutuality, and a Game of Twister by Andrea Lani from Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years.

(The recipient has permission from the publishers to republish this on their website for the purpose of a blog review).

When Emmet and Zephyr were very small, I read twin parenting manuals that recommended parents help along the individuation process by actively providing each twin his own space and activities—separate bedrooms, wardrobes, and toys; time alone with each parent; different classrooms and extracurricular activities. But I’ve always found that these recommendations are based on an assumption of resources—time, money, space, energy—which is unrealistic for many, if not most, families. We live in a small house with only two bedrooms, the second of which is shared by the twins and their older brother. Emmet and Zephyr started out in a shared bed—first a co-sleeper, then a crib, then a mattress on the floor, which their older brother moved into for a time—because of space and finances and it was easier when I was taking one baby after the other in and out of bed all night. When their brother was ready for his own bed, we built bunk beds with a double-sized bottom bunk which the twins shared for a few more years, until Zephyr moved to the futon in our sunroom and we realized it was time to build him his own loft bed.

My children attend a small school, where opportunities for separate classrooms and different after-school activities are limited. I always dressed Emmet and Zephyr differently, but from the same pool of clothes. And as working parents, we’ve rarely had the luxury of time to spend alone with individual children, preferring to engage in family activities that include all of us. In short, we did almost nothing to promote separateness between our sons as recommended by the parenting experts whose books I read.

But I’m not too worried that I’ve burdened my sons with the ‘twin mystique’ and an over-reliance on each other, being of the mind that if I provide my children with a supportive, loving environment, with plenty of opportunities to explore and try new things, and encouragement to pursue their interests, they will grow into their own best selves, with little interference on my part. Identical twin and anthropologist Dona Davis, in an article entitled ‘How Twin Culture Challenges Our Notions of Self,’ seems to agree. She takes issue with the ways that parents are encouraged to promote individuation in twins. “The scientific literature … is dominated by Western egocentric notions of the self,” she writes. “The view that the self is a private, bounded, unique center of awareness—a one that stands in contrast to others—is taken for granted. Twin researchers fail to see how that view is formed by culture and history; indeed, the socially constructed nature of it goes wholly unrecognized and unexamined.” (Davis, 2016)

Davis contends that modern psychology and psychiatry pathologize twinness, regarding the twin bond as an unhealthy relationship that needs to be cured. Davis sees twins in a different light. “Identical twins,” she writes, “actually have a more finely developed awareness of their uniqueness than do singletons, and this understanding goes beyond physical features. Identical twins personify a kind of enhanced self. Having an identical twin does not compromise one’s self at all—instead, each twin enriches both the self and the other. Twindividuals do not see independence and mutuality as opposites or as having a zero-sum relationship to one another.” (Davis, 2016)

Mutual means shared, reciprocal. In our culture, which tends to idealize the individual and mythologize self-reliance, mutuality can be suspect. But twins can teach us much about caring for and relying on each other while maintaining our own uniqueness. My sons’ relationship flows back and forth between intense closeness and independence without the friction and anxiety that characterizes even close friendships and marriages. They are equally comfortable entangled in a game of Twister as they are off playing alone.

As if to prove Davis’s point, Emmet and Zephyr went through their most profound period of individuation this past summer, when the five of us spent two months in almost constant close contact with each other. As a family, we drove from Maine to Colorado, spent a week with relatives, visiting and acclimating, then hiked together from Denver to Durango on the 500-mile Colorado Trail. Each day for six weeks, we all ate the same food, hiked the same stretch of trail, slept in the same nine-by-nine tent. We depended on each other and had to work together as a unit to make our miles and complete the necessary camp chores. The only alone time anyone got was when we hiked at different paces, stretched out along the trail. Our personal possessions were pared down to the bare minimum, and each person was responsible for carrying, packing, and taking care of their own belongings. For the first time in their lives, Emmet and Zephyr each had his own distinct items, from sleeping bag to t-shirt, backpack to pocket knife.


Multiples Illuminated: Life with Twins and Triplets, the Toddler to Tween Years

Available for sale on Amazon for $12.95

Available for sale on Kindle for $2.99





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