Parenting Twins: Questions About Life with Multiples

The mother of boy-and-girl twins and author of Twinspiration: Real-Life Advice from Pregnancy through the First Year, answers questions about her twins' personalities and behaviors.

Tending to Two

From moms and dads expecting twins, to your family and friends, to strangers on the street, everyone seems to have questions about what it is like to have new twins in your belly, or in your home. The questions that follow are the ones my husband and I -- parents to boy and girl twins -- were asked most often. The answers that follow are ours and ours personally. In a broader scheme of things, answers are surely as varied as those who have experienced the situation. Please bear in mind our singularity of viewpoint when reading this chapter. Start composing your family's answers now. Trust me, the questions will be asked.

More importantly, try not to be offended by those queries that seem to have a "question(s) behind the question." Sometimes the asker has subliminal (and nosy) need to know your innermost feelings. Sometimes you are already sensitive about areas of your twin motherhood. Other times the asker is merely making conversation. Since you will rarely be able to know the difference between the types of questioners, do the American thing, and assume innocence ... or ignorance. Neither of which should be met with condemnation, however tempting. Keep conversation civil in front of your highly impressionable children.

Q. What do you do when both babies are crying?

A. Very rarely do both twins demonstrate equal distress at the same time. I'm not saying they don't cry at the same time, they do ... but usually you can decipher fairly quickly if one is grievously, legitimately provoked, and then you tend to that baby first. When both are equally angsty, I pick one to be consoled first, try to do so expeditiously, then try to pick the other the next time.

Of course the tempting answer when this question is asked is to reply, "I cry, too!" And in truth, sometimes you may. It's okay, and totally normal. Don't feel like you have to share such intimacies with inquisitive strangers.

The questions behind the question: "Don't you feel terrible having to divide your attention between two children?", "Are you going crazy?", "Do you feel thrust into a situation for which you are ill-equipped?" The answers to any/all of those questions are your business alone, and your answers are subject to change at any moment. Let it go.

Q. How do you do it?

A. You just do! You don't have the luxury of time to deliberate or overevaluate each twinstance that needs addressing. In reality, that is a blessing. By virtue of the fact you have multiple demands on your personal resources, you're typically forced to "go with your gut." Often, those reflexive, instinctual responses are the best.

The questions behind the question: How in the world can you do it all? Aren't you in a constant state of feeling overextended, overstressed, and underequipped? Clearly there are times when you feel poorly prepared, poorly suited, and extremely poorly rested for the task at hand. Never say it in front of your twosome; but in truth, you have no choice in the matter. You do what situations demand, and with two newborns, demands are plentiful. Commensurately plentiful will be your sense of accomplishment, your confidence in your ever-improving parenting skills, and your growing feelings of gratitude for your double blessings.

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