Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Deep thoughts on the relationships between twins

Our local video store is going out of business, so yesterday I ran in to see what movies I could pick up in the documentary section for cheap.  There were so many, and I had the hardest time narrowing down my choices.  I ended up with 7 movies, and when I checked out the guy said, "I just knew someone was going to come along and clean out the documentary section soon".  That would be me.  Yeah, somebody get me a 'nerd' t-shirt. 

So last night Paul and I watched one of the documentaries, Red Without Blue.  I first heard about this film when reading Abigal Pogrebin's book One and the Same, a wonderful book on the relationships between twins.  So I was excited to find a copy of the documentary.

When I watched it, though, it broke my heart.  In so many ways.  The story line is about the relationship between two identical twins, but one (Claire) is transgender.  It was painful to watch because they love each other so much and are so close, yet are both hurting and struggling to find their own identities that are separate from their twinship.  At one point Mark says to Claire, "I do remember just feeling like you were kind of cutting this cord we had.  This twinship.  This identical identity". 

I think that in some ways this struggle to separate the identities is unique to identical twins, rather than fraternal.  Still, I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart when I imagined my boys finding that much sorrow in their brotherhood.  As I'm sure any mother of twins would.  You imagine your twins growing up the best of friends, always having one another to hold them up when things get rough.  You don't want to think that they might hurt one another in their relationship or cause each other pain.

I look at my dear, dear baby boys now, and see that they are constantly side by side.  Parallel play, of course, but where there is one, there is the other.  And in my heart, I hope that it might always be that way.  I know that you can't really determine the relationship between siblings.  It is one that they must discover and develop on their own, as their personalities emerge.  But if I could wave a magic wand and instill some brotherly love into my twins (and Pierce, too!) I'd ingrain deeply in their values:
  • Friends come and go, but your brothers - your family - that's forever.
  • Respect each other.
  • Be kind to one another.
  • Don't break trust.  It is so hard to fully regain.
  • You will fight.  It's going to happen.  But remember, even when angry, to be fair.  Don't say things that you will regret later on.  Think first. 
  • If you share with him, he will be more likely to share back.
  • When brothers agree, no fortress is so strong as their common life - Antisthenes
I think one of the hardest parts of being a mother is just knowing that sometimes, your kids - well, they're going to hurt.  And you won't be able to make it better.  You're just going to have to let it happen, as that is part of growing up.  If only their days could always be full of adventures and explorations, with the only sadness coming when you didn't get your milk the split second you asked for it.

Edited to add:  today I'm the featured blogger at Multiples and More blog, so you can go read my interview here.  And if you're stopping by from there, hi!  :-)


Julie R said...

As another mother of identical twins (almost 5 year old girls) the one of the hardest parts is making sure they both get what they need to help them be emotionally healthy individuals. Some days it's easier than others.

GLC said...

Oh Lisa - the comment you made "I think one of the hardest parts of being a mother is just knowing that sometimes your kids - well, they're going to hurt. And you won't be able to make it better." That rings true with probably every Mother out there. Sometimes when I look at him and he is so extremely happy and carefree - I do think about the fact that I wish he could remain that way forever. Carefree and happy but of course real life dictates otherwise and I certainly wish I would be able to be there at all times to shield him from everything bad. My worries for him now are that he will be lonely not having siblings. I really enjoy your blog - and enjoy reading about your wonderful boys :)

Kimberly said...

what a beautiful post. i'm stopping by after reading your featured blog post on Multiples and More. I really appreciate you sharing. i have a 22 month old and am expecting twins. i was once a runner and hope to be again, so i appreciate reading about how you manage it all, including the breastfeeding!

Lani said...

sounds like a really interesting documentary... we do have an interesting challenge, as moms of multiples, to try to nurture their sibling relationship while encouraging their individuality at the same time. In the end, I think all we can do is love our kids unconditionally, and do our best to make the best decisions for them.
Thanks for being our FB today!

Lara said...

I got your comment over on my old blog regarding breastfeeding twins. My new blog address is www.meandmyguys.com. I had no problems with twin jealously, the twin that weaned earlier used to grab his sippy cup and snuggle with the two of us while we nursed. I think since he self-weaned it was a non-issue. I love your blog and will be following now!

andie@multiplemama said...

my younger brothers are fraternal twins, and my middle kids are b/g twins. it is a relationshi[p like no other that brings with it many pros and cons.