Whenever people learn that I have an identical twin sister they almost always talk about how that's "so cool" and how much "fun" it must have been growing up and how they wish they had a twin, too. But being a twin isn't always as fun or as wonderful as television and movies make it seem. In fact, if I'm being honest, I have to admit that I'm really glad my kids aren't twins.
Make no mistake, I love my twin sister. Hell, I can't imagine life without her. She was my first and best friend as a kid, my partner in crime, my confidante, and the keeper of all of my secrets. Even now, as adults who live across the country from each other, she's often the first person I call when I need a friend or someone to simply listen. She just gets me, because we had the exact same childhood and often had the exact same experiences. Our shared existence as twins bound us together forever, like flowers who bloomed in the same garden during the same season.
And, yes, we did the typical twin shenanigans so many people hear about. For example, we were guilty of switching classes at school (our teacher never had a clue, and neither did our parents), we always had the best twin-themed Halloween costumes, and we would usually buy the same clothes or accessories without realizing it. Sometimes we reveled in our status as twins, and were more than happy to wear matching outfits or take pictures together.
But there were more than a few moments when we hated being called the wrong name, or when we despised the people who expected us to spend every waking moment together. While we looked identical, we were our own people with our own thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires, and interests. We wanted, and needed, our individuality as separate human beings to be acknowledged and respected.
Which is why, at least for me, being a twin was kind of the worst. I was constantly being paired with my sibling, as if people thought I couldn't exist without my sister standing beside me. I was never encouraged to grow or define my own identity and, instead, was constantly associated with and compared to this other person. Everyone saw my sister and I as a single unit, so it was damn-near impossible to establish our unique identities. No one saw me... they just saw me as a part of someone else.
It was incredibly freeing to have people in my life who had no idea I was actually a twin. For the first time in my life I could just be me.
We shared almost everything, including birthday parties, and my mother dressed us up in the same clothes for years. She was also more than happy to decorate our beds (in our shared room, of course) so they looked like mirror images of one another. We received the same toys, always in coordinating colors, and were gifted with the same clothes. We were lucky to be showered with so much love and affection, to be sure, but it was always for "us" — together. Our individual sense of self-worth was tied to our identity as twins.
Eventually, as young adults, my sister and I branched out and moved across the country from each other. We were able to establish our own unique lives, completely separate from our identity as "the twins." It was incredible, and surreal, to have friends who didn't constantly call me by my sister's name because they couldn't tell us apart. It was incredibly freeing to have people in my life who had no idea I was actually a twin. For the first time in my life I could just be me.
Which is why I'm so glad my kids aren't twins, even though I love and adore my sister and the bond we share. I appreciate the fact that my kids have unique identities as young children and will be able to grow into adulthood as individuals. They are just close enough in age to be able to play together and to happily share toys and clothes, but not so close in age that I have to worry about them competing for those same toys and clothes, not to mention my attention. They still enjoy a sibling bond, but without the almost innate feeling of competition you can't help but feel when you're a twin. Unlike flowers that bloomed in the same garden during the same season, they're not growing in circles around each other to reach the same rays of sunshine.
I will never know what life could have been like had I not been born an identical twin, and to be honest I don't want to.
I love that my kids are close enough in age to be friends, but not so close enough in age that everyone expects them to have to be friends. My kids are able to develop their sibling relationships with each other on their own terms, instead of being forced into one because they're always seen as a singular unit. I love that, because of the age gap between my children, they have always been able to have 100 percent of my attention at various times in their lives, instead of feeling as if they have to constantly share me.
I will never know what life could have been like had I not been born an identical twin, and to be honest I don't want to. Being a twin is who I am and part of how I became the person I am now. But I’m so glad that my kids aren't twins, because I believe it's now easier for them to have a chance to grow and thrive and blossom into the individual people they're meant to become. I didn't necessarily have that chance at the beginning of my life, but my kids do, and for that I am extremely thankful.