As a mom of two sets of boy/girl twins, I’ve had plenty of comments, questions, one-liners, and stares thrown my way. Some make me smile. Others make me inwardly say “are you serious?” A few make me feel awkward and like I want to run and hide.
I know none of us wants to make our fellow mama friends feel awkward or annoyed, so today I’m sharing questions and comments that are most frequently heard. And I’ll give you some insider information on what to say instead if the question/comment is somewhat borderline.
5. You’re so lucky. I wish I had twins.
This is said to me fairly frequently, especially now that my kids are older (10 & 5) and they can’t see the work it took to get here.
Overall, this is not a bad comment by any means. I totally get what they are saying. Nobody looks at twins and thinks “that must be wonderful 100% of the time!” But what this comment does is make me feel ashamed for not feeling lucky myself. I see the blood, sweat, tears, mess, snot, and bickering every day. I cannot say I look at each moment and think “gosh, I’m so lucky!”
So instead of possibly putting a mama in a position of feeling like she’s doing a terrible job of being grateful, try saying this instead, “I’m sure twins are so much work and you inspire me.”
4. My best friend’s cousin has twins and I babysat them once so I know what it’s like.
This is usually said to me not by friends, but strangers while I’m in the grocery store. And I know people are just trying to find a point of connection and it’s not intended to put me on the offensive. Unless you have twins, I promise you don’t know what it’s like. Just like if I watched my neighbor’s dog for the weekend but don’t own one myself, I really don’t know what it’s like to have a dog day in and day out. I might have an idea, but I cannot say I know.
If you see a twin mom in the grocery store and want to connect with her, first ask yourself “is this a good time?” Second, ask yourself “is this comment helpful or encouraging to her?” If you do say something, try this, “you are doing a great job. What beautiful kids/babies.”
3. How did that happen?!/Do you have a family history of twins?
I know what people are trying to ask here: are they “naturally conceived” twins or did you have fertility treatments? Which is an obvious question… but not always an appropriate one. So here is my general guideline for this type of question:
- If you know the mother/parents well or are getting to know them, this is a fine question to ask… But it’s probably not one of the first questions you should ask.
- If you have entered into a conversation with the mother/parents (say chatting at a park while kids play but you don’t personally know each other prior), and the discussion turns from pleasantries to more personal topics, this could possibly be an ok question to ask.
- If you personally don’t want to explain your own fertility/birth history to someone you just met/don’t know, then it’s never ok to ask this type of question.
We all know fertility can be a tough subject for many women (and men!) so just be cautious and exceedingly kind when it comes to this type of question.
2. I’m glad it’s you and not me.
This is one where many times I have to give the commenter the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they meant to say something like “I couldn’t handle that and I admire you.” But it just came out wrong in the moment.
Sometimes, unfortunately in our culture children are viewed as an inconvenience and there are those who no doubt see my two sets of twins in that light. In those instances, I tend to say something along the lines of, “It’s not an easy job, but they sure bring me joy.” Because typically my kids are within earshot and I want them not to hear the narrative they are an inconvenience just because they came two at a time.
If you are wanting to let a twin mom know she’s doing a great job that you feel you’d be incapable of, say something like “you’re doing a great job mama.” Also, you shouldn’t discount yourself. My husband and I are average people, and we had to figure this out just like anyone else would!
1. You sure have your hands full!
This is the most common comment I get. My older two noticed recently and asked what people meant. Here’s what I tell them: I think people are just trying to break the ice by saying something. Or it’s their way of saying I’m doing a good job in spite of having “a lot” of kids. Or it could be in that moment, I was not at my best and it was showing. Whatever the reason, because this is said to me frequently, I want to respond with grace and kindness and make sure my kids feel wanted and seen in a good way.
I want to acknowledge that many non-twin moms hear this comment, too. I’m not sure if this statement bothers you, but most of the time for me it just seems not super timely. And it’s often followed with “enjoy every moment!” Sometimes all I can do is return this statement with a smile.
Your kids are listening
So here’s what I want to say to any mom in any circumstance no matter how many kids or how old they are: your kids are watching and listening. Use these sometimes unwelcome, untimely remarks to make sure your kids know you treasure them in spite of the chaos and mess. Let them see and hear you responding to strangers with a smile, even if it isn’t accompanied with words. Even if in a moment you respond in a less-than eloquent way, you can still use that moment to teach your kids an important lesson and let them hear you admit your mistake.
Here’s what we can all say…
Here’s a comment we can all say to each other no matter how many kids or how old: “I see you mama, and you’re doing a wonderful job. Keep it up.”