They say two heads are better than one. But the “they” in question, clearly, didn’t have twins. When I announced my wife had a pair of boy-flavored buns in the oven, a friend in the know told me the first four years of twins are hell, but after that it’s great. Well, bearable. As I inch towards their fourth birthday, like a parched man crawling towards a desert oasis, I can categorically state my friend was right about the first part.
One baby turns your life upside down – I know because we have an older daughter – but two at the same time utterly consumes it. They tag-team waking up at night so you literally never sleep; they (purposefully I suspect) coordinate nappy explosions just as you’re leaving the house; they both want your attention at the same time and when nobody gets exactly what they want everybody ends up crying. Especially me.
And boy, are they expensive. Yeah, there are some cost benefits to bulk buying diapers, but that’s never going to make up for the fact we had to buy a new car, not to mention a whole new house, to fit our unexpectedly enlarged brood in. I could go on.
But things are, finally, looking up. The fog of the intense early years is beginning to clear. And as it does, if I squint, I can see that having two babies at the same time has some distinct advantages. Here are some of them.
There Are Enough to Go Around
As lore dictates, after a child is born you and your partner’s extended families must descend on your home, hovering awkwardly until they’ve all had a hold. With only one available it can be a long wait, possibly involving painful conversations between granddads who last met at your wedding and, after they’ve covered sports and the best route home, have very little to say to each other.
With two newborns on the scene, nobody leaves feeling short-changed, there are no whispered recriminations about the aunt who wouldn’t let go, and everybody’s so busy cooing you might be able to slip away for a nap.
You’re Finished (in a Good Way)
Twins provide a convenient full-stop to a family. According to a Gallup poll, two children is the most desired number among Americans. If you already have kids before twins arrive, and still want more after, you’re either very brave or insane. So you can justifiably say you’re done, finished, shutting up shop and booking the vasectomy.
And because they come along at the same time you’ll only have to survive each stage of their development once. Admittedly that makes the early years of their lives extremely intense. But while twin-less peers head back into the dark world of breast-pump sterilizing and broken nights one last time, twin-havers are traveling towards the sunny uplands of parenthood, where children go to the toilet by themselves and will sit quietly through an entire film. Leaving you with a little more time to do something constructive, like pairing the thousands of tiny socks that are now in your life.
They Have a Permanent Playmate
Before the twins arrived I spent a lot of time whinnying around the garden hurdling imaginary jumps for my daughter’s entertainment. Now, I love pretending to be a dressage pony as much as the next man, but there’s only so long an adult can maintain enthusiasm for such things. Which is why it was a revelation when the twins started playing together. Admittedly it always ends in a fight, but for those few glorious moments, you are truly living the twin dream. A dream that involves pooping in peace.
Visiting the park is also a more pleasurable experience. There are, for example, enough of them to go on the seesaw together. Even if that means, because they weigh so little, they’ll simply be suspended in mid-air until one of them falls off, at least your knees are spared a workout.
They’ll also chase each other around, so you don’t have to, giving you more time to capture the moment on camera and choose just the right Instagram filter. On the downside, you’ll have to decide which one’s your favorite when they inevitably run off in different directions — one towards a deep pond, the other towards a dangerous looking dog.
It’s Double the Entertainment
Living with young twins is like sharing a home with an absurdist comedy double act. One toddler is funny; two take it to another level. On the one hand, they have an intrinsic understanding of each other; on the other, they understand very little about anything else.
At times they appear to have created their own language, indecipherable to adult ears, but obviously hilarious to theirs because it often involves them laughing hysterically — a bit like these two. They’ve also mastered having a two-way conversation during which they talk about completely different things. One might be discussing steam trains while the other talks about his love of owls. And yet, somehow, they make it work.
On good days you can sit back, get the popcorn, and watch them comically navigate new experiences together. Excitedly screaming for each other because a woodlouse has entered the house which, in the course of being rescued, will meet its end between a pair of chubby fingers. Or playing their first inept game of hide-and-seek together – each bamboozling the other by hiding behind the same curtain every single time.
They’ve Got Each Other’s Backs
Take on one twin and you take on both twins. This can cause some awkward moments when they overzealously round on innocent toddlers in the soft play ball pit, but I’m hoping it’ll stand them in good stead as they grow up. Not because I want them to bully their way through life, but because having someone who’s always by your side, and unquestionably on your side, is an empowering feeling.
At the moment that means they skip into preschool without protesting, reassured by the presence of their human security blanket. By contrast, our daughter had to be levered off, kicking and screaming as if we were dropping her off at a Victorian orphanage. Later in life, I’m hoping, it’ll mean when the shit hits the fan they’ll always have someone to turn to.