Carrying twins can be a nerve-wracking experience in its own right, but one of my greatest fears throughout my pregnancy was that I’d be unable to tell my daughters apart once they actually arrived. Though I knew from the start that my girls weren’t going to be identical, I worried that they’d both come out with that generic newborn look, and that I’d need to resort to painting their toenails just to distinguish one from the other.
Thankfully, that didn’t actually happen. Not only was my daughter A almost a pound and a half heavier than her sister K (which, at that age, makes a big difference), but even from the start, their features were nothing alike. One immediately had more hair. Their faces had different shapes. I breathed a sigh of relief as I realized it would no longer be necessary to bust out the nail polish and brand the babies. I could easily tell them apart on my own, as could everyone else who saw them regularly during those early months.
By the time I felt comfortable taking my daughters out in public and having non-family members over to meet them, they were probably close to 3 months old—at which point their distinct facial features were already starting to develop. Still, I cut my visitors a fair amount of slack—telling them apart at that age wasn’t particularly easy, especially when seeing them for the first time.
But now that my daughters are 18 months old, they have some very clear differences. A has blue eyes while K’s eyes are brown. A has light curly hair while K has darker hair that’s straight. A’s face is rounder and her cheeks are much fuller. They’re pretty much the same height, but K is still a couple of pounds behind her sister, and such, she’s notably smaller. In fact, if you saw my girls in a crowded room full of other kids, there’s a good chance you wouldn’t think to identify them as twins.
It’s for these reasons that I can’t help but get annoyed when people claim they can’t tell my daughters apart. And I’m not just talking about people who meet them once or see them on occasion—there are people we’ve spent time with over and over again who are still unable to differentiate between them.
Some of these people claim that to them, the girls look identical. Others admit apologetically that while they know the girls don’t look alike, they have trouble remembering who’s who (these are the people I don’t get nearly as annoyed at, though at a certain point, that excuse can’t continue to fly). Then there are those who I’m convinced just don’t want to make the effort.
And look, I get that it’s easier to just lob them into a single category of twindom and call it a day, just like it’s easier for me to fail to commit certain facts to memory that I just don’t happen to find important. But when you tell me you can’t tell my twins apart, and you’ve been around us long enough to have mastered that particular skill, it sends the message that you’re either being lazy or you just don’t care.
Though my daughters are (hopefully) too young to suffer a big-time identity crisis (I mean, they only first learned to say their own names about a month ago), each is clearly her own person, not just physically, but personality-wise too. So the next time you run into me with my girls and you’re unable to tell them apart, kindly ask for a hint. I have no problem reminding people which of my daughters has the blue eyes and which has the brown. The fact that you’re asking for help means you’re making an effort, and it’s far better than looking me in the eye, throwing your hands up in the air, and saying, “Sorry, guess that’s just a twin thing, ha ha.”
Because it’s not just a twin thing. It’s a you thing. And my girls deserve better.