I was extremely skeptical of the so-called “twin bond” when I found out I was pregnant with two nuggets. I never wanted to be the kind of mom who’d push my kids to be friends just because they are siblings — but identical twins are a whole new ball game. My girls share the same genetic code, and I can’t deny they share an inherent connection and understanding of one another.
When I think about it, they started interacting with one another well before birth. While in utero, I’d feel one kick the other in order to wake her sister up. Then, the party would begin, until eventually — finally — they tired themselves. For nearly five years, I bore witness to their antics — but, ultimately, only as a bystander. I may be their mother, but I’ll never participate in the bond they share.
Identical twins have similar tastes, preferences, attitudes, and beliefs. Furthermore, they often pursue the same career or similar professional field as adults too. Take the 2015 documentary Twinsters, about two identical twins, Samantha Futerman and Anaïs Bordier, who were separated from each other at birth. Despite growing up in different families, cultures, and countries — Samantha is an American Jew and Anaïs is French — the instant connection they have is palpable. The film captures how they yearn to be together, even though they just met.
My twins, on the other hand, have been inseparable. But now my 4-year-olds will start preschool in September. Since their conception, this will be the first time they will consistently be apart from one another. All of the child psychologists, school administrators, and teachers I have consulted strongly recommend separating them, as it’s important for twins to establish an individual identity outside of their twin relationship.
From a social perspective, too, they will fare better by breaking outside of the familiar relationship they have with their sister. They need to establish friendships of their own, and to learn to rely on themselves instead of one another.
I am completely on board with this, but I’m kind of freaking out about it, too. They came into this world as a two-pack, and I have seen them physically cling to one another in times of uncertainty and stress. Just this past weekend, they attended a trial ballet class. The teacher instructed the students to perform a mini-solo, and kids began to prance across the room one at a time. The other students do not have a built-in partner for life, so they danced alone. Conversely, my girls wrapped their arms around one another — like Jack clinging to Rose’s makeshift door-raft in the icy Atlantic waters in Titanic — when it was time for their solo performance. It’s incredible to witness their love and devotion to one another because how many people come into the world with their best friend right next to them?
Yesterday, I confirmed their preschool start date and their classrooms. And, yes, my girls will not be together. Then, I began to worry: How am I going to prepare my daughters to spend their days apart, when all they have experienced in life has been with her sister by her side?
Later the same night I told them how everything is set up for them to start preschool, all the paperwork is done. Then, without thinking, the words just flew out of my mouth: “And you each get your own teachers in your own room!”
There was a beat of silence — and then, well, I wish I could say this genius move was premeditated. But I think it was dumb luck: Their faces lit up. They were jumping and dancing, chanting, “Our own room! Our own teachers!” (Dancing and singing is often the go-to form of expressing excitement and joy in our household.) There was not an ounce of fear or upset over the news.
That’s when it hit me: The downside of my twins having shared everything their whole lives — starting with my womb — is that they’ve had to share everything their whole lives. It will be nice for each of them to have something of their own. They are delighted and excited about this first taste of independence — and I am relieved, in turn.
But then, a wave of concern washed over one my girls’ faces. “Our classrooms will be next to one another, right?” she asked. I assured her they will be nearby, and they will see one another on the playground. And, of course, they’ll still share a bedroom and everything else at home, whether they like it or not.