Growing up I always wished I was an identical twin. I envied the bond I assumed identical twins would have. I fantasized about letting my "smarter half" take my trigonometry test. When I discovered I was pregnant with twins I was thrilled when I discovered they were identical. If I couldn't be an identical twin then the next best thing is to be a mommy to identical twins, right?
As a result I have always been welcoming of comments and curiosity from strangers. As my
babies girls have gotten older (they're closing on 7!) strangers notice their similarities less frequently. The older they become the more they become individuals -- different personalities, different facial expressions, different tones of voice.
So when I was out with Abby and Emily the other day and a stranger stopped to comment on my daughters I was especially patient. After all, it isn't like the old days when I couldn't leave the house without answering a barrage of questions about "the babies." I hardly even remember all of the "advice" that was more of a personal attack on my parenting style. Or the one lady who happened upon me at a bad moment in the park when the twins were screaming and needing to be nursed.
I was trying to sort through the logistics of nursing twins in the park without getting naked from the waist up. Hannah, barely two, had stumbled into a fountain on a 50 degree day, and was moments away from realizing she was freezing. Rachel, barely four, was having the time of her life on the monkey bars, and was just old enough to realize that the situation had reached near-calamity stage. I could tell by her angry posture that she was bristling at the idea of being taken home prematurely.
It was at this moment that the "lady" passed by on her power walk. She quickly sized up my situation, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "This is why they make birth control. You should try it." She never even broke her stride. The worst part is that I was too sleep deprived/shocked/furious/hurt (just pick one -- they all work) to zing her back with a snappy retort. Anyway, I was not thinking about those days. I'm completely over it. Can't you tell?
The stranger made some initial conversation. She was polite and considerate, and I enjoyed talking with her. As the conversation continued to unfold she asked if my girls were related. The conversation went like this:
Lady: "Are the girls related? They really look alike! It's actually amazing..."
Me: "Yes, they're twins."
Lady: "Really?!? Gosh, they look so much alike I would've thought they were sisters."
The beginning of this dialogue was clearly a harbinger of bad things to come. I tried to explain the concept of identical twins, but sometimes conversations just run in circles. The more you try for clarity the fuzzier the lines become. After a few moments of this circular conversation the nice lady was looking at me as if I wasn't the brightest bulb in the chandelier. I'm fairly certain I wore a similar look on my face as we went our separate ways.
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