One Of My Twins Is Winning The Popularity Contest Hands Down

My girls are both beautiful and deserving of recognition. So why can't people see that?

Being a twin mom is a lot like being a celebrity. Multiples on the move are the parenting equivalent of a giant billboard saying, "Come on over and talk to me!" I quickly got used to the attention as I was never able to complete an outing without the inevitable onlookers and their united catch-phrase: “What do you have there—a couple of twins?’

This line of questioning never bothered me, even though it seemed obvious that yes, they were twins. They are the same size, riding around in a double stroller, and on some occasion dressed identically. I understand, though—it’s an icebreaker; these strangers just want to get a peek at the girls because babies are cute and they are a two-for-one ticket item. This always followed by an inspection; a thorough once-over of each little peanut on display.

It was, however, the situation that immediately followed that caused me intense frustration in my first year of motherhood. The 'issue' arose with the subsequent questions from those well-meaning strangers. 

“One boy, one girl?”

I am sure I'm not the only mother who has faced a gender survey, which can be annoying since we likely see our little darling(s) as gender-specific and undoubtedly ‘boy’ or ‘girl’. But at this point, I remain diplomatic. I can see where this stranger is coming from. Objectively, this little loaf is somewhat gender neutral; plump, bald. Plus, bunny or duck-onesies can go either way.

“No, they are both girls.” 

The inspection continues. And then the problem presents itself. It became very clear after about the fiftieth time that each stranger assumed the same baby was a boy, and it began to annoy the hell out of me. I started making sure my little 'boy/girl' wore something pink or purple, preferably with flowers, even decking her out in dresses to be sure, but it made little difference. “One girl, one boy?” Short of slapping some lipstick on her, there was nothing more I could do to make her appear feminine. This went on for over a year. This was not the worst of it.

Nowadays, people are uncensored. The days of “if you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all” have long since passed. And maybe I am being overly sensitive since I am a new mom, but I have never felt so frequently indignant than in these run-ins with strangers. These same people then proceeded to compliment only one baby—the “girl” baby, even after they had been informed that both were females.

“Oh my, look at her. Isn’t she adorable?” they purred, focusing in on specific features. “Look at those big eyes” or “Oh my, she is so petite.”

Hello? There are two “adorable” babies here. They are not in competition. They are both equally cute despite being fraternal twins and sharing few physical characteristics. They both deserve commendation; it’s an all-or-none scenario. Yet it seemed like people took it upon themselves to choose which baby to compliment, and all of a sudden I was middle-manning a popularity contest. And the popularity contest was no-contest. The perceived “girl” baby was the crowd favourite.

I don’t know why it didn’t ever occur to anyone that this seemingly positive coo of affection could be received as anything other than flattering. Complimenting one child when two are present is hurtful to that baby, and since my 'boy/girl' (read: second cutest baby) was too young to understand, the hurt fell to me by default. I became insecure on her behalf. What if this continues to her older years and she becomes aware of this unspoken slight? What if she suddenly feels unacknowledged? What if she becomes jealous of her sister? Being a linear thinker, the 'what ifs' formed endlessly.

There’s more. When I posted individual pictures of the girls on social media, the preference for one baby over the other prevailed. Friends and family would (and continue to) 'like' a picture of one child but not the other. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, but it does. I don’t know if others would (or do) feel the same way. I don’t know if it makes me sound like a crazy person but I actually take the time to distinguish who is guilty of doing this by cross-referencing the people who liked the pictures in question.  

My girls are incredibly loved; even though they cannot form a sentence to tell me so at one-and-a-half years old, I know in my heart that they know how many people adore them. My girls are both beautiful, both cute and both deserving of recognition. They are distinct little beings, each fitted with unique personalities and different physical attributes.

My bottom-line is not to be analytical or scrutinize how my daughters are received by others, but to protect them from feeling miffed down the road. They are not the same, they will never be the same. But they will be treated with the same respect, be subject to the same discipline, and have the same love from both parents growing up. They may take a different path, but they will always have the same family—a family who will be held to the same high standard of being impartial whilst at the same time loving them as individuals.  

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