The other morning the girls were playing with what I call their spinners, devices that strap onto their chairs. They have two plastic pendulums which you spin round as well as a music box which you pull to operate.
Luna has for a while has been desperately practising her ability to spin it herself as well as trying to reach for the cord to play the music box. Today she achieved both and as a result I was praising her excellent work and good efforts.
Then a minute later Lola began to cry. I could see she was trying to do the same thing, but couldn’t. I’ve mentioned it before but her condition means she has weak arms and neck so this sort of activity is more difficult for her. I felt compelled to give her a hug and I said ‘you’ll do it in your time, you’ve been doing a good job at trying, you can do things at your own pace, just because your sister can do it now doesn’t mean you won’t later, good job’ and then I started to get upset and I wept a little. Not because she didn’t do it, not because I didn’t think she’ll ever be able to but because already I’ve made the comparison that I desperately want to avoid and here’s why.
I have two older siblings who I adore. My sister is my best friend and my brother is annoying, just kidding, I love him to pieces when he isn’t being annoying. We had our arguments growing up and we have a relationship where we generally shun endearment towards one another despite an enormous amount of respect and regard for one another. I believe this was down to Dads tough exterior but he was softer deep down. Mum is a soppy git that we all get hugely embarrassed by (again just kidding).
Growing up with siblings means at times there are rivalries but there is also a lot of comparison. I hate it. I’ve never really shared that but it drives me crazy. Deep within myself I am highly competitive and so when I don’t do well I am overcome with a ugly bout of jealousy, maybe it’s down to being the youngest child and getting a
lot of attention? Who knows? Anyway comparisons are often made, of course they are and growing up I think I put myself under pressure to live up to standards set by my siblings.
For example my sister went to university, got a degree, got herself a decent guy, decent job, had herself a family. My brother did the same, got himself a degree, decent wife, job, family as well. Growing up I was never expected to do as well as my siblings because I had learning difficulties. My parents as you can imagine just wanted me to do as well as I could, as did my siblings. To me though it wasn’t good enough, why couldn’t I do as well as them?
So I worked hard, yes my GCSEs weren’t the best, sure I didn’t do as well at A Levels, and as for a degree, my Dad had trouble understanding what exactly Editing was, but I did it, I got a degree, got a husband, a job (did) and a family and we all even got second degrees in teaching.
The long point I’m making here is all my life I was plagued by comparison. Made myself feel like I wasn’t good enough. Maybe it was because I wasn’t pushed enough by my loving and kind parents? Maybe because I was jealous about everyone else’s accolades? Either way I don’t like comparison because I’m competitive, think we’re all our own person and your biggest competition is yourself.
I’d hate for Lola or Luna feel the way I do. I know in the past people have made comparisons between my sister and I, which I know are actually meant sincerely, yet I would take it negatively. For example my brother in law for years called me Bectoria, which if I’m honest part me of resented it for a while because it made me think I was just a bad copy of my sister but as by I get older I embrace it more because I’m my own person who is similar to my awesome sister, I guess age has changed my perspective. But for the young I think comparisons can be quite hard and depending on how confident you are, can be quite damaging, which is why I want to make a conscious effort not to compare.
It’ll be tough not to do it especially as the world we live in is all about comparison. I only have to think about my weight journey over my adult life comparing how thin I was then to how fat I am now, or how fat I was in pregnancy to how much thinner I am now. I also need to be more understanding of comparison. It’s not all bad. Like the name Bectoria, it was my brother in law’s way of showing how.mucb he cared for and respected me. The song even had its own jingle.
Either way I know the girls will be compared all their lives, it’s happening now and they’re not even conscious of it, especially because they’re twins. I was guilty of doing it in the beginning but I’m so aware now that I make a conscious effort not to but I’m not perfect. Reading this article posted in the twin group made me realise how important it is to make my children feel like individuals.
People will compare of course, I sometimes may compare, they might sometimes compare themselves but I must remember to praise their efforts and remind them how special they are. It’s going to be a difficult task to reassure a twin why people will make comparisons even if their intentions are good and if she ever asks I’ll tell her “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” – Oscar Wilde.