I have been starting to realise something a little alarming lately….it is happening more and more and i feel like the most awful parent.
I have begun to compare Ruby and Tara without realising it….the realisation actually hit me yesterday when i was having a shocker of a day with Ruby and i felt like yelling “Why can't you be more like your sister?” I caught myself in time but i had thought the thought already. I went into the kitchen and let slip a few tears. It's not her fault she can't ‘behave' the way her sister does.
When you have twins i soon learnt that people will begin the comparisons between them right from the first day. And that is to be expected obviously. I really have tried hard though to foster and nurture their own individual personalities and strengths while also working with their more ‘challenging' behaviours. Both express themselves in very different ways and they also look very different. They have different likes and dislikes and prefer certain activities and toys over others (doesn't however stop them fighting about a particular toy unfortunately!)
I think everyone who has multiples must recognise the similarities and differences in their twins or triplets but when one twin also has developmental delays and behaviours requiring early intervention i think it starts to get a little more complex.
I've tried so hard not to continually compare Ruby to Tara's developmental milestones…I've been telling myself that she is just a few months behind or her eating habits and appetite will catch up or her meltdowns are normal 2 yr old behaviour and not part of her sensory disorder even though i know better. I tell myself that one day i will be able to have her sit still at a table long enough to eat something rather than having to strap her into a high chair or we will be able to go to places like the beach or where crowds are without her becoming frightened and overloaded and having to take the whole family home early.
I imagine her being able to sit like her sister and really lose herself in imaginary play without needing constant stimulation and connection with me in order to continue that play. I wonder if she will ever be able to sit and focus on a painting or craft activity without having to get up and move around or bounce on her trampoline or run before she can come back to the activity and focus. I imagine her walking beside me holding my hand in the shops like Tara does…but it never happens…she is faster than any toddler i know and therefore we endure trolley or pram tantrums and i feel guilty when i see Tara's disappointed face yet again…”Why can't i walk Mummy…i hold hand?”
I try not to wonder and not to compare…but i am. And then i begin to wonder if i am holding Tara back by overcompensating for Ruby's needs. So many activities get cut short due to a meltdown from Ruby or her running off….so many meals have to be made to entice Ruby to eat or try something new, so many family outings are organised with Ruby's needs in mind. We are yet to try a family holiday…i worry about how a new environment and routine will affect her and if we will be able to enjoy ourselves.
This year we begin early intervention classes for Ruby and it is the first time the girls will be split up…again i feel so much guilt…if only i could there for both of them at once. How do i ensure one is being challenged and developing the skills and knowledge she craves when i also have to the same but on a different level for the other?
My rational self knows that feeling this way is probably normal…having twins was always going to be new territory as a parent…but i hadn't counted on them being at such different stages yet both needing so much from me. My emotional self is not holding up as well though.
I don't wish for them to be the same…..I don't wish for them to be perfect…….I don't love either less than the other……but i wish i wasn't slipping into these thoughts of comparison and frustration at what the future holds. I wish i wasn't seeing that Ruby isn't going to be ‘cured' or her sensory processing challenges ‘fixed'. I wish i knew how to be the parent i need to be to meet this challenge, accept the differences and not feel constantly torn.
In my darker moments i wish Ruby wasn't different but then i wonder if she would be the beautiful little soul that she is today without the differences. In my darker moments i wonder if Tara is already growing up resentful of the extra time spent with her sister and the challenges she is missing out on because her sister is not yet ready and there is only one of me.
In my happier moments i am able to see the progress we have made and the beauty of the differences in these two wonderful girls of ours. I am able to recognise that comparison is inevitable and as a parent i can only do my best.