The thing with parenting twins is, we're often juggling different strategies at the same time to deal with each child. Okay, so I realize that any parent with more than one kid has to deal with this, but somehow it's different when your children are at the exact same stage in life, and yet polar opposites in some situation or another, so you basically need ALL THE ADVICE RIGHT NOW. As similar as twins can be, they can also be completely, totally, ridiculously different from one another. Almost like they are each their own individual little people or something. Huh.
From talking to parents of one child, or even children who are several years apart, it seems like it can be easy to think that your child represents all kids at a particular age. Your baby sleeps through the night? All babies must sleep through the night, what is everyone complaining about? Your child was talking at 10 months? You assume all kids are talking by 10 months. Your toddler only eats the purple box of mac & cheese? Why do they even bother making the other kinds, just stock the shelves with purple boxes, please. While you might know that this isn't exactly true (hello, that's why there were 4723 parenting advice books/columns/posts written last month alone), it's also hard to imagine it being any other way when you only have your own singular experience to go on.
While it can often be like that with twins, too, (Caden and Brooklyn are very similar), sometimes the reality of parenting two individual, different little people can smack you straight upside the head.
As I wrote after our "potty-training bootcamp" weekend, Caden caught on like a champ. No struggles, no look back. You might have thought he'd been doing it for months, instead of mere hours. He's still doing amazingly well. Underwear all day (including for nap), pull-up all night (I don't want to interrupt our recent success with sleep by doing nighttime training just yet), has gone on several different "big potties" when we are out in public like it's no big deal, etc. Sure he's had accidents, and doesn't usually want to stop playtime just to go sit on the potty, but nothing out of the ordinary. He's...potty trained. (Fist bump.)
Brooklyn never made it there. That's okay. Our potty training bootcamp was kind of an experiment, to see if all the signs of potty training readiness they were each showing were actually accurate. Tuesday morning after our potty training weekend found myself in the bathroom with Brooklyn, pleading with her to stay on the potty just a little bit longer so she would actually go. Nolan was in my arms, wailing, because he wanted to be fed. Tyson was back at work. And Caden was wandering around the house taking full advantage of the chaos and getting into God-knows-what. That's the moment that I took a look around and decided to quit. We were all miserable. (Well, except for Caden. I'm sure he enjoyed his relative freedom while I was stuck in the bathroom with Brooklyn.) Potty training had turned into a battle of wills between myself and this little two-year old girl (who apparently has the world's strongest bladder), and I was certainly not going to win. I knew this wasn't sustainable while I was on my own, with three kids, and Tyson back at work. So...we'll try again in a few months. And maybe again a few months after that. ("Me potty," Brooklyn keeps saying, "No yet." Alright then.)
My point is, twins can really show you the full spectrum of it all when it comes to parenting. I can relate to both extremes, at the same time, at least in the potty-training world. I celebrate with you, happy moms, whose kids sat on the potty from the start with no issue, accepted their M&Ms and impossibly small new underwear as their reward, and never looked back. And I commiserate with you, frustrated mamas, who just can't believe the absolutely epic stubbornness all wrapped up in one little toddler. We've read the books, done the stuff, tried the tricks. It didn't work. I get it. We WILL win in the end. I raise my glass of wine to all you mamas, both in celebration and in defeat. Come to think of it, maybe I need a glass of wine in each hand...
Caden and Brooklyn's personalities can be so. dang. similar. In fact, this is the first "milestone" that they haven't really hit "together". Rolling over, walking, talking...they did all of these things within days of each other. This is a very different type of milestone, though. And the older they get, the more we see their differences, their individuality. What makes Caden, Caden is his rule-following, doesn't-think-twice, perseverance. While Brooklyn has a more healthy sense of fear, combined with a generally sunny disposition, friendly attitude, and a bit of a stubborn streak.
So, at least I had three in diapers for just four months. Now we're back to two. Though I'm not quite sure if that's a step forward, since I now haul size 1 diapers, size 4 diapers, AND an extra set of shorts and underwear all around in the diaper bag. Is this an improvement? Maybe not...