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When I was pregnant with twins, I didn’t read a bunch of books about twin pregnancy and what to expect (I read exactly one, followed its diet like the bible, and for the record, credit it with 6 lb twins at nearly 35 weeks gestation). I figured, for the most part, I didn’t need to know what to expect. And if questions came up, I could ask my doctor husband or my actual doctor– it was a good strategy. Instead, I was already worried about raising twins, about how I would make sure they felt valued and loved as individuals, and not a pair, about how I would ensure I had a strong, unique relationship with each. I knew from the start that any efforts at “equality” would be doomed, moreso after one of our kids was diagnosed with Spina Bifida– as a friend said in her LTYM talk, motherhood is inherently a Marxist enterprise, and we parent each according to their needs (at the moment). Comparison would only be the thief of joy, so I would have to accept that perfect equality between what I give to each of my girls at any given moment would just not be possible.

But dangit, that doesn’t mean that two years later I don’t sometimes find myself feeling guilty for any perceived inequalities.

This is a confession, of sorts. I admit that when I look at the feeds that are my social media output, I sometimes feel guilty to see more of Etta than I do of Claire. To look at this blog, you wouldn’t really notice that disparity, because I’ve written a lot more about Claire’s health and development than Etta’s, but if you were to look at a day of my Instagram feed, you might wonder where the heck the other twin is and if I’m playing favorites.

The truth is, while I rationally know that we have made the absolute best decision to send Claire to a developmental preschool, I still sometimes feel guilty that she’s not home with me and Etta. Claire goes to preschool so she can get her therapies. She gets three hours a week of PT, two hours a week of OT, and an hour a week of speech. I could try to drive her to all of these appointments outpatient, but then I’d have to have Etta in some kind of childcare– and with that many appointments, it would have to be a nanny or full time day care. Or I could try and entertain Etta in waiting rooms for six hours a week. Or, we could do what we’re doing, and send Claire to a wonderful preschool, fully covered by our insurance, where she can get all her therapies and do all sorts of other fun things like art and singing and story time.

In fact, sometimes I joke about how Claire is getting educated and we’re letting Etta be feral. Claire can count to ten. She is making real progress on the ABCs. Currently Etta is stuck at counting to two and isn’t really all that interested in ABCs. Claire gets to do all sorts of fun art projects, but despite all my Pinteresty intentions, Etta basically colors with crayons. I know that Etta is also learning at her own pace, and gets plenty of stimulation reading books and playing at home, but it’s hard not to compare in this area, too.

I kind of realized recently that I had been holding back on doing things with Etta on weekdays– like we were cheating on Claire if we baked cookies or went to the zoo or the library or the playground without her. But you know, that’s not fair to Etta OR Claire. Claire is doing all kinds of fun, stimulating things at school, where she also gets to play on a playground (a really awesome accessible playground) several times a day. Etta deserves to get to do cool things too, and I need to stop feeling guilty while we do them, or for taking pictures of her doing whatever we’re doing during our days together.

I also have to stop projecting this guilt onto you, Internet friends. I have all these conversations with you in my head, imagining you scrolling through my Instagram feed, imagining that you think I love one of my kids more than the other. Sometimes I put the words of one angry emailer in your mouths, the guy who went out of his way to contact me after my “not a hero” post went crazy and told me he’s sorry I’m ashamed of my daughter. (Yes, I questioned his reading comprehension too.)

I’m not ashamed of either of my kids. I love them. I am so proud of them. I think they are the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen, and their magic and wonder has exploded my heart and my world and made everything new. I have to love each of them to the best of my abilities and to the best of their needs in any given moment. For now, this means Claire goes to preschool and is loved on by teachers and therapists on weekdays, while Etta and I have adventures on our own. I need to free myself of any guilt I feel over this. And yes, when I get the chance, I relish solo time with my Claire Bear– but I have to stop thinking of it as repayment for some kind of debt. They are loved beyond measure, beyond any balance sheet, and it turns out the only person thinking I’m not measuring up is me.

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7 thoughts on “not pictured

  1. I definitely never thought you loved Etta more than Claire- you’re doing what’ best for them both at this time. I struggle with the guilt of home/ nursery a lot at the moment- Phoebe is in nursery half the week and at home the other half but with naps etc it feels like a lot. And then I feel guilty that when uni finishes, forever, in two/ three weeks that she won’t get to go- since she loves it, and gets to do all those fun crafty, playing outdoors things that I don’t have energy for right now with university and newborn and everything. But this is what’s right for now, and like you said releasing that guilt will allow us all to enjoy it more!

  2. I’m not a parent, so ignore me if this is wrong. I am a teacher though. The best parents do what is right for their individual children. Sometimes that’s at a disadvantage to themselves, sometimes it hurts or it’s painful or it’s nasty in some way – but the best parents do what is right for the child anyway.

    My parents (of the children I teach) all hold some guilt. We should be at home more, we should be setting a good example by working, we should see the grandparents more, we should keep them away from their emotionally neglectful grandparents, we should read more, we should let them have more time to be children… But the thing is, no matter where they are on the spectrum, they all hold guilt. There is no guilt free zone. Seriously.

    If you can look at each child individually and know you are doing the best thing for them, given the circumstances, then you’re doing brilliantly and need hold no guilt. I think you’re doing a fab job. x

  3. You are doing a great job. You can only do your best with what you know right now. You don’t know how things will turn out so that’s why you have to trust your instinct with this kind of stuff. And don’t forget to breathe!

  4. I never noticed any difference in how frequently you’ve posted pictures of Etta or Claire! I just love seeing all the ones you do post. I can imagine your dilemma though and I feel like you’ve come to a great realization within this post!

  5. Oh, I love her floral MAFOs! You are doing a great job! I get it about the guilt! I’m the mom of twins myself (and 2 other kids). I could stay up all night thinking about who I “favored” that day! My older boys always badger me about all the fun they miss while they are at school and I am home playing with the twins! It’s hard, I know, but you have to absolve yourself somehow. :)

    • Thanks! The AFOs have grown on me– I didn’t get to pick the design, and at first they seemed way more psychadelic than I would have picked out if I had been given a choice. Our brace guy has been thoroughly informed that I get to choose next time!

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