Growing up, if I was disappointed that my sister was allowed something that I was not, I recall complaining to my parents that things weren’t fair. I remember the response I’d receive as if it were yesterday. “Life isn’t fair,” my dad would say, shutting down any future argument I might have.
With the twins, I seem to have an unshakable idea in my mind that things should be fair. I suppose it’s the nature of there being two babies, and wanting to ensure they’re each given a good upbringing. I never want to favour one or the other. I want to ensure they get equal food, equal snuggle time, and equal attention at playtime. I have found a multitude of ways to divide up my time and energy on the day-to-day, measuring food out in equal portions, taking turns with cuddles, and coming up with games that two can play at once.
Recently though, I’ve been thinking about how each kid is so different, and noticing those differences become more pronounced over time. If one child seems to eat faster and demand more food, should I hold it back to ensure fairness? If one seems more fussy and needs more cuddle time, should I put her down when her time is up? If one is happy to play solo and doesn’t need the extra attention, should I disturb her?
The answer to these questions is no, of course. As individual children, the twins are going to need different kinds of attention and care. Figuring out the needs of two children as they pass through developmental milestones at approximately the same time requires a lot of thought and observation. It’s like I’ve started a mental filing cabinet with a drawer for each twin. As they grow, I’ve begun noting their habits and preferences. A file for food likes and dislikes, a file for preferred games and song, a file for what toys are the most interesting.
This urge for fairness is especially pronounced at the difficult times. Upon waking, when both are hungry after a long sleep. Before a nap, when the twins are tired and fussy, and both want cuddles. I’ve accepted now that keeping things fair is much harder than it sounds.
No wonder my parents were quick to explain why things weren’t always perfectly balanced. It’s not only that the big bad world out there isn’t fair; it’s also virtually impossible to keep things fair between children. Beyond that, it’s likely not what’s best for them. I’m sure to hear these same kind of complaints from the twins along the way, in a sort of cosmic payback for my own childhood. “Life isn’t fair,” I’ll tell them, truly appreciating the simplicity and truth in that message for the first time.