Being Twins

Part of being a twin means getting asked a lot of questions about what it’s like. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions we’ve been asked ever since we were little:

Who’s the oldest? By how many minutes?

Nicole’s the oldest by 23 minutes. Why so long? Because our mom fell asleep and had to be woken up to deliver Shar.

You must be identical twins . . . right?

Yep! 🙂

I’ve heard of identical and fraternal twins, but what does that mean?

Identical twins begin as one fertilized egg that divides into two eggs. These eggs have the same DNA but develop as two separate babies in the womb. Because their DNA is the same, identical twins look similar and are the same gender.

Fraternal twins begin as two fertilized eggs. These eggs have different DNA and also develop as two separate babies in the womb. Fraternal twins may look alike or different, just like any siblings with the same parents can. They can be two girls, two boys, or a boy & a girl.

Can you read each other’s thoughts?

Nope. Thought we often know what the other person is thinking or would think in a  situation based on knowing each other so well.

Can  you feel each other’s pain?

When Shar pulled a hot iron onto her leg, Nicole may have cried because that’s what toddlers often do when other toddlers start to scream.

When Nicole stepped on a nail, Shar experienced feelings of horror and surprise that a board could actually be attached to a foot like that.

But no, we’ve never actually felt the other person’s physical pain.

Did you wear matching outfits growing up?

If our clothes were made by our mom (and most of them were!), she would use the same pattern (because $) but make them in different colors. If our clothes were a gift from someone else, they probably matched.

By the time we were around 8 or 9, we never chose to match.

Why don’t your names match?

Our parents wanted our names to be different so that we always knew we were individuals with unique identities. This was really important to them, and we are so grateful.

Did you ever switch places or trick people?

When we were little, we would try to trick our mom by changing clothes, covering our heads with a blanket, walking in the room backwards, or anything else we could think of. We didn’t realize she always knew who we were because she knew our voices.

Except for kindergarten, we were always in different classes at school. We didn’t really consider swapping places until junior high when our friends kept asking us about it.

We did switch for a day, which was fun because we had completely different schedules and classes. All our friends knew the difference, but some of our teachers had no clue, so we thought we were pretty sneaky. But we were completely clueless about what was going on in each other’s classes, so we didn’t really want to do it again.

Who’s the nicer/quieter/louder/funnier/smarter one?

She is.

Do you fight?

We know twins who rarely if ever fight. But that’s not us. We are super similar in a lot of ways (our desire to be creative, our joy in being outdoors, our passion for children’s literature and reading, our love of being mothers, our values and beliefs . . . our Abreu tempers) but also very different in a lot of ways (our fears, our hobbies, our talents and strengths, how we handle situations). Particularly how we handle situations is often where we’re the most different, and that leads to disagreements. As kids and even in college, that meant lots of fights. We still disagree about things, but we’ve learned how to communicate with each other better and how to just get over stuff, too.

Couldn’t your husband just as easily have married your twin?

Twins are like everyone else – unique individuals. Even though we look alike and have a lot of similar interests, we are also very different. So no, they couldn’t have married the other sister because we’re not the same person.

Can your babies tell the difference between you? / Do your kids ever confuse you?

We have nine kids collectively and at some point each of our babies has been surprised/confused to see the twin who’s not their mom. Kind of like they’re thinking, “Who’s this person who looks like Mom and sounds like Mom but isn’t Mom?” Most (but not all) of our kids who have had a hard time with someone else besides Mom holding them have been okay with their twin auntie taking care of them.

Sometimes when our kids aren’t paying attention, they’ll confuse us and start calling their twin auntie, “Mom.” Usually they realize the mistake as soon as we talk and most definitely if they actually look at us. Then we all have a good laugh.

How can I tell you apart? You look exactly the same!

When we were younger, we would tell people that Nicole has the longer face (tracing an N along her face) and Shar has the rounder face (tracing an S across her face).

As we got older, we just told people, “Get to know us and you won’t think we look the same anymore.”

For any twins in your life, take the time to get to know their personalities and you will find that they look very different once you do. You may need to focus on some physical differences to help you before you know them well, but try not to rely on those for too long. It was hardest for us when good friends we’d known for years would say, “I can only tell you apart because of your haircut/glasses/braces/some other physical trait.” It felt like they were saying they didn’t know us at all. Every person is amazingly individual, even people who have the same DNA.