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, by Dr. Barbara Luke, 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 my writing, 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 10. She is making real progress on the ABC's. Currently, Etta is stuck at counting to two and isn't really all that interested in ABC's. 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.
A version of this post first appeared on The Adventures of Ernie Bufflo.