I wrote this article several years ago for the TAMBA magazine, it was originally published with the same photo (but in colour) that I took on a very happy trip to the beach with Boo, Pip and Bug.
Without any shadow of modesty my identical twin girls are adorable, smiley and charming. Add in their big blue eyes and long dark lashes and a shopping trip becomes an obstacle course involving negotiating swooning older ladies and doting grandfather-figures. And all that’s before I’ve drawn attention to myself by knocking over a display trying to steer my double pushchair whilst my child pulls on my arm in the other direction.
That child is also as beloved to me as those adorable, smiley, charming twins. He’s my spark, he adds vibrancy to my life. But he’s the ‘plus one’. It’s always “Boo and the girls”. Much as our daughters’ identity is bound up with their twin-ness, Boo’s identity since their birth has been caught up in being brother to them.
Whilst this is a special position to hold, of which I hope our son himself will be proud, it takes some parental negotiating which rivals the above shopping trip. When we were weaning the girls and out at mealtimes Boo’s behaviour would rapidly deteriorate whilst both parents were focussed feeding, inevitably with our backs turned on a little boy who was used to undivided attention. We soon learnt that one parent had to feed the ‘twins’ and one had to give attention to the ‘plus one’.
At a wedding last week I found myself profusely thanking a lady for stopping to talk to my ‘plus one’ – for making a fuss of him and telling him what a special boy and good big brother he is. It’s a rare event. Normally he has to stand by and watch as his two little sisters are showered with fuss.
But this boy is amazing and worthy of fuss too, just as much as our twin girls. He’s the best big brother in the world to his sisters. He loves them, he makes them smile, protects them and cares for them – he is just as much a part of their identity in our family as they are to each other and we are to them. We are all a unit. We are all affected by twin-ness. He’s not just a ‘plus one’. They are three, and an equal three.
A large part of my multiples parenting experience has been making all children equal and valued, not letting three be a crowd, and factoring in my ‘plus one’ to be the unique and valuable member of our family unit that he is and not just the annoyance who throws my double pushchair off balance. Our family certainly, wouldn’t be balanced without this ‘plus one’.