Celebrities have no respect for normal office hours, which is why weekends are so dangerous for amateur cultural critics like me. I could be lounging poolside on a Saturday without a care in the world, only to subsequently find out I’m four hours behind on emotionally processing Taylor Swift’s new surprise album. (That’s one of my personal fears, btw.)
As of this morning, sleeping is a dangerous activity, too. I woke up from my peaceful slumber circa 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time only to discover Beyoncé had finally posted a birth announcement on Instagram… SIX WHOLE HOURS AGO. Behold:
The set design was just as fanciful and elaborate as that of her pregnancy announcement, if not more so. With her head slightly tilted toward the sun and her knee poised aloft, Beyoncé resembles a modern-day manifestation of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus.” The twins, Rumi and Sir Carter, are cradled in her arms, swathed in a substantial bundle of floral purple silk. (Low-burning theory I’m nurturing: Rumi, as per her caption, is intended to be without a last name, a la Madonna. Please weigh in.)
Thoughtful friend of Beyoncé that I am, I found myself struggling to think of an adequate congratulatory present. What do you gift parents who have everything? A material good was out of the question. It had to be something intangible and eternally valuable. That’s when it struck me: parenting advice! But from who? Certainly not from me — I am but a crusty 25-year-old with no children other than the fruit fly hovering above my keyboard at this very moment. I needed people with real experience.
I quickly began polling friends, friends of friends and Man Repeller’s Instagram community to glean wisdom from mothers of multiples. I asked: “What advice would you give the Carters about raising twins, based on your personal experience?” Lucky for me and my most important friendship, they delivered.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z, your gift awaits…
“When people found out I was having twins, they would often say something along the lines of, ‘Oh, they’ll have a built-in best friend!’ so that idea got lodged in my head. Turns out, my girls were and are very different. Trying to force them to be best friends just led to competition, comparison and a lot of hurt in their middle and high school years. But now that they’re older and have had a chance to do things on their own (including going to separate colleges, which was the right choice) they’ve become much closer! I would tell Beyoncé not to expect that her twins will be best friends just because they cohabited her uterus. You have to let them form a relationship on their own terms.”
–Dana, mother of 22-year-old twin girls
“Embrace the messy, ugly, exhausting, never-enough-hands, exciting, beautiful minutes. It is a rollercoaster ride like no other, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. You know how people say time flies with children? It flies faster with multiples. Enjoy it. You gave birth to more than one person in one go, so you’re already superwoman.”
–Jill, mother of 11-year-old triplet boys
“Maintain a well-rooted sense of humor. You aren’t crazy if you don’t love every minute. And veer as far away from perfection as possible. Motherhood to multiples is an act of sheer will, chaos and love. If you find those within yourself, you will do just fine.
P.S. Don’t listen to advice.”
–Autumn, mother of 10-year-old quadruplet boys
“Surprise boy/girl twins in addition to the three children we already had forced me to cut out things that complicated my life the most. Even still, life was complicated. My advice to new moms of multiples would be:
1. Give yourself breaks, but do as much caregiving as possible. Let other people do everything else.
2. Keep your marriage alive. All the other stuff can wait.
3. Some advice for Jay-Z: Love and help and support your wife! She needs it!”
–Leighanne, mother of 10-year-old boy/girl twins
“I never wanted my identical twins to feel a loss of identity as a result of looking and sounding alike. I am terrible at distinguishing voices on the telephone, so when I would call the landline and one of them would answer, I would break out the Darlings and the Sweethearts until I could figure out who I was talking to. I would also ask their teachers not to say, ‘Which one are you?’ when they saw one or the other in the hallway. Even though I’m sure the teachers were saying it affectionately, I felt it probably made the girls uncomfortable, being put on the spot like that and not being ‘seen’ for who they were.”
—Ann, mother of 23-year-old girl twins
“Being a mom to twins (or any multiples) is so, so special, but it’s also a juggling act. My biggest advice is: don’t sweat the small stuff (vomit, poop, constant mess) and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Let other people hold your babies.”
—Alex, mother of seven-month-old twin girls
“Remember that they are individuals, not a unit. Encourage people to call them by their individual names, not ‘the twins.’ DO NOT dress them alike. Mine are identical so we dressed one in pastels and the other in bright colors so I always knew which child was running away from me! And have fun with them. They are a double blessing and three times the work, but worth every sleepless moment. I wouldn’t trade the journey for the world. They got up and walked — in different directions — at 10 months and have been running down their own, individual paths ever since.”
—Polly, mother of 25-year-old twin girls
“When people refer to your children as ‘double trouble,’ always smile and say: ‘No, double blessings.'”
—Sherri, mother of 27-year-old boy/girl twins