There’s a reason why #TwinMom is a thing—it is, in my (rather brief) experience, an entirely different type of parenting, nearly unrecognizable from the task of parenting a singleton. Parenting twins has brought me more joy than I thought possible, but it certainly isn’t without its challenges.
One such challenge that I hadn’t anticipated encountering until a little further down the road is what I have termed “twin envy.” This is what occurs when one twin is perfectly content entertaining him/herself until he/ she sees the other twin getting some extra attention, and immediately a double meltdown ensues. We’ve been experiencing this phenomenon since the beginning with these two, and it has only intensified as Kali and Sully have gotten older.
It’s frustrating, to say the least. It would be easy enough for me to pick up one fussy baby, but the decision to do so is complicated by the awareness that calming one will result in upsetting the other. How I wish they could simply be happy (or at the very least ambivalent) about one another’s good fortunes! But as maddening as this can be, I can’t help but recognize myself in their behavior.
I’m not a twin, and it’s not a mother’s arms that I’m coveting. But how often do I get distracted from my own state of contentedness by the good fortunes of those around me? I’m fairly certain I’m not alone in this: who among us hasn’t had a perfectly lovely day tarnished by a quick scroll through a highlight-laden Instagram feed or a peek over the fence into our neighbors’ impeccably manicured yard?
Theodore Roosevelt noted that comparison is the thief of joy, and time and again I’ve found this to be true. There’s nothing that can spoil my appreciation for a blessing—be it my home, our family income, my appearance, or my children’s behavior—faster than averting my gaze outside my own lane and comparing my fate to that of somebody else. And contentment is just the first of comparison’s many casualties. Other fatalities include gratitude, fulfillment, creativity, confidence, and a sense of my own unique purpose; all evaporate when I’m busy focusing on everyone around me.
The author of Proverbs observed that envy “rots the bones” (Proverbs `4:30). So why do we persist in this destructive habit? While a number of factors come into play, I believe that comparison, covetousness, and jealousy are all symptoms of a lack of trust. We doubt the abundance of goodness/happiness/resources, assuming there isn’t enough to go around. We distrust God’s provision and His plans. We question whether God has set us on the right path, or whether we should actually be in an entirely different lane. We worry that because we aren’t experiencing somebody else’s best (which we perceive is THE best), we are missing out on OUR best.
Thankfully we don’t need to doubt God’s provision or His heart for us, because He has proven Himself trustworthy. Psalm 23 tells us that He is our Shepherd and that in Him, we have everything we need. Psalm 9 says that He will not forsaken those who seek Him. And in Matthew 6, Jesus reminds His followers that our Father will care for us, just as He cares for the flowers and the birds.
I wish that Kali and Sully understood that there is plenty of Mama’s love to go around, and that they don’t need to compete for my attention. As they get older, I hope that I can consistently model that they need not be rivals for my affection. In the same way, I hope that I can remove myself from the comparison game as I faithfully trust God and His love, provision, and intentions for me. Only as I nestle under His protective wing, gaze focused entirely up at Him, will I find ultimate contentment.