It starts as it always does with first parenting horror stories shared with a mixture of confession and competition.
How hard it is to make the adjustment from being able to just go to the shops without having to plan with military discipline and precision. The special somnambulant state of the sleep deprived. So far so routine.
Then the disbelieving head shake and rueful grin: “God, imagine if it were twins though!”.
Twins are pop culture’s running joke. A casual short hand for evoking the fear of doubling up on what is already a mind warping new set of responsibilities. Also fun plot device for your favourites soaps and dramas! So much so it has its own page on TV tropes.
It serves as a ‘count your blessings’ relative comparator for the speaker that they only have to deal with one bundle of joy rather than two hungry mouths and dirty bottoms.
We glide elegantly past this gaping void and glibly answer with practiced evasion and denial.
We don’t say that we did have twins. That we joked on their discovery that you wait ages for one…
We don’t talk about the charity and baby groups for multiples that were joined only to be silently left and then avoided.
We don’t talk about all the special experiences and bonds that will be unique to a set of identical twins that we had excitedly read about and imagined for our own boys. Oh the fun they would have had…
In our silence we tacitly assent to the idea that there would be nothing worse for these new parents to face than having to do it all twice.
We let the throw away line remain in the interests of keeping things friendly and light. There’s a delicate art to trying to make Mum friends and mentioning dead children is one of the no nos until at least the third play date.