I’m pretty excited to get to share Miranda with you all. She has lived through the baby stage, the toddler and the kid stage and now has three creative and wonderful pre-teens, including identical twin girls – one of which has been gender-independent since the age of 2. At first I believed her journey was going to be a lesson in understanding, compassion and in giving our kids the freedom and security to be themselves. After talking with her and reading her responses below, I now realize it’s simply about unconditional love and being a family. As she sees it: “I almost believe that ours isn’t that special a story as it didn’t come from a hard fought struggle or it does not seem like we are beating any odds. Some higher power chose to send us these amazing souls and i hope we are doing right by them!” I proudly introduce you to Miranda – our M.O.M for May.
Q: What is your favourite thing to do on the weekend?
A: In my line of work, there is no such thing as a weekend. Depending if it is a weekday or not, on my days off I try to sleep, get things done around the house, and spend time with family…
Q: What was the last event you bought a ticket and went to?
A: I think it was Mumford and Sons in Toronto….
Q: Where is your “happy place” or “happy activity” right now?
A: I just like being home; we’ve been in this house for 3 years now and I’m just beginning to feel it’s personality…so I’m working on painting walls, decorating, etc.
About the TWINS:
Q: How many children do you have? And how old are they?
A: I have 3 kiddies, my oldest is 12 and my girls are 10.
Q: Do you remember when you found out you were having twins?
A: I remember….I was alone having an examination for a suspected ectopic pregnancy (was having lots of pain and discomfort)…couldn’t stop laughing driving home…as a teenager I always said I wasn’t going to have kids…and here I was having 2 at the same time!!!!!!!!!
Q: How did you feel? How did your partner, your family and your friends feel?
A: I think I was really unimpressed….don’t know how else to describe it….I remember telling my husband and watching his shock…. My father was on the phone and EVERYONE he knew knew within 10 minutes…. LOL
Q: What do you remember from your pregnancy with twins that was either similar or different from being pregnant with a singleton?
A: I was sick for the first three or four months. I literally could only keep A&W Diet Root Beer down! I also had to visit a twins clinic in Toronto every two weeks for months as Twin A wasn’t as big as Twin B and it had to be monitored.
Q: At what age (if it’s happened yet) would you say the girls started becoming self-aware. Any examples?
A: Libby was born self-aware. She has always known who she was. My girls have started puberty already and Darby is blowing my mind with her insights and perceptions. A conversation we had the other day:
Darby: “Mama… older girls can be rude…showing off their bodies and grabbing themselves.”
Me: “Well as you grow older you are exploring and beginning to understand your sexuality. Don’t worry though Darby, you won’t be like that.”
Darby: (quite anguished)“Mama, what if that’s what these girls thought….what if that’s what their Mom’s told them!!!”
Unfortunately it’s a hard go for Darby. Although they both are very moody and seem to already be following my cycle, Libby seems to be having an easier time (despite her gender-independence), whereas Darby is finding it hard to accept the changes her body is going through and trying to figure out who she is. One time she said to me “Mama, sometimes I don’t feel like myself.”
Q: Do you use the term “transgendered”?
A: At this point, I refer to Libby as gender-independent. “Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women. “Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. Although she is biologically a female, she prefers to dress as a boy. Her interests and preferences do not fall into “boy” or “girl” categories as they are varied and very broad. When she was younger she practiced standing up to pee and would call herself a boy but in grade one she would be “shooed” out of the girls washrooms at school. She began using the boys washroom to avoid conflict until a teacher found out and we had to teach her to tell people “I’m a girl…I belong in here.” Since then, she’s identified as a girl. When describing her, I call her my little bohemian as she is very artistic and weird.
Q: Are there other ways Libby identifies as a boy?
A: I remember sitting in McDonald’s with the kids and my Mom. Libby had her brothers winter boots on and had commandeered his toque. The girls were still wearing matching pink flowered winter jackets at that point. I can’t remember why but at one point, Libby and I were the only ones at our table. She took off her jacket, put it on the bench, looked down at her clothes, held her hands out at her sides and said “There…now no one will know I’m a girl.”
Q: How did those first conversations about gender identity happen in your family?
A: We don’t talk about gender-identity. Libby was two when she started wearing her brothers “Diego” winter boots. I remember her stealing one of his orange “Diego” t-shirts at 2 ½. I would talk about it with family, but just allowed her to be who she was and followed her lead. Half way through the summer after grade one, she came home from camp and declared (literally out of the blue) that she was going to dress like a girl starting on the first day of grade two. I figured out later that she had faced similar difficulties in the change room at day camp as she had in grade one at school so her solution was to dress like a girl. Darby was ecstatic as she was finally going to be able to dress like twins, but every time I took Libby out to buy her clothes for grade two, she would scrunch up her nose and tell me “I’ll just share with Darby”. On the first day of grade two, the girls had laid out outfits that matched but when Libby put her outfit on, I could literally see her skin crawl and her body stiffen. I told her … “put on your shorts and just wear a girl’s shirt then…” She tried that and just kept coming into my room and looking at me, he eyes so sad, almost like she was waiting for me to make it all better. The best I could do for her was to tell her to wear what she wants to wear, be who she wants to be. She put on her own outfit and hasn’t looked back since. Darby was mad though, she wanted to dress like a twin! I’ve tried to talk to Libby about it in the past and tried again tonight. She gets very upset and only answers any of my questions with “I don’t know.” I believe that she doesn’t know, as she has always been allowed to be just herself and has never had to question who she is.
Q: How do you explain this to your other two kids?
A: Unless they ask to talk privately, we talk about everything together. I’ve never asked my other two how they feel about Libby as it’s not like she just showed up one day and disrupted our lives. Libby is who she is, our family is who we are, and this is our “normal”. We don’t know any other way!
Q: How did/do you process this?
A: I’ve learned to stop trying to analyze Libby. My husband has just always been the type to take it one day at a time with the kiddies. We’ve been VERY fortunate in that Libby has unconditional acceptance at her school. Her teachers have been supportive and her classmates have known her to be only as she is since grade one, so we have yet to face any serious problems.
Q: What advice or resources did you use (if any)
A: Everyone told me when I was pregnant how easy twins were; I assume because you can dress them the same and because they are typically very similar personality-wise. Mine are very difficult; despite being genetically identical, they are not similar at all. Adding their older brother to the mix and I have three personalities vying for precious resources (time, money, affection, etc). But I wouldn’t have it any other way. If I had not allowed Libby her independence, I wonder the turmoil she would be facing now, trying to figure out who she is. That in turn would disrupt her sibling’s lives as well.
Q: Do you have any comments on the social misperception or misunderstanding about gender independence?
A: OMG…that’s a loaded question!!! (K’s note: YEP: I just knew you would answer it so poetically.. and you did!!)
A: You do not CHOOSE at 2 years old to be something you are not. Enough said. We were very fortunate to have a lil boy in the girl’s kindergarten class who was also gender-independent. He said to their kindergarten teacher, “Libby wants to be a boy, and she gets to dress like a boy. I want to be a girl and I don’t get to dress like a girl, and that’s not fair.” Although his mother was very liberal with him (he was allowed to paint his nails and for nursery rhyme day he and Libby planned their characters; she was Jack and he was Jill) I think she was careful with certain things to protect him. That is always a parents fear, I am always waiting for the ball to drop.
Q: In what other ways do your kids express themselves? (art, music, etc).
A: Shad was creative when he was younger. He went through a stage where he was obsessed with flags and we spent months inventing new flags, colouring them and mounting them on straws and decorating our house. My mom use to joke that he’d make a great insurance agent during his picture taking days. He’d take pictures of all sorts of objects, but one at a time, and he’d place them very specifically . At 12, he is already very much a teenager (another early bloomer), athletic and watching silly shows like “trailer park boys”! My daughters are crazy creative. You name it, they tried it. Libby specializes in writing stories and illustrating them. Chapter books; quite incredible! Darby loves making videos and taking pictures. One time I found a plate in their room covered with balls of chewed up gum.
Me: “Girls, what are you saving your gum for?”
Libby: “When we have enough we’re going to make a gum sculpture.”
Q: Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
A: If everyone had a twin, this world would be a way better place!! Unconditional love is the answer. I truly believe it is our own notions and prejudices as adults that we pass onto our children that create the bad in the world. Like I’ve mentioned, Libby has grown up with the children at her school and faces little to no negative consequences to her gender-independence. I often wonder why given all that we hear about bullying. I even asked our 12 year old (grade 7) the reactions he gets from his friends when they find out Libby is not a boy and he said they are usually surprised and nothing more said. Hopefully….the times they are -a-changin’!!!!
Q: And Finally: What was the best Hallowe’en costumes your twins ever had?
A: My favourite is for their first Hallowe’en I dressed them up as Care Bears… the costumes didn’t last long…but they were cute! They couldn’t choose!!!!
WE’RE NOT IN THIS ALONE!!
Each month we feature a mom of multiples and share how they handle life and all the unique situations that come with parenthood. Check out previous M.O.M posts here.