Paula Tutman: It's a twin thing

By Paula Tutman - Reporter

MILFORD, Mich. - When a good friend told me that seven sets of twins were graduating from Milford High School, I had to do a story. Start with the sheer number of twins in one graduating class. I was fascinated to talk to these young people. I can relate to their feelings of excitement, trepidation, fear and joy. As many of you know, I have a fraternal twin sister. I also married a man with twins. I get the twin thing. And I’m always trying to get others to get the twin thing, too.

I have always called my twin sister my womb-mate. We have loved and fought so deeply because we have known each other since conception. Even before my parents knew they were having twins (they didn’t until we were born because our hearts were completely synchronized) we knew we were there. 

Way back then our parents realized they wanted us to be independent. They didn’t give us matching names. They didn’t dress us in the same clothing. They never treated us as one. We were always different and our differences were celebrated.

I can remember as little girls people would give us a single gift to share. Or they would lump us together, as though we were one. Some would say, “which is the good twin and which is the bad twin”, as if those were our only choices. Ugggg and sheesh!

The fact of the matter is--we are as different as we are the same. I have felt my twin’s feelings from miles away, along with her anger or her wrath. I am as in awe of her as I am exasperated by her. We have very different interests and passions. We can argue with one another loudly, but will not tolerate others who have something disparaging to say about the other. And when we gang up against someone or something… run. Run fast. Don’t look back. Just run and hope we don’t catch you, for together we are formidable foes.

We did go to different high schools and different colleges so we had different friends and different experiences. We didn’t have that sudden and immediate separation that many of the Milford High twins might feel today. But I do remember when her first child was born and because I could never have children of my own, I felt like this is where we truly separated and as happy as I was to have a niece, I was sad for the separation of us as women.

Yes, we ended up in the same profession, and drove the same car, and on occasion showed up in the same clothing. Very often we have the same thoughts and same ideas. We often come to the same conclusions, though we take very different paths to get there. 

So when I heard about this huge crop of twins at Milford High School, I was fascinated. Because I understand so deeply what’s ahead of them. Also, the idea of talking to so many twins at the same time made me feel like part of an interesting club and I wanted to touch bases with members of that club from a different generation.
This morning, six of the seven sets of twins talked to us. I wanted to hear their stories. But mostly I wanted others to hear their stories. 

I thought this particular clip of our interview was particularly poignant. I asked them to talk about what they hope to accomplish in the world before they leave the campus of their high school as students for the very last time. What I heard was that it doesn’t matter if they are identical (the egg split after conception and so the twins share identical DNA) or fraternal twins (two separate eggs fertilized at conception), just like me and my twin--though they were born on the same day, from the same womb—they have their own place in the universe. They have individual goals that are still intricately and inextricably intertwined with their womb-mate. I know that they will leave high school and experience life differently. Sometimes their footprints will align, but more likely they’ll find their own paths have very different directions. Twins have a complex relationship with the world and each other. I’m proud of this group of twins. I’m glad I got to interview them. I wonder who they’ll ultimately be and if I’ll notice when they blend into the world ahead of them. But I am most positively certain about one thing. I know this group will make a real mark on the world. How can I be so sure?

It’s a twin thing.

You can watch the full interview Paula Tutman did with the twins below.

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