Sequence of nameless quotes from Interviewees:
my twin twin sister
twins, my twins,
Me and my twin.
Music cue–1500 Stories theme music
Welcome to 1500 Stories. In this podcast we talk about things Americans don’t like to talk about- economic class and inequality.
My name is Melinda Poley and I am an intern with 1500 Stories. 1500 Stories is a digital art storytelling project that was founded by Jen Myhre. The project was inspired by a poster created by economist, Stephen J. Rose that depicts the distribution of wealth in the United States. Since 2015, over 700 Americans have shared their economic struggles and hopes for the future.
Before we start, keep in mind that 1500 Stories interviews are conducted by volunteers and students who have interviewed in many different settings all over the country. Our sound quality may not be up to the level of radio professionals, but the stories are still worth hearing.
Interview quote (Michelle):
mine are a whole set of different twins than other people’s twins. mine are very different, they like to do their own thing, they do play together, I guess because they don’t have anyone else to play with, but they like to be by themselves, they like to be independent.
I’m not saying my don’t love to be with each other but they would rather be off and do their own thing.
Interview quote (Rikki) and (Melinda):
At the beginning, I would dress them like in different colors, and then they also had a bracelet with their names on it.
They looked completely different but once they hit about 3 or 4 they looked identical.
Are they identical or fraternal?
“You’re probably wondering why you’re hearing about twins in a podcast about economic inequality in the U.S. Well, for one reason, we thought you could use a break from all of the bad news delivered in the first ten episodes. And for another, having twins does have economic consequences for families. The goal of this episode is to learn a little bit more about twins and their experiences, because everybody has a story. When I was transcribing interviews conducted in New Jersey, I came across some that mentioned triplets. This got me intrigued about the experience of being a multiple. After a moment of thinking about it, I realized, Hey! There are twins in my family, on my Mother and Father’s side. So, why not make an episode about twins?!
Interview quote (Tony):
and my mom’s sides’ grandparents. And my brother lived with my father’s mother. Because if my mom raises both of us together, it would be too much work for her, and she would be tired. By the way, we are twin brothers.
Interview quote (Bruce): so when they were born it was very hard for us to be able to pay all of our bills. In fact, even though I have an adversity position, it wasn’t a real highly paid position. And since, I had twin daughters, ummm my wife wasn’t able to work for a while. She was home with both kids the first year.
Interview quote (Michelle):
as they grow up, it’s a little bit more harder financially.
probably, [maybe] like school age, because when the school is asking for certain things, it’s not like you can go and buy, one set of crayons, or one set of notebooks or one set of tennis shoes or whatever, you have to go and buy double that
it gets pricey.
A new study finds having one child will cost about $21,000. That price tag skyrockets to $105,000 when having twins — and more than $400,000 for triplets or more. (2013)
Researchers linked the higher costs of having twins with more frequent office visits, longer hospital stays, the need for C-sections, and a greater risk of conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and anemia. Twin babies also are more likely to need intensive care after birth.” “It found that 62% of multiple birth families reported being financially worse off after their babies were born, compared to 40% of other parents. Families with a multiples were more than twice as likely to categorize their financial problems as “quite difficult.” Many parents are faced with economic decisions that affect their children. From a twins perspective, these choices can be very personal and have a negative impact. Next, we’ll hear from Raymond about his experience.
Interview quote (Raymond) and nameless interviewer:
you said it was hard to get your parents’ attention because of your twin brother-
Yeah. that’s what started it because my mom favored him more because he played football, baseball, and all the sports and my mom could not afford to buy the uniforms for both of us. He would bring trophies and she would dust them off every Saturday and Sunday and I brought a ribbon home one time for track, for running, and I came home one day and it was on the floor. She was sweeping, and my ribbon was on the floor. It affected me in life. That ribbon meant a lot to me,you know what I mean, ’cause it was always Ruben, Ruben, Ruben. Never Raymond, so I kind of just downfall and didn’t care in life. In life I didn’t care. How can I get attention? By fighting, or whatever.
Interview quote (Russell):
I did have the realization that twins were not a common thing, but like I said, never knew what it was like to not have a twin
so the realization that I had a twin never really occurred to me, it was the realization that twins were a rare thing, that was the bigger realization when I was younger.
So, how common are twin births? According to the latest data, each year, twin pairs make up 3.4 percent of all live births in the U.S.. Starting in the 1980s, there was a mini baby boom of multiple births — twins, triplets, quadruplets and quintuplets — steadily increased from about 20 sets per 1,000 live births to almost 35 sets per 1,000 live births in the 2010s. Reproductive technologies are not the sole cause for a growing percentage of multiples. Another reason for increase is women choosing to have children later in life when multiples are more likely to occur naturally.
I was 32, I was kind of old.
it was exciting, I didn’t have any concerns at first, but when they did tell me that
my, baby A wasn’t growing the way she should be, or as fast as the other one, that did kind of make me nervous but all in all she turned out pretty healthy.
More women are choosing to have children later. Women in the U.S. who have given birth at the end of their childbearing years was higher in 2016 than it had been 10 years earlier. 86% of women ages 40 to 44 are mothers, compared to 80% in 2006.
The recent rise in motherhood and fertility might seem to run counter to the notion that the U.S. is experiencing a post-recession “Baby Bust.”
The Great Recession intensified this shift toward later motherhood, which has been driven by increases in educational attainment and women’s labor force participation, as well as delays in marriage. Given these social and cultural shifts, the postponement of childbearing continues. More than half of Millennials are not married, and those who are, got married later in life. More than half of Millennial women have given birth; and they are older than previous generations when they do.
Research has shown that women are waiting longer to give birth, with many becoming first-time mothers in their 40s.
Interview quote (Russell):
The media has an over fascination of identical twins to the point that everybody thinks that twins are identical and the maybe only example in media that I can think of where the twins weren’t identical was that movie Twins with Schwartenegger and Devito.
I was much older [and] I don’t know, second, third grade when I was realizing that there weren’t a lot of other twins
out there, which is saying something because at the small school that I attended pre-school, there was another set of twins who happened to have been born on the same day, two years later as me and my twin.
it was the first time for us to know other twins, but also the first time that we had met identical twins.
We just heard from Russell, a fraternal twin. We all know what identical twins are because as Russell noted, the media seems to have a fascination with identical twins. Easy right? When I was talking to my Mom about twins, and Moms know everything, she asked me what the difference was. It took me a minute to think about how to explain. Fraternal twins are made from two eggs and two different sperm, and share only 50% of the same chromosomes. Identical twins come from one egg that splits in two and one sperm. So, they share 100% of chromosomes which makes them the same sex and often have the same hair and eye color. Let’s hear about some twins whose differences are quite noticeable.
Interview quote (Mandi):
I’m into like video editing.and production and stuff like that.
And I’m more into like, cosmetology like and business like accounting and stuff like that.
Interview quote: (Sandi):
I would say, I never felt like I was in his shadow, I felt like there were things that I was behind him in, or couldn’t do as good as him. And couldn’t do as good as him to the point where I didn’t think I’d ever be as good as him at it. My twin is much, much more artistic, can draw, I got none of that, no matter how
much time I put into it, didn’t not improve, no where close to him artistic. He was always better at like English, like comparatively like grade wise, I kept up with him and we were competitive on Math and Science with computers, the Computer Science, Language was something I struggled with
compared to him and so I felt like I was in his shadow you might say for that but it wasn’t that it was the outside opinion of me it was just I knew that he was much stronger at those subjects or those tasks than me. No idea if he felt the same way about anything
like that but I know definitely the artistic thing was something I was always jealous.
R: We have different frames, body mass we carry differently. He’s definitely much bigger than me.
R: Size wise, frame, his bone structure is bigger than me. I’m much leaner than him, he carries more muscle. I have the darker skin, I have darker skin tone more like my mother, he has lighter skin tone more like our father, it’s, were very fraternal, a lot of people wouldn’t even recognize that we were twins unless they got told that we were twins.
Mya she’s the oldest twin, Mya has always been more independent. She’s always been, I want to do my own thing, you know let me, do it by myself and she doesn’t want any help with anything. Mariah on the other hand, she’s more laid back and reserved and she likes to be babied, so she just like they’re just so different. I always said to people [like,] I don’t even think they were meant to be twins because they’re just so different. Their appearances, their physical appearance, their personalities, they’re so different.
Twins have the unique experience of growing up at the same time, usually side by side. Perhaps this is why they frequently get compared to each other and become competitive. This could be seen as an advantage or disadvantage. Let’s hear from the twins to find out.
I don’t know what it’s like to not have a twin. But it’s definitely closer than just having a brother because he was always, you know, going through school, he was always in my classes. Or there with me. And all the extra curricular activities as a child growing up is he was there with me. I mean constant competitor, sure. I mean we get competitive, so there was always that driving force of either staying ahead or catching up with on a competitive basis which I always saw as an advantage. we did have the advantage that we didn’t look the same. and so that, that probably helped a little bit but, I mean, we had, being twins meant that there was a reputation of hey, they’re twins and Everybody always asks that question actually, are ya’ll alike? What’s different about ya’ll? Who’s better? Almost to a point where it was an annoyance, during my high school years thinking that people were poking at those questions specifically trying to start something or cause conflict between us. So maybe’s that’s just an experience of being a twin and [that] all twins might experience that constant questioning on those same topics.
Interview quote (Mandi):
I think my Mom favors Sandi more, but no, that’s about it. (Both laugh) I’m just kidding.
if I’m being compared to Sandi, I feel sometimes I have to be more like her or dress like her or act like her. Like eventually as we got older like we kinda started branching out, like finding our own hobbies. and our own styles and the way we talk and stuff like that.
Interview quote (Sandi):
The Cons? I would say, people just can’t tell us apart. And they always ask, like every time we meet them, like trying to compare us.
Whenever they like compare us we just like take it as a joke or we just laugh it off. Sometimes they’ll be like, Oh well Mandi’s this-or Sandi has this, like trying to say like one’s better in one way than the other, it doesn’t really bother us that much cause we’ve went through it for so long.
The experience of school seems to be quite unique in regards to twins. They are constantly compared and competitive, as Raymond described when he found his track ribbon on the floor compared to his twin’s trophies on the shelf. And the story of Russel, who got asked, “who is better?” With Sandi and Mandi, they’re interests are very different and when they are asked who is better, they just laugh it off. So what is it like going to school with your twin?
Interviewer quote (Melinda):
Okay. What is one of your best memories that you have of growing up as a twin?
Interview quote (Sandi):
I say school, cause I’m never alone in school. I never worried about like who I’m gonna sit with at lunch or who I’m gonna walk with to class.
at one point we had the same class and it was fun.
Oh, in second grade we switched on April Fool’s Day. We switched classes and the teachers didn’t know.
The only people that knew were [like] our friends in the classes. We were like, oh yea, we switched classes, don’t tell.
They do go to the same school, they have always gone to the same school. Up until this year, or actually this school year, because of the whole covid thing, up until this year, they have been in separate classes, and that was like, even as far back like when they first started, like with head start, we had asked them you know if they could be together but they would always tell us, no they wanted them to learn to be independent so they would never have any of their twins in the same classes. I don’t know if that was just a certain district thing but here they’re in a different district and they’re allowed to be in the same class. They are in the same class now. They said they like it but I think they feel [like] it’s really no different because even when they were in different classes and we would drop them off, they would go their separate ways,
Mom and Dad sent us to a small private school pre-k through fifth grade. And there was only one class of each grade. we were in the same class until fifth grade, and then in junior high 6th grade through 8th grade, we went to what was considered a large junior high, around 1,500 in the three grades and we did carry, 3, 4, 5, classes out of the 8 some years and some years as low as 2. I can remember times where like, there was a career day thing when we were really young and the teacher went down the roll and of course my twin brother comes before me alphabetically in the roll so he got to do the career, we both wanted to do the same career but he got to claim it first and I wasn’t allowed to do that one cause he had gotten it I do remember that. I was actually a little disappointed cause I wanted to do that and then I couldn’t think of anything so like I remember that happening and the fact that he came one before me and sometimes wanted to do the same thing as me can’t remember any other time specifically when that happen but I do remember that little career day thing, I think it was like second grade and the teacher wouldn’t let us do the same thing.
Well having him in classes was definitely an advantage even if it wasn’t, if we weren’t in the same actual class but we were taking the same course at the same time being able to compare notes, compare our understanding of the lesson was a huge advantage, I mean even through college being able to compare what we learned and stuff was a huge advantage that never had that sort of connection or advantage with other people in the class, to me it’s the most obvious in my mind because hey yea, I had friends in the class and I could ask them and we could discuss it but it was never the same discussing what we were learning or what was going on with them as it was with my twin. Well, when you go home and you have to do your homework it’s like having a friend you’re doing your homework with, except you know, they have the notes too and they have their own, what they picked up from the class that maybe you didn’t pick up that was maybe a unique experience to having a twin was a that reset of going back home, you know it’s like having the friend there but you can count on him to be, well Erick will be home tonight so I can ask him if he got that or took those notes or got what the teacher said or something but it was a consistent you had that his presence was constant and reliable.
our competitive nature between us never made an issue where we were never so lazy that we would like just work together to get it done that way. Also, don’t think our parents ever let us even fall into that position where we could take advantage of each other that way, I think our parents always made sure that we both were doing the work ourselves.
There definitely seems to be some advantages to having a twin throughout school. I would have loved to have a reliable twin to help me with my homework! It’s fun to think about the ways in which you could switch spots and confuse other people, like Sandi and Mandi did in the second grade. What happens when it’s the other way around and people are confused about who is who?
Interview quote (Melinda):
Have you’re parents ever mistaken you for your sister?
Interview quote (Sandi and Mandi):
They still do it to this day, we’re almost like nineteen? Oh, I’ll be on the phone, like my Mom will call me, and she’s like, Mandi uh, and then I’ll answer, I’m like Yes, and she’s like, this is Sandi. And I’m like no it’s not, she’s like This is Sandi. and like will start raising her voice, I’m like, it’s Mandi, I’m like, it’s Mandi, why am I gonna like about who I am.
I went online and I saw like they were like hiring. It was a new store opening up in the area, a new restaurant, so I applied and I was like, Sandi, like come apply with me so we can be together and she got the job too.
I dyed my hair so everyone at work thinks I’m Mandi and they’ll come up to me, like telling me, like asking me for help and me and her do two totally different things so think I’m her and I have to go and run and tell Mandi what they said.
Or like a customer they’ll think Sandi is the server and they’ll be like, Oh can I order this and then Sandi will run straight to me and be like, your table wants this, this and this and then I have to go and get it for them. I guess like we have fun with it, like pranking people or like like playing jokes on them or like tricking them or like
I always tell them, like whenever people ask or, are ya’ll twins and I’m like no, she’s my cousin and they’ll just get so shocked. They’re like, are you serious? Like ya’ll look so alike and I’m like, no I’m just playing, we’re twins.
I have to confess that when I was interviewing Sandi and Mandi, I wasn’t 100% sure of who was talking the whole time. Later when I listened to the audio, it was a little easier to tell them apart. Since twins are common in our family, my Dad was known for mixing up any of the twins, when my cousins Russell and Erick were babies, he called them, “Frick and Frack.” And when he would visit my cousin Rikki, he just settled on using one name Andi, instead of Sandi and Mandi.
Interview quote (Rikki):
I still confuse them, I mean as far as seeing them, like no, I see them completely different, but their voices sometimes confuse me. Their just like “Mom!” They make a joke about it, I know you don’t love me, you can’t even tell me apart.
It’s very easy to tell them apart because they are so different. So it really wasn’t a question of who was who, um I don’t think anyone has ever had an issue telling them apart because they’re so different. even as babies, to be honest the only thing is that like if I look back on their baby pictures, there are some that I’m like, kind of iffy about. I do get confused, their Dad doesn’t, he swears that he knows exactly who’s who in the pictures, but that’s only in like the baby, baby pictures.
There’s also being seen as a unit, or one person, instead of two. Like my Dad calling the girls, Andi, instead of their separate names. When I asked to interview Sandi and Mandi, I thought it would be great to do an interview with them together. When I did, I realized, by not interviewing them individually, I was treating them as a unit! Sorry Sandi and Mandi, I’m just like everyone else!
a disadvantage is just like probably being compared or like, not see, like we don’t seem like we’re just one person They always put us both together like, ya’ll are together like, we’re not our own person, you know?
One of the things I was curious about was the myths about twins. For some reason, twins seem so mysterious, the movies have always portrayed them to have some form of telepathy, they seem to have more fun, have an exclusive bond. So when I interviewed my cousins, I made sure to get the truth about the myths.
Telepathy is not a thing.
They always talk to us, asking us questions like
Interview quote (Mandi):Like about being twins and then like whenever we’ll talk, like me and Sandi are having a normal conversation, they’re like Oh, so ya’ll don’t just read each other’s minds. And we’re like no, we actually have conversations like normal people.
Yea, anybody that finds out we’re twins or wants to have questions about twins, they’re first questions are can ya’ll read each other’s minds and can y’all feel each other’s pain like if somebody got hurt?
but the constant shared experience definitely is allowed us to be more predictive of each other’s actions or thought processes, like the great example would be that at the time it was very funny but thinking back about it, we once were playing a card game, Apples to Apples and both of us, 90% of the time were able to pick out exactly what each other’s card that we had played, just because we were able to pick up, I think the way we knew the thought process of the other one enough to be able to guess which card the other one had played, so not a telepathy thing but the shared experience, the constant exposure to each other over the course of our life allows us to predict each others actions and motivations better.
we can give each other a look and we’ll know, what we’re thinking about but we can’t read each other’s minds.
Interview quote (Sandi):
Like you know whenever Mom gives you a look whenever you’re being bad at a store? Like me and Mandi can give each other a look and we know like.
Like how we’re feeling
and it doesn’t even have to be a bad thing, like it could be a funny thing, like we give each other a look and we just start laughing or we’ll just like laugh until the point where we can’t breathe, like it’s just, I don’t know, it’s fun.
The stories of twins are unique and special. They grow together and they grow apart as they distinguish themselves as individuals. Similar to most siblings, there’s a feeling of knowing that someone is in your corner and always there to support you.
Interview quote (Michelle:
it’s a real blessing having them, the fact that I could have two at one time. The way they love each other they do like to go off and do their own thing, but when one is sick, they will be there with that one, like the other one will be there with that one, making sure she’s okay. I love that.
They’re just, they’re amazing, they’re, I mean it’s just priceless to see them both, you know just them both, when they were in my stomach seeing both of them interacting together, just the love that they give.
Interview quote (Melinda):
what message would you give about being a twin?
I would say just to be yourself, like don’t worry about people comparing you to your other twin, or to your twin.
Being a twin is awesome. I mean it’s like having a brother but they’re so close to you that you get that advantage of shared experience that is pretty unique. being a twin is great.
we had a great aunt and uncle who were twins and it one thing we realized and I think me and my twin have talked about before is we were born together, we lived most of our lives together and we’re gonna have each other for the rest of our lives, everything we’re gonna do, we could do together, except, we’re definitely not gonna die together, that’s something that we’re gonna have to do alone. We’re definitely not going to be together for that.
What’s you’re favorite part of being a twin?
Interview quote (Mandi): Her being my best friend like knowing I can go to her if I don’t have anyone else, like I could trust her.
Music Cue–1500 Stories outro music
This episode was written by Melinda Poley, it was edited by Lea Li. The music that opens and closes each 1500 Stories episode was composed and produced by Benjamin Henderson. Additional music was composed by Jesus Correa, Scomber, Geert Veneklaas, Snowflake, Adelyn Paik, Gurdonark. You’ll find references for the data discussed in this episode in the show notes. Special thanks to all of the storygatherers who conducted interviews for the project and all of the people who shared their stories so openly. You can hear and watch more of these stories at 1500stories.org and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at 1500 Stories. If you are interested in a season 2, you can support us by leaving a review, telling your friends and contributing to Jen’s Patreon. Thank you for listening. Listening deeply to another person’s story is one of the most valuable gifts you can give them. Imagine how the world might change if we really listened to each other.