Viewers were first introduced to Kate Gosselin's family in 2006, and life has never been the same for the Pennsylvania-based clan. Seven years after Jon and Kate Plus 8 premiered, twin Cara and Mady are opening up about growing up in the spotlight and what their mom is really like when cameras aren't rolling.
The family appeared in two TV specials, Surviving Sextuplets and Twins and Sextuplets and Twins: One Year Later, before the network gave the Gosselins their own reality series. The twins' parents' divorce—spurred by their father Jon's alleged affair with a school teacher—became tabloid fodder in 2009.
"People expect us to be damaged," 13-year-old Cara says in the Jan. 20 issue of People, on stands Friday, Jan. 10. "People think we're supposed to be messed up, like, 'Oooooh, the poor Gosselin kids, they're going to be scarred for life, waaaaah,'" adds Mady, who is younger than her twin by six minutes. "Here's the big news: we're not messed up."
Cara concurs, saying, "It's so false. We're fine. We're better than ever, actually."
The sisters—plus their sextuplet siblings, now 9—stopped filming Kate Plus 8 in 2011. How is Kate, 38, as a mom these days? "She is so annoying!" Mady shouts.
Cara explains that the former Dancing With the Stars contestant is "annoying on purpose. Like, she does it just to bother us."
Mady offers an example: "Like, she says 'spensive. I'm like, 'Mom, it's expensive. 'Spensive isn't a word! Stop it!'" Cara nods and adds, "She totally does that just to annoy us."
Even if her twins find think she's purposely annoying, Kate tells People she's proud of her eldest daughters. "I wish they were a little more innocent in some ways," she admits. But on the other hand, "they're savvy, and they've learned things about the world and peoples intentions that took me decades to learn," the mom of eight says. "They're more aware of their surroundings and can size you up with a glance. They're nobody's fools."