Being a mom of multiples (MoM), I am no stranger to embarrassing and, oftentimes, challenging questions while out with my family. It comes with the territory: I remember the day we first tried to go to our local Farmer’s Market when the babies were really little. There were three adults with me and we did not have enough fingers between us to count the stares, looks, points, questions and whispers. No joke. (I did get some free cheese for having triplets, though, so I guess it was all worth it. Ha!)
We are a spectacle wherever we go. As the babies have gotten older, we have learned some tricks for escaping some of the spotlight that seems to follow us everywhere. For example, my husband usually has one of the babies and I’ll have the other two (or vice versa). People don’t notice us quite as often this way.
We also include extra time to be able to accomplish an errand. Talking to people throughout the errand takes a lot of time. And thought. It’s like having 15 mini-conversations in 45 minutes while trying to shop for everything on your grocery list. It is unusual that I don’t discuss how the babies sleep, how we do it, how they were conceived, whether I used fertility assistance or not, no you cannot take their picture, when I found out, they were a surprise, that I have family in town to help, that we are actually blessed and our hearts are fuller than our hands, that they are triplets, yes this is a big stroller and no it doesn’t fit through doors/on sidewalks, that the girls are not identical, that we actually don’t know that we are done (we hope to adopt!), yes we do get stopped a lot, and that they do all sometimes cry at the exact same time. Etc.
This is every neighborhood walk, every trip to Target.
Most people, I believe, are well-meaning. Many don’t mean to say hurtful things like “I’d kill myself if I had triplets”. And most don’t set out to embarrass themselves – like the Customer Service gentleman who asked, “Wow, so did you, like, do that fertility thing?” Generally, the people who say, “Having three kids close in age like I did is just like having triplets” are just opening their mouths before thinking. And I’d venture the majority of them don’t realize they are the 13th person that day to stop me about the exact same thing.
I get that. It just doesn’t make it any easier, less exhausting or less hurtful.
And I’d like to say I take every opportunity to interact with people about the blessings God has given me and David. But I don’t. Sometimes I even avoid eye contact. But I’m learning to tell the difference between rude gawkers and sincere encouragers.
And when the sincere encourager comes along with a comment that is supportive? Well, it’s like a fresh, cool breeze. It’s encouraging to know that this person, in this moment, does not think I’m a freak for creating three persons at once. It’s refreshing to hear that they don’t want to hear about my sex life and how the babies were conceived. It’s a relief to see their joy at finding I have triplets and not disdain.
So what are these comments that can be so encouraging?
The Top 5 Things to Say to Moms of Multiples
- You’re doing a great job! (Ohmygoodness! What mother wouldn’t love to hear this? And a mother who’s handed three babies from the doctor with a parting “have a great life; call if you have questions”? She may kiss your face. And it’s especially meaningful if you say it even if all three are screaming and tantruming.)
- What a blessing! (Right? Because they are! And so much nicer to hear than “I’d kill myself if I had triplets.” Triplets are super-duper challenging. But they are blessings. They are little lives. Little people. Tiny souls. And we have the privilege of moulding, shaping and growing their hearts and minds. What about that isn’t a blessing?)
- So fun! (We know it’s lots of work. Trust us. We do. There’s no need to tell us that because we’re doing it: hard work is right now! But it’s a lot of fun and we love to talk about that. It also helps us focus on those things that are fun in a particularly challenging season of their lives.)
- Incredible! (Only one in 8,000 bodies creates triplets spontaneously. And however they were conceived, we had 30 fingers, 30 toes, 6 arms, 6 legs, 3 heads and 3 hearts being sustained by our one body. God is amazing!! He created our bodies to do a phenomenal thing. There’s nothing freak-ish about it!)
- Can I help you? (Yes. Oh, yes, please! Holding the door open for our mammoth strollers? Bless you! Pray that we all sleep tonight? Oh, for sure! Push the cart to the car while we push the stroller that weighs as much as a small elephant? It’s not likely we’ll turn away help.)
So the next time you see a mom with multiples, say something like the above and you will knock-her-socks-off bless her! Seriously!
I’ve found these comments can really open doors for some meaningful conversations. We’ve talked with complete strangers about battling infertility, struggles with raising children, experiences with a sibling/friend/co-worker who had multiples, high-risk pregnancies and the challenges of having special-care, preemie children. All intense, serious stuff!! …and in lines at Costco and by the swings at the park.