My Life with Irish Triplets…And Apparently It Sucks

As we entered an elevator this evening, I was asked a question I have heard a thousand times by a nice older gentleman: “Are they triplets?” he said squinting his eyes on my three girls.

“Irish triplets,” my youngest knowingly said, providing the answer we’ve given so often over the years.

“These two are twins, and she is sixteen months younger,” I said with my standard smile.

“Wow, you’ll have your hands full in a few years….I don’t envy you! Three teenage girls, three weddings, three college educations…all at the same time. Wow, I wouldn’t want to do that. Wow. Hope your husband is loaded,” he said.

Fortunately, we were only going to the fourth floor, so I did not have to hear all the ways having my kids close together sucked. Yes, I am terrified about the impending hormones that will hit our house with full force all at the same time. Yes, I have thought about the cost of three weddings and it already gives my husband heart palpitations. Yes, we are really hoping all the soccer training will pay off one day in scholarships since we will have three kids in college all at the same time for several years. But hey, dude, thanks for the reminder. I was enjoying myself and needed to get whipped back into reality.

Obviously this was not the first time I had heard this commentary. My husband and I hear it all the time from random people we don’t know, some speaking with adoration and some with pity. Sometimes I handle it with a smile and endless conversation, other times I have to take deep breaths not to throttle someone.

Any parent of multiples can tell you the whackadoodle things people have said to them.  It ranges from “Are they natural?” (no ma’am, they are genetically modified) to “Are they identical?” (here is your hint….if one kid has blond hair and blue eyes and the other has brown hair and brown eyes, then no, they are not identical.) This stuff is easy to laugh off and take with a grain of salt.

But then you get the people who say things like this: “Better you than me, I could NEVER handle twins!” (well, I thought about sending one back, but I lost my receipt.) Or “Three girls, you are so screwed!” (yeah, I talked to God about setting me up right with the two boys and a girl I asked for, but he must have been focused on something else that day.) These are the comments that often make me bite my tongue in two in order to preserve some sense of decorum.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I regret having my children in the order I did. I feel blessed to have any children, nonetheless three. In fact, after dealing with infertility for nearly three years, I would have been ecstatic if that sweet ultrasound tech told me I had a litter inside me nearly a decade ago.

But having twins is hard. Not doubly hard, but exponentially harder. Then there was getting pregnant with the third, just when I started looking like I wasn’t pregnant from the twins. I can honestly say that I cried almost every day when I found out I was having another baby so soon, including every single time someone told me a story about their cousin’s best friend’s sister who had fertility treatments and them BAM! They got pregnant right after. Because sharing that information with me subsequent to me getting pregnant really helped my mindset.

And when people say to me that my girls are like having triplets, I often respond with: “I would never insult a parent of triplets by saying I could understand what it’s like to have three babies at once.”

There is a lot online about dumb things people have said to parents of multiples. Some are hilarious, some are crass, and some are even defended by the notion that a stranger asking how you breastfed two at once is just polite conversation. As the receiver of these extremely personal questions, it’s hard to read things this way, but I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt.

These guys probably are identical. And creepy.

These guys probably are identical. And creepy.

I’ve also read a few articles from parents of multiples that have provided some suggested  “approved” commentary of what you should say to a parent of multiples, most of which I don’t get. This includes:

+ “The more the merrier!” Um, I don’t know about you, but this was not my thought at 2:30 a.m. when my 16 month old twins woke up as I was nursing a newborn. It’s hard enough when one kid wakes you up out of a dead sleep. Adding another one (or two) doesn’t normally help the sleep deprivation.

+ “You are SuperMom!” I know this is meant as a compliment, but I don’t want to be SuperMom. I just want to make it to bedtime with all the kids alive.

+ “God only picks special parents to be moms of multiples.” This is a nice, well-meaning sentiment, but I like to think God has bigger fish to fry than divvying out three kids to me in 16 months. Or he has a really twisted sense of humor.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have one kid, three sets of twins or ten kids spread out over twenty years, it is all hard and we all just want to love our kids and see them happy.

So, the next time you see someone with twins, triplets, quads or a litter, maybe you can just give them a little smile. But just in case you can’t hold your tongue, I made you a little cheat sheet in order to help the conversation:

+ If you hear someone is having multiples, try this: “Congratulations! Let me know how I can help!”

+ If you see a parent of multiples in the grocery store, try this: “They are beautiful! Do you need any help?”

+ If you see a set of kids that look exactly the same at the playground, even if you want to ask all about their genetic make up, breast-feeding history, and sleep patterns, try this: “You have some really cute kids!”

+ And if you see a woman with three beautiful little girls that look like triplets that are acting well-behaved in the elevator, try saying: “Girl, you’ve got this.” And maybe a high-five.

What crazy things have people said to you about your brood?

 

  1. As an identical twin I have heard my fair share of strange comments and looks over the years. Some of the stories my mom has told me would horrify you! I am also afraid of the teenage years in our house, college educations and 3 weddings.

  2. I always thought it odd when people would ask if my girl/boy twins are identical. Um, the equipment is different, so no;)

  3. After having 2 boys, people would always ask if we were going to have another to “get that girl”. We had always planned on having 3 and it just worked out that the last one was a girl. And once she was born people would comment about how excited we must be to finally have a girl. We were BEYOND thrilled to have each of our children, regardless of their sex. Now I just get a lot of ‘I don’t know how you do it’ type of comments with all 3 of them in school and various activities. Some days I don’t either except that you just do.

    • I get asked if we’re going to try for a boy as well, but I always say that I don’t like those odds! People are funny.

  4. “You’ve got your hands full” is a comment I get most often and I don’t have multiples. You need to create a t-shirt line with your cheat sheet list. Hilarious and true!

  5. I ran into a couple who had two grocery carts, each with a small baby in an infant carrier, and then a toddler in one cart, and another child running around somewhere. I had my (only child) toddler son with me, and we did the obligatory, “hey look you have kids too, I should probably say something about how cute they are” look at each other, and then I leaned down to my son and said, “Do you see the babies? Look how many *blessings* that couple has!” I had no idea what else to say, because all I *wanted* to say was, “Wow, I know how hard this shopping trip must have been for you, and I’m so proud of you for making it all the way to the checkout with all of the children and what looks like your sanity, intact.”

    • That is awesome! I used to only go places that had carts, and always had two, one for my stuff and one for my kids. One time an older woman who was annoyed that I took up so much room in a small grocery store said: “Maybe you should get a babysitter when you need to go out.” I was like, um, I’m not paying someone so I can go to the grocery store!

  6. Here is my fav…Your girls are beautiful, are they adopted? Now my husband is Jamaican and I’m from the Midwest so some might say that we are an unlikely pair but seriously there are ao many things wrong with that.

  7. On the opposite end of the spectrum…with our 2 being 7.5 years apart…I’ve heard on several occasions: “this must be your second marriage!” and an all time favorite: “what took you so long”…that one really cuts…because the pain in those years in between was unimaginable. Brie usually belts out “I’ve got a brother in heaven too!” and that typically ends the conversation! 😉 love her!

  8. You don’t know how much it validates me to know that all mothers get completely inane commentary on the population of their household. I have one. “yes, just the one.” and I cannot tell you how often I get, “you need to have more…” from COMPLETE STRANGERS! Including people who have NO CHILDREN. And my daughter will ask, “who is that?” She is 5. Anytime I see people with multiples or children in general – I always compliment the kids, and also apologize if my daughter is being naughty or recruiting theirs to be naughty with her. It usually is like, “I swear I don’t know where she gets it from, it’s probably her mother…”

  9. Oh, my friends here the “just one” comment all the time. Who knew the most controversial thing about parenting would be actually the number of kids you had! Thanks for reading.

  10. When I tell people Catherine is almost 3, the immediate response is “time for another one!” But my absolute favorite is when people ask if her curly hair is natural. It kills me to not respond with something scarcastic like “No, it is not natural; my 2 year old patiently sits while I curl her hair from top to bottom every morning!!!”

  11. I have three girls, each two years apart, which means I have a four year span between my oldest and youngest. But…my oldest and middle-born are only 1/2 inch different in height so I get asked about the twin thing a lot. I used to get asked about trying for a boy – a lot – but not anymore. The one that gets me the most is — wow, they’re TALL. Not sure how to respond to that one.

  12. The “God only picks special parents …” is one that is offered for special needs kids as well. It isn’t my favorite. Even more annoying to me are those who go on about “what a blessing my special needs kiddo is”. Really? I have two – I think the typical kiddo is just as much of a blessing.

    The best feedback I ever got was the Mom who held my daughter’s puke bag for me. I was unloading my cart at the grocery store when my daughter started puking. I can’t remember if I was trying to hold & unload at the same time or if I attempted to get brother to hold the bag when she offered to hold the bag. I have no idea who is was but I remember her fondly. Maybe someday, I’ll return the help – I still carry a puke bag as well as gauze & medical tape.

  13. Pingback: The Numbers Game | playdatesonfridays

  14. I love this post! Awesome writing and TRUE STORY! As a mom of a 7-year old and twin 4-year old boys, I get a fair share of “interesting” comments/questions as well. The “natural” question still throws me off-guard, despite the ridiculous number of times it’s been asked. Here is my personal favorite one-off encounter:
    Lady on the Street: “Are they twins?”
    Me: “Yes.”
    Lady on the Street: “Are they both yours?

    And with that, Happy Monday!

    • Ha! That’s awesome. I get “Are they all yours?” all the time. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person with three kids….mine just happen to be closer together!

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  16. I really appreciate this post. I have been looking everywhere for this! Thank goodness I found it on Bing. You have made my day! Thx again

  17. Love your blog Wendy (am friends with Leigh, so will continue to tune in). I have 4.5 year old boy/girl twins. I got all the asinine comments too, especially when they were very little. My favourite though went something like this:
    Stranger:Oh my, you have your hands full, are they twins?
    Me: Yes, they are, a boy and a girl
    Stranger: Oh, are they identical then?
    Me; One is a boy and one is a girl
    Stranger: yes, but are they identical
    Me: Nope, not identical. Boys and girls can’t be now can they? (trying to keep smiling)
    Stranger: Are you sure though? Maybe you should have one of those tests they can do now, you know my cousins sisters uncles friend….
    Me: Ok, bye then, nice to meet you (over my shoulder as I walk away)

    • Hilarious! I did something similar when people asked me if my girl-girl twins were identical. I would sweetly say, well, one has blue eyes and the other brown. They would same thing….”Are they Identical then?” Maybe we should tell them to ask Siri on their phone! Thanks so much for stopping by!