The Lie I Tell…
When the triplets were babies and very young toddlers we, like most multiple moms, got all sorts of comments and questions. “Were they natural?” “Better you then me.” “I’d kill myself (yes this was actually said and to be honest what do you really say back to that)” “I don’t know how you do it.” and on and on. The kids were probably around 1 1/2 years old when we were standing in a line at Target to check out. There was a woman who had two small children and one who looked close to kindergarten age. She looked at me and said “I just don’t know how you do it.” My usual response to this was “You just do.” However this particular mom had a worn look about her. I wondered for a moment if she was having a rough day with her kids. I wondered if she perhaps had a lot of rough days as a parent of three. So instead of my usual half hearted retort, a lie was born.
I smiled at her and said “You actually have it rougher then me. Mine are all the same age, doing the same thing. Yours though are all at different stages, doing different things, and have different needs.”
This seemed to brighten her smile and she said she never thought about it like that before. Perhaps it was just me, but that response seemed to make her think about how she had a tough job too and should be proud of it. Thus the lie was born. After that, anyone that had more then one child/ different ages, and that made a comment like that got this new response. Over and over again I watched this response seem to brighten parents up a little. It made them think. I’d like to think it made them realize that every parent has a hard job whether you have multiples or just different age children. That every parent has trials, good days and bad.
Now why do I say it is a lie then? Simple, because I have two grown children who were two years apart and then I had triplets. I have experienced both sides of that coin. Yes, there were challenges with the older ones being at different developmental stages, especially when they started school and sports. However that was also a blessing. The older one could help me at certain times, I could get him interested in one activity so I could do what the younger one needed, and so forth. I’m not saying it’s NOT difficult because it is, but I’m also not saying that triplets are easier by any means.
For me personally, I think triplets are more challenging. Forget the first year, because I’m sorry, that first year you are living in a caffeine high-no sleep delirium induced version of the walking dead. That’s why most of us blog, so we can look back and remember those precious moments and actually be able to say “awe”. No sane mom of multiples would ever say my “lie” in the first year and actually mean it.
It’s a challenge even as they get older because they are all the same age. Two of them want to go play in the backyard while one just wants to look at books in their favorite comfy chair. One wants to go see the lion first, one wants to see the monkeys, and one wants to go dive into the water fountains at the zoo entrance before you even get 10 feet in. Just because they are multiples doesn’t mean they are the same person. They all have their own quirks, likes, dislikes, just like singleton children. Those are just the petty little moments though. The bigger ones like: Getting three two year olds to stand right next to you while loading and unloading them from the car in a parking lot. The melt downs that start with one and end up with three surrounding you screaming at the top of their lungs because they haven’t learned to express themselves with words yet.Trying to get everyone to go to bed at the same time and up at the same time when you have one that is a night owl and one that is an early bird, both fighting for control of the schedule, and ending with a very tired and grumpy household. I’m sure you can think of tons of other examples (I sure can, daily).
Now lets fast forward to teenagehood: Teaching three to drive at once, getting their licenses, and shelling out to add three teens to your insurance at once. Three going to prom at the same time, three going on the senior trip at one time, three graduating from high school at the same time, three going to college at the same time. I’m not just talking about money here, I’m talking about the chaos.
For me, triplets has been much more challenging then having two separate age children, and I don’t think I will ever feel any differently as they get older. Here’s the thing though, I call the statement I told that woman (and many others since) “my lie.” That’s not entirely true either. Although I feel triplets are more challenging for me, doesn’t mean they don’t have a hard job raising children of different ages. Having multiple children of different ages comes with it’s own unique challenges as well. Because the latter scenario is much more common, those parents don’t really get any props or pats on the back. Every parent has horrible days where they just wished they could hide in their bed until the next morning. We all have moments that push us and challenge us. We all have been to the breaking point and pulled ourselves back at the last minute (or your child realizes you are there and immediately does something sweet so they can continue the madness in a half hour once you have recomposed).
The point is, these parents need to remember that just because I have triplets and that seems hard to them, doesn’t mean that what they are doing is any less complicated and not filled with it’s own unique problems. Parenting isn’t easy. It’s messy and loud. Filled with tears and laughter, smooth sailing and broken roads. The one thing we all have in common though? We are all trying our best to do the right things for our children so they can grow up into happy, well educated, self-sufficient adults. I found that my “lie” makes others really think about their own situations. It gives them that needed pat on the back that is usually forgotten. It helps put that “horrible day” into perspective. Yes I hate the intrusive and stupid comments some people make but we, as multiple moms, also get a lot of props for managing our broods as well.
Perhaps my lie isn’t so bad after all. Perhaps sometimes it is the best thing a person could hear at that very moment. It is what I like to think at least and why I have continued to repeat it after that day in Target.