I’m going to tell you my number one pet peeve as a mother of 4-year-old triplets. It’s nothing that the children do. And that’s not to say they’re perfect angels. They’re not. They’re going through this horrid phase where nudity and farts are the funniest things ever, especially when put together. I spend more days yelling at them to keep their clothes on.
What absolutely drives me up the wall is when I meet someone new, or see someone after a while, and we start to talk about children. When my kids come up, the person I’m talking to gives me this wide-eyed look and says, “Wow. I could never do that. You are some sort of superhero.”
The thing is, I never know how to respond to that. I usually end up stammering some sort of half whispered thank you, and feel like a total fraud. Everyone I know keeps marveling over how calm I always seem around my kids. I always wonder what they would really think if they saw the chaos of the weekends, or the evening frenzy of putting all three monkeys to bed. They all still share a room.
The truth of the matter is that if I were a super hero, it would probably be some caffeine addled, rumple clothed, bleary-eyed version of the Incredible Hulk. I always feel two seconds away from flipping out and going all “MOMMY SMASH!” on whatever toys and goldfish crackers are strewn all over my floor. Quite frankly, I feel that any mother probably feels the same way. It really doesn’t matter if we’re parenting one, two, three, or however many little tikes we’ve got running around underfoot, overhead, or anywhere they have decided to stick themselves.
If anything, I commend the parents who have more than one child at different ages. I think of scheduling those extracurricular activities at different times on different days, and the notion of organizing that schedule gives me palpitations. I look at my three 4-year-olds and think that I must have taken the lazy way out. Both boys are with their sister in itty-bitty acro, and she’s loving being in a karate class with them. As long as they’re all happy, I’m happy to keep them all doing the same stuff. Hardly a superwoman attitude.
I’m not trying to diminish what parents of multiples go through. It’s damn hard. I found it especially so in the beginning. My husband and I looked at each other with the same panicked thought of, “Now we’re outnumbered.” My kids were born nearly eight weeks premature, and spent a month in the NICU. To this day, I’m hyper vigilant over every little illness, scrape, bump or bruise. I’m that parent obsessing over the teacher’s comments in the parent teacher interview, making sure that my kid isn’t behind in any way. (Yeah, even now in junior kindergarten). I still barely sleep. Even now, four years after they came home from the hospital, I sneak into their room before I go to bed, and re-tuck them in and check to make sure they’re OK. I am that über creepy mom from that Robert Munsch book “I Love You Forever.”
Having three kids who are all the same age feels a little bit like I run a daycare. Only the pay is shit. I have looked at this as a small set of pros and cons:
Pros: They all play with the same toys. (Tiana is now leading the Avengers on a raid against Captain Jake and Princess Sofia.) They all like the same shows on television. (Usually.) They are in the same class at school, and have the same friends, so play dates are easy to plan. I also only have to plan one birthday party. And in several years’ time, we’re planning one big bar mitzvah, much like the bris naming ceremony we’d had once the boys were deemed strong enough.
Cons: I have no hand me downs. They usually all want the same toy at the same time. I have to be at every single play date, as there is no way I could hand three kids over to a poor parent in good conscience. Also, eventually, the one birthday party thing may cease to work. What do I do when cooties comes into effect? Is this still even a thing? Do I need to worry about this?
I have come to realize that parenting is the hardest job out there. Juggling three kids with three different personalities is going to be hard regardless of what age they are. I think any of us who are doing it are heroes in our own right. Parents of singletons don’t have that sibling there to keep their child occupied when a distraction is needed, so they drink that cup of coffee when it’s actually hot. Parents who have kids at all different ages have that struggle of differing needs and desires that can be all over.
Then, there are parents such as myself. I was handed quite a handful the day they were born. I didn’t know how I’d do it. Thank god for my husband, the most attentive and loving father a kid could ask for. And he has three asking for it all the time! But I jumped in with both feet. I didn’t know any different. I still don’t. Some days, it feels like I’m a second away from drowning. Other days, it’s nothing but joy. But then, I still don’t believe that any other parent feels differently about that, and I really don’t know how any of us do it. We’re all superheroes