I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

You're Not Crazy

The only sentence any new mother wants to hear is, "You're not crazy."

It's the sentence she wants to hear when she tells a friend she isn't coping very well.

The sentence she wants to hear when she takes her kid to the doctor.

The sentence she wants to hear when she tells her Mom that her baby isn't sleeping and is unsettled all the time.

The sentence she wants to hear ANY time she doubts her ability to handle this whole parenthood thing.

It's not that we spend all our time thinking we're crazy. It's that - for as many billions of mothers came before us and billions of mothers who will follow us - we all want validation that we are doing okay.

Being a mother is a lonely business - everyone around you seems to be coping just fine, the women in those ads all look so remarkably well put together, your in-laws are expecting a clean house AND a warm meal for their son every night, you think strangers are judging you when your baby cries in aisle five, and the women in your mother's group all seem to have remembered to wear matching outfits not only for themselves but for their children as well.

Being a parent of multiples - you can just amp that loneliness up a notch (or three). Suddenly you have no mother's group because your nurse never assigned you one - she decided it would all be too hard for you to get there. Strangers not only judge you, but they want a piece of you and think it's okay to ask highly personal, somewhat offensive questions all the time - or worse still, that it's okay to touch or pick up your babies without asking. People assume you need lots of help (which you might, or you might not) and so either they show up in droves or they stay away because it's all too much for them to confront. Women in playgrounds ignore you because of how inadequate you make them feel - you made it to the park with two or three kids while they barely managed one.. Everyone labels you "the twin Mum" or "the triplet Mum" and suddenly you cease to be anything but that person everyone is in awe of...and not always in a nice way.

Luckily enough for me, early on I found out about my local multiple birth association. They had a library full of books. A newsletter with "been there, done that" articles and classified ads which meant I could outfit a triplet nursery for less than the GNP of a small country. Outings for kids of all ages. Speakers I could listen to. Recipes which can feed a crowd. Online forums. Names of local doctors, dentists, and professionals who had experience with multiples. My local MBA had just about everything a mother of multiples could want but the ONE thing they had which was invaluable to me was this: they had OTHER multiple birth parents.

You have no idea just how life saving and faith affirming it is to hear someone say, "You're not crazy," when you've been up all night rocking one child while the other one screams and a third one sleeps through it, oblivious to the chaos. No idea how good it feels to have someone say, "You're not crazy," when you think going back to full time work would somehow seem easier than raising these kids. No idea how good it feels to have someone say, "You're not crazy," when you complain that the last time you saw your husband was...oh..wait. When did I see him last? I'm not sure. Possibly he was the guy carrying in the 100-count box of diapers, but I can't really be sure because I'm JUST. SO. TIRED.

From the time I saw those three flickering lights on the ultrasound to the time my kids were becoming independent enough that it made me cry (what do you mean, "I do it myself Mummy!!"...?) my local multiple birth association was the single best resource I had when it came to raising those kids. It's true what they say, that it takes a village to raise a child. In my case, it took a village where the children outnumber the mothers on a two-to-one ratio (at the very least.)

Happy Multiple Birth Awareness Week - and no, I'm not crazy for being very, very, very glad I had my kids all at once instead of one at a time.