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Katy England Katy England
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Wild moms of multiples

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Having multiples is a phenomenon. It imbues one with rock-star status, at least in parenting circles. We have a strange insight into what it must be like to be a minor celebrity and have random people ask you the same questions over and over again.

And because this is an experience shared by many moms with twins, triplets and more, I put the questions to my local Parents of Multiples (on Facebook, because I don't go places).

What's annoying? What's nice? Funny story. Obnoxious story.

Just about everyone said the most irritating thing is the questions:

Are they twins? Are they identical?

So as a normal person, you're probably wondering what's wrong with those questions. And really, individually there's nothing wrong with them. I've answered similar questions from dear friends and close family. But the thing is, when you're grabbing three gallons of milk or hauling two or three kids at the same time from one place to another, it isn't dear friends and close family asking the questions. It's everyone. It's probably the same reason Stephen King doesn't want to talk to me about the novel I'm working on. He's heard it before.

But those questions are tame. Some observations not so much. Melissa Newcomb, a mom of triplet boys, said the things that got under her skin were comments like: 'Oh, I'd hate to be you,' or 'I'd shoot myself if I were you.'

On a brighter note, when she was struggling to maneuver her triplet stroller through the slush and ice, two kind passersby each took a baby and helped her into the grocery store.

My cousin, who had twin boys, said I should charge five bucks to everyone who said, 'You've got your hands full.' I'd be a rich woman.

Annemarie Cole recalled a time when she was trying to maneuver her 13-month-old twins through airport security.

'When you get rushed from all angles and have to put your items into and out of the bins, and hold the babies and set up your stroller [It] was a bit much, and nobody, not even the staff, was willing to ask if they could help set up the stroller,' she said.

Bev Uhlenhanke, mom of toddler twins and a preschooler, notes that if you know someone who has had multiples, find a way to help sometimes in spite of what we might say.

'Don't listen to us parents of multiples when we nicely say we don't need help. Don't ask us what we need because we'll invariably tell you that we're fine!' Help is needed, but most of us have been too afraid and/or embarrassed to ask,' she said. 'At the baby stage, I would have killed for someone to clean my bathrooms or car, because those things had to move so far down on the priority list.'

Bev noted that often parents are so tired and frayed they can't express what they need for help so true.

'See a dirty dish? Wash it. Know where my vacuum is? Plug it in and use it,' she said. 'Cause when our girls were infants, there were days when I couldn't have formed a complete sentence to ask you to do it.'

And sometimes that help just means letting the parents eat a meal.

'We had invited a childless couple over for dinner (our first dinner guests with the girls),' recalled Jessica Harvey. 'Of course, the girls started crying as soon as we sat down to dinner. Our friends took both girls into the living room and cared for them as we ate. While I so wanted to be a good hostess, I was so thankful to actually be able to eat a meal.'

Tabitha Ketch recalled a time she was trying to register her car when her twins - only 6 weeks old - started screaming bloody murder. Two elderly women picked them up and rocked them to sleep, allowing her to finish the process.

Most people know just enough about genetics to be dangerous. Which leads to the question: Do twins run in your family? Everyone has heard how multiples are hereditary, but what you might not realize is you're prying into something kinda personal especially if you trot out 'did you use fertility treatments?'

Depending on our moods you may find yourself getting snarked on if you aren't careful (How did we have them? We had sex). Or you may actually hurt a mom's feelings. May not be what you meant, but you might want to think about it before you ask.

Here's a crash course in identical verses fraternal. Boy and girl is a fraternal set. If the gender is the same there's a chance of identical. And try not to argue with the mom.

'Complete strangers arguing with me about whether or not the girls were identical,' said Jennifer Comeau Folsom. 'If asked, I will answer the truth fraternal and more often than not, the response back is, Are you sure?' I have all that I can do not to respond back with, Nope, I can't read, so I made up my own story for what the pathology report says.''

So, what should you do when you see a mom of multiples in the wild?

Hold the door! And smile. Comment on how cute the kids look. Tell the parents that they are doing a marvelous job, and resist the urge to say 'your hands are full.' And really, just treat us like any other parent.

We multiple moms tend to stick together for moral support.

'I love to talk to multiple parents, as they never say, Wow, you must be busy,' or, Double trouble.' They look at you with compassion while you're herding your cats (i.e. twin 2-year-olds and a 4-year-old) and say, I promise it gets easier,'' said Tabitha Ketch.

There are so many stories of silliness and kindness I can't fit it all in one column. Look for more anecdotes from your wild parents of multiples in the future.

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 September 2012 13:10

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