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What To Do If You Spot A Mother of Multiples in Public

We’ve all been there. You are in the grocery store, minding your own business and suddenly you see a mother with two or three (heck, these days maybe even four) children around the same age following her around. Now for some of you, the more seasoned people watchers, spotting a mom of multiples is no big deal. But there are others of you, you know who you are, who just can’t look away. Suddenly, you’re entranced by this family and cannot help but stare at them as they move about the store. Sometimes it’s because the children are dressed alike, other times it’s because the children are causing mayhem throughout the aisles. Whatever the reason, they’ve got you under a spell and you are not quite sure what to say to this mom or if you should just remain a quiet bystander.

As a mother of multiples, I’m gonna help you out. I’ll provide a few topics that maybe you could role play with a friend so that the next time this happens to you, you won’t be so bewildered. It might seem that the mother is so caught up with keeping her children from pouring milk jugs on the floor to notice you, but like all moms, mothers of multiples can in fact see you watching them. They see that smile on your face, or that look of disgust, whatever the case may be. Most likely they won’t say anything to you if they catch you looking at them. Believe it or not, it’s even more awkward for the mother of multiples to start the conversation. There isn’t much she can say.

“Don’t you just love how I dressed my twins alike today?”

“I bet you didn’t even realize they were triplets, did you?”

So the onus is on you, the spectator, to speak up. You don’t have to. You can remain silent, but can I offer one suggestion? If you decide to keep quiet, go ahead and just go on about your business. As I said before, the mom has probably noticed you. It’s best to just move on.

But if you just can’t stand it, if the suspense is just killing you as to whether the kids are just three kids close in age or in fact triplets, here are some tips.

“Are they twins (or triplets or whatever the case maybe)?” this is a great opener. It’s quick and to the point. It’s a great way to gauge how social the mom wants to be. She’ll most likely answer something like “yes” or if they are not, she’ll answer “No, actually they are 13 months apart.”

Don’t be embarrassed if you guess wrong. Chances are, you are not the first to ask. This question will not come as a shock to her at all. Listen carefully to the tone in which they answer. Some moms might just be having a rough day. Don’t take it personal. Personally, I’ll talk to anyone who talks to me. I spend most of the day talking with preschoolers so any adult interaction is a great relief. I can’t speak for all moms though.

Now that you’ve broken the ice, I’d like to suggest your next phrase be a compliment. Comments like “You handle it so well” or “you look so refreshed and put together. I only had one kid and I never looked as great as you” serve as a gentle boost in self-esteem for these moms.

Other phrases like “I don’t know how you do it” or “You must have your hands full” are okay but a little obvious. Of course she has her hands full. And lets be honest, she doesn’t really have a choice in whether or not to do it or not.

Here are some tips on what not to say. Don’t tell the mom about the twins that your cousin’s neighbor had. As moms of multiples, we’ve heard all the stories. The one exception is if you have twins in your immediate family. If you are a twin, or have twin siblings, feel free to speak up. (It goes without saying that if you have twins yourself you can say something, but chances are if you are fellow parent of multiples, you will not be at a loss of words when you encounter other parents of multiples so I really don’t feel I need to address this at all)

Also, I’m just going to say it. We know what you are really asking when you say “Do twins run in your family?” or “Were they a surprise?” We know you are just trying to get at whether these twins were a result of fertility treatments or not. Maybe I’m wrong; maybe your question is innocent in its intentions. But keep in mind, we get asked this question over and over again. We’ve had people butcher it. We’ve heard “Are they natural?” and “Did you use any help?” I’m just going to say it. It’s doesn’t matter. When you walk around with your singleton (that’s what us parents of multiples call children who are not multiples) no one feels the urge to ask you about your fertility issues. Does it really matter that much more with multiples?

One more thing you need to know. I’m not going to go into great detail on this one but here is a quick lesson on identical vs. fraternal twins.

If the twins are boy/girl, they are fraternal. 100% of the time. There is absolutely no need to ask this question.

Okay, I think I’ve covered the main issues. I hope you’ve found this helpful. My goal is not to chastise, but to educate. The staring is much worse than actually engaging in a conversation. Good luck!

You Don’t Always Get To Pick Your Friends

For the record, I never wanted to be her friend.

Her reputation preceded her and quite frankly, I wanted nothing to do with her.

For starters she was in second grade. Do you realize what hanging out with a second grader can do to a third grader’s social standing?

Secondly, she was a minor celebrity in our school. She had a recurring role on the monthly “soap drama” broadcast school-wide. This was usually a privilege reserved for 6th graders, but she scored the much-coveted role of the younger sister of one of the characters. You know how these celeb-types can be: very demanding and self-involved. No thank you.

But despite my protests, my parents bought the house next to hers anyway.

From day one I found her to be a nuisance. The moving truck had yet to pull away from our house and there she was, knocking on our door, asking if I could come over to play. My parents, eager to get me out of the house while they unpacked, quickly shoved me out the door and told me they’d call me home for dinner. It was 10 AM.

I must admit playing at her house was pretty cool. She was an only child so the two of us basically had the run of the place. No older brothers to share the basement rec room with. No younger siblings taking a nap, forcing us to be quiet. I soon found myself actually enjoying her company.

In the years that followed, we became like sisters. Since we were in different grades, we each had our own “real friends.” But after school and during the summer, we were inseparable. We’d fight. I’d go home. An hour later we’d make up.

As we grew into adults, we remained close friends. She was the maid of honor at my wedding. I was the matron of honor at hers.

Currently we live 1,000 miles apart. We live very different lives. We are two very different people. You might think I’m exaggerating. Surely we aren’t that different. I urge you to check out her blog: Read a few posts. I’ll wait right here. It’s okay, you can go. Trust me, after a few clicks, you’ll see what I mean. She’s a walking Pinterest board.

So you can imagine my hesitation when I traveled to stay with her last week. I was attending a conference in her city. She made it clear that she’d be offended if I didn’t stay with her. This trip would be the longest we’ve been together since college. I’ll admit I was nervous.

It did not take long to realize things were going to be fine. Fashion preferences aside, we were the same two giggly girls from childhood.

Neither of us have sisters but I’d imagine this is what having a sister is like. You don’t get to pick your sister. I didn’t pick Katie. But she shares a piece of me that few others do. She shares my childhood. She was there on the summer nights catching lightening bugs at dusk. She was there building snowmen on snow days in the winter. She was there when I had my first kiss with the neighbor boy on her swing set. I realize that sounds odd; having an audience for your first kiss is not desirable. However, it was her coaxing that made the kiss happen. The neighbor boy and I were far too shy to come up with that idea on our own.

I’m thankful for the shared memories of our childhood. Those memories are what hold us together. No amount of miles, or Pinterest boards, can change that.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

I wish there was some sort of sign that I could wear when I walk in. A sign that said something like “I’m not looking for a commitment right now.” I feel like that sign would clear things up.

I don’t want to lead you on. I’m sure you are a really great person. It’s just, I’m not looking for anything serious right now. I don’t want to be tied down to just one person. I want to be free to see other people. I’m not saying I don’t want to see you again. I do, I think. I mean, when I left tonight, I felt beautiful. I really did. But tomorrow morning I’m going to wake up and be the same old person again and I’m not sure I’ll remember that rush of self-esteem. Tomorrow things will be difficult. And I’ll resent you for it. I’ll resent how easy things were with you and now that you are gone, I can’t have it anymore.

Even if I was ready for a commitment, you wouldn’t be happy with me. I wouldn’t want to see you as often as you’d want to see me. I know today you were hoping that I’d schedule a time we could see each other again. I told you that I’d call you. You gave me your number. I’ll be honest, I might keep it in my purse for a few months, but eventually I’m going to clean out my purse. I’ll see your number and I’ll think back to our time together.  I’ll think about tonight but I probably won’t call. It will have been too long. I don’t want to explain why I didn’t call you sooner. Maybe you won’t care, maybe you would just be happy that I called, but I’ll feel guilty. I’ll also question if things will be good the next time. Sure tonight went well, but was that a fluke? What will it be like next time? What if the next two times things go well but the fourth time things go bad? I’ll feel trapped. I’ll feel like I am in too deep. I’ve committed and now I need to keep seeing you even though things are different.

I’m not saying we can’t do this again sometime. Maybe in a few months, when I’m ready, I’ll walk back in and I’ll see you. Maybe you’ll be sitting alone and things will be just like they were tonight. Or maybe you’ll be busy with someone else. I understand. Obviously, you can’t just wait around for me to walk back in again. I might sit with someone new. You and I might meet eyes and it might be awkward. I might watch you with someone else and wish it was me. I might smile as I’m talking to someone new, but deep down I’m wondering what things would be like if it was me in that chair next to you.

Judge me if you want. I know I’m not getting any younger. Plenty of women my age have found someone. I hear about the loyalty and devotion other women have in their relationships and I know deep down that I’m never going to have that. I don’t think I even want it. I just can’t see myself committing to one person for the rest of my life. People change. What I like now, I’m probably not going to like in 10 years. Are you going to be okay with that? Are you willing to grow with me like that? After one night, I just don’t know if it’s possible to know something like that.

So here is what I can tell you. I’m happy with my haircut. I think you did a great job. You did what I asked you to do. I think you are great hair stylist and are very talented. I’m sure you make a lot of your clients happy. I’m sure you would make me happy. I just can’t make you my stylist right now. I’m just not ready. I hope you understand.


On Turning 30.

I turn 30 in 60 days, but who’s counting? Okay, I’m counting. September 2 looms on the horizon in front of me and I am unable to shake the pit in my stomach that accompanies the date. In the past, the days leading up to my birthday were days of anticipation and excitement. Growing up, I was the youngest in my grade, which meant every year I anxiously watched as my friends reach their milestones before me. I hated this. I hated that I was the last one every time. Adults told me that someday I would love being the youngest. I didn’t believe them. But like most wisdom handed down from adults, they were right. For the first time in my life, I am relieved that I have a late birthday. But it also kind of feels like I am slowly tearing off a Band-Aid. With every birthday Facebook post I write, I know my day is coming. It is only a matter of time before I join the club.

I don’t want to turn thirty. I want to throw a tantrum and demand to remain 29 forever. I like my twenties. I accomplished a lot in my twenties. I graduated college, lived in Japan, got a job, bought a car, moved out on my own, got married, bought a house and had three kids (two of them at once, I might add). I’m proud of my twenties. We’ve had a good run, my twenties and I. I am not ready to say good-bye to them.

Though I’ve done a lot, I can’t help but think I could have done more. People do some crazy things in their twenties. They road trip to Mexico, they go skydiving; they get tattoos they later regret. I’ve done none of these things. Not that I actually want to do any of those things, but I’d like to know that I could do them and it would be okay. Well, maybe it wouldn’t end up okay, but if things got bad, I could chalk it up to being in my twenties. I didn’t know any better. I was just learning a life lesson.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like the youthful, ignorant bliss ends at 30. At 30, you have to be responsible. At 30, you have to make sound judgments. At 30, you become a real adult. The training period is over. You are expected to know better at 30. No more practice rounds. The rest of you life goes on your permanent record.

Your twenties are your safety net. They are your chance to take big risks and gain big rewards. You can set practicality aside and follow your heart. It gets harder to do this in your thirties. In your thirties you have things like college funds and retirement plans to worry about. You have soccer practice and T-ball games to attend.

I realize that many of you might be reading this “from the other side” of 30 and I probably appear to be a bratty baby. I’m sorry. I realize I most likely sound absurd. But I cannot pretend any longer. This is going to be a tough one for me.

So I’m asking you to help me out. Share with me why you loved your thirties. Tell me how great it is. Help me enter this new decade of life with excitement and joy instead of fear and dread. And do it quickly please because I only have 60 more days.