Monday, April 27, 2009

A Letter to Moms of HOM

Dear Moms of Higher Order Multiples,

Now this may ruffle a few feathers, but I'm tired of hearing, witnessing and reading (5/2 - note by "reading" I am referring to activity I've witnessed on certain message boards, not individual blogs) your whines and complaints about how terrible the general public is to you. Do you honestly not understand what joy your children bring to others?

When someone asks you if you have triplets don't sigh, roll your eyes and answer "yes" like it's the worst thing in the world to have triplets (I know that's not your intent, but it's how it comes off). I actually had a fellow mom of triplets do those very things to me last week when I ran into her and her triplets and asked (looking for confirmation) if her kids were triplets. I saw the slightest hint of regret when I then pointed to my own triplets (one on my hip and two at my feet) and joyfully said "Me too!".

Perhaps because you are too preoccupied with avoiding questions, stares and photo ops to care that someone may be asking because they have triplets themselves and are just looking to make a connection with another mom. Or because they are a triplet themselves (I met a grown triplet at The Children's Place last week and I could tell she was hesitant to say something to me likely because she'd had her head bitten off by other moms in the past). Or because you simply have made their day by having your adorable children out in public.

I find the majority of people who run into me and hold me up briefly from whatever errands I was running merely want to gush because they're excited. They should be! My kids are pretty darn cute and pretty special! I think it's wonderful and totally appropriate for people to get excited when they see HOM (Higher Order Multiples). If you recognize their genuine excitement for all that it is (just excitement) perhaps you could return their smile with a smile of your own instead of sighs, rolled eyes or even flat out ignoring them.

And while I'm on my soap box - chill out about the pictures. Honestly, it's not like the picture could in any way be taken as innapropiate. What are you so worried about? Most of us have blogs and plaster the web with our own pictures anyway! If the sweet old man wants to take a picture with his cell phone so he can show his wife, let him. It's probably making his day and will make his wife's. No need to be so rude.

Basically, just think twice before you respond rudely to people. If you force yourself to respond with a smile perhaps you'll truly begin to respond joyfully to people. Believe me, venturing out with your little zoo is a lot more fun and a lot less stressful when it's done with a joyful heart.

Sincerly,
A Mom of Triplets Who Actually Enjoys Talking To People

19 comments:

Jen said...

Wow, Helen...I'm so sorry that there are people in the world who act like that.

And I agree, your boys ARE cute and special! :)

Rachael said...

way to take on the other side of the issue, helen!

when we first started venturing out with the triplets, i avoided people. which mostly stemmed from their prematurity + my fears for their health. in fact, the first few times we took them anywhere people touched them, so i got into a habit of avoiding eye contact + keeping my answers as short as possible because once a conversation opened up people usually felt that was an invitation to get hands on. i didn't want sick babies + so i avoided that when we were out.

but, now that they are older + the threat isn't as imminent, i honestly don't mind the comments or the stares anymore + i usually end up stopping to chat with lots of people as i run errands. i just plan extra time to do whatever we need to do, that way i don't feel as rushed. and truth be told, most of the weird or awkward opening questions turn into lovely conversations. ending with comments of how blessed i am + how beautiful my children are. it is a wonderful thing. all in all, i am happy that i stopped being so curt, because i agree that it does make our outings far more enjoyable.

though, of course, there are still a few comments that really get to me and i am not a big fan of picture taking. not because i think they are going to be used in a malicious way, but just because i think it is weird to snap photos of someone's children you don't know {unless you are a photographer, of course}.

Christa @ Quintooples said...

ITA on a lot of your points. I avoid eye contact just because...well, I am busy and I have 2 older children. Time is of the essence.

When I do meet eyes, and a question is asked I always answer politely. No one has ever taken our picture. LOL.

Where I do take issue is when I am asked about my fertility status, especially when it's from people who are obviously not interested in going through fertility treatments (i.e. older people and men). It's really a personal question. I also take issue when people make derogatory comments about my family like "Gawd I am so glad it's not me!" or "I thought twins were bad" or "Ugh! How terrible! I can't imagine! You poor thing!" Blech.

Lindsay Pierson said...

Great post!! I uaully love the attention, but I'm with Christa- the fertility questions kinda bug me too!

Sarah said...

I've never been rude to anyone BUT I do try to avoid eye contact - mostly b/c I don't have time esp. when the girls have been in the stroller for too long and we need to get out of the store.

Allison said...

I've never been rude and I too have a lot of grown triplets who come up to me. One who 52 years old and goes to our church. That was really neat to talk to her. But the picture thing is a no-no. If I kew the person, ok, but after seeing recent Oprah's about child pornography, I'm leary about anyone who wants a picture of my kids. Sucks that is the way I think but you just never know in this world. But yes, I don't mind the attention, I know people usually have good intentions and nice things to say. And you can tell when they are going to be rude. You can avoid those people all you want but they'll find a way to get to you and tell you how they feel. I've had a few of those! :(

Good post! It's good to hear both sides.

breckholladay said...

Aaahh Helen, you have always made the world a better place wherever you are. I'm so proud to be your Dad

JO said...

Excellent post! I may link it to my blog, with your permission of course.
I get so fed up with the complaint posts (especially on TC) that I truly wish HOM mamas would just lighten up, chill a bit and not take everything so harshly. It gives all of us trips and more moms a bad name!

btw - you Do have some cute kiddos!

JO

www.teensandtriplets.blogspot.com

Shari said...

Hmmm, not that you don't make excellent points...
I don't think I've ever been rude. But I will admit I have thought about it. I smile and walk on, or become painfully shy.

What I'm worried about is how it will make my children feel in a few years when people are literally FREAKING out. Or people are pointing and staring and whispering to one another.

I guess you've just had better experiences.

The fertility questions don't really bother me, but I don't get into details. I shake my head and laugh when someone asks if they run in my family.

I must agree, people asking to take pictures of kids that aren't theirs, they don't know, and they'll probably never see again...is a little creepy. My husband is in law enforcement. He's seen and heard enough to keep me cautious.

It doesn't really matter what my kids names are. I've been asked, and answered politely...but it really is unnerving.

The age thing doesn't bother me. I get asked that the most.

I guess I'm just always guarded because I always hear that they're glad it's me and not them. (So am I!) Or they don't know how I do it, they never could. (I would have thought that until I had the opportunity.)

I'll stick to my smile and nod when asked if they're triplets. I'll respond with a yes I do, or so is my heart when told I have my hands full. When treated with kindness, that is what I respond with. But I will never be okay with people screaming and or pointing. My kids aren't freaks and neither am I. I don't appreciate being treated as such. In that case, I have to roll my eyes at their ignorance and walk a little faster.

Momma-of-5 said...

Preach on, sister!
The only thing I'll say, though...is...if you're rude to me...expect a rude comment back! I don't mind the curiousity and even tend to get embarrassed when they start gushing how "super" a mom I must be. But say something like "please tell me you're done now" and you might get a "we'll see" (with an eye roll!) Sorry. But don't expect me to condone other people's rudeness. =)

rachelbk said...

Well said! I don't have HOM, but people are always coming up to pinch Farty's cheeks. I don't mind it so, considering all I went through to have him. Even on his worst tantrum day, or his sister's worst 'bratty pre-teen day' I would never think of them as a burden!

Laney said...

Good post! I actually enjoy the questions and smiles (and even sometimes applause) that we get when people see my trio. I'm proud of them and it's fun to make someone's day when they've never seen "real life triplets" before! LOL. I also do think it's funny to read, like on the Triplet Connection, a thread about crazy comments that people hear, and funny replies that they give back.
The only comment that truly irks me is, "Triplets? I'm so sorry." But I'm still not rude about it. I just say, "Don't be," or "I'm not! They are a blessing!"

Anonymous said...

Your main premise here it to tell people to not be rude to others, right? Yet you do a pretty good job of making me feel like crap, for talking about something on my blog that really bothers me. And I feel THAT'S rude.

I have every right in the world to express my opinion about why I don't like for strangers to touch and photographh my children. They spent a lot of time in the NICU, and I really don't want to see them back there, I guess that's just me. I'm overwhelmed enough with having multiple babies to take care of and when we get swarmed by people, it just makes it that much harder.
I love my kids. Believe me, I know I'm blessed. I have never been rude to anyone, but I will continue to smile, nod, and move on. I have lots of friends with high order multiples, and none of them are rude to people, but we do discuss the comments amongst ourselves, and will probably continue to. If it bothers you so much to read a post about someone who doesn't like getting personal questions from strangers (God forbid someone is shy), then simply don't read it. No need to try to make others feel bad for having an opinion you don't agree with.
Sincerely,
A mother of HOM that doesn't want her kids to end up back in the NICU

Helen said...

Dear Anon,

Your response makes it sound like you think I'm calling you personally out on something due to something I read on your blog. First, due to you only posting as "anonymous" I have no idea who you are. Second, I can't recall recently reading a post about not being nice to strangers so this definitely was not about you.

I feel there is nothing wrong with moms of HOM giggling together about the silly things people say - I do that all the time! However, I never make snide remarks to that person, never just turn and walk away and never flat out ignore someone who is trying to talk to me. Those are the things I was taking issue with here.

I've done the small preemie thing too (obviously!) so understand not wanting people to touch your babies (if they are still babies). That's why we didn't venture out except for doctor's appointments for the first 6 months of their lives. Even beyond that we never had people touching the boys without asking first.

It is unfortunate that you took my general letter as such a personal attack on you. The thing that really triggered it was that personal experience I noted with the other triplet mom.

Helen

Lani said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lani said...

Sorry, my post got cut off, bad internet connection. I was just wanting to point out that while you certainly have some valid points, I agree that it sounded like you were directing this at all the people lately that have been doing these posts about stranger comments- (including us!), I think the anon poster probably just felt a little attacked by the way you started out the post.

Helen said...

The place I have read the vast majority of stories where the mom reacted rudely to a person have been on message boards, not on blogs. Most blogs seem to just relate the silly things people say they don't then discuss how to be rude to people.

Amina said...

Helen, at least you have the courage to sign your name to what you believe. :)

Lani said...

Understood, Helen, no hard feelings:)

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