Triplets aren't as unusual as they once were because of infertility treatments. Still, whenever we are out and about, it almost always happens that people will ask if my three are triplets.
Or, someone will comment how adorable my twin girls are - before I tell them that they are triplets, and then their jaw drops open and they say something like "Wow! Are they identical?"
I'm such a punk I'll usually say "Yes, and it's a real bear telling them apart!" (This is funnier if you could see that Carolyn is three inches taller than Elizabeth and 10 pounds heavier ... and William is blonde. And a boy.)
When I had Elizabeth alone in Florida, she was a completely different child then she is with her siblings. She was content to play by herself. She would listen and mind me. She did not make a disaster at every turn. More than any of that, she was trusted to use the restroom - alone - and not unravel the entire roll of toilet paper.
Reunited with her siblings, the mob mentality has pulled her back and the lure of the toilet paper roll is impossible to refuse. It is for this reason that I know, having three-year-old triplets is not like having three, three-year-olds.
It is more than that.
It is much, much greater.
I could handle three of the Elizabeths I had in Florida last week. Three children that listened to me, came when they were called, and did not destroy things - just for the sake of doing it. When the triplets are together - as a unit - one of them, if not all three, will test your limits at every turn. Two will play together and the third will be off, getting in to something.
Sure, they have their moments of peace and love. But at this point in their young lives, those moments are overshadowed by moments of fighting, teasing and whining like you ain't never seen before.
More and more, once people hear that I have triplets, they'll ask if I've ever seen "Jon and Kate." Up until recently, I'd always said no - because I never had watched the show before. But I've heard so much hub-bub surrounding this series about the twins and sextuplets, that when there was a "Jon and Kate" marathon on TLC last month, I watched six shows, back to back. From 10 PM until 1 AM, when I could have been sleeping, I watched what my life is like on steroids.
Now when I hear people say, "She is so organized. She is so strict. I don't know how she does it!!" I can respond "Here's a clue. She's organized and she's strict."
I really don't see how you could successfully survive day-to-day with children if you weren't organized and strict. For that matter, I don't see how you could successfully survive day-to-day in life.
Most strangers that I talk to assume that I have - or had - a lot of help. They also assume that a lot was given to us, because triplets are such a rarity. But at least in our case, help and free stuff didn't appear on our doorstep once the stork dropped off our three bundles of joy.
With quadruplets or more, it is common that the families will receive a year or more, supply of free diapers, free formula and cases upon cases of free baby food. Many of these families might also receive a free vehicle - donated by a generous car dealership. I've read or heard stories of people with high order multiples (exceeding triplets) that have fund-raising conducted on their behalf - and they are moved in to a new house.
All of that is received in addition to the scores of people that line up to help. There are volunteers that will come in shifts, round-the-clock to feed, burp and rock the babies. There are people that bring meals and more people that will come to help with errands - or - watch the babies so that the parents can take a break for themselves, or - bring a baby to a doctor appointment without the whole entourage.
It is awesome that these large families are the recipients of such good will.
But it is also mind boggling.
Triplets get a lot of attention, but they definitely don't generate that kind of generosity. When our triplets were infants, we did receive three cases of free diapers, three cases of free baby food and three containers of free formula because I wrote to each of the companies directly and included a copy of the babies birth certificates. We also received a multiples discount on carseats and cribs that we purchased through a local baby store and parishioners from a local church brought meals twice a week for six weeks and cut our lawn.
That about covers it.
We weren't looking for hand outs and we weren't looking for support. Although, in hindsight, it would have been nice to have competent people come over and help feed our babies at night so that we could have slept more than 15 minutes at a stretch. I also wouldn't have turned down a year supply of free diapers, because with the money that we would have saved from diapering three little bums, we could have bought our own new house.
There is no question that Jon and Kate have their hands full. But whenever I saw that there are people that help fold and put away laundry every week, I was awestruck. Staying on top of laundry has got to be one of the greatest challenges I face, every day.
So what is the point of this post?
The only thing more difficult than triplets would be quintuplets or septuplets. It is my honest opinion that the challenges with an even number of high order multiples are less severe than those cases where there are an odd number - and not everyone has someone to play with.
I could easily handle four more kids if someone did my laundry every day.
And, I would love it if Charmin would like to sponsor us. Now that the triplets are almost completely out of diapers, our monthly expenditure on toilet paper is going to go through the roof.
At least until the kids learn that each time they use the potty they don't need to use an entire roll of paper.