It’s inevitable. Multiples attract a lot of attention and that’s okay. People are naturally curious about twins, triplets, quads, etc. But there are just some things that you need to Google, things that should never be said to a parent of multiples. And, yes, someone has said all of these to me at some point.
- Are they natural?
What do you mean? They aren’t cyborgs. Of course they’re natural. Whether or not they came into our lives the good-old-fashioned way, through fertility treatments, IVF or adoption is very personal and often sensitive. They’re my kids and they’re gorgeous.
- Which one is the evil twin?
My children have not shown any abnormal predisposition to evilness. They are toddlers, yes, but that doesn’t make them evil. Just unpredictable. And don’t try and choose which one either. That’s just rude.
- How do you do it? Or You sure have your hands full.
There’s nothing horrible or offensive about asking this, I just don’t know how to answer you. My husband and I take care of our kids. Period. We work, keep up the house and have family commitments just like anyone else. Granted, some things get done better than others, and sometimes things just fall through the cracks. All of these are normal casualties of parenting. We’ve never known what it’s like to parent a singleton, so we have no way of comparing.
- Are they identical?
Also, not offensive. But I have a boy and a girl. We just went over that in the question you just asked me. (Yes, they ask if one is a boy and the other is a girl all the time). By virtue of the meaning of the word, “identical” they cannot be. If you don’t understand—I’ve given a quick Grey’s Anatomy lesson in the middle of the mall—you need to call someone and have them give you the birds and bees conversation again.
- Better you than me.
- Are you going to have any more?
Do I know you? I believe we just met in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, but that doesn’t mean we bonded over the Cheerios. MYOB.
All that said, there are always welcome comments. Of course, compliments are fantastic. After all, who doesn’t like a complete stranger to tell them how beautiful their babies are? Here are a few more:
- I have multiples, too. Don’t worry, you’ll survive.
Unless you’ve lived through multiples, you have no idea how much comfort this statement can bring. Especially after tough days and sleepless nights. This does come with a caveat: Please don’t say, “Mine were two years apart, so they pretty much were twins, so I know how you feel.”
- You had twins? You look fabulous!
For me, it was a huge undertaking to go to the store by myself with the twins. If I actually managed to find an “outfit,” meaning not yoga pants and a sweatshirt, earrings and lip gloss, I was high fashion. Moms of multiples often feel run down and ragged, especially in the first few weeks. Letting them know they don’t look like death warmed over them is a wonderful thing.
- I just don’t know how you do it.
I know, sounds a lot like #3 above. But this is a statement, not a question. You’re not asking me to think in the abstract. You’re complimenting me on my abilities and acknowledging how difficult it would be for you. Thank you.
- You are so blessed.
Yes. Yes, I am.
—Rebecca Calappi, Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples