During undergrad I earned myself the nickname "The Clam." It wasn't exactly one of my favorite monikers, but I couldn't really argue with my girlfriends who found it fitting: If I found myself in a situation in which I didn't feel like talking, I wouldn't. I'd clam up. But I didn't really consider myself being "clammy." In my mind, if I had something valuable to contribute, I would. If not, I simply wouldn't.
I don't like telling people when I think they're wrong. I don't like confrontation. I generally don't like strangers. Maybe I'm awkward.
It's this demeanor that has forced me to let a lot of things go, for example, when someone says I look tired. Gee, thanks for telling me you think I look like crap today. I have three infants at home. Or when a total stranger comments on how I "look great for having triplets." So had I birthed only one baby I'd have no excuse not to be back in my size 4 jeans already? 'Cause I'm wearing a size 6 at the moment. I think that's pretty dang good.
But I recently read a Dear Abby column, thanks to my momma, that I just couldn't get off my mind. A reader, another mother of triplets, was tired of everyone asking her how her identical daughters were conceived. Dear Abby's response was everyone is naturally curious and to answer queries by saying the babies were conceived out of love, or some crap like that.
Well, I had to disagree.
And I let her know I didn't find her answer sufficient with my very own letter. But I'm probably one of about a billion who write Dear Abby every day. My words will probably never be published in your local newspaper.
But in case you were wondering, I've got a list of advice for anyone who has ever seen an expectant couple wedging three crib mattresses into their soon-to-be-traded-in two-door Civic or a mom carrying two infant car seats at once or a dad buying three booster seats or a grandparent pushing a triple stroller in the park.
This momma bear is done being a clam.
10 Things You Should Never Say to a Mom of Multiples10. You look tired. I know, I covered this one earlier. But I think it's important enough to mention again. Instead of telling a mom of multiples - or any mom, for that matter - that she looks tired, you might as well tell her you think she looks like hell. Guess what? Not only is she tired, but now she feels self-conscious about her hair, her outfit, the bags under her eyes and, quite possibly, her lack of makeup. Nice job. Or, perhaps she didn't feel tired at all today and actually did her hair and makeup, and you still told her she looked tired. Now she feels worthless. Either way, "You look tired" is one phrase best kept unsaid.
9. Were you surprised when you found out you were having triplets? I always want to answer this one with my own question: Can you see the future? Of course we were surprised we were having triplets. We were surprised to find out we were even pregnant. God's the only one who shouldn't have been surprised.
8. You have your hands full. Obviously. Don't all parents?
7. Are they natural? I think when people ask this they're trying to ask No. 6 in a roundabout, possibly more-polite way, but it doesn't work. My kids are not robots. My kids are just as "natural" as your kids.
6. Did you do infertility? There's just something about multiples that makes people ask this question. I've never heard a mom of a singleton being asked this, yet plenty of women go through fertility treatments and are blessed with one - yes, one! - baby. Unless you're struggling with infertility and are looking for advice, this is none of your business. I'm not about to ask you how you conceived your children. I don't care if you're curious. Curiosity killed the cat. (With that being said, if you are dealing with infertility, perhaps you should preface your query with this information. Then, let's chat.)
5. You're done having kids. I am? Sure, I may have gone about the process more efficiently than people who have three kids via three pregnancies, but who said I was done having children? This is a hurtful assumption. I'm not sure what gives anyone the right to make this decision for me and my husband. Maybe we want to give our little boy a shot at having another boy in the house. Maybe we don't. Maybe we don't know yet.
4. You look really great for having triplets. Yes, it sounds like a compliment, but see my comments above. You might as well say, "You look pretty good, but you don't look quite good enough."
3. How much weight did you gain? Strangely enough, I've had some utter statement No. 4 and follow it up with this question.Unless you're pregnant with twins or triplets, I do not want to discuss this with you. How much do you weigh? Oh, you don't want to tell me? Surprise, surprise. Feel free to ask me how much my babies weighed. I'll gladly tell you that information.
2. Better you than me. This one is similar to the No. 1 I think I don't think you should ever say to a mom of multiples, but not quite as awful. It's hurtful, hearing people insinuate my life is awful, but there's an upside to this one: At least people dumb enough to say "Better you than me" know they weren't cut out to be parents of multiples and are willing to admit it to the world I'm a stronger person than they.
1. I'm sorry. I had no idea how to respond the first time I heard this one, so I, unfortunately, responded with silence and a very stupid look on my face. Insert one of those what-I-should-have-said moments here: Exactly why are you sorry? I've got everything I ever wanted and could not ask for more.