Things You Shouldn't Say to a Mom of Multiples

Some things just shouldn't be said out loud. Sure, we all know you're thinking 'em when you see a mom with four or five or even six babies—all clearly the same age and immediately striking a complete and ferocious curiosity. So many questions. I've been told before that life with multiples means learning how to deal with onlookers who may or may not see fit to ask appropriate questions, and who may or may not share menacing stares. For whatever stupid reason they may have. Curiosity trumps manners. Big time!

My 8 month old quadruplets. 
But while I learn to deal with those folks with patience, grace and the occasional "bite me" attitude, there are some things I can share about manners toward families with high order multiples. Following are questions or phrases that shouldn't be said aloud...but that I've either been told or asked to date, with the answer I usually retort with below it—if I don't just roll my eyes and walk off. And yes, some things required a two edged sword. ;)

(Please note that people who are polite and ask genuine questions do not receive the same type of short, snarky answers in the examples below. I do not make a habit of being rude to others just because I have four babies!)

* * * *

Stranger: Oh, wow. So did you do IVF? (Often said with a "knowing" nod and a sad expression.)
Me: Did you take a poop this morning? I mean, I just figured we were exchanging super personal information.

Stranger: Better you than me! I don't think I could handle that.
Me: Exactly. I'm handling this just fine.

Stranger: So which one is your favorite?
Me: Well, it's certainly not you right now.

Stranger: Are they all identical?
Me: Last time I checked they were not. (It's painfully obvious at this point. I mean, one has red hair and they are all distinctly different.)

Stranger: Are they natural?
Me: They are 100 percent real babies, yes.

Stranger: Did you mean to have four?
Me: Yes. I totally on purpose planned to have a pregnancy with four babies. And then endanger both my life and theirs in the process. Made perfect sense to me.

Stranger: Wow. You must have done something wrong in a past life to end up with quadruplets!
Me: As far as I'm concerned, we've done everything totally right.

Stranger: You're so lucky. You got your whole family at once and you're done having kids now!
Me: Thanks for making that announcement for me.

* * * *

And then there's some things people say that you don't even respond to. Like one woman who told me, while I was early in my pregnancy, that she was going to go home and cry for me. Thanks lady, that should, uh, really help things.

There's plenty of people who cast adoring glances on our crew when we've been out for doctor's appointments and there's others who share their respect or admiration for raising quadruplets whenever we decide to share it in conversation. I do realize that all of this comes with the territory, so to speak, and will just become something we have to get used to. I resort to similar answers for similar questions because it's so easy to get caught off guard when you're distracted with the babies while out in public. And don't even get me started on the people who rush over and just start trying to reach their hands into the strollers to touch them! 

I hope we're able to handle it well as our lockdown ends and we begin taking the babies out with us to do "normal" things more often. It'll be a challenge, no doubt! I want to set a good example for our kids and I also want them to grow up without feeling like they're stared at everywhere they go or that they're different from other families and siblings. It's all part of our adventure!

In the meantime, I've answered frequently asked questions over two blog posts in the past, which you can find here and here. Perhaps it'll squelch some of that curiosity. ;)

15 comments:

  1. I cannot believe how ignorant people can be with thier stupid questions and comments.
    Good luck keeping people from trying to touch the babies,that has to be the biggest annoyance of all Moms with infants.
    I am sure you and Mike will handle everything very well.You have been doing great so far:)
    Take Care

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  2. Oh you cracked me up with this one! Sometimes people say the darndest things. We haven't been out in public often due to lock down, but I think most people around here have been exceptionally nice. I slough things off pretty easily and know questions that seem rude are usually just because of curiosity, ignorance or both. I just try to keep a sense of humor about it all. When people marvel and say stuff like, "Wow, I've never seen quads before!" I reply, "We hadn't either!" It's true, before having quads we had never seen them before and have only see one set (the Gerwers) in person. The biggest problem is that all the questions just slow us down. We've joked about making a banner for the Runabout that says, "Bet ya' got a lot of questions. Please visit our blog at www.fourtoadore.wordpress.com"
    Recently, we've been hearing a lot of, "When I get overwhelmed, I think of you guys." I was sort of offended at first like my life is bad, but thinking about it I take it as, "You really have a ton on your plate, and manage it all so well. Impressive!"

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  3. Love this Amber!! I've gotten all of the questions/comments many times! The IVF one is usually the second question after "Are those all YOUR babies?!" I will say I get way more positive comments than negative and I try to remind myself people are curious and don't think before they speak or ask questions. I love your snarky responses :)

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  4. As a mom to a large family (and one set of twins), I also get my fair share of rude/weird questions and staring onlookers. It is definitely something I will never understand and still have difficulty adjusting to. Questions like "are they all yours?", "you do know what causes that, right?" and "wow, being a mom must be so hard for you!" These questions make me cringe every time! I love your responses :)

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    1. I'm a mom with a large family, including one set of twins, too! We get lots of questions and comments as well. The worst was something about being misfits..........Anyway - I love your responses! Oftener though I get really nice comments especially from older people. First they stop and stare and obviously count; then they say something like, "Wow! That's a lot of kids! Are they all your's?"; then the next response is something along the lines of, "I come from a family of ______! It sure was a lot of fun!"

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  5. I am the oldest of 10 kids. All our lives we've gotten things like "You are all brothers and sisters? Guess your parents didn't have much to do with their time." Don't know why people are like that, but they are. We think our 10 kid family is perfect the way it is.

    I greatly admire you and your "snarky" answers. Don't know that I would have the presence of mind to think of those answers so quickly (or the nerve to say them). I am so happy that both you and the quads are healthy and happy.

    And yours are not the first quads I have seen. The library that I used to work at had a three girl, one boy set of quads and everyone loved them.

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  6. I found your mother's blog and spent your last several months in the hospital praying for the babies. I was so devastated at the thought of your loosing Harrison, and the 3 little girls' loss. I'm so thankful he is doing well. You are the BEST possible mother for those 4. I have never known anyone so organized as you, to the point of making all of their organic food! God's hand has been on y'all, and the babies will grow up in a wonderful Christian household!

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  7. I think people are envious truth to be said. What a blessing to have four beautiful kids who will share life together! It is hard work for the parents, yes, but what could be more rewarding!? I have four kids in less than six years and have enjoyed so much. And I too got some nasty comments, too. Like it was anyone's business to tell how many kids I had. I do see that the comments you get are sometimes very irritating. But like I said they are simply envious! Hugs from Finland.

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  8. Though I am single, I have always had a fascination with multiples and adopted children. I often read blogs about this very subject matter, don't say this and this to this group of people. Though there is always truth to what they are saying I find it can be a little crass. I understand that people truly are just venting but as a single person, longing for the day when I might share in the joys of parenting I always get a little hurt when I hear people sharing about the different ways to comment to strangers questions.
    Yours was the first entry that I've read that actually left me thinking about my actions. When you said that it takes your time to answer questions, honest and unoffensive as they may be, that had me reevaluate. In the past I have always tried to phrase questions so that they weren't offensive, I never thought that I don't always have the right to stop a person and demand their attention, regardless of how excited I am. I was reminded of the time I saw a woman in Wal*Mart with her beautiful set of Quads and how I probably shouldn't have stopped her to gap and gaw at her children.
    Perhaps from now on I'll pray and ask the Holy Spirit if it's an okay time to say something to a family or to just admire from a distance. Thank you so much for your food for thought!

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    1. Thanks for this thoughtful response, Christine! It truly is a two-sided fence. On the one hand, myself or other parents of multiples will be out trying to enjoy a dinner as a family when strangers frequently persist on asking questions that really have no merit and are strictly curious—like we're a circus attraction. It wastes our time and intrudes on the rare occasions we're trying to be together in public. But on the flip side, I've had several very meaningful conversations with others who might be struggling to start a family or are scared to death at the thought of just having one child and I'm able to either shed light on the subject or be an encouragement. I value those exchanges because I feel they're also why we were blessed with quadruplets—to share with and inspire others. Most of the time, a warm smile or a very quick comment to say how beautiful the children are, how much you admire the mom or how encouraging it is to see a large family is more than enough to keep us going through our day but not make us feel infringed upon or like we are a public exhibit. :)

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  9. Whenever someone asks me if we were trying for four. I always say, "i'm a little surprised we only had four. I mean we were kind of going at it like rabbits that I expected that we would have ended up with closer to 20 or 30"

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  10. I have babysat for a set of quadruplets since they were newborns and are now four and it always made me a little upset to see strangers pull out their cameras or phones and obviously be taking pictures of them WITHOUT their mom's permission!! You are doing a fabulous job with those adorable babies!! I love all of your responses!

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  11. Well I hope I didn't make or ask anything stupid and if I did sorry my mouth opened before I thought about how it sounded. I can do that you know.
    Okay you cracked me up with your responses. You're doing great! And yes you will most likely encounter plenty of other idiots now that the quarantine is over and you go out into the world. Hang in there.

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  12. I recently had a conversation about this topic with some moms who adopted and have gotten questions like, "How much was he?" On a smaller scale, we get lots of questions about our 2 yr old daughter's glasses and 9/10 times, we're asked if they are real or just decorations! I'm always tempted to respond with sarcasm but I do know that most people are genuinely interested and most of the time, don't mean any harm. Except for the man who said in passing, "Gee, look at them goggles on that little girl!" grrr.

    Thanks for the insight into how to act appropriately. It's blogs/posts like these that make me exra cautious and careful when faced with an unusual situation. Most of the time I say absolutely nothing, just smile at the beautiful sight of lots of little babies! I've said many prayers for you and your little ones since finding your blog and I think you're doing a great job and that your babies are incredibly cute!

    Heidi

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  13. Amazing ! This is cool!

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