How many times have you heard, “you’ve got your hands full” in public?
Without fail, every time I leave the house, strangers come out of the woodwork to make comments. I might be a bit of a spectacle with my obnoxious double stroller and overflowing diaper bag, but I’m not a one-woman freak show. I’m a mom. I’m a mom who had two babies last year. I’m also a mom who is busy running errands. Nice to meet you.
I often wonder if people just think I’m rude. If they look into my eyes and only see icy, cold disinterest. I promise – I’m actually quite nice! However, accosting me in the middle of my trek for applesauce pouches in Costco is probably not the best way to get to know me, or my children.
What are some of the most annoying things that have been said to me?
1. “Are they twins?”
2. “Two boys?” (they are clearly BOTH in the same pink outfit)
3. “Are they natural?”
4. “Are they identical?”
5. “What are their names?”
6. “Did you have a vaginal delivery?”
7. “You must have had a C-section”
8. “Can I take a picture with your babies?”
9. “OH WOW. TAKE A LOOK AT THESE BABIES!!!!”
10. “I have two kids X months apart, they were just like twins!”
I cannot even fathom what kind of comments triplet parents or parents of higher-level multiples get! Seriously, you guys deserve a huge pat on the back.
Some of these questions may seem benign, some may seem outrageous. The truth is, even the more benevolent questions can be just as hard for me to answer. If you don’t have multiples – imagine leaving the house only to be asked if they are, indeed, twins at least 10 times that day. It gets old, quick. You would think these things are pretty self-explanatory! I also sometimes do not feel comfortable telling strangers their names, and I have had several people get extremely upset when I was reluctant to do so. When people ask me if they are identical, I say, “I don’t know.” Friends and family have told me to lie about it and just say yes or no. The truth is – I’m a terrible liar. I truly do not know whether or not my twins are identical. I also have no idea why it matters to you.
Some of the questions are beyond personal. My heart aches for parents of multiples who struggled to conceive. How do they react to questions about their babies being “natural?” How about moms who had a traumatic childbirth situation – why should they discuss this with someone they’ve never met? This is both disturbing and inappropriate. I recently had a lady ask me about my twins’ delivery. When I stumbled on my words and eventually told her I had a vaginal birth, she responded with “good for you.”
“Good for you?” – really? I don’t even know you. Yes, I do think vaginal deliveries with twins are wonderful and beautiful, but I don’t need to discuss it in the toothpaste aisle in Target. Even more so, the mom who had a c-section doesn’t need your judgment. Usually I’m so dumbfounded by these questions that I don’t even have the time or the courage to formulate an adequate response. Most of the time I end up hoping my response deterred this person from saying this to another mom.
I wonder about the people who treat us like we’re a spectacle – why would they want a selfie with my children? Generally, these people have been from other countries where twins are rare – especially blonde haired/blue-eyed twins. I know that things might be different in other parts of the world, but it’s just plain creepy and rude. I’ve also had people get offended because I responded negatively to their desire to touch my twins. Excuse me, then, perhaps you will not mind if I touch you?
There was a man in the store last week who shouted across many aisles to get my attention. When I looked over at him, he pointed to my babies and said – “TWINS!?” I reluctantly nodded yes, then booked it over to the next aisle. I was pretty disturbed by this, honestly wondering if this guy was going to follow us home or something. Maybe he was just a curious stranger, but you can’t be too careful. I’ll never understand why he needed to get my attention so badly to ask an obvious question. It was just really unnecessary and uncomfortable.
Lastly – let’s address the comments people make about their close-in-age children being “like” twins. I’m sorry – it may be “like” twins, but they are NOT twins. Comparing your experience to mine only serves to minimize us both. Having 2 children close in age would be incredibly difficult. I do not envy you; that is a monumental task. I think being pregnant while also caring for a young baby would be such a challenge. Your experience was different – an entirely different kind of “hard.” I don’t want to diminish our individual struggles, let’s celebrate them. This is not some kind of “compare our burdens” club, it’s just motherhood. We all have different cards that were dealt to us and we all play them differently.
So, what is the best way to address a mom with multiples in public, you ask?
Maybe a nice “hello, how are you?” or a “they’re so cute.” Definitely not “double trouble” or anything like that. Keep in mind that if someone appears standoffish, it’s probably the cumulative effect of being asked the same questions day in and day out. I actually love hearing from other twin/multiple parents who tell me about their babies who are all grown up – please keep doing that. If you feel the urge to tell me about your cousin’s brother’s girlfriend’s stepsister who had twins…maybe think again (lol). But seriously, normal human interaction is your best bet. Who knows, we may even get into a discussion about birth in the toothpaste aisle – once you’re no longer a stranger.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
Have you ever gotten any weird comments/questions in public (twins or not)?
How did you respond?
Do you think any of these comments are outrageous?