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  • Writer's pictureAutumn Gordon-Chow

I'm a Triplet Mom and There isn't Enough of me for Everyone

Updated: May 28, 2023

Mornings are tough in my house. Getting three five-year-olds up and ready for school can be a challenge. It requires a lot of preparation, coordination and SO. MUCH. PATIENCE. My kids also don’t love school. They don’t hate it but they’d much rather be at home with me and my husband. They want us all the time. I cherish it because I know it won’t always be this way. I love how much they want me, but that doesn’t make it any easier to be available to all of them, all of the time. Harder actually. I take my responsibility to them very seriously. Which is why I often feel completely inadequate.

Having triplets sometimes feels like being chicken feed. Scattered all over the place, everyone gets just a little piece, and it sometimes feels like you’re being pecked to death. That was a lighthearted reference; I don’t actually feel like I am being pecked to death, but I think it illustrates the point I am trying to make. I am spread so thin. Sometimes it feels like there just isn’t enough of me for all of them.

To get them ready for school, everyone needs help with finding their shoes and getting them on. When one wants orange juice another needs toilet paper. They have three sets of needs, personal routines, and dependence on me, but I am just one person - with only two arms. Weekday mornings are like the chicken’s first meal. They are ravenous and we are all a little frantic.

One of the boys also has a harder time with school drop off. He really dislikes the separation. He gets emotional and needs constant reassurance. So that adds an additional layer of difficulty to the morning routine.

We have breakfast at school to help us with the transition. But it’s a time that I often do feel a bit like I am being pecked to death. “Mom, can I have a tray?” “I want to be first in line!” “I want chocolate milk, not white milk!” “Just pick a fruit, kiddo, you’re holding up the line!” “Don’t forget a spoon.” “And a napkin!” Today, my sensitive guy was particularly anxious and kept asking for reassurance about who would pick him up and when. He asked me something but there was too much going on and I didn’t hear him. He got really frustrated when I didn’t respond and started to have a meltdown. Chaos on top of chaos. I snapped… “What is it?! What do you need? I cannot give you my undivided attention right now, you have two other brothers that are trying to talk to me and need me also. So, I need you to wait!” And his face drooped with sadness.

While my heart sank.

He was feeling anxious and needed my reassurance and I just couldn’t give it to him. I let him down. The reality is, these children rarely get my undivided attention, one at a time, because it is almost impossible. I am always outnumbered and I am rarely available to only one of them for any length of time. That makes me sad and I am pretty hard on myself about it.

After breakfast, we said goodbye at the front entrance and he cried. I reassured him with hugs and kisses. I walked towards the door and turned back around to check on him and saw one of the sweetest moments I have ever witnessed between them. They were walking away from the door together. He was in the middle with his brothers on either side. They each had an arm around him and they walked shoulder to shoulder until they greeted the teacher. In my absence, his brothers provided him the comfort and security he needed. I felt proud and really moved. It also made me reflect more on their need for attention.

We are guilty of treating them as a unit. They are triplets. The triplets. Not one in the same, but they are connected in a way other siblings are not. While I recognize the need for them to have individual attention, moments like these also make me realize that they are incredibly fortunate to have this connection to each other. Our family dynamic is really unique. There are things I would like to be able to do and provide but I also need to remind myself that this dynamic provides for way more love and support than anything else. So I am going to do better at holding onto that.

All of this reflection also made me remember a conversation I recently had with one of their teachers. The teacher shared that one of the boys recently told her all about their birthday trip to the mountains in January. She said that he was so excited about being able to sleep with me, while his brothers and dad slept in another room. He really cherished the experience of that time to be with me, uninterrupted. We had a birthday party, met friends, saw mountains, skiers, and ice castles for the first time. We ate out each night and had ice cream in the hotel. We swam, stayed up late and skipped school, but the highlight of his trip was bedtime because he had me. It’s these small meaningful moments of connection that they crave. They don’t need to be the only one getting all of me, all the time. It actually is much easier than that. It’s an occasional sleepover in my room, or to help me make dinner or run to the grocery store. I just have to share my love equally, and that, I can do.

You know what else I can do? My best. I can be aware enough to know what is important in my kids’ lives and not overcomplicate it. I can forgive myself for reaching my limit. I can use all of my less-than-stellar mom moments as teaching opportunities.

I can see them as individuals and admire their individual needs. I can teach them the importance of cooperation and help them foster healthy relationships of give and take. I can demonstrate empathy, I can nurture connection and I can foster independence. I can work on my patience and I can be human.

I can, through the quality of my interaction with them, give them the moments they desire. I can be more present and stop getting swept up in the whirlwind of this life. I can stop placing unrealistic expectations on myself and my family dynamic and accept it for what it is. Because really, it is freaking incredible.

I don’t have to be everything to everyone. I just have to be me, and that is enough.

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