"Are they ALL yours?"
"Triplets! Better you than me!"
"You have TRIPLETS! Oh, I would kill myself."
I've heard all these. There is something about seeing my family of toddlers in a grocery store that has strangers stating odd and borderline insulting comments my way. I'm sure this isn't their intention. Casually passing someone in the mustard aisle, you don't have much to go on. How can they know about the prayers, the pleading, the hope that there would actually be little ones in my cart someday?
I'm sure they imagine a scenario where I am in my garage, bawling, trying to dial my husband through stinging tears of fatigue while a two-year old tantrum times three is happening in the upstairs play room. Maybe they think about six curious hands getting into their own messy diapers and finger painting foul-smelling works of art on crib rails. Or dinner time, where rice and vegetables are thrown on the floor with disgust and disdain by all three food critics.
Because in truth, all these things have happened.
But what I wish they would imagine is the joy. The laughs. The chubby hands and quick feet running armloads of last night's pajamas to the hamper with delight. The broken sentences as they try to put their world together. "Hold you mommy?" Yes, I can hold you darling. "Hand. Oww. Kiss it." A mother's kiss on a wounded pinky is like elixir for both souls.
They should imagine an oversized chair, perfect for a mom with not enough lap space to go around. Three little heads and bodies cuddled up to read their favorite book. Again. They should imagine the four of us playing a favorite game, Run. The rules are simple, run around in a circle and laugh. When you're tired, stop and have a break of milk and orange crackers shaped like fish.
Because these things happen too. These are the moments that make the tantrums hazy and distant. These are the moments that shine brighter than meltdowns, and weariness. These are the moments that fill my battered void with a light and wholeness I've never known. As their mom, I feel the weight and pressure of teaching these three little souls how to be good people. Yet these little ones, not even able to talk in full sentences yet, teach me lessons of strength, courage, patience (oh the patience!) and love with a clarity and conviction I can only pray for.
Motherhood is not easy. There are times when I am brought to my knees, pressed down with feelings of inadequacy and doubt. But there are times of sacred harmony, when I know, with the core of my being, that I was meant to nurture. Meant to love. Meant to be a mother.
The other day, a stranger stopped me, noticed my triplet toddlers, noticed my pregnant bump and said with a sincere smile, "Oh, God bless you!"
Yes. Yes he has.