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Finding Balance and Peace with Tots and Teens

 

Not real, but could be.  This is a brief peek into the minds of a mother and teenage daughter when triplets enter the family.

If I could have seen into the future ten years ago to what my life would be today, I never could have believed it.  My life hasnít just morphed from one thing to another.  It took an abrupt turn just a few short years ago and hasnít been the same since. 

Hard to imagine.  I went from being single ďcoolĒ mom to three, to being married ďexhaustedĒ mom to seven in a very short time.  My older kids have, in many ways, been short-changed in the process.  Or at least thatís the way my mind plays it.  I know that each one of my kids is a gift and that each member of our family has enriched the group as a whole, even though at times itís been overwhelmingly tough to see through the triplet fog. 

I know that for each one of my older three children, the arrival of my younger four, (Angus, who just turned four, and the triplets who are nearing two-and-a-half) has brought something new and different into their lives.  None, however, has felt the change as much as Kelli Ė my youngest of the ďoriginal three.Ē  My oldest daughter was already an adult when my trio arrived.  And, my oldest son, being a male, was much less affected by the additions.  But with Kelli, the arrival of the new trio brought a new dynamic.  Her teen years were just blossoming - her identity just forming.  Her need both for me and to pull away from me were at odds, and with the arrival of our trio came an important and dramatic shift in our relationship.

I know just how much my daughter loves each one of our little people.  Thatís never been in question.  But I also know that the transition from having a mom nearly all to herself, to having to share a mom with four very busy, demanding little ones, has not been an easy one.  My daughter, Kelli, is a trooper.  Sheís any momís dream and a wonderful part of my life.  This is our journeyÖ

March 19, 2004:

Dear Diary,
    Holy cow!  Three! I canít believe it!  They told us there are three babies in there!  I canít even wrap my brain around that information yet.  Itís still so early.  But, oh my gosh, there are three!  Howís that going to change our lives?


March 19, 2004: 

Holy crap!  My mom and stepdad are crazy!  They always have to do things in an extreme way.  I just found out my momís carrying TRIPLETS!  Thatís just insane.  What are they thinking?  Sheís gonna be huge!


May 28, 2004: 

Dear Diary,
    I got to see all three of those little monkeys today.  Iím so very frightened that Iíll never meet them.  Nadiaís survival is in question.  Iím hanging onto hope (the name Nadia means hope) that weíll get to wrap not just our hearts, but our arms around Nadia and her siblings for real in another five months.  It may as well be eternity.  This is such a hard time for our whole family.


June 1, 2004:

Yo.  My mom got some news about the triplets thatís not that great.  Theyíre not expecting Nadia to make it.  I already feel so connected to that little girl.  I feel a stronger bond with her than with the others for some reason.  Sheís going to be okay.  I just know it.  She has to be.


August 12, 2004: 

Dear Diary,
    Ö Iím having a tough time dealing with the whole bedrest thing.  Weíve made it this far and Iím so grateful.  The babies are 26 weeks along.  The guilt I feel from not being there for my family is hard.  I know Kelliís a huge help with Angus right now, but I also know sheíd rather be doing her own thing at times.  Sheís 13 years old.  What 13-year-old wants to care for a 2-year-old round the clock!?
 


September 15, 2004: 

Yo, wazzup!  I had to take care of Angus AGAIN today.  I love that little boy, but heís insane!  My momís in the hospital.  Weíre getting our fourth hurricane of the year this week.  Our power is out and it is HOT in this house!  Life pretty much sucks right now! 


October 13, 2004:   

Dear Diary,
    Ö canít believe weíll meet those babies tomorrow.  Kelliís month of filling in as pseudo-mom to Angus is ending, finally.  Poor thing.  Sheís such a good girl.  She goes along.  Sheís a peace-keeper and a people-pleaser.  And I know sheís ready to play the roll of self-centered teenage girl for a change, which is okay by me.  She deserves it sometimesÖ


October 27, 2004:

Yo, wazzup again!  My life is going to change tomorrow.  My little siblings are coming home.  I feel horrible for even thinking this, but I miss my old life.  I remember when it was just me, my mom, and my brother and sister.  My mom was so much fun.  We lived like a big group of friends.  She was so cool!  Itís like sheís turning into someone elseís mom and now Iím afraid sheíll have no time for me at all!  But those babies are really cute.


November 20, 2004: 

Dear Diary,
    Ö tough keeping up with everything.  Iím so exhausted.  Kelli comes to me with her schoolwork and I have such a hard time concentrating on what sheís telling me.  She tells me things three, and sometimes four times and I still donít remember what sheís told me an hour later.  I always have a baby or two or three in my arms.  And if itís not one of them, Iím caring for Angus.  My big girl, Kelli, is growing up in front of me and Iím almost too exhausted to notice.  Guilt!  I have to find time for my KelÖ.


December 7, 2004: 

Itís me.  Itís my 14th birthday today.  Last year at this time, and the year before that, and the year before that, my parents took me to dinner Ė a special dinner for just me.  Not this year!  I know my parents have 6-week-old triplets and a 2-year-old.  I KNOW!  But is that my fault?  I love them.  But itís MY birthday. 


December 7, 2004:           

Dear Diary,
    Ö. canít imagine how much my heart is aching today.  Fourteen years ago, I gave birth to a little girl.  I thought sheíd be my baby Ė my final baby.  And here I am with FOUR more.  My eyes are welled with tears right now.  I wanted so badly to go out to dinner with Kelli, like we always do for her birthday.  It just wasnít going to happen.  Iím nursing triplets who arenít on a schedule; have my little guy Angus whoís still adjusting to big-brotherhood, and thereís just NOBODY to watch all four.  Itís so not her fault that we had these little ones.  It hurts that her life has changed so dramatically and she holds it all so well inside of her.  Sometimes I think she just needs to let it out.


January 3, 2005:

 Hey!  My Christmas vacation is almost over.  I did exactly NOTHING!  I hung out at my dadís for a while and then came back to a house of screaming babies.  It wasnít a total loss.  My cousin came down and my sister was back from Basic Training in the Air Force.  We had a lot of family visiting and I guess I kinda liked the craziness of it all.  The babies are getting pretty cute now.  Theyíre smiling and looking more like babies and not so much like aliens anymore.


March 25, 2005 

Dear Diary,
    Ö. spent my birthday at Chuck E. Cheese.  Kelli, Loren, and Kevin and I each took turns chasing after Angus and hanging out with the babies.  I remember not too long ago, Kelli was the one running up to me for ďone more token.Ē  I think this is the first year, in fact, that she would rather be anywhere else. 


May 12, 2005:

I am SO MAD at my mom right now.  She has MAJOR PMS or something.  She seriously needs to take a Midol!  This afternoon when I came home, she was like biting my head off for every little thing.  I canít help it that her life is crazy.  She shouldnít take it out on me!  I would ask her if I can go to the movies this weekend, but I know what sheís gonna say.  Sheís too tired to pick me up at 10:00 at night.  I want my old mom back!


May 13, 2005:

Dear Diary,
    Ö.  I hate myself sometimes.  I am so stressed all the time.  The babies are SO needy.  Iíve already faced facts.  I create high-maintenance kids.  I just do.  Iím torn in 4 different directions all day long.  Even with part-time help some days, by dinnertime, I just donít have any energy or patience.  And thatís when itís the craziest!  I hate being so quick to snap at Kelli sometimes.  But, she comes in after school some days and is ďMom, can I...?  Mom, can IÖ?Ē  I know she has needs, but my brain is on overload mode and I just canít process any more requests.  I need to do something about that.  Kelli was here before they were.  Sheís just as important to me.


August 4, 2005:   

This is my last week before school starts.  The good news is Iíve had a pretty good summer, money-wise.  My mom and Loren have paid me to help with the little crazies.  The even better news is I get to go back to school and I donít have to help with the crazies any longer.  Theyíre great and I love them, but I can only take so much.


October 12, 2005:   

Dear Diary,
    Ö with the babiesí birthday coming in two days, I almost forgot about Kevinís birthday coming in just five days.  Iím just running myself ragged with my 4 demanding little ones.  I need to constantly be aware of the needs of my older kids, too.  Speaking ofÖ Kelli is going away on a trip with ROTC.  I have to remember to sign her forms.  Sheís been telling me for a week already and Iím always right in the middle of something.


November 15, 2005:

I CANíT FLIPPINí BELIEVE MY MOM!  She didnít even really read the permission slip!  She signed it, but didnít even read it!  I donít even think she knows where Iím going on my ROTC trip.  How could she not know that Iíd be firing guns!  It said it on the permission slip.  When I told her about the guns, she was like ďguns what?Ē  I swear I think she doesnít even care about me. 


November 15, 2005: 

Dear Diary,
    Ö I need to go a little easier on myself.  Iíve been beating myself up ever since my conversation with Kelli.  I was in such a hurry to get things done (and thereís always so much to be done), that I just skimmed over her permission slip.  Stupid me!  I looked at the dates.  I looked at the money sheís going to need.  But I skipped some details.  I love that girl so much.  I know she must think I just donít care.  Iím just so overwhelmed sometimes.  I want to be HER mom sometimes Ė just her mom, for her.  And unfortunately, itís not my reality.   I really need to work harder.  I love that girl!


December 25, 2005: 

Merry Christmas.  Weíre up in Ohio right now.  Itís a trip flying with triplets.  You should have seen the looks on the peopleís faces when they saw us walking with the little crazies on leashes.  I swear.  I wanted to punch some stupid lady who looked like sheíd wanted to vomit when she saw our babies.  I wanted to say something so bad, but my mom wonít let me be rude to people.  I wanted to at least ask her what she was looking at!  I hate when people look at us like weíre a freak show and people need to mind their own flippiní business.  People just need to quit making comments about my siblings and get a life!


February 24, 2006:

Dear Diary,
    Ö the little ones are not just walking, but RUNNING!  Very demanding.  I think Iíve finally got a handle on balancing my time with Kelli and with the little ones.  One very good thing is that their nap schedule is pretty predictable and they go to bed pretty early.  So, I still have time in the evening for Kelli and Iím making an extra effort to play taxi-driver for all of her needs.  It seems to be getting easier. 


March 7, 2006:

Some little jerk on the bus today made a stupid comment about my siblings.  I wanted to throw him out the window.  He asked why my mom has so many kids and he said she needs to quit.  Itís none of his business!  The one thing I canít stand is when people say things about my little brothers and sisters.  They drive me crazy, but I love those little people. 


June 8, 2006:

 Dear Diary,
    Ö Iím still having such a hard time dealing with the guilt of knowing that Kelli seems to be helping me EVERY single second sheís at home and the little ones are awake.  She shouldnít have to, but she hears all h-e-double-L breaking out while sheís in her room and she comes running.  I know she doesnít want to help sometimes.  I know sheíd rather just be in her room talking on the phone, hanging out on the computer or whatever.  I try really hard not to call her out to help, but the little people are going in four different directions and they get into everything.  Kelli has such a good heart.  I know she cares about me and knows how hard it is for me to take care of them all by myself.  I try to tell her as often as I can just how much I appreciate her.  Oh, and we pay her for her help a lot, too.


September 15, 2006:

My mom got me a credit card.  Well, really itís a VisaBuxx card.  My parents are paying me every afternoon to play nanny for a few hours to help my mom out with the crazies.  She puts my paycheck on the credit card.  It works out pretty good, but I need a day off sometimes.  I hate having to come home EVERYDAY and deal with babies.  Some days I just want to be left alone.  But, I love being paid.  Iím trying to save up for a car.  Canít wait until I get a real job, though.  But, then my poor mom will be home alone everyday.  I wish she had more help. 


December 7, 2006:

Dear Diary,
    Ö my baby is 16!  Can it be?  Iím pretty sure just yesterday she was watching Barney and scribbling on the walls with crayons.  Oh, yeah.  That was yesterday.  Just kidding.  I have a big lump in my throat.  I feel like the past two years of her life has been consumed with all things toddler/baby.  Spreading myself pretty thin sometimes.  I really enjoy Kelli and think sheís turning out to be a wonderful person.  Sheís working hard in school, helping at home, making pretty good decisions.  What a great person!  Wish I had more time to be mother/daughter together.  I have to say that if I were in her shoes, Iíd have probably found every way possible NOT to be stuck at home taking care of triplets+1.  Not my Kelli.  She helps more than she needs to sometimes.  I love her so much and Iím so very lucky to have her in my life.


January 24, 2007:

The most random thing happened to me at school today.  My best friend brought me a tomato!  The funny thing is, the first person I wanted to tell was my mom.  My mom knows how funny that is!  I know my mom doesnít think I appreciate how much she does for me.  But, I do.  I appreciate her.  I try to tell her as much as I can.  I just got home from school.  Iím spending an hour in my room hanging out and then Iím going to help my mom with the little ones.  We decided that I need to have some time after school to myself.   I think I was starting to resent helping around the house and I donít want to feel that way.  My siblings are all sick right now.  I feel so bad for them.   When theyíre just laying on the couches and not running like little tornadoes, I sorta wish they were up getting into everything.  I love them so much.  I guess what Iím saying is that as crazy as it gets sometimes, Iím glad we have them.  Itís so gloriously insane having triplet siblings and most of the time I wouldnít have it any other way. 


As I said above, these are NOT real diary entries, but the sentiments and the events were real.  Thereís such an incredible balancing act one must perform with blended families, with teens and toddlers, with singletons and multiples.  I vacillate between feeling like Iím not doing enough for my older kids, to feeling like Iím doing too much to overcompensate for the limited amount of individual time I can offer. 

Please keep in mind that these excerpts donít cover every aspect of the relationship I have with my daughter.  Itís not all about whining and complaining.  But had I put down only the sweetest moments, I wouldnít have conveyed the message I intend.  Oh, sure.  Itís easy for someone on the outside looking in to criticize, to judge, to have all of the answers.  But life is quite different when youíre inside looking out, I assure you.  I think we all do the best we can while we go through life learning through our mistakes.

Anyway, I think that Iím finally able to find the happy medium with my tots and teens.  Life is such a learning process and we all grow and change through the years.  The precious relationships I have with each one of my family members are the biggest source of pride and joy in my life.  I need to preserve and nurture each one. 

Being mom to many means wearing many hats, switching gears quickly, and finding creative ways to blend it as seamlessly as possible.  No easy task, any of it.  But worth every single second.  What a truly amazing journey weíre onÖ