On this little trip, we have had to stop a few times for fuel, lunch, bathroom breaks, etc.
No matter where we’ve gone, the reaction is all the same. My life in public places pretty much goes like this:
I walk in carrying two babies, and three other children follow behind me. Or, I have a baby and Ace or another adult, or Gimme, has the other. Nonetheless, the entire tribe walks in. Most people just stare. But, without fail, there’s that one person that starts the following conversation:
Stranger: How old?
Me: Over a year.
Stranger: You must be so busy.
(or they say things like—You’ve sure got your hands full, that’s a big load”—Different words. Same meaning: YOU MUST BE NUTS!—)
Me: (fake chuckle) Yeah. They keep me on my toes.
(or some other polite response like—”Oh, but it’s so fun.” Or, “Yep, it’s crazy.”—Different words. Same meaning: STOP TALKING! THESE BABIES ARE HEAVY!—)
Stranger: How do you do it?
Me: I don’t know…Diet Coke?
(I never have a good answer for that, because sometimes I don’t do it. Like, when I ran to the store and left the girls home, and Birdie panicked and went out to the front yard, screaming/crying. When the neighbor lady came down and asked where I was, Birdie told her I went to Utah. Or the other day when things got hectic and all the neighborhood kids were over, I took Bogey into my bedroom to calm him down, and to hook him up to his feeding pump. Double Bogey in the meantime, just crawled out the front door and across the street to the Hispanic guy who then showed up on my doorstep with DB, and in his best attempt at English said, “Your bebe. He in da street.” I would have given the whole spill about Bogey and the extra kids going in and out, but my Spanish vocabulary is limited to what I’ve picked up on Dora the Explorer, and she has yet to teach the phrase ‘Mother of the Year’.)
Me: (Walking away.)
Stranger: I have ________(insert any number less than five) and I barely survive! I can’t imagine having 5!
This is where we either make or break the conversation. If my arms are still feeling strong, and the kids are still well behaved (you can imagine how often that is), I can throw Bogey’s heart condition into the little chat. But that’s only if I’m sure the stranger is going to a) Send me a Mother of the Year trophy b) give me a discount (this obviously only works at stores or restaurants) or c) give my arms a break, and hold one of the kids while he or she continues to praise me for my parenting.
Otherwise, I just nod my head and continue to walk away.
I actually like these conversations. I love to see the reactions on strangers faces when we have conversations and I don’t have all 5 kids with me. If I just have the twins, and I tell them they are numbers 4 &5—the people go ballistic. They can’t believe it. Do you think they know that there are people who have more than 5? Or people with two sets of twins?
Let’s not tell them. Otherwise, those Mother of the Year trophies are never going to show up in the mail.
Carolyn Anderson Photography