Thursday, April 28, 2011

Great Joy and Great Hardship

I started this post several months ago and never finished, mostly because I really do this for us and the kids and there are some things in our lives that just need to fade.

But lately I've had more than a few people ask if "it" is getting easier because the kids are getting older. My answer is always "a little easier, sometimes a lot easier, but mostly different". It isn't the logistics any more of how to clean and make 27 bottles/day or how to get everyone to and through the grocery store, or the unholy sleep's the parenting. The daily routine is certainly less challenging, but the mental and emotional exhaustion brought on by trying to lovingly parent 5 kids ages 6 and under can be overwhelming.

And so I remembered desiring to vaguely write about the early years and here it is (mostly composed pre-Annie):

Before I begin, I need to qualify everything with the fact that I desperately, desperately love and cherish my children. Even in our darkest days, weeks, months, after the triplets were born, I have never desired for any other plan for my life. I can't and won't imagine our world without one of my babies. I am NOT complaining, because that would mean I was dissatisfied and I am not. I know and am, beyond measure, thrilled with my family.

That said, I'm always shocked when someone tells me "I wish I had had triplets", which is usually followed by some reason such as "it would have been so nice to get all the pregnancies taken care of at once" or "I always thought it would be hilarious". Side note: this is not nearly as ridiculous as when I get the "Oh, they're triplets? I had Irish triplets, so that's the same". It is not the same, random stranger. Not at all.

I would never wish for someone to have triplets. They brought out the very, very best in me and in John and also the very, very worst. The triplet road is hard and long and sleep-deprived and, unless you have an extraordinary amount of help or are the most wonderful and perpetually cheeriest people in the world, the potential for serious collateral damage is great. I think we had more help than the average triplet-couple (from incredible and self-less friends, some of whom still want to just be with us and some of whom still aid us in raising our children) and I still would never want to repeat the first 1 1/2 years again. Ever.

Yes, there was great joy in those dark months. We rejoiced that they were born healthy. (In the triplet world, we were very, very fortunate in this aspect.) We rejoiced that we were given the privilege to have four children when at one point in our marriage we had to face the idea we may not be given a child at all. We rejoiced in their smiles and sweetness and sometimes silliness. We rejoiced in the quiet times because it was then we were gently reminded they were ours.

The great hardship details are unimportant and unnecessary and I hope I will completely forget them all someday. They were part of a time when John and I had nothing left to give to each other, let alone other people, even though we wanted to. When the urge to run away, just for an hour because it would make my heart hurt to be gone any longer, had to forcibly be suppressed. When I (very much a non-crier) had to cry in the shower because that was the only time I was alone. This "forgetting" process has already started, of course, because our home is wonderfully maxed-out with four children who make us laugh. There are times when John and I just look at each other and are happily incredulous at whatever event just happened x 4. And then happened again.

But then a couple months ago I was at the zoo and ran into another triplet family. The mom firmly had both feet in the "oh I wish we had so many more kids" la-la-land, but the dad circled back after the conversation was thankfully over and, very seriously and somberly said, "tell your husband it finally becomes easy when they turn 4. Tell him you will make it.". I almost hugged him and cried because sometimes it felt like we weren't going to make it.

And so I am thrilled when someone calls to tell me they're pregnant with triplets or a friend-of-a-friend has been blessed. But I also instantaneously pray for them and hope they are praying, too. Because there will be hours and days where they will need to cling to what they know is True and Perfect and Holy, just so they can get to the next hour.


JenHahn said...

I'm glad you wrote down this part of your family's history. I can't even imagine how hard...Sometimes I'm grateful that God made our minds to forget.

BKicklighter said...

thank you, Kitty.

porternews said...

Your honesty is amazing and beautiful. Thanks for sharing. Oh and...i cry in the shower too.

Kelly Ritter said...

I love this post. So. Very. Much. xo