In Her Words
She’s a Mom to Triplets – Plus One!
I’ll never measure up to my sister-in-law
I’d like to think that my one and only son, Alex, is a happy, well-adjusted kid.
As a full-time working mom, I think I’m doing a pretty good job of raising him with my husband. I’ve taught him to say “please” and “thank you,” and he’s only 2 and a half years old.
Yet I know that whatever heroic mommy thing I ever do, I will never, EVER measure up to my sister-in-law Michelle. Several years ago, Michelle gave birth to triplet boys, after enduring a high-risk pregnancy that put her on bedrest for a very long time.
Her stoicism during this entire ordeal was unparalleled. Lesser mothers would have crumbled under the same fate, begging for a C-section at the earliest possible opportunity.
At least, this is how my mother tells the story. “Even though her blood pressure was skyrocketing, she held on to the babies for as long as she could, until the 34th week of pregnancy,” Mom would say with gusto (cue the dramatic music).
Two years after the triplets, Michelle went on to have another child. Since then, I’ve had to endure the same broken record whenever I talk to my mother on the phone or see her in person.
“You think ONE child is tough? Try having FOUR!” my mother bellows to me.
OK, and the point is … what? That, at 42 years of age, I should take fertility drugs in an attempt to get pregnant with quadruplets? That would make me a better mother?
Even before my nephews were born, I was doomed to play second-string player to my sister-in-law. It doesn’t help that Michelle is married to Jon, the apple of my mother’s eye.
I remember when I was picking out my wedding dress, my mother just had to pipe up and let me know that Michelle had paid for her own wedding gown. (Never mind that my baby brother’s wedding cost twice as much as mine did and was the most lavish nuptials I’d ever attended in my life.)
My mother has never said it out loud, but I can tell that she has a lot of respect for Michelle. She’s always marveling at how calm Michelle is, despite the fact that she has FOUR children.
I also think that my sister-in-law gets brownie points for being a stay-at-home mom, something my own mother can relate to more comfortably. Recently, my mother praised my son’s ability to recite the alphabet, adding that he must have learned that skill at day care. I had to gently correct her that I was the one who had taught him his ABC’s.
Michelle is indeed a very special, brave person for toughing out her pregnancy. I just don’t want to be compared with her. And I shouldn’t have to feel like I’m a lesser parent just because I have fewer children than she does.
I also know that she’s had her own struggles, like toilet-training her three boys and dealing with fatigue. It’s not easy being a parent, whether you have six kids, four kids or just one child.
Throw out the “measuring” cups, already, Mom. Or, better yet, use them to make cupcakes.
Jennifer Lubell is a health-care reporter in Washington, D.C., who thinks she should get the Mom of the Year Award for teaching her only son, Alex, his ABC’s.