Most people do not realise that the journey of being a parent of multiples is a complex one. Yesterday I read an interview with a woman who is an identical triplet. The person interviewing her was a father-to-be of triplets. She asked the woman from her experience and vantage as being part of a triplet set what her advice to him would be. She replied, “But if I were you, I would make sure to choose distinctly different names for the children. Dismantle the unit as soon as you can and bring out the individual parts.”
Outsiders do not actually know how much power they have in undoing the work we put in as parents sometimes. As much as we might raise our children to be individuals, outsiders still see them as a set, and this is especially so for multiples who look alike. You might ask, what’s wrong with being part of a group, I’ve always wanted to have a twin or triplet! What’s wrong is it can create an unhealthy co-dependence, much like how some children are tied to their mother’s apron strings, twin and triplet children can be too close that they do not venture out of the little group that they are born with.
In my case, I have an elder daughter that is 2 years older, two of my triplets are identical twins and one is a fraternal. The identical twins were also not delivered one after each other, one was delivered first, the fraternal second and the last identical third. However, they are all female, and they share strikingly similar features. There are actually many points of differences among them but outsiders usually prefer to seek out the similarities. People get quite stunned when they see them, and I think its something the girls will just have to get accustomed to. But the relational dynamics between all my daughters is chock-full of complexities. I decided early on, I wasn’t going to interfere in their dynamics, let things be. And then later on, I decided no, I should have some guidelines at hand, so the girls will always be referred to as individuals. But really, how much power do I really have. As they grow bigger, my influence also wanes.
I like the idea from the interview I mentioned above in banning the word twins or triplets at home. So all the children will either be referred to as kids, children or girls. Strangely, I have naturally taken to referring to them as babies now, like “Have the babies fallen asleep?” I rarely use the word triplets. I always felt a bit funny inside when I used that word like it doesn’t feel right to define them as triplets. I also worried a bit that their big sister would feel jealousy that she’s not part of the group. I also have the same uncomfortable feeling when I dress them alike. Its awesome for photo-taking of course, but its unsettling when you reflect deeply on it. My husband also gets chastised quite a bit for often identifying them wrongly. I mean think about it, how do you feel when your very own father doesn’t even know who you are?
Despite these confounding feelings, we still feel privileged to experience raising multiples and I am sure Livia herself would be proud to tell others how she has triplet sisters. I think for one, we fulfilled our dream of having a big family. If you ever pass by our HDB, you will hear so much noise (much to the chagrin of our neighbours). Its been undoubtedly tough, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Maybe if I could relive it all over again, I would complain less about the pregnancy.