As one can imagine, life with triplets can get a bit chaotic. And by chaotic, I mean that we can go in an instant from a calm “yes, we can color until dinner” to a full tribal scream as Rebecca, who never has a sore throat, announces that her throat hurts really bad. I know from experience that by the time she tells me something hurts, she is well beyond waiting until the next day for an appointment. A trip to urgent care is pretty easy with one child just jump in the van, get her buckled in and go. With three
Thus the task of marshaling the troops ensues. One goes to the bathroom, while another gets shoes on, grabs a doll and a book. I lose track and send one child to the bathroom twice, and once or twice I get the argument of “Mom! I only need two shoes ’cause I only got two feet.” Oops.
Rebecca ends up testing positive on the rapid strep test. Her tonsils are covered in white bumps. I keep waiting for child protective services to knock on my door asking why I let her throat get so bad. They would never believe me that she just said her throat hurt that day, when I checked it with a flashlight and made a beeline for the local urgent care.
Last week, Olivia had three asthma attacks requiring her rescue inhaler. This is new to her and to us. Since she sleeps on the top bunk and her bed is a nest of blankets and dolls, it takes both her mom and dad to get her over the bed rail and into our room to use the inhaler. What makes me feel worse is she is crying, coughing and trying to breathe. I have her sit against my pillows and give her my Uglydoll to cuddle while I get her inhaler and spacer ready. I talk as calmly as possible while directing my husband to make the whole thing less traumatic for all of us.
This week has been a good one for Olivia. I wash all her bedding and stuffed toys weekly. I change the pillow cases every few days. She does not like the idea of her stuffed kitty swimming in the washer, but she knows that keeping her favorite stuffed animal clean is important. She has many stuffed cats. She is violently allergic to the real-live kind so she pours her love into those cuddly surrogates.
Benjamin is all or nothing. He is either doing great on his anti-seizure and ADHD medications or he is not. He has such a complex personality. One minute, he will be so nice to his sisters: rocking with them or submitting to being the groom in their wedding plans. Other times he just lies down on the floor face down and screams. At those times, I don’t interfere unless he is hurting himself or someone else. As the screaming continues, I get Olivia and Rebecca settled then get Ben to come sit on my lap as I rock him. This has always been soothing for him so we just sit and rock.
Despite it all, my deep love for the triplets helps me withstand the chaos. Because I can help a daughter suffering from strep throat, a son with a desire to be loved and held to feel safe and another daughter with her asthma attack, I can survive anything.
My laundry can pile up. My dishes may need doing. My room is a mess. My world may become so chaotic with so many things that need to be done, but I am the Queen of Chaos, and this is my kingdom. Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca come first. They are not chaos. They are children.
Jennifer Steuer is an Albany mom, whose busy household includes her husband, Harlan, and 5-year-old triplets Olivia, Benjamin and Rebecca. The one thing she misses most about pre-triplet days is sleep.