I just got back from taking my trio to storytime at the library. It’s something I’ve done on my own, but when the inevitable bathroom-break need kicks in, having a helper is, well, helpful. I’m lucky to have my mom close by with ample free time, so help is rarely unavailable.

We got into the room and settled, and up strolled a mom with a toddler, a double snap-n-go stroller and a baby in her Ergo. Toddler plus baby triplets.

Immediately, I was humbled. I went out and offered to help carry something, but she said she had it under control.  When I went back to her after storytime to commend her Super Mama abilities, she said they do it every day.

Wow. I felt so tied to home when I had little babies. Plus, when they were that young, we actually were tied to home with compromised immune systems and RSV season in winter. I asked how early they were born. They weren’t. She carried her triplets to 37 weeks.

Hum. Bulled.

Here was this mama, out with her singleton toddler and three full-term triplets in tow. Here was me, out with my three near-3-year-olds and my mom in tow.

I felt compelled to simultaneously bow and shrink into a corner of shame. I did neither because it was then I had to go tearing off after two escapees who decided to sprint through the library and ignore my hissed “STOP!” instructions. I’ll spare you the rest of the details of our trip home (suffice to say it was loud), but I kept playing the same thing over and over in my head: She’s a better mother than me. She’s a better mother than me.

Lucky for me, I’m equally equipped with a devil and an angel on my shoulders, so logic kicked in eventually, and the devil is now only whispering.

She isn’t a better mother than me. She has no help, so she’s doing her best. I do my best, too. When I don’t have help available, our world doesn’t stop. We just do things different to make it work.

She isn’t a better mother than me. She carried her triplets to term. She did her best, and that’s the hand she was dealt. I did my best, too, and I went 25 weeks 3 days without complications. I was dealt a different hand, and my triplets came at 28 weeks 1 day. Babies born at 28 weeks are totally different from babies born at 37 weeks. She can be out with her babies because they’re healthy and strong. Just as she said when we were chatting, babies that young are much easier to cart around than three little kids.

She isn’t a better mother than me, she just has a much different story.

It’s rare that I see another set of triplets in action, so I’m not often in a situation that allows the devil on my shoulder to compare me with someone else. I struggled with it some while fighting infertility, but I eventually forced myself to stop comparing myself with others whose circumstances looked better/easier/happier/etc. than my own.

No one is better. They just have different stories.

5 Responses to Different, not better

  1. Becca says:

    Maybe she was just having an “on” day? We all have our moments of glory and then there are the days of crashing and burning into a pile of mom-tears. Just because her uterus was stretchier than yours a little longer absolutely doesn’t make her better. There are plenty of days where I think “Holy cow, I’m good at this mom thing!” And sometimes I wonder why the nurses let me take him home without a manual.
    I find myself constantly comparing myself to other moms. Especially you, Jenny. I have said a few times since I had my boy that “Jenny does this with three babies, I can do this.” and “If Jenny could get this done with three and a big smile, then I can get this done with just the one.” And then I make myself mad at me by calling my miracle “just the one” baby. He’s my miracle. He is my most wanted, loved, prayed for, asked for, begged for miracle. He’s THE one.
    We all have our uphills and downhills. Rollercoasters are fun! Concentrate on your awesome. You have a lot of it.

    • Jenny says:

      KISS, KISS, Becca! Thank you for smothering me in love. I wrote this as much for myself as my friends and readers because I know I’m looked at with a quirked eye quite a bit. Different, not better!

  2. Bonnie says:

    Ha! I’m guessing you didn’t notice me walking out of the library holding my toddler sideways to avoid him pulling my hair out? Or hear him screaming because he wanted a cookie pizza from Papa Johns? The whole time I thought, “Well, this woman can do it with THREE toddlers and I can’t manage ONE!” I’ll take babies any day (especially easy, full-term babies). You, my dear, are the Super Mama.

    • Jenny says:

      I heard you walk out with the babies crying, but that’s all I could notice because I was enforcing two time outs just outside the library. We were clearly too busy with our own crazy family to notice each others’ craziness. Mutual, random, anonymous admiration at its best! I love it!

  3. Julie S. says:

    It’s so true! A friend of mine has twins, born at 29 weeks, who are now 2 1/2. I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. Suffice it to say when I say to her sometimes “I don’t know how you do it” but then I realize that the number of kids we have is the same. BUT the age different, the parenting style– it’s all different. We adjust to the hand we are dealt. You are fantastic! Keep it up! :) Hopefully that mom comes back and you can bless her in some small way!

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