Yes, They are All Mine…and Other Things I’m Forced to Repeat in Grocery Stores

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So, I know I’ve talked a lot before about how uncomfortable it can be to go to stores with all of my children, mostly because of the way people act when they see a big family. And I know what you’re probably thinking: three kids really isn’t a lot of kids, what could anyone possibly say about that? But, y’all, by having three kids that all look pretty close to the same age while being pregnant with the fourth…holy cow, you would think I’m walking around with a giant sign that says, “PLEASE COMMENT ON MY FAMILY PLANNING CHOICES!!” It’s chaos.

While I’m maniacally trying to get through a giant shopping list in the five minutes I have before one of the girls has a meltdown, people are literally stopping me every five feet to stare at us, touch the kids, and make bizarre comments on my fertility. I’ve learned to just factor it into my grocery shopping experience, and I’m actually writing this after returning from the local Walmart where I was, in fact, stopped on every aisle by everyone with gray hair in the entire store. Slight exaggeration, but you get the point here…

Now, don’t get me wrong: people say some really NICE things to us, too. I get told how blessed I am, how beautiful the babies are, and what an amazing mom I am for raising such well-behaved kids (they clearly don’t see them behind closed doors). A lot of times, older women will stop just to talk to the girls or hold their hands, and I’m totally okay with it! But that’s not what this post is about–I’m talking about the people that think they are just so dang clever for loudly pointing out the obvious fact that you have given birth to multiple children in a short time span.

So, just in case you guys also have a hard time navigating the grocery store with your big family, I’ve decided to do a round-up of some of the top comments we hear and the witty comebacks that have taken me years to refine:

WHEN THEY SAY: “Wow you’ve got your hands full!!”

YOU SAY: “Oh, I’m just getting started”


WHEN THEY SAY: “Are they all yours?

YOU SAY: “Yes. I’m trying to take over the world, and it looks like my plan is on schedule.”


WHEN THEY SAY: “You look too young to have so many babies!”

YOU SAY: “Thank you. I’m actually a 163-year-old wizard, but I’ve been trying a great new skincare routine.”


WHEN THEY SAY: “You know what causes that, right?”

YOU SAY: “Well, I’m actually here to buy a bird trap because this stork just won’t stop bringing them.”


WHEN THEY SAY: “Are you trying to make your own baseball team?”

YOU SAY: “Nope. Just trying to buy some groceries…”


WHEN THEY SAY: “Were they all planned??”

YOU SAY: “Only the well behaved ones.”


WHEN THEY SAY: “Are you going to get fixed after this?”

YOU SAY: “Well, clearly nothing is broken”


WHEN THEY SAY: “You trying to get your own reality show?”

YOU SAY: “Oh I already have one. The film crew is just stuck on the bread aisle right now.”


So, being that we live in a very small town in the South, most of the time I actually just have to smile and keep walking. But every now and then, I get to break one of these comebacks out, and everyone involved enjoys a good laugh. Because that’s the thing, y’all–people don’t even realize they’re being a little rude by making comments like these…they legitimately think they’re being funny. That’s why you just have to show them that you and your magical baby-making powers are, in fact, funnier than they are. 🙂

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“If only I had a dollar for every time a stranger told me how full my hands are…”

Back to Back Babies

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I recently had a Q&A in my Instagram stories, willing to answer ANYTHING that my followers asked. I got a lot of really good questions, some kind-of-odd ones, some foreign language ones, and about five dozen people wanting to know how far apart the girls are and if it’s chaos. So, here it goes:

Lela and Luna are 14 months apart, and it’s the absolute most amazing chaos ever.

Having babies back-to-back isn’t easy, and I’d be totally lying if I said I wasn’t a little terrified when I found out I was pregnant with Luna so soon after having Lela. My body was still not completely back to normal after the hyperemesis, and I was at a really unhealthy low weight. I was struggling with bonding with Lela, especially after my milk supply decreased from the pregnancy. And to top it off, I had an IUD in when I got pregnant with Luna, and we weren’t even sure if she was going to remain a viable pregnancy. It was a pretty wild ride those first few months, especially with the constant sickness and exhaustion while trying to raise two other young kids. But I can honestly say that the hardest part of back-to-back babies was being pregnant, and once she arrived, our family was more wonderful than ever…ya know, just with twice the diapers, feedings, sleepless nights, all that good stuff.

So, if you just found out you’re about to have babies super close in age, don’t panic! Here are the really amazing things about Irish Twins:

  1. You get to wear maternity clothes for two years straight, and y’all, let’s be honest: any excuse to leave my house in elastic pants is cool with me.
  2. You never even have a chance to drink a margarita in between pregnancies, so you pretty much forget they exist and stop missing them.
  3. Eventually, your back-to-back babies start wearing the same diaper size, and you can buy Size Fours in massive amounts for wholesale prices. Baby wipes, too!
  4. The bond between your babies is going to make all of the craziness worth it. They will be inseparable, and ya know, they’ll probably give you hell when they’re teenagers together…but as babies, it’s super cute.
  5. Your OBGYN starts being really, really nice to you because they realize what a money-maker you are for them. The entire office staff will learn your name, and your doctor will repeatedly remind you that he loves how big your family is because it’s good for his business. It’s kind of like earning frequent flyer miles, ya know.

But, there are some negatives that I feel like I should warn you about:

  1. When you announce your newest pregnancy on Facebook, people use the “Wow” reaction instead of the “Love” one. Don’t let it hurt your feelings–they’re probably just wowing the fact that you’re a fertility goddess, which really is impressive.
  2. People in the grocery store stare you down like never before, especially once you have a noticeable baby bump and are holding an infant. You learn to brush off the “You know what causes that, right?” comments really fast. Or find a good comeback–I like to say “The stork just keeps dropping them off. I don’t know.”
  3. If you’re trying to work outside of the home, your daycare bill will now look like something that belongs in a horror movie–I’m serious when I say that we pay more for childcare than a mortgage payment on a three story home. But the daycare, just like your OBGYN, loves you because you keep supplying them with business.
  4. Remember how everyone in the family offered to babysit your first baby constantly? How they showered them with love and attention and toys? Yeah, back-to-back baby does not get that luxury. No one is brave enough to tame your multiple toddler circus and offer their babysitting services anymore. Say goodbye to date nights, and learn to appreciate the rare moments where all the babies fall asleep before 9 PM and you can watch House Hunters with your spouse for five minutes while you both pass out before the opening scenes.
  5. Your babies will fight. They will steal each other’s toys. They will pull each other’s hair. They will fight over your attention and make you feel like a terrible mom for having to pick which one to hold at first. The good news is that you eventually learn how to carry both of them at the same time, and then BOTH of your biceps get an amazing workout from lifting toddlers all day. The hair pulling doesn’t stop though, and I’ve got no advice for that.

Obviously, having Lela and Luna 14 months apart was a pretty easy transition for our family–so much so that I immediately got pregnant again. Leif will be 13 months apart from Luna! Stay tuned for that blog post on “How Do You Fit Three Kids Under Two in One Shopping Cart”…I’m still trying to work out the logistics of that one.

 

Motherhood is Not a Competition

 

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Oh ya know, just me being Mom of the Year and some lady pointing out how crazy my kids are. The usual. 😛

One thing that I naively didn’t consider when I started sharing our lives so publicly on Instagram was the moments of negativity that would come with that, mostly the mean-spirited comments and hateful messages from strangers. Some of my favorites from the last month:

“Do you not know what birth control is, hun?”

“That’s disgustingly selfish to pop out so many babies when there are plenty to adopt.”

“I think this girl is just getting pregnant at this point for more likes on Instagram.”

“Luna?? For a baby’s name?? THAT’S CHILD ABUSE!”

There are comments on the toys I let my kids play with, how I pronounce their names, my career, my sense of humor, everything. I used to get really bad anxiety after my pictures started showing on the Instagram Explore page; because, inevitably, it meant that someone crazy would have something crazy to say, and I felt like I had to delete it as soon as they posted it just to make it go away. But, y’all, I’ve learned that it’s just a part of the Internet, and I give people the benefit of the doubt that maybe they don’t think I read the comments on my own page. Maybe they’re trying to be funny. Maybe they’re just trying to feel like a better mom. And that’s okay.

Motherhood isn’t a competition. There’s no way to do it perfectly, and we all have our faults. I embrace mine, I learn from them, and I try to share them along the way. The first time I clipped Lela’s fingernails, she bled everywhere because I cut them too short. I worked 13 hours on Lennox’s first birthday because I hadn’t learned a work life balance yet. Luna had a swollen lymph node for three months, and when I mentioned it at her last checkup, the doctor was actually yelling at me for not calling sooner. The list of my failures could go on for awhile…

I’m not perfect, and I have learned SO MUCH every single day of being a mother. That’s one of the most beautiful parts of parenting–the infinite things your kids teach you along the way. Six years ago, I didn’t know anything about babies. I didn’t even understand how it could be possible to love someone so much that you are literally willing to suck the snot from their nose with your own mouth (if you don’t have a NoseFrida, Google them now. I’m serious.) I didn’t know what a breast pump was or how to change a diaper. I didn’t know that babies were so durable, and I used to be scared to hold them because I didn’t know how to do that correctly either. I still don’t know how to do everything or what the right parenting answers are, but every day, I learn something new and wake up to the grace of my children’s forgiveness for my shortcomings.

So, if you struggle with trying to be the perfect mom, don’t live in the comment section of life. You are a perfectly “good enough” mother. Your children love you. And every day, remind yourself that this journey isn’t a competition, and we ALL have each other’s backs in motherhood.

Here We Go

I spent months deliberating whether or not to transition my Instagram into a real blog, and here we are today–I FINALLY DID IT. Instagram has been such an amazing platform for me to share my memories and my voice as the matriarch to a rapidly growing family of six, and I’m grateful for the many connections I have made through the years. So many of those connections have asked repeatedly when I was going to take the plunge and share more, and I’m excited to dive in and do this together.

So, I guess I should start with an introduction:

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I’m Charlotte, and the four tiny humans in the picture with me are all so loved, so wonderful, and so mine. Lennox is six, Lela is two, Luna Darling is one, and Leif will join our family at the end of summer. I’m married to a man that is, without a doubt, too good for me, and together, we’ve built a life that leaves me pretty much nothing to complain about…except, okay, maybe I wish there was a Target where we live. By profession, I’m a banker. By grace, I’m a mother. And by luck, I get to share this life on social media with more people than ten times the population of the town where I live. I am so incredibly humbled by that, trust me.

A year ago, we left the Hampton Roads area of Virginia for a more rural setting in Eastern North Carolina, where we are renovating a 100-year-old Victorian home as a family. Lately, it’s had a little bit of a bat problem (SERIOUSLY!), but other than that, the slow living in this area has been good for all of us. We’ve been talking about moving to Western NC in the not-too-terribly-distant future; but for now, this is home, and we are so, so happy.

I love snuggling babies, drinking red wines, doing crossword puzzle books, and taking walks through this weird little town we call home. I hate wadded up napkins, knees, and bats (which is really unfortunate, right?). My favorite meal is french fries. My favorite color is purple. And my favorite animal is the giraffe, despite being attacked by one about nine months ago (NOT EVEN KIDDING!).

Through my blog, I look forward to sharing our daily adventures, the maximum chaos of four babies so close in age, our endless family travels, my unsolicited motherhood advice, and of course, the pictures that I take along the way. Thanks for being on this journey with me. ❤

Camping with Tiny Travelers

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We JUST got back from our camping trip to the Great Smoky Mountains for Luna’s first birthday, and I’d be completely lying if I said I was not totally terrified before our trip. Would the girls sleep? Would the mountain pressure hurt their ears?? Would we all be eaten by bears?!?! Answers: Yes. Yes. and No. We didn’t even see a bear the entire week!

Tom was an Eagle Scout back in the day, so naturally, he was SUPER prepared for the trip: packing lists, maps, fancy camping gear, an air horn for the imaginary bears I was scared of, pretty much everything that could fit in our SUV. But still, Eagle Scouts might give you survival instincts, but it doesn’t give you mom instincts. I spent days thinking of every possibly scenario that could happen in the woods with each of our three kids, and y’all, it totally paid off: we spent five glorious days in a tent as a family and had the BEST adventure ever.

How’d we do it? Here’s some tips that helped us:

1.Bring a serious First Aid Kit for your littlest ones! Not one of those cheesy store-bought ones. I’m talking, make a small bag full of every medicine, band-aid, grooming item, etc that YOUR child might have had a need for in the last 6 months. We packed Gripe Water, Tylenol, Benadryl, Bandaids, Mommy’s Bliss Cough Syrup, ear drops, and teething gel. Lennox busted both knees, Lela had an allergic reaction, and Luna ended up getting an ear infection on the last day; so we put the kit to good use!

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We also only brought one toy for each child, and they played with them endlessly!

2. Bring a rug for the front of your tent! Luna is pretty good at walking now that she’s 12 months old, but the campsite really threw off her balance, and she ended up needing a spot to crawl around on. It was also SUPER helpful to get dirt off their feet before tracking it in the tent. Win/win

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Totally not a picture of a rug, but look at Luna on the train through the mountains!

3. Check the weather BEFORE YOU GO! Y’all, I can’t stress this enough. I had serious withdrawals from the weather app on my phone, and without phone service, it just wasn’t possible to get my fix. Luckily, Tom had everything planned out for indoor activities near the campsite (like riding the train through the mountains!) instead of being stuck in a tent all day with fussy kids on the days where it rained.

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Rainy Day on the train through the Smokies

4. Don’t expect them to fall asleep before sundown. Lela and Luna have an 8 PM bedtime. Lennox has a 9 PM bedtime. While camping, everyone seemed to instinctively go down at sunset around 9:20. With that said, they also woke up at sunrise, so be prepared for that, too.

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Attempting to put them to sleep in their stroller. Attempt failed. 

5. Don’t try to have a campfire around your toddler. Maybe this is just me being crazy, but it is SO dangerous having a stumbling toddler and baby around an open flame. We lit a small campfire a couple of times, but we made sure to be wearing Luna so she couldn’t walk toward the flames. Trust me, as soon as we would put her down, she would start heading straight for it. Bring a small campfire stove for meals instead.

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Trying to eat corn with very few teeth. Bless.

6. Have fun. Connect as a family. Don’t stress. And remember that no matter where you camp, there’s probably a hotel within like ten minutes if everything goes horribly wrong.

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My FAVORITE night of the trip. It poured rain, the campsite was soaked, we had to rig up a fort to cook under, and the kids LOVED it. Basically like hanging out in a fort all night.