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You do you, Shirley in frozen foods

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There’s a few things that happen when you go out into public with triplets.

First, people immediately feel like they’re at a petting zoo.

Something comes over them and it’s as if little baby goats and pot belly pigs are waiting to be plucked out of a field of daisies. Strangers pick up your children without asking, kiss them, pet them, and get out their phones to snap photos, no permission asked.


I wouldn’t have been surprised if someone whipped out their tatas and tried to feed one of them considering the amount of excitement seeing three of a kind provoked. It would’ve been quite awkward to utter the words, “Joann, Michelle and Theresa, please put your push up bras back on, you’ve gone bonkers while in close proximity to triplets. Y’all need to see someone about that.”

I even had a preschool teacher years back who would ask my children for kisses on the lips, and I had to address it with the administration. She also cut out newspaper photos of my kids and told people they were “her boys.” She needs her photo next to the dictionary definition of “Red Flag.” Needless to say, we left that school and never looked back.

The list of bizarre encounters we’ve experienced never ends. My sister and I were once in the park with the triplets when we were swarmed by tourists who had likely never seen a trio of blonde haired, rosy cheeks babies before and it was as if Jesus himself was standing before them. They flocked us with their cameras like we were the Kardashians, and it was down right frightening. At one point, my sister had to pull my child from a woman’s arms like a flat screen TV at Walmart on Black Friday.

Granted, triplets are not something you see every day, but good lord, it’s not like you just witnessed the real Tupac at a gas station buying Cheetos. It’s three little babies, not a circus clown car with a driver smoking a cigarette cruising down the interstate blaring Barry Manilow. Get it together, people.

Another thing people like to do when witnessing triplets is ask you every detail of your pregnancy and life while also sharing theirs.

Take Shirley, from the frozen foods section at Costco. Ol’ Shirl is one example of the same encounter I still experience weekly.

While browsing for broccoli, she spotted my cart full of plump little babies in matching polos and shorts. It had been a long day and I really needed to get out of the store and home to make dinner with a shred of sanity. I was running on fumes and if one more child had a meltdown I was going to lose it. Shirley immediately approached me with a “Oh my God, am I seeing triple? Are they triplets? Are they all yours?”

First Shirley, would they really all be dressed the same if they weren’t mine? Do you really think I told the neighbor, “Sure, Kelly, drop your son off and I’ll dress him exactly like mine to go to Costco.”

Then she continues.

“Wow, just wow, are they natural?”

Define natural, Shirley. Are they robots? No. Did they grow and come out of my stomach, yes. They are natural. It’s one of the most annoying questions you can ask a mother of multiples. Why complete strangers feel they have any right to ask about the conception of my children is beyond me. Yes, triplets are a rare sighting, but it doesn’t give you permission to ask about my medical history in a wholesale box store setting. Did Shirley want me to give her my OBGYN’s phone number so she could learn more?

As my then 18-month-old boys are getting restless in the cart while also smashing the bread and eggs, Shirley then begins to tell me about how her daughter has two kids a year apart, so she can relate.

Oh bless your little heart, sweet, sweet Shirl.

There is no universe where these two experiences are comparable, but I’m going to smile and say, “Oh good luck to her,” just so I can move onto the wine department and get the heck out of the store before my kids require another churro to cooperate.

I was once asked by a dad at a karate class if I breastfed them all. Thanks for making it awkward, Greg.

Others blurt out things that are hurtful without even thinking.

“Ugh, no girls? Not one? You going to try for a girl?” I hear a lot.

If I added one more child to this family, I’m pretty sure I’d go legally insane. And oh by the way people, boys are pretty awesome, and I love that I have four of them.

Should you run into a mom of triplets, or anyone with a cart full of tiny humans, know that they're trying their best to get in and out the store as quickly as possible. And the best thing you can do is offer words of encouragement.

“You’re doing great, Mama” is a good one. I also really like, “Keep up the good work! You’ve got this!”

You do you, Shirley, and keep the small talk small. I know your intentions are kind and your heart is big, but that cart overflowing with toddlers is a ticking time bomb and that Mama is on a race to the check stand finish line.

*previously published on

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