Multiple Multiples

The Herald | Multiple Multiples

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Story by Olivia Ingle
Photos by Marlena Sloss

On an early March morning, Nikkia (Speedy) Anders quickly goes from washer to washer at the Circle A Food Mart laundromat in Birdseye, filling them with detergent. Her family’s clothing is already loaded.

One of her youngest, then 10-month-old Jerrad, clings to her leg.

“OK, you can be my big helpers,” the mom turns and says to her three youngest girls who are sitting at a nearby table sucking on Tootsie pops and playing on their LeapPads.

The then 3-year-old triplets are more than willing to help Mom, and easily climb up on the washers themselves. They get to insert the quarters and push start on the 13 machines. It’s a 40-plus-dollar routine the family performs pretty much weekly, compounded this week due to bedding needing washed.

“I try to keep them as involved as possible in everything I do,” Nikkia says. “It makes life easier and they want to help right now.”

“When they’re about 5 or 6, they’ll stop wanting to help as much,” Nikkia’s husband, Adam, says.

The girls finish with their quarter duties. “Awesome, good job,” Adam says as he lifts one of them, Jaimi, off the washer, making an airplane sound as he swings her through the air.

Triplets Jaimi, 3, left, Charity, and Nikkole put coins into the washing machines at the Circle A Food Mart laundromat in Birdseye on March 9.

The Anders, who have been married for three years, have 11 children between the two of them. There’s Adam Anders II, 21, Braeden Rose, 16, Jhonen Dayhoff, 15, Brooklyn Anders, 14, Jocilynn Dayhoff, 13, Jackie Dayhoff, 10, Nikkole Anders, 4, Charity Anders, 4, Jaimi Anders, 4, Kristoffer Anders, 18 months, and Jerrad Anders, 18 months.

The triplets and the youngest two boys, who are twins, are Nikkia and Adam’s kids together.

News that they were having triplets came as a shock to the couple since neither of them had had multiples before, and they didn’t go through any fertility treatments. “I could see it [the shock] on Adam’s face,” Nikkia recalls of when they found out.

News of the twins wasn’t as surprising. Nikkia actually suspected it because of how she felt at the onset of the pregnancy. And, doctors had told her that having multiples is more likely after already having multiples.

The Anders family lives with Nikkia’s parents, Jerry and Debbie Speedy, in Birdseye. All of Nikkia and Adam’s kids, but the oldest two, live at the home, at some point throughout the week.

Nikkia, 38, stays home with the two sets of multiples throughout the day because child care would be too expensive if she worked. Nikkia’s mom works third shift and her dad is on disability, so they help with the kids some. Adam, 45, is a commercial sales manager at AutoZone in Jasper, and recently got a promotion that allows him to be at home in the evenings and on the weekends, which wasn’t the case before. The change has been a nice one for the family.

“It feels like he’s home more now than he’s not,” Nikkia says.

Both Nikkia and Adam say it isn’t easy supporting such a large family, but they make it work.

After returning home from work at AutoZone, Adam, left, holds Kristoffer, 1, as Nikkia responds to Nikkole, 4, after she asks for the green cup instead of blue, at dinnertime on Sept. 24. With a messy meal of spaghetti, the multiples took off their clothes to avoid stains. “You don’t have time to sit and eat,” Nikkia said. “Somebody’s always asking for something.”

“You pay for what you must to get by,” Nikkia says. “There’s not really a whole lot of extras.” Those nonexistent extras are things like internet and date nights.

Also, the kids know they can’t have cellphones until they are 13 and the devices aren’t just handed to them.

“The biggest thing is we want our kids to realize [that] while yes, you are a child, there are certain expectations that have to be met in life,” Nikkia says, adding that Jhonen mowed the yard for an entire summer before he was able to get a Nintendo Wii.

Nikkia was raised that way, too. “The way I was brought up, if you’re told something is a privilege, you believe that. If you want something in life, you work for it.”

Also to save money, the family shops at St. Vincent de Paul in Jasper and does a lot of yardsaling. They typically go grocery shopping every Friday, usually with at least the younger kids in tow.

But when COVID-19 hit in March, those family shopping trips stopped. Nikkia and Adam decided to keep the kids at home as much as possible, especially the younger ones. In July, Nikkia said that the little ones hadn’t left the house since the virus started.

“But we ended up going to Family Dollar last week because Charity was having dreams about shopping,” Nikkia says, laughing.

Nikkole, 3, left, Jaimi and Charity bathe in the evening on Feb. 13. With five kids under age 5, going through daily routines together is the only way to keep up.

With all the extra time at home during the stay-at-home order, the family decided to do some renovations to their house. They updated some upstairs bedrooms and remodeled their kitchen. Adam even surprised everyone with a new washing machine and dryer so they wouldn’t have to leave the house to go to the laundromat. It was also becoming increasingly difficult to get quarters for the laundromat because of the recent coin shortage.

The outside has been an escape for the family during the pandemic. The triplets would spend every day outside if they could, Nikkia says.

The triplets and twins play outside on a sunny July day while Nikkia does some work around the yard. Nikkole walks up to Mom, upset because she hurt herself.

“Are you bleeding?” Nikkia asks the toddler. “You’re tougher than that.”

Nikkia and Adam don’t make it a big deal when one of the kids is hurt because they’ve found that if they make a big deal out of it, the kids will, too.

In this particular instance, Nikkia knows there’s more to why Nikkole is upset.

“She takes a tumble and her pride gets hurt,” Nikkia says. “She doesn’t like anyone to see her make a mistake.”

The mom uses it as a teaching moment. “You know you’re going to make mistakes and have accidents,” she says, while holding Nikkole in her arms. “It’s OK. And it’s OK to let people see those mistakes, OK?”

Nikkole, 4, left, Jaimi and Charity line up their toes so that Nikkia can inspect the dirt after playing outside and bouncing on the trampoline on Sept. 23.

Minutes later, Nikkole joins her sisters on a swing and Nikkia gives them a push. Crisis averted.

That same afternoon, the younger kids play water balloons with their older siblings. Nikkia even joins in with the water hose. During all the chaos, the twin boys crawl around the play area and yard. They may be the smallest, but their family doesn’t coddle them.

The afternoon also includes other teaching moments, such as the triplets helping Nikkia with a flowerbed project.

The family has turned an old bathtub into a flower garden and Nikkia is adding a spray-painted water pump near the tub. The triplets help mom fasten the pump to a pipe. Nikkia patiently encourages the girls while they push bolts into holes on the pump. Then they each get a turn to tighten their bolt with a wrench.

Nikkia is always sure to include her kids in projects, because “otherwise, I don’t get anything done,” she says.

Her days are usually at the mercy of her kids. Some days she gets a lot done around the house and others are spent mostly tending to the multiples. She lets the kids set the pace of the day.

“They learn better and are happier,” she says. “A lot less squabbling.”

When asked how she juggles everything day to day, Nikkia pulls three energy drinks out of the refrigerator.

She typically wakes up early with the first toddler and doesn’t get to sleep until after midnight. But, she’s willing to sacrifice for her kids. She acknowledges seeing her mom do it when she was growing up.

Debbie Speedy holds her granddaughter, Nikkole, 4, after Nikkole was upset at the triplets’ fourth birthday party at their home in Birdseye on Aug. 8. Nikkia and Adam live in the same home as Nikkia’s parents, Debbie and Jerry Speedy, who help watch the kids and are glad to be a part of their grandkids' lives. “Your kids are amazing, but your grandkids are out of this world,” Debbie said.

“It gets pretty trying around here but we wouldn’t change it," Nikkia says. She loves being a mom and having a big family.

“Growing up, if I was asked what I wanted to be, it was a mommy," she recalls.

Debbie is proud of how her daughter and son-in-law are raising their kids. “They go with the flow and do what they have to do,” she says.

She never expected them all to be living under the same roof, but she doesn’t mind it. She enjoys helping to raise her grandchildren, and Nikkia and Adam help her and Jerry with things as well.

“None of us are too demanding on each other … It just works,” Debbie says.