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Does the prospect of managing a newborn with two other kids scare you? I spent about nine months wondering how I’d do it, but now that #3 is here, let me share three reasons why I don’t think you should fret (too much) if you’re about to add a third baby to your family of four.
1. By the time you have three kids, you actually believe that “this too shall pass.”
People love to say, “this too shall pass,” about everything parenting-related. This cliché has been uttered to me countless times over my mothering years, usually by wistful older women who follow it quickly with, “Enjoy it! It goes by fast.” When I was in the trenches with Newborn #1, I simply could not believe that the physical and mental exhaustion would ever end. And I didn’t believe it with Newborn #2, either, because I figured my survival the first go-around must have been a fluke, and it didn’t even matter because managing a newborn with a toddler was a whole different ballgame. But now I’m the one constantly telling myself that “this” won’t last forever, whatever “this” means at that moment: waking up each night in hormone-sweat-soaked sheets; staring at my perpetually messy house; the feeling that my husband and I will never again have a real conversation, much less go on an actual date, and even if we did, I wouldn’t feel sexy at all because all of my clothes are milk-stained, too tight, or too baggy.
But by the time you have #3, you’ve survived all of those things—twice! You got through it twice and you’ll get through it again. One night you will sleep well, one morning your pajamas will still be dry, and one day you’ll keep up with your laundry. OK, maybe not that last one, but most things do pass without you even realizing it, and it is oh so much easier to take a deep breath and deal with the challenges of having a newborn when you truly believe, from your own experiences, that things really will be different one day. And then you can better appreciate all those precious moments because you know that those, too, are fleeting. Inside you’ll become a wistful old lady who wants to speak words of encouragement to every harried mom at the grocery store who’s desperately trying to shush a screaming baby. But, don’t worry: you won’t be an old lady on the outside. Someday you WILL go on a date with your hubby in a sexy outfit—I promise!
2. If you accomplish ANYTHING, you feel like Mother of the Year. And I mean ANYTHING.
Both kids’ teeth are brushed and the baby is fed? Mother of the Year. Children’s craft project completed (and by “craft” I mean something like threading a pipe cleaner through some cheerios)? Mother of the Year. As I walked out of my first solo trip to the pharmacy with all of them, I envisioned what I would wear to my Mother of the Year banquet. Never mind the fact that in one arm I carried the toddler that I had snatched away from a shelf full of cold medicine, and I had my other arm hooked on the handle of the infant car seat bucket, and I was whipping my head left and right calling, “Are you with me?! Are you with me?!” to the oldest one who followed behind carrying our precious package of baby Zantac. None of that matters. I took three little kids to the pharmacy and we left without the help of store clerks. If that doesn’t qualify me for Mother of the Year, I don’t know what does.
3. [Newborn + 2 older kids] is easier than [Newborn + 1 older kid].
OK, this sounds crazy to me, too, but it’s true. Note that I am not saying that it is easy to have three kids, especially if you have a toddler, because I think that having a toddler and a newborn is one of the super-most-hardest things in the world. BUT, it has been soooo much easier for me to deal because I now have an older child in the house. When it was just him and #2, I was the only one in the house that could truly entertain him, and that was HARD because they both needed ME so much. But now the older two entertain each other, and the oldest one is actually helpful. And I don’t mean helpful in a “Honey can you please get me a wipe—wait, I don’t mean pull every single wipe out of the package!” way. He’s helpful in a “please for the love of God would you find a way to get your brother down from the train table while I finish breastfeeding your other brother” way. And it’s nice just to have another person in the house who consistently speaks in full sentences, takes a poop without my even knowing it, and can find humor in the goofy things the littler ones do. Yeah, they fight, but, whatever. “This too shall pass,” right? I know that they will all grow and mature and I’ll be lucky enough to watch their little relationships develop, just as I’ve watched the first two grow to be best buds.
So, take heart, future mother of three. Some people make it sound scary, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Related post: Reasons It’s Awesome To Have Three Kids