at different stages in our lives we get asked certain questions, over and over. at the end of high school its “where do you want to go to college?”. when you’re engaged its “when are you getting married?”. when you’re married its “when are you having kids?”. after my first was born i was given a year or so of a break from the questions, but they soon came again asking about my plans for another. after my second girl was born i was immediately asked if i wanted another (like almost every day) – no break this time. here’s my theory on that: when you have 2 or more of one gender, people always assume you want to try again to have at least one of each gender, as if just having 2 kids isn’t satisfying enough. my best friend experienced the opposite: she had a girl then a boy, and when people found out she wanted more, they’d question, “why?”, as if she should be satisfied with one of each. so now that i have 3 kids, i so often get asked, “how is it having 3?”. in fact, i just got an email from a fellow blog reader asking me the same, and sharing some of her concerns about it:
Hi. I’m a 29 year old mother of two young boys, ages three and one, and while my patience is already running short just managing the two of them, my heart still feels as if someone else is missing.
ok, lots to address here! first, let me say that each time i have given birth, i have also had the feeling that i wasn’t done. some people have told me that feeling never goes away, even long after your kids are grown.
i don’t feel like my life is all that much crazier having 3 as opposed to 2. as i often say in this stage of my life in response to people asking about having three, ” its not having 3 thats tough. its having a 2 year old.” really. gracie is at a pretty easy stage, and actually, so is silas. he goes with the flow and naps almost wherever we are (nursing is very helpful with this). he’s very portable right now. it will get harder when he wants to walk and not be held, or when he starts to form more of an opinion of his own. thats the hard part about having a 2 year old (i guess i should be saying 2 1/2 now!): she has very definite opinions on what she does and does not want. and when you have to go anywhere, it can be very difficult. last week, especially, being away from home, was difficult. but we’re figuring each other out, finding out how to make things work, giving her the time she needs and allowing her to try things she really cannot do herself.
the chaos is DEFINITELY worth the trade off. no doubt. i don’t know if it is because silas is a boy (and so many have warned me about how a boy holds his mother’s heart) or if because he’s my third and i’m more relaxed and know what i’m doing, but he has been a wonderful baby. so much easier than my first 2. probably the most chaotic thing is figuring out the logistics when we’re out and about. i definitely don’t go out as much as i used to. but i also used to go out and run unnecessary errands, which i very rarely do now. it takes me much longer to get the kids in and out of the car: i still have to buckle 2 of them and unbuckle all three, so it takes a bit of time. then i have to referee the fights as lily wants to sit in gracie’s seat and gracie doesn’t want to give it up (again with the definite opinions!). but we’ve got a fairly set routine on how we do things getting in and out.
then we deal with going into stores. costco is probably the easiest (okay, i’m sure i’m giving way more information than you ever wanted, but you can stop reading at any point!), the 2 littles are buckled in their seat (LOVE the double seat) and gracie walks or hangs on the cart. this used to be much harder, when lily HAD to do whatever gracie was doing and i wasn’t about to let her walk in costco. my solution to that was that silas was in the moby or bjorn, and both girls were in the cart, and i’d hope they didn’t get into a screaming match while i raced through the store. i also always try to stick to my list as closely as possible and not take extra time wandering through the “fun” aisles because thats when things always seem to go bad! at the grocery store and trader joe’s, i can usually go fast enough that both girls can walk while silas is in the cart. i’ve given up on the huge carts with the cars in front where the kids can “steer”, because they seem to never be content in them, climbing in and out while i’m trying to maneuver the behemoth cart. trader joe’s at least has the promise of a balloon at the end. oh, and the grocery store always gives out free cookies to kids, so that can be helpful, too!
we travel a lot, too. our theory even before kids was to not let having kids keep us from doing the things we’d love to do, but to do those things with them. its not always (or ever) a relaxing vacation, but we’ve experienced a lot of great things as a family that we never would if we just stayed at home.
addressing the “loss of self”: self? what is “self”? its been so long since i’ve seen her! just kidding. i think i’ve redefined what my self is, who i am, although i still fight it a lot. i am a mom and a wife. if there’s room for other things, then i’ll try to squeeze them in. i’ve never been a mom that needs to get away from my kids on a regular basis (although when that desire hits, it hits HARD!). my biggest request is not that my husband come home so i can leave, but just that he come home and we can all be together and have family time. this is BY FAR what is most important to me, much more important than having “me” time. i do understand that not all moms are rigged this way, but i also believe that biblically, as women and moms, we are called to be in the home. now if you’ve read my blog for much time now, you know that i like to sew and craft. thats probably where i find the “self” that i’ve lost in having three. but i also go in waves of crafting, finding my heart being pulled much more towards focusing on mothering.
starting over at infancy was easier than i thought it was going to be. as soon as i started celebrating lily’s exit from infancy (don’t get me wrong – i LOVE the baby stages, certain thing just get easier as they are more independent), i found out i was pregnant with silas. i was anticipating things to be much harder to go back to, but really its all felt very natural.
juggling 3 sets of needs has taken some getting used to. my oldest is 4 1/2 and is really very independent, and also incredibly and eagerly helpful. she meets many of her own physical needs. lily still needs lots of help with many things, although wants to do it all on her own. sometimes she’ll let gracie help her out if i’m occupied (nursing). silas’ needs are still met so easily, but its getting a bit more difficult with eating food more. i think with each kid you add to the mix, you’re not adding a full set of needs to be met. they don’t all require the same amount of care (in the physical needs sense). having three babies? yeah, that would be crazy. three toddlers? more crazy. but one at each stage is much more balanced.
the loss of all sanity: i’ll openly admit it. i have had to call my husband home from work a few times for the sake of my kids. its a lot to handle, and some days the buttons are pushed too many times and i’m working off very little sleep. thankfully, my husband is very understanding and willing to step in when i need to step out.
what made me decide to have three kids? HA! we planned both our first two, according to what worked best for us, where we were at with homes and work. that worked out great. but then we started a new business and were building a home at the same time (i don’t recommend that). i would ask sean what he thought about three and he wouldn’t even want to discuss it because he was under so much stress as it was. then i got the flu… the flu that never left. finding out i was pregnant was a very sad day for me. ah! thats so horrible, but true. i was shocked. lily was so little, only 13 months old. we hadn’t even talked about whether or not we wanted three. hindsight is 20/20. if i knew then that i’d be head-over-heals in love with this boy in my arms, my initial reaction would’ve been sooo different. but thats where i was in life, and i couldn’t make my reaction different.
you ask me if i’d honestly choose this over again, if i were given a chance. the answer is yes, without a doubt. in fact, having my third makes me question if we’re done having kids or not! this was not what i ever expected.
and on a much lighter note: those alphabet cards were a gift, from land of nod. they’re other places, too – made by eboo.
i wish you peace in your decisions about family expansion, and joy in the little decisions that are made for you!