My guest blogger for today's Motherhood Monday is Sharon Marie of Finding Vanilla Octopus. It's funny how fitting this post is for me today. I currently have two boys but I've been thinking a lot lately about adding a third. Sharon had me laughing and definitely gave me a lot to think about. Three kids is no joke! (Wait or is it?) I think she wraps this post up beautifully and I have to agree the ride might be crazy but the company is fabulous. Sharon is a stay-at-home mom and referee to three babies, all under the age of three. She tries to cram in blogging time as best she can in the midst of the chaos, for love of writing and the opportunity to share her amateur photography attempts. You can learn more about Sharon on Facebook, Twitter and of course over on her blog, Finding Vanilla Octopus.
Over the years, I've run across the Jim Gaffigan bit about having four children in various forms:
"If you want to know what it's like to have a fourth [baby] just imagine you're drowning... and then someone hands you a baby."
The first time I heard it, being a mother of one, I chuckled. By the second time, I was a mother of two (under two) and I still chuckled, but I also started to really understand.
Now, I'm clocking in at three and I get it. I get it every day. I may only have three to Jim's four, (and in no way can I imagine four right now) but there's a palpable dynamic that changes when the children suddenly outnumber the parents.
In my situation, add to that the fact that my third came on the tails of my second, so I can now boast a crew of not just three children, but three babies- essentially- all under the age of three. As a result, I often wonder if many of my struggles are unique to my particular situation. I can't speak for the experience of wider-spaced siblings, as I only know what I've lived.
I can attest that there are some pretty hefty challenges that come with the territory.
- I can't get dressed until I've dressed three people before me. My oldest can pull on a shirt and pants by herself, but still needs assistance with style-planning, amongst other things. Ditto for mealtimes and bedtime.
- Diaper changes are a multi-occasion, multi-person daily event (especially when your oldest, who's technically old enough to train, remains too defiant to actually do so).
- Somebody is always teething (often, two at once).
- It's impossible to line up everyone's nap times, and subsequently- impossible to plan around them if we go out anywhere.
- Varying sizes are a concern when the play gets a little rough.
- I'm locked in a continuous, rotating cycle of transitions to independence.
- It's impossible to explain the logic behind age-appropriate discipline tactics to a toddler.
Those last two points are perhaps the most difficult to cope with at times. It's hard to fully rejoice in the fact that my oldest can now be left alone in a safe room for a couple of minutes at a time when my middle child has attained a dynamic mix of height, curiosity, and mischief-making capability at the same time. When the littlest one needs to be removed from the room for a nap, knowing that the biggest one will be okay for the five to ten minutes it will take me to put the baby down doesn't stop me needing to make other plans for the middle.
Then, there are the similarly-themed mealtime challenges. My life should be so much simpler now that Middle child can fully feed himself, and even (mostly) handle utensils. However, now the baby is old enough for solids, so I'm finding that I've got a new hand waiting for me to take hold of as I try to manage a decent meal for myself. On top of that, Middle's got a talent for coming up with new and fascinating ways to half-consume, half-play with food, which my oldest is still young enough to find amusing and inspiring. It's tough to get her to stop the antics, however, when her younger sibling is not yet old enough to be consistently discouraged effectively.
Bad habits get passed back and forth like stubborn viruses on a regular basis around here.
However, the chaos is not without great beauty. I could never trade the bonds I see being formed between my near-triplet cherubs for a more sanity-saving attempt at age-spacing; could never possibly replicate the joy I see my children bring to each other on a daily basis, whom they will never remember being without; could never imagine any of them being any different, or their relationships to each other being any different, than they are right now.
One day, when I'm on the other side of all of the crazy, I will realize this more fully, appreciate it far more gracefully. For now, I simply cling to the abstract notion of it as I desperately hang on for the ride.