Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Here's how it is for us.



I find myself drawn to every article and blog post that discusses having lots of kids.  Am I seeking advice?  Comfort?  Reassurance?  All of those, I suspect.  I feel like an anomaly, having this many little ones.  I don't have any close friends with more than 2 kids, therefore few sounding boards.  (Though we do have three neighbors down the block with three older kids, and I see them as hope that, in fact, one can survive all this.

It turns out, though, that 3 kids is not all that uncommon.  According to the U.S. Census, 28% of women have 3 or more kids by the age of 44.  I find this to be pretty shocking, because I often feel we are swimming in children.  It seems that we are the anomaly, having this many children.  Three children.  Who does that?  What I can't seem to figure out is what sort of spacing is common. 3 kids under 5 seems pretty crazy.  2 kids under 2 seems even crazier.

Here are the things that I find so notable about our numbers so far.

1)  The sheer physicality of this time is astounding.  When I sit down at the end of the night, after the kids are in bed and the necessary chores completed, my whole body aches.  I feel I have run a race.  Each and every day.  Much of this is the age of the kids, I know.  I am often having to lug a baby in a carseat in one arm and a squirming toddler in a snowsuit in the other.  Or I am picking up a toddler and putting her in the high chair whilst I am holding a baby in the other arm and giving him a bottle with my chin as my third hand.

2)  I don't necessarily long for the naps to align themselves.  While it is a nice break when it happens, it is a nice break when anybody is sleeping.  If one or two of them are sleeping (the baby and/or the toddler), that gives me a chance to spend some quality time with the big kid.  That's when we spend time reading or chatting.  If all the naps aligned, I would never get alone time with anyone.

3) I am so thankful that I was a hard ass with the girls sleep.  When I found out I was pregnant with Teddy, I decided Greta needed to become a perfect sleeper.  We did cry-it-out, and she is a perfect sleeper now.  I read other blogs where women are getting up with all of their kids, and I just know I couldn't handle that.  I can't be a nice enough person.  Better they cry a little bit and figure out how to sleep, than cry a lot later on because Mom is too tired to be nice to them.

4)  The car seat thing doesn't even phase me anymore.  I used to get annoyed with having to strap one kid into a car seat.  I absolutely dreaded dealing with three kids in car seats.  I care less now than I did with one kid in a car seat.  Because really?  It doesn't matter.  It is what it is, it's not going to change.  If only I could start to feel that way about the messy house.  It still drives me nuts, every single day.

5)  The husband has really stepped up to the plate.  Whereas before he left me to do a lot of the parenting (and parenting prep), he now steps up to help constantly.  It has made a huge difference.  We're lucky if we get an hour to ourselves at the end of the night, and often have to forsake sleep to make it happen.  But at least we're in it together.

6)  When the kids are awake, there is no space in my head for anything other than parenting.  The days go oh-so-quickly, even if we're stuck inside, because every possible moment is filled with some little person's want or need.  For the most part this is fun.  But I also find it's affected my health.  With three plugged ducts, a round of mastitis and a UTI turned kidney infection, I have realized that I don't even make time for my basic needs.  Feeding myself, giving myself water and a bathroom break, are often put off until nap time and bed time.  With my latest infection I realized something has to give.  I now pump a lot less than I was.  And I force myself to drink a lot more water.  So far, it has worked out better.

7)  My poor oldest.  She has always been so independent.  So with the advent of two littler ones, I have relied on her a lot.  She loves it, in some ways.  But I also know that I probably expect more out of her than most 4-year-olds can deliver.  I often forget she's still so little.  It's not until I have a rare outing alone with her that I remember she's still a little kid.  She is not as grown up as she so often seems in the presence of her younger siblings.  I have to remind myself constantly to cut her more slack (and often fail to remember this altogether until the husband reminds me that I'm not being fair to her).  We still have a contentious relationship.  I am reading a book on parenting preschoolers to hopefully remedy that.  It has helped a bit so far, though I have a long way to go.

8) It is fascinating to see even little Greta learn to help.  She has become pretty adept at finding Teddy's pacifier when he's crying.  The fact that everyone is pitching in, without even having to be asked, is something I hadn't expected.

This is life with three, two months in.

2 comments:

  1. Haha! Yes, I have definitely felt like I'm literally drowning in children sometimes. Much more so when the baby was younger though. Although these past few days we've had a bunch of sick kids and once again I just don't have enough hands/brain power for everyone at once. My oldest was 3.5 when the baby was born and it still totally amazes me how much she stepped up - such a dream boat she is now. I never knew a 3 year old could have patience, but she most certainly does :)
    And the car seat thing. Honestly, the idea of buckling everyone in and out of carseats keeps me home some days. BUT even worse for me is getting everyone bundled up to leave the house (shoes/coats/hats/mittens) - can NOT wait for the kids to throw on flip flops and be out the door!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was good (though scary) to read. I think the physicality of the newborn phase will be tough on me. Oliver is technically old enough not to need to be picked up often, but when you add in some typical 2 year old behaviors, well, there are times I have to simply pick him up and bring him upstairs or wherever just for the sake of time management. And he's the size of a 4 year old/40 pounds so now I'll have him plus a heavy newborn strapped to me. EEK.

    Hope life eases up for you quite a bit in the coming months. Warmer weather will help all of us, at least!

    ReplyDelete