To have 3 or not to have 3!
Thinking of having a third child? Chances are you have considered whether you will need a bigger house or bigger car but have you thought about paying for three sets of braces? Or thought of the logistics of getting three children to three different after school activities at the same time?
Would you (hypothetically), if society allowed it, consider having enough love, time and energy for a second husband? Of course we would say No! But lets face it we would need all that extra love, time and attention and more if we choose to have another child. Knowing if you have that resource is far more important than wondering if you can do sleepless nights for a few months or if your house is big enough.
Don’t get me wrong I love my three children. Each of them has been a gift that I have learned to appreciate more and more as the years go by. I never planned on having three children in fact I thought I couldn’t have them at all so it was a shock to find myself pregnant at 25. My plans to travel and conquer the fashion world were thwarted and I struggled with the change to my life’s plan. I had terrible morning sickness for the whole pregnancy and acute depression. My son didn’t sleep for anymore than 90 minutes at a time for the first three months and I simply didn’t take to motherhood the first time round. We only had a second child because I didn’t want my son to be an only child like myself. All through my second pregnancy when people would ask what I was having I would say “the last one!”. Then our daughter was born and within days I was horrified to find that I had a deep longing for another child. There was no logical reason – I had my pigeon pair that I wanted. I tried to resist the urge. I tried to fill the gap with a puppy – a very large puppy! But when my daughter was two, our 18 year old employee was killed in a car accident. Watching his younger brother grieve changed everything for me. While I know having three will never ease the pain should I lose one – I hope the remaining two would still have each other so they would not be alone. I don’t know if it was a good reason to have three but it was my reason.
My beautiful daughter has just turned 13 years old making me now the parent to two teenagers and one tween (who thinks she is a teenager). This is the stage I used to imagine that my parenting life would get easier. I was wrong!!! But I don’t think I was the only one with this misconception, that when your kids get older life gets easier. I just read a blog by a thirty something mum who described the 40 somethings and rested and relaxed because we are not chasing after toddlers. What a laugh! True I no longer get up in the night to a baby, instead I lay awake waiting to get the call to pick up my teenage son from his late night activities. Or tossing and turning worrying how my daughter is going to handle the class bully at school tomorrow. My heart breaks every time one of my children gets hurt as they hit a bump in the road to adulthood. My son is still trying to accept his T1 Diabetes diagnosis. My middle child is particularly delicate. She is beautiful, clever and creative and I know if I can just get her to adulthood she will be fine. But I see her spirit get a little more broken every time some other equally self conscious 12 year old girl tells her she is not good enough in some way. 12 year old girls are just mean!
I used to run one life with three little people in it I now feel the burden of being responsible for four lives. Or five if you include the 40 year old I have been trying to raise for the last 20 years. Each life is more important to me than my own. I am not prepared to compromise the type co care I give to my children. Maybe some parents are prepared to have their children do less activities , sleep overs or leave their education to school. I am not prepared to do that.
I know I am not alone in feeling overwhelmed. As I look across the school playground I see other mothers of three who look like me … just slightly less put together, the ones who forget to hand in the permission slip or scrabbling through lost property for a lost shoe. While the mothers of two look on feeling just ever so smug that they knew to stop at two. This frayed exterior is nothing compared to the internal struggle that I feel trying to give my three amazing young people all the love, time and attention they deserve.
However when I see my three children having fun together it does make me more happy than I ever thought possible to see that they have each other. So while having three has made my life harder it has made my children’s lives better.
I often hear women debating whether they should have a third child. The most common concern mums of two raise are whether they can survive another bout of sleepless nights or more of the terrible twos. I want to tell them that is not really the question they should ask themselves but I know it would come across as condescending. I want to say is your heart up to the job of loving three children? I don’t know if mine is … but now I have three children I am willing to break it over and over again trying.
PS. To those mothers who have more than three children or a child with special needs – you are amazing! I struggle with my three children who, apart from one with T1 Diabetes, don’t have any issues. So I am humbled by your strength.