When I thought of my future family I never envisaged myself with three children, let alone three boys, but here I am surrounded by my crazy little trio. I often have pinch myself moments when I see all three of them running around together and realise that they are in fact all mine. Followed by a slight feeling of panic…that they are in fact all mine! That I am responsible for raising three humans is a scary concept, but I try to focus on the day-to-day so as not to run for the hills.
As daunting as it may be, after our initial stresses over not having enough hands (the husband’s) and not enough love (mine), three has turned out to be pretty wonderful. So far they are all still in one piece and happy (if allowed unlimited TV and sweets). Number three has definitely brought a whole new layer of joy. His buttery blonde hair is the cutest and I get him to say Peppa Pig repeatedly just for my own entertainment. I love witnessing his personality starting to shine through – all three are so different but together they share their own unique little bond.
So is three the magic number? Well no not for everyone – it is subjective for sure. But here is what I personally found going from two to three…
– I have no desire whatsoever to set foot in a church hall to partake in some tiresome toddler group. I did it all with numero uno, then I dabbled with monkey music with the second, where the overzealous teacher even scared the parents. Now if I ever see a parachute again it’ll be too soon. Is he missing out? Well no, he has his older brothers to play with so I gather it’s fine for him to be schlepped around Sainsbury’s or go for a meander in the woods. And I don’t miss faking enthusiasm for wheels on the bus that’s for sure.
– I’m much more confident in my abilities to tackle the many challenges small children bring along. With the first I was constantly questioning myself, and pouring over parenting books that merely intensified my self doubt by confusing the hell out of me! It didn’t help that number one was an absolute nightmare (if you’ve read the hoover post you’ll know). But with number three I am now comfortable with my mothering style. He is definitely my easiest too so maybe my mum was right all along and babies do pick up on our anxiousness, though that comment used to irk me beyond belief. How can you be anything but anxious with a screaming newborn that refuses to sleep!
– With this newfound confidence comes an indifference to people’s thoughts on my parenting technique. The two year old wanders around with a dummy firmly in his mouth and he still has a bottle at bedtime, but I have stopped worrying about the dreaded judgement of others. Admittedly, I’m not totally immune to a raised eyebrow or two, but I no longer yell dramatically at my kids then rush home to implement a giant star chart (for the 50 billionth time to no effect!).
– With three there is a least one horrendously hairy moment each day, a don’t-know-where-to-start moment. Yesterday’s treat was when the youngest was in the bath and threw two massive goblets of water at the middle child who was sat on the loo. Of course the middle child freaked out mid poo, I was trying to strip off his dripping wet clothes while the smallest continued to splash us both, then the eldest added to the drama by turning off the lights. That was fun. But there’s also at least one daily moment of magic too. Yesterday it was seeing them all huddled together on a bench in Mcdonalds (see I don’t care about being judged), the littlest was bopping along to the music copying the biggest, making us all laugh. It’s the small moments of calm among the general chaos – I’ll take those.
– The saying ‘it’s just a phase’ may be highly irritating when you’re in the said phase but with number three I discovered it is the wisest mum mantra of all. The youngest recently had an obsession with putting sponges in the oven leaving me panic searching for a child-proof solution, but before I had the chance to click ‘buy’ he had stopped. The same applies to periods of teething or nap refusal, they can literally drive you to breaking point then one day you wake up and realise they’ve stopped, without you even noticing.
– One thing that does make me sad about the third is that I have little memory of him as a tiny baby – that’s probably because he was never tiny! At 10 lb 4oz I felt cheated out of having a final newborn – he arrived as a six week old baby! But with each day being about survival in those early months and getting from A to B without losing a child, I didn’t have time to take him in. To study his little face. His milestones have come and gone without much acknowledgement too. ‘Oh he can walk today, that’s handy, now what’s for tea?’ Looking at it positively though it’s lovely how he’s blended into our family so seamlessly, like he’s always been here.
So three is our magic number (not four as husband will be quick to assure you). Yes the noise levels send me over the edge, as does the constant bickering and fighting. We never see the bottom of the linen basket and don’t get me started on the toilet suitation or our bread consumption. With three it’s relentless, there is literally no let up. My patience is tested on a daily basis. It usually gets a D- with must try harder, then there’s always a new parenting puzzle to fox me. But I guess that’s motherhood for you, regardless of the number.
But surprisingly having a third has also brought a sense of calm with it. I’ve been forced to accept that I’ll never be on top off everything. Its impossible. In a way I’ve had no choice but to surrender to the perfect imperfectness of it all. And that’s been good for me.
Recently I got talking to a mum at a kids party. I noticed she had three boys there and mentioned I had the same. She then told me she actually has five boys, oh, and three girls! After I had stopped gawping in shock, I decided that if she can keep eight fed and safe (while still looking glamorous I hasten to add) then three is a doddle, right?