Tuesday, April 14, 2015

what you didn't know about the 3rd child.

So, I'm going to write this post as if I am sharing something that is true to all of us. I'm going to say "you" a lot, so it makes me feel like this is a common thing, and not just me! And, these are things I am learning with #3-- perhaps for you you learned them on #1... or won't feel this until kid #5... But, at some point, I think all mommas of multiples get these feelings! Also, my third is 6 months old. I'm sure I'll be writing a whole 'nother post when she is six years old!

People probably tried to tell me these things, but some things must be experienced to be understood... so, without further delay, here are "20 Things To Know for #Three":

1. No matter how many children you have, a new baby is still a new baby. Somehow people will think you're this child expert by number three, and will back away from you. "Oh, you already know this... Oh, you don't need any help... Oh, you're a pro..."

Um. No. Actually, no matter how small the human... he or she is still a human, having arrived with their personality already present... The first weeks are not only weeks of recovery, they are also weeks of getting to know this new little person who arrived to your home. The baby is getting to know you, too... Getting to know your cues, your touch, your ways... It's a lot! So, no matter what number, we are all still starting over. And it's still overwhelming!

2. With the third, you will feel pressure to get it all perfect. You won't. Somehow it seems that the pressure/guilt is more with the third... Even when people say things like, "Oh, honey. Don't work so hard. Just relax and soak in this time with your babies"--it can feel like a guilt attack... Because, yes. That sounds really nice. But, hello!? Who's going to keep things going if I "sit and soak"? (PS: If you really want a new momma to feel relaxed and joyful, please don't say that line to her. Say something like, "Hey, can I swing by and hold your baby for you for a while? Or order you a pizza? Or take your big kids to the park?" That will actually alleviate some pressure, instead of adding some.)

3. There will be a season of time (let's say around week 4 of life--right when the baby is getting really needy)... that you will lay awake at night. Panicking. How will you do this? You didn't even get a shower today! Did you even talk to your oldest? Did we do dinner? What's happening???!

4. When people talk about how easy/great it is to have large families--they often smile from a lofty pinnacle of wisdom and say: "Remember, love multiplies... It doesn't divide." Uh, yeah. But, they forget about that whole time thing. Love multiplies... but, time on the other hand. It breaks, fractures, dissipates.

I remember that with Noe and Aleni, I felt like time dragged on and on... I often doubted if I had the fortitude to make it to lunch time--let alone until the end of the day. Now, I felt like I woke up... did a lot of things while accomplishing nothing... and then, five minutes later, the day was over. The days literally flew by, leaving me blinking and wondering what had just happened? And, breathless knowing that another day loomed ahead of me, just hours away.

5. You now live in the land of the "trade-off". You can't do it all anymore. So, activities become divided up into tiers. The activities shift up or down to different tiers as time changes... for now, my tiers are shaking out a bit like this:

Tier One: Necessary for Daily Life
-Feeding hungry tummies
-Generally straightening our living area
-Laundry (Washing/Drying)
(and, most days, especially at the beginning--THAT takes ALL.DAY. Doubt me if you will.)

Tier Two: Possibly get done Every Day
-Fun times with kids
-Actual time with Rey
-Putting laundry away
-Preparing good food (not just whatever I can grab/order pizza)
-Kid's homework

Tier Three: Would Love to Get to Every Day
-Organize/deep clean anything

Tier Four: Fun Extras (aka: Insert Giggles Here)
-Date Nights
-Find clothes that don't smell like poop/spit up
-Chat/correspond with friends

So, eventually you learn to only expect tier one from yourself... to pat yourself on the back if you make it to tier two... to feel like supermom if you make it to tier three... and to think you won the lottery if tier four happens.

6. Not the same, but related: You will find you have a fast-forward mode you now live in. Slow and steady no longer wins the day. You also possess a turbo mode, for special occasions.

7. Again, the time thing. I'm telling you: Don't get behind! (snicker) I know, right? But, really. Try to pick up as you go, stay up late to get those dishes washed, wake up early to get the clothes laid out. You will thank me.

8. Also, equally but seemingly impossibly true: There's no such thing as "Getting ahead on your chores" or "Getting a jumpstart" on tomorrow.

Here's an example.
I recently stayed up way late, waiting for the last load of laundry to finish drying so I could put it away. I felt I had accomplished to impossible that day: I had really cleaned EVERY room in the house and was moments away from having washed, dried, folded and stored every piece of dirty laundry in the house.

I fell into bed, feeling full of happy thoughts and big hopes for an awesome day to come. Of course, that night one child wet the bed, the other crawled into bed with us after a bad dream and the baby decided to be awake from about 1-3 am... and then to be up for the day a little after 5 am.

So, kiss that notion of getting ahead goodbye. Just focus on #6. Whisper to yourself: "Keep on swimming" and that's about the best you can do!

9. Milestones will fly by. You will hear yourself saying, "How is it possible that you are already rolling over/scooting/ready for solid foods...? I just birthed you yesterday!"

I remember with Noe and Aleni, I was glued to the "What to Expect" book and analyzing their every "shortcoming" or seemingly advanced ability. I haven't even checked those lists this time. Oops.

10. You will become more choosy about "mom events".

With the first two, I was all, "Get me outta here! What? You have something for moms.... with childcare?? I don't need to know you. It's ok. I'll just sit here and stare at the wall!" Now, I'm more like, "What? Get everyone out to the van by a certain time? Pack up all the gear, get them all dressed and out the door--hopefully between spit ups and blow outs?? No, thanks. We're fine."

I'm even, sadly, more picky on just mom outings... "Fondue? When I could deep clean the front closet? Or even...." *sacred whisper* "...sleep????"

11. I used to think that the more kids you have, the more mellow you become. I now think that the more kids you have, the more it shines a spotlight on your natural tendencies and your personality. And, that either you will like what is now magnified for all to see, or you will be forced to re-evaluate and tweak what comes natural to you into what works for now.

Just for fun, let's use me as an example. I tend to be a more spontaneous, wait-till-the-last-minute, meandering type. It may surprise you to learn that it is not working out to well for me to stay that way now that I have 3... with 2 being in different schools with different schedules... and with the baby needing her naps and feedings to happen also. This momma is having to figure out a more planned-out, quick-moving existence. For now. ;)

12. There's a reason "The 3rd baby is always so laid back". Because they have no choice! From day one, they are dragged anywhere and everywhere... at the dictate of the older siblings. They have to learn to sleep when and where they can, put up with loud noises, crazy play and lots of time in the car.

13. Perfect family/sibling pictures are a thing of the past. For some reason, you can get perfect pictures of two children. Something about having more than two in a picture just guarantees that at least one will have an expression suggesting the need for an immediate intervention by a trained therapist.

14. Second-guessing what works for your family or letting yourself settle into mom guilt will rob your now of its joy.

15. Remember this: Nothing you do today will have any permanence (think: cleaning floors, feeding hungry mouths, organizing closets). . . EXCEPT for the time you took to stop and love on those closest to you.

16. You will--perhaps for the first time ever--amaze yourself.

There's something about doing everything the third time that really presses it into your memory. You see yourself getting down on the floor with your older two during your last weeks of pregnancy, and marvel at your resolve to be present and show love even though your body is screaming at you. You see yourself birth your child--again--and are amazed that, even though you knew what was coming, you did it again. You see yourself taking on the housework... getting kids to school... when just days ago you were in a bed bringing life into the world. Yet, you are able to do it because you want to be strong for your husband and be strong for your family. You see yourself pulling yourself out of bed time and time again to quiet a screaming infant, although you have not once rested throughout the day, and are amazed at the power of your will. You are amazed at your strength, your resolve, your love, your capacity--the richness of your life. And, maybe--for the first time ever--you will start to be okay with admitting your own amazingness. (*Yes, that's a word...*)

17. When you find out you're expecting your third, do yourself a big favor: Run out and pick up a box of this. Seriously. Not even being cute. I just used it yesterday, and I heard little birdies singing while butterflies fluttered around my head. And, it literally took all of 20 minutes. Start to finish

 Something about the third seems to bring in an abundance of some things... and a scarcity of others. (In the abundance column, let's say I'm referring to gray hairs. In the scarcity column--review #4-8. And add.... hmm... I'll whisper it in Spanish so you don't think I'm being impolite: *dinero*.)

So, yes. Don't delay. It's happiness in a box. An attitude adjustment for $6. And it comes in every shade.

18. Sanity is not found the schedule... it's all about the rhythm, the dance.

Women in general are called to live in flux. Throughout our lifetime, we fill many different and diverse roles--our bodies go through unparalleled changes, bear pain, carry, hold, embrace, nurture, heal... And, we must find beauty in the changes. Must find the grace and tenderness there. If we hold on to what used to be, to what could have been, should have been, we will see the joy begin to crumble. But, if we can lean into what is, hear the rhythm of the time and sway to it's beat... we will find our way!

What does that mean in daily life? For me now, it has been finding what works for today... trying to notice what the baby seems to be wanting and needing today... realizing it could all be different tomorrow... and trying to be okay with that.

19. If you don't like what you see in the mirror, find one with a more flattering light source. For real.

20. You will survive. You will find your new normal. Because... you are a mother. Or, in other words: you are amazing.

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