When my husband and I found out we were pregnant with our 3rd child, we were surprised. We had not been planning on having anymore kids after the birth of our son a few years prior. Once we got over the initial shock, we settled in for the inevitable difficult first year that comes with having a newborn.
Here’s what we didn’t realize:
When our son was born, his sister was almost 9 years old. Only one kid was in diapers, only one kid was shoving small objects into their mouth, nose or ears at any given time, and only one kid would be screaming their head off for longer than 2 minutes.
Oh, to go back to those easy days.
Don’t get me wrong - it was definitely a big adjustment to go from one child to two. We had to learn to juggle the needs of both children at the same time. Definitely more complicated than just having one child.
When I was pregnant with #3, we really thought we had this whole “parenting” thing down. It was only 3 years before that we had done the newborn stage with our son, and everything was still fresh in our minds. We weren’t as worried about her getting sick, or getting enough sleep, or as obsessive about writing her bottle times down. We trusted our instincts with the 3rd. We assumed that after 2 kids already, we were pretty much pros.
Dear lord, were we ever wrong.
Okay, so here’s my take: being the parents of 2 kids KIND OF sets up the framework to be able to handle adding more to your brood. HOWEVER, it’s not in the way you think. Or at least not in the way I was thinking…
Bear with me here as I try to pull a coherent thought out of my head with only one cup of coffee in me and 6,000 other thoughts floating around my overloaded brain. Maybe if I make a list that will simplify things?
2. Your kid has a crisis.
3. Throwing a birthday party.
There are SO MANY other things to add to that list, but the infant just started crying, the toddler is waking up for the day, and the older child is calling saying they need you to do something for them immediately. Your lucky partner is off at work, conversing with adults and driving around in their car with the radio on and no screaming in the background. They get a lunch break. You get the half of a granola bar that your child thankfully did not finish eating the day before and you didn’t have enough hands to bring it inside and throw it in the trash.
Don’t get me wrong - I LOVE my 3 kids. They are my world. Literally. My entire world. I wouldn’t change it for anything, but it seriously is crazy. Like bat-sh*t, I couldn’t even make this sh*t up, crazy.
Don’t forget to take your pill!
So, my understanding of what it sometimes means to be a full-time mom has changed drastically over the past few months...
I had my first child when I was 21 years old, and at 33 now I really thought I was kind of a seasoned pro at this whole "parenting" thing. I've spent countless days following someone else's routine, countless nights rocking babies in an attempt to get them to sleep, countless hours worrying about how I'm messing each one of them up with whatever decision I am making at the time.
3 kids. 12 years. Nothing should surprise me at this point, right?
JesusMaryandJoseph was I ever wrong. These past 2 months have been the most TRYING, EXHAUSTING, UNRELENTING, DEPLETING, ISOLATING, ULCER-CAUSING times I have ever found myself tripping and stumbling through.
Kids are guaranteed to cause their parents stress - that's definitely a given. Literally EVERYONE knows this before they procreate. Everyone. But, what happens when the amount of stress is actually too much for a them to handle?? And I'm not talking about normal teenager hormones and toddler tantrums and baby colic. I'm referring to the EXTRA stuff. The things that you never factored in when you decided that you could handle not just ONE offspring, but THREE.
Now, I am definitely not going to go into detail about any trials and tribulations my blessed cherubs may or may not be dealing with as I firmly believe it is not fair for me to make a decision to share their private lives with the entire world without their informed consent. I'm just going to throw my personal struggle out there in hopes that it can act as a life ring for another drowning soul.
I snapped yesterday. SNAPPED. Like, trying to text my husband using the voice command button instead of typing with my fingers because I was in a rush and multitasking, and the only things my phone could pick up correctly were the numerous swears that were showing up in every single sentence. Other than that, it looked like I was using some sort of translation app that in no way, shape or form is getting the message across the way you want it to. Except the crazy angry part. That part was definitely clear.
**Also, WHY DOES MY PHONE BLEEP THE SWEARS?? It is not cool when I am losing my mind that my phone chooses this time to send "f*******" instead of the actual word that I am screaming at it. It kind of takes away some of the venom in my voice.
So, yeah. I was shrieking into my phone in an effort to get my husband to understand exactly how DONE I was. I was on the verge of tears. (I never cry.) The anxiety felt like a ball of fire right in the center of my chest. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to just TAKE A DAY OFF AND BREATHE, DAMNIT!! ...But I couldn't. My kid needed something from me at that point that could only come from ME. So, yeah. Melting down wasn't a choice because no matter how little I had left to give (see: 0) because I am a mom and that means that I literally cannot have a day off ever from that job until the end of time.
Yes, the kids' needs are constantly changing. Right now I have a pre-teen, a toddler, and an infant. FUN TIMES, GUYS!! It is enough to drive any parent insane. I can see why people (therapists) are always pushing parents to get together in the form of "play groups" (gatherings with wine) to offer each other support. Of course, how in the world do you have time to go to a "play group" (day drinking party) when you don't even have enough time to take a 5 minute shower in the morning??
Literally every single one of my "social" activities lately has been having a 2 minute conversation with the checkout people at the grocery store and Goodwill. I'm not joking. I speak with those people more often than I can find time to text my own sisters. Thank god for them - if I didn't have those 2 minutes, the only times I would open my mouth would be to continuously answer "yes" or "no" questions for my toddler and to yell at my pre-teen to pick up *insert item of clothing here* from *insert any random room in house here* every 5 minutes. The closest thing I have to a real conversation when I am with my kids is me, passive-aggressively speaking in baby talk to my infant about how her older siblings are making me nuts. (She just smiles at me when I do this, so I don't really think she gets what I'm saying...)
My brain has been demolished this year. I can barely form a coherent sentence because there is such a backlog of "things to remember" and "to-do" lists piled up in my head. I hear some of the things that come out of my mouth and mentally shake my head because I sound like an idiot. I've tried to take more time to think thoughts through before I translate them into words to be shared, but then I just look like it takes me a long time to sound like an idiot. I can't win.
My husband has been my saving grace. The poor guy wants to help out so bad. He literally asks me to tell him what to do to help me AND I. CAN'T. EVEN.
After I had finished doing what only *I* could do for one of the children, I went home and basically fell apart at my husband's feet. He swooped in and offered to give me a few blessed hours off from being Mom. I wasn't even "on-call Mom". I was "stretched beyond capacity, numb to the world, I'm taking a 3 hour nap with the sound machine on full-blast next to my head so that I cannot hear anything you people are saying" Mom.
I have never slept so hard.
I woke up and was able to rescue my husband from the toddler who is going through the stage where he has turned whining into an art form and manages to find a reason to do it in response to any and everything that is said to him.
And the beat goes on, da da dum da dum dum......
Hang in there, moms and dads. I know the demands will keep up until the last day of your life, but at least we're all in this together #amIright??
Sending so much love (and sanity),
You guys...where did the last 6 years go??
My thoughts on our daughter's first day of middle school:
I love this kid. She drives me absolutely batty with her strong will and her sense that SHE is always right, not me....yet those are also the same qualities that give me so much hope for her future. They will come in handy when she's an adult and needs to be self-reliant.
Of course, right now I would just like her to clean her room without an exaggerated eye-roll and loud sigh.
Middle school. Yikes. I hated those years. And by hated, I mean I was ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE THE ENTIRE 3 YEARS AND DROVE EVERYONE ELSE AROUND ME CRAZY. I have reason to be apprehensive about my daughter starting this journey! I know that she is a completely different person than I was (...kind of?) and her experiences will be her own, I just know what a slippery slope this time is.
Mood swings and screaming matches and trying to start and finish projects the night before they are due, oh my!
And the angst....OH MY GOD, THE ANGST.
For her sake, I will be keeping any struggles that involve her to myself - I'm sure having your mom post personal things about you on social media is a giant "no-no" in this modern age (Things were very different 20 years ago when I was starting 6th grade: AOL was still new and I was able to pick screen names like soccer11 and the like. I'm pretty sure all of my old user names ended in "11" that year. I was exceptionally creative!) and certainly wouldn't be fair to her.
So, I will just be posting vague and miserable status updates like all of the other good moms I know.
Buckle your seatbelts, kids.
My wild child just took one more giant step towards complete independence.
Happy back-to-school day! Someone drink some wine for me!
Say a prayer, cast a spell, throw out some good vibes.
We're all going to need it.
Mother and wife by day, psych RN by night. So many different ways to view life. I try to take everything in and be very slow to judge.