Right after Nolan was born, I said I wanted to be sure to document how life is in this season, because I know in a few years, I probably won’t be able to recall much just from memory. The problem is, it’s really difficult to find the motivation to write at the end of the day when all I want to do is do absolutely nothing. For me, I think the biggest difference between having 2 and 3 children is there is no break, no chance for me to sit and do something for myself until they are all asleep. Someone is always unhappy or needing something. And our house is on the market, so on top of keeping everyone alive, breathing, and relatively happy, I have to constantly make sure our house is “perfect” for a showing.
There’s definitely the emotional/psychological difficulty of having three small, needy children. While I’ve always understood why a lot of women say they could never stay home with their kids, now I truly get it. I don’t have that feeling all the time (or even a lot of the time) but there are moments where I fantasize about going back to work- more money and adult interaction are very enticing. But of course the grass is always greener on the other side, and I do truly love staying home with the kids, insane neediness and all, and right now, I know this is what’s best for our family. Then there’s the guilt. I’m constantly worried that I’m not giving them, especially G and C, the attention they need. I’ve lost it with Charlotte more than once (ok, a lot more than once) and find some days my patience with her is very thin. At the end of the day, she is always so sweet with her hugs, kisses, and “I Love Yous”, so hopefully there hasn’t been any permanent damage to her psyche.
Physically, mothering these little people is challenging too. Nolan is taking this whole “4th trimester baby” thing to heart and refuses to be put down in any kind of artificial contraption that isn’t me. He still nurses a lot and much to my surprise, has made me a baby-wearer. He’s in the carrier hours and hours a day, making me totally touched-out and just wanting to collapse in bed by 7:30 at night. Charlotte has started this (totally adorable) pretend play stage, but of course she wants me to participate in all the scenarios she comes up with, which always involve putting on other people’s shoes and jumping up and down. And play doh. Lots and lots of play doh. I know for a fact that there will be no play doh in Heaven. And then of course Grayson is completely physically demanding. His stiffness has returned, making positioning him really challenging. He loves to be held, but I can’t hold him and wear my little screamer at the same time.
A lot of the time, I feel like we are just making it through the day, and I’ve just had to accept this is where we are right now. I know we will hit our stride at some point and I won’t feel like I’m drowning in children and laundry. But until then, a few things that are helping me survive:
- Low, LOW expectations. We haven’t visited a single pumpkin patch this year. My kids have no matching outfits for this “magical” fall season and I’m not even trying to pretend that we have it all together. (I don’t know why when I see pictures of children in matching smocked outfits sitting in pumpkins, I think, wow, what a perfect family). We are having family pictures done this weekend, but I emailed the photographer that we are probably a photographer’s worst nightmare- 2 kids who can’t sit, stand or follow directions, and a strong willed toddler. I just want a shot of the five of us together to document this time. No one is going to be pinning anything from this photoshoot.
- Screen time. Charlotte is on the ipad way too much, and according to the internet, is going to be ruined for life. But if she’s ruined for life, she’ll know how to open a Surprise Egg and sing 5,000 verses of “Daddy Finger”- maybe she can start her own YouTube channel.
- Play Doh. I hate play doh with a passion. But she loves it, and when she’s playing with it, she’s usually not hanging on me
- Early bedtime. Grayson and Charlotte are in bed by 7:00, and usually earlier than that. Charlotte sometimes stays awake for an hour, singing and playing with her stuffed animals, but she stays in her bed. Once I get her in bed, I grab a quick dinner, bathe Nolan, and we go upstairs and go to bed. Yes, I’m usually in bed and asleep by 8:00.
- Grayson’s nurse. She is truly one of the biggest blessings for our family. She spends the night 4 nights a week, so I don’t have to do any of the physical stuff with G in the evening or morning (lifting, bathing, meds, catching vomit). And she helps me with the other two kids too. We are so thankful for Mary.
- Wine, bread and cheese. Just saying.
- Friends. I have the BEST friends. Seriously, the best. And I love that they fill different roles. One I can text that I’m having a really crappy day and that the kids are driving me insane, and I won’t get any judgment or an “I told you so” (even though she did tell me so when I was contemplating a third kid). One I can share my concerns about Nolan’s weigh gain and without any hesitation show her a poopy diaper to make sure it’s normal. Another I can send a screenshot of some totally eye-roll worthy post on FB and know she’s rolling her eyes along with me. And then there’s my sister in law, who we have at least weekly playdates with and inspires me to be a better mom. And there’s more- so many prayers, lunches, texts, and just support. I love my friends.
- Family. We are so lucky to have so much of our family in the city we live. My mom helps me out a ton with the kids, and she continues to be Charlotte’s most favorite person ever. All our family helps, whether it be with childcare, a place to hang out during a house showing, or just for emotional support. Ryan has really embraced being a father of three, and takes over Grayson duties when Mary isn’t here, cooks dinner most nights, and takes Charlotte on “dates” when I just need a little time apart from her.
- Cute kids. My kids are adorable. And funny. And cuddly. And all that totally wins out over the hard stuff.
I posted this a few years ago when we were right in the thick of figuring out what was going on with Grayson. It was and continues to be one of my favorite quotes that I relate to parenting. So simple, yet so profound.