Having a third child was the biggest decision of my life. A close second is my decision to move away to Kauai at age 19. But that is another post for another time.
We never planned on having more than two children. There even was a moment before I had any children that I could see myself Childless By Choice and be happy with no kids at all. Then after Charlotte was born in 2004, I was in no rush to go through all that again and have another child. One child seemed just fine. But eventually we did have Julia, and we were so happy with our two perfectly healthy girls. But a nagging maternal craving came over me to have another baby. It was weird for me, because I'm not one of those women that naturally loves everything babies and children. But I found myself wistfully looking at families of three and envying them. I am also one of those weird women that loves being pregnant, and wanted to experience that once more.
This decision was mine, because Randy said he could go either way. I'm indecisive by nature, so this was a big one for me. I thought about it for a few years.
There were a million of things for me to consider before having more children. The cost, my stress level, the risk of me being a woman of AMA (Advanced Maternal Age kicks in after 35, I was 36), the sacrifices I knew we'd have to make as a family. These were all things that made me think this over long and hard. But also, I think a big factor was that where we live, in California Bay Area, having more than two children is not that common. To give you an idea, in Julia's preschool class of 25 families, only four families have more than two children. The rest have one or two. And in Charlotte's first grade class of 20 families, also only four families have more than two children (of those, one family has 4 children).
I think my decision would have been easier if lots of families around me had three children. But instead it made me question my decision to have more kids. Why aren't other families having more children? Am I crazy for wanting more than two? I think there are two big reasons why families in this area are smaller; one being that parents are generally older, so there isn't much time to grow a larger family. Most people don't get married until they are in their 30s and even then they may wait a few years before having kids. And the second reason is the cost of living. When everything from housing to food, to gas, to schools is costing so much, you think twice before procreating more.
But in the end I new I would always regret not having more kids, and I would never regret having one more.
So when we did decide to go for it and I started telling people we were expecting our third baby, I got a lot of; "Wow, that's brave. Three? Oh my gosh, I can't imagine. You'll have your hands full." As if it was so brave of us to have three kids. What were we in for?
Then when we found out we were having a boy, I was elated. I had no idea I'd be so excited for a son, as I really had no hopes either way. But having a boy, made having more kids, that much more fun for me. I thought it's a good balance for our two very girlish girls and I was looking forward to boy clothes and boy toys and the boy energy.
After we had Austin in August of last year, there are moments when Randy and I look at each other and say, half jokingly. "What did we do? What are we going to do with THREE?" I wonder when that feeling goes away.
Since being a Mother of three, I have never been busier in my life. I'm often home alone during the evenings and bedtime, and it's a mad dash of multi tasking and sweating and crying (by Austin, usually). The exhaustion I feel at the end of the day is like nothing else, and the task of being a good Mother to my kids is harder than ever.
What's hard also is that Randy and I are often split up during our free time. Soccer and lunch for Randy and Charlotte on Saturdays, while Julia and I stay behind for Austin's nap. Or a weekend excursion for Randy and both girls while I stay back and get a walk in with Austin. We go in shifts with the childcare, passing off the baton to each other as we go. Sometimes it's a logistical night mare trying to figure out who does what with which child.
Travelling anywhere significant as a whole family is out for a while. It's just no enjoyable with a baby and two small kids. This summer we are driving to my sisters in L.A, and I haven't even thought of the hotel room situation yet; do we get two rooms now? Are we a two-room hotel family?
But I know it's the right decision because I feel proud to say I'm a mother of three. It feels right and it feels like a real accomplishment for me. Who knew that being a mother of a large-ish family would give me validation and pride, but it does.
And of course, when I see Austin and how perfectly well he fits into our family I know we did the right thing. What warms me the most is the way he adores his two sisters, the way he whips his head around this way and that when I pick him up from his nap. His first order of business, finding out where his sisters are and what they are doing. They make him laugh like nobody else, even in the middle of a big crying fit. He lets his sisters pick him up in the most uncomfortable ways, his legs hanging everywhere, his hands nervously gripping their shoulders, and they just loved him like crazy the moment they saw him. That makes it all worth it to me.
As crazy as things are now, I know it's relatively short lived. Soon enough they will be big kids and won't even want our attention anymore. We're hunkering down for a busy few years, knowing that the rewards of being their parents will be with us for the rest of our lives.
And I have visions of when Randy and I are both seniors, and all three of our grown-up kids come home for Christmas each year and we gather around the dinner table together and all is great and happy. Don't tell me it could be any different. I'm counting on that moment.
|Our three munchkins, yesterday. |
(It's hard getting a good picture of them together)