I used to wonder how moms of three or more children do so much better than those with one or two… What have they learnt to be so brave to go ahead and have more kids?! I never knew until I was a mom of two plus…
First, let me start by telling you that this post is not to shame mothers. It is about the reality that never strikes us until we have been there and done that.
The trouble with education is that they teach you everything you don’t really need in life and nothing about what you really, definitely, badly, MADLY need… to survive!
Think about it: Did they ever teach you…
- to talk so that men would listen?
- Or how to gently tell your wife that she is a bad cook?
- Or where that crease is really supposed to rest when you press the sleeve of your shirt?
- Or how to calculate how much rice you need for 24 people?
- Or that if you mix bleach and fabric softener, you get a slimy layer in your washer…
Why we don’t have a compulsory Human Psychology and Child Care as a subject at college is beyond me. We all get married… eventually. We all have kids… whether we want ’em or not and we have to get down to the business of diapers and discipline, eventually. Right?
The journey from ‘just you’ to ‘stressed you’
Most of us get into this baby making mess without really knowing what we are getting into.
Of course, there are some who are unlike us… but usually most of us go straight from the ‘Fairy Tale Love Story‘ stage directly to Stage ‘We Make Three‘. In either case, nobody really knows what to do with that baby when the nurse hands you that ‘bundle of joy’ and tells you that you can take it home.
When you bring it home…
Day by day, you teach yourself to feed it and yourself (and that hubby-thing who got you in that mess in the first place!); You learn to change the diapers (and your priorities); give the baby a bath (and how to brush your hair and your mouth in under a minute). You learn that cooking and dieting is somewhat the same thing and that babies really do have a good taste of what health food really is. You learn to swaddle, calm, sooth and walk the baby to sleep while you teach yourself to sleep standing and learn that a normal human mum-being only really needs four hours of undisturbed sleep.
You realize how less you really want in life and that that there was really something called ‘me-time’.
Then… in between all that learning and usually well before you know it, the little one gets a sibling.
By then life is pretty much tolerable. You think:
If I could do this once, I can do this again.
After all, Ha! You can change a diaper now and… Ha! you know exactly what a nasal aspirator is! By then, you have ( you think, you have!) an experience with almost everything ‘baby’. You know exactly when to cook, when to work on that ‘life project’ and when to have one-on-one with your ‘hubbidy-dibbidy-libbidy’ love.
Ofcourse you do! You have worked on your life… you have read all the books in your library… you know exactly what your now BFF, Babycenter.com, has to say about everything pregnancy, baby, toddler, big kid, preschool… You are prepared!
Or… so you think.
Baby#2 is very different from baby#1. He sleeps through the night but wails all day. He is overheated by swaddling and scared of baths. He isn’t very keen on playing by himself in his cot and he really doesn’t like the look of Daddy.
Life is a juggle.
Baby#2 is quite mobile now and baby#1 doesn’t like his mom taking his attention. Now what?
You manage… you teach hubby to do the laundry and how to work the dish washer. You learn to freeze meals and how much you save by shopping online. You realize how much fun and smart those playgroups can be… you get to meet new moms and they actually know the importance of playdates in the life of a mom! This can be fun …
All’s well. This is tolerable.
You can have a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plan now! You actually have Spring Cleaning now! Yay! Your mom is going to be so proud of you! You do get a little tired at the end of the day running after two kids but you have it all under control.
Sometimes, waking up the big guy, who is in preschool now, gets difficult. You really don’t feel so good about breakfast so early in the morning too. Little Guy woke you when he tried to stand on you and reach that lamp one afternoon. You can’t believe you fell asleep while he played with his blocks and his brother napped.
Surprise… surprise… you are expecting again.
‘What?!! How did this happen?! You are exclusively breastfeeding Little Guy’, you say. I just can’t be…!
But… it is.
And now… you’re definitely a STRESSED OUT mom!
All those times you thought mom’s who screamed at their kids were really out of their minds and that you were definitely not one of them, you are one of them now! What else can you do when all three of them wail in unison?
All the time you thought those posters on facebook which people shared that mom’s have bad houses and dirty dishes… and you had so tried hard to argue otherwise… you have to agree now.
Diaper, feed, diaper, feed, console, hug, kiss a boo boo, read a book, build a boat, homework, nap time, meal time, diaper, potty, diaper, clean the vomit, potty… what?
All that time when you read about people forgetting and losing their kids in public places, you did that?!
‘What the…’ you say. You are not a real mom till you have two+ kids, I say.
Until then… we felt SuperMoms.
We never realize what a mess we really are in until we have more than two kids. Until then, it just seems like there is you and there are kids. It is after the third one that reality hits.
You are now officially among moms of three or more children!
What moms of three or more children can teach you about stress
It is after you have three or more children that you learn:
1. To embrace the truth.
The reality that you and the kids are really one and that entertainment or punishment is really all yours to have and keep. But the best of all… you realize that you are you… kids or without.
And that Supermom thing… it’s … Laugh out Loud stuff. Suddenly, you don’t care anymore to be a Supermom or even called a mom for that matter. In fact, you want to put your name first and then may be tell the world what all you really are before you tell them how many kids you have.
It doesn’t matter anymore if the world knows that you have dirty dishes and you have slept in.You are a real mom now!
2. You KNOW every other mom is struggling just like you.
How many times a day are you really going to clean? Does it really matter if your mom or MIL thinks that you are a good wife? You are you. You love your kids to bits and every moment you spend with them is treasure. ‘Must you share it with the world?‘, you think.
3. You learn to ignore the supermoms
The world judges you but do you care..? If your mother stops visiting your dirty home… if your best friend sends you information on going gluten free… that cloth diapering is the best and why you should not be carrying your child in a sling… to all of them you want to say:
Until you have juggled two under 2 yrs or three under 5yrs, you don’t really get it.
You learn to say: If you haven’t carried one in your arms and one in your belly while pushing the third on a grocery cart, please don’t tell me about Shopping with Toddlers!
If you haven’t potty trained one child, breastfeeding the other while the eldest did his homework, please don’t tell me that my child is really ready!
If your 2.8 year old is being homeschooled and reading and writing complete sentences, that is great! Please don’t judge me for sending my 4 year old to kindergarten because he can’t speak.
4. You learn that mothering three (or more) children is different than one or two.
It is easy to juggle two glass balls… not many people are born Ring Leaders.
Mothering three or more children is difficult but you know… I would never have it another way because you really do need 2+ kids to see what joy children are. It doesn’t make me the ‘best mom in the world’ but hey… I know I am the best mother my children could get.
Do you relate to any of this, two+ or not? Are you a stressed out moms of three or more children or are you a real mom?