With each subsequent child I have given birth to, there comes along a list of unexpected things that just seem to “happen.” But every mama knows that when you switch from man-to-man defense to zone defense, things are bound to change and in the strangest of ways. Here’s my list of 7 things that happen when you have 3 or more small kids.
- People will always give you sympathetic looks when out in public. This look is almost always followed by, “Why, don’t you have your hands full?” Why yes, yes I do. In my head I’m thinking, “Yes, would you like to help me shop by pushing my cart to the back of the store so I can pick up my weekly 4 gallons of milk?” But I normally just respond with, “Yep, they’re a lot of fun!”
- You raise your third (or fourth or fifth) child completely differently than your first. Gone are the days of being up to date on reading all the latest parenting books. No, you fly by the seat of your pants, girl friend. Your first baby was dressed to the nines every day (even if you didn’t go anywhere) and got homemade organic baby food. Your latter children wear hand-me-down pajamas all day everyday and eat chocolate chips off the kitchen floor. I’m sure they’ve only been sitting down there for a couple of days.
- You will become amazed at what you can accomplish with your feet. From picking up dropped binkies to opening and closing cabinet doors, your feet and legs become your other set of hands. You never quite knew the strength of your toes or your sense of balance until nursing a baby with one arm, mixing cookie dough with another, and turning the pages of your toddler’s favorite “Clifford” book with your foot. For all you know, you could be an act in a traveling circus.
- You will totally freak out if you think you might be pregnant again. For most of us who have 3 or more small kids, suspected pregnancies (especially in those first few months postpartum) are absolutely terrifying. I believe the the conversation between my husband and I last week after I had a few days of extreme exhaustion and a queasy stomach went a little something like this: “You don’t think I could be pregnant again, do you? I mean, there’s no way… No absolutely not, we were super careful. Nah, we’re good….I’m gonna go pee on a stick just to make sure.” The minutes following that intense urination are critical. With either result, you usually end up crying (and my results were negative last week, BTW. This is not a pregnancy announcement).
- Your oldest seems so grown up. I don’t think it happened overnight, but it sure as heck seemed like it did. Suddenly my oldest could do things independently that I didn’t even know she could do with supervision, she became a little “mommy” to her two younger siblings, and the conversations she can carry on with me are out of this world. Some days I feel guilty that she is having to grow up too fast being the oldest, but other days I beam with pride knowing she is becoming a truly remarkable young person and that she has the most beautiful heart.
- The number of yoga pants you own will exponentially increase. Hallelujah. I have nothing else to say about this. Just hallelujah.
- Your heart makes room for more children to love, even if your time between them is divided. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs with every new baby that comes into your family. When I had my first, I was blown away that I could love someone so much who I had just met. With my second, I was afraid I would never be able to love her as much as my first. With my third, I could hardly wait to meet him because I knew the immediate love I was about to experience. It’s just as powerful and beautiful with every child. And I wouldn’t change it for anything.
For those of us with a small herd of small children, we know the realities of having big families. But with that knowledge we also know the immense joy that our kids bring into our lives and what a true gift it is to be chosen as their parents.
That and we know every word to “The Hot Dog Song” and “Let It Go.”