Before I had Elsie over two months ago, the topic of conversation with nearly every mother almost always turned to the transition from 2 kids to 3. Sometimes a fellow mother would speak from her personal experience and sometimes moms with 1 or 2 kids would talk about what they've heard from moms of 3 or more.
I'll admit, I was a bit disillusioned. I assumed that nothing could be harder than the transition we had from 1 to 2; in which Asher cried for 15 hours a day for MONTHS. I actually still believe that to be true and so I'm quite grateful, especially now, for the perspective. But like I said, I was disillusioned this time, mostly because when I'm pregnant, the whole baby-actually-coming-out thing has consistently been a bit foreign to me until it actually happens. And I also believed that I had this whole thing down, you know? (Hello EGO!) I told everyone who would listen that my boys were ready and we were ready and the boys were at a perfect age for this and and and...
To some extent, I still believe all of that, too. The boys are doing really well. Elsie has been really good for them, in so many ways. But what I didn't really understand is that having a third baby would mean that I would most likely never be "on top" of anything ever again. At least not for years and years. I'm a recovering control freak and perfectionist so this is hard for me. Hard, but also terribly good for me, because as much as I thought I had let go, I had not.
For me, aside from the emotional and physical adjustment to having a newborn, the trickiest part of this is the logistics. Of course, this will get a bit easier with time, as Elsie grows (out of her colic, especially), but I'm also aware that even if it's easier, it will never be easy. I might be someone who strives for control and perfection but I'm also totally scattered and unable to focus much of the time. (What a fun combo!!!)
So. The bills I've been needing to pay have been sitting on the table all week (ALL WEEK-SAME BIG PILE!) and I keep meaning to make doctor appointments since the boys just turned 4 and 6 and I need to call about a kindergarten screening for Asher, ETC...
These things linger over me...they hover, actually, speeding up my heart and making me feel small. Then I remember that Elsie has been struggling, really struggling and that means that I have been too. Then I take a deep breath and close my eyes to all the many things to do because all I can do is what is needed in this moment. And in this moment, a hurting baby needs my comfort and her brothers need to know that I'm still here for them. The floors and even the doctor and the bills? They don't have this connection of reliance on me or their strings wrapped around my heart. They are only wrapping something akin to tentacles around my brain. Thinking too much about what I cannot keep up with only tightens the grip and moves the pain to my heart and that's not good. My heart is already busy enough.
The reality is that the logistics are always going to be there and I may always be a little behind...but sooner or later, anything that really must be done will get done. I mean, I may pay the bills late, after I get those threatening reminders, but I'll pay them.
Mostly, going from 2 to 3 has been a strange kind of relief. Maybe it's because I know we're done and I feel a sense of completion, a knowledge that our family has pushed through the cocoon and is beginning to flourish. So despite all the stresses, I feel, at my very core, at peace with family life.
It's funny how we mothers talk about these transitions as if everyone experiences them the same way or like there might be something definite to know while we prepare for change. I think I wanted to be told over and over that this transition was the easiest of all transitions and I wanted Other Mother Proof of that. But we don't get that. Some say going from 2 to 3 is a breeze and some say having a third turned their family upside down. Both are true to some extent like anything else. We're all telling our own unique stories here and the truth is that none of them are filled with very much Easy, just easier parts.We cocoon and we flourish and we fail and we strive. Then here and there we rest in the middle of an unexpected flower and we can't believe we get to breathe for a moment. One baby or two kids or five kids or nine, what remains the same is that we're learning to let go and to do some tentacle prying, and this is good.
Heather writes at The Extraordinary Ordinary