with three kids, life lessons abound

I have many conversation about what it’s like to have three children. In fact, it’s quite strange how often I’ve found myself chatting about family dynamics since Percy was born.

When you have one or two kids the conversation doesn’t last for nearly as long. But throw in a third and you’ve got conversation fodder for a good few years. There’s a sense of intrigue and mystery from those not yet ready to take the plunge and they lean in, furrow their brow, waiting for all the answers. “What’s it really like?” they say, hanging off your every word. People looking on are desperate to know more and fellow mums-of-three want to talk to someone who understands…someone who really understands.

That may sound dramatic but I’ve had those conversations – many times. And I’m not afraid to admit that not that long ago, I was the one asking all the questions, seeking all the advice, wanting so badly for it to sound achievable. But until I fell pregnant it just seemed daunting.

When I wrote this post last year someone left a comment on facebook that basically dismissed my thoughts altogether. It was something along the lines of: “…her baby isn’t moving yet, she knows nothing.” I’m sure a little of the newborn haze was still hanging around because I laughed off her comment and got on with my day. But then Percy started moving and I thought about that woman and knew exactly what she was talking about.

The past few months have been an immense period of adjustment as I literally juggle (and I’m not that coordinated) life and work with three children in tow. Throw a house hunt and a house move in and it was, at times, a little messy. But amidst the chaos there have been life long lessons learned. And they haven’t all been mine.

You see, when you have a third child your hands are literally full. And when your hands are full you have no choice but to surrender control and let others help you out. Older siblings must step up – there’s no two ways about it. And so while you feed your third baby, change his nappy or spoon porridge into his mouth, your older children have to find their clothes from the washing basket, they must butter their toast and they learn to pack their school bag on their own. For every moment that I’m busy elsewhere and with every chore they undertake, they discover their abilities and come to know just how capable they are.

And therein lies the unexpected lessons that come with the third child. I’ve had to let go of many of my ideals but in doing so, Che and Poet are gaining skills that they’ll have for life. They know exactly what it means to wait, to share and to go without, they know how to wash the dishes, water the plants and get dressed for the day. They also know the goodness of sloppy baby kisses on the lips, the joy of first steps and the contentment that comes from guiding, nurturing and loving a younger sibling.

Apparently three is the most stressful number of kids to have and in a way, I’d agree. My third pregnancy, birth and “first year with baby” required me to dig deep – physically, mentally, emotionally. Without reverting to cliches or gush, mothering three children has forced me to be more honest – there’s no time or space for fanfare or facade. Somedays I can’t quite fathom the madness or the mess. Sometimes I feel like a human teatowel. When Daniel remarked that someone at his work calls him Mr Smart/Casual, I told him that I’d probably be called Miss Avocado Smear. But then I marvel at how far we’ve come – all of us.

Last week Poet was sorting through a stack of affirmation cards at a friend’s studio. She brought me one of them because the woman painted on the front bore a striking resemblance to me. On the back it said:

Embrace your confusion, let there be peace in not knowing all the answers.

And therein lies the perfect description of my day-to-day life with three children; peace is learning as we go, even if I can’t answer all their questions.
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Showing 8 comments
  • Nic

    Thank you Jodi. We have two delightful little boys and are in the midst of will we/won't we try for a third. So many people say life's no more full than with two, but it has to be filled with more of everything. So, thank you for being honest about it. My mind isn't made up, however your post helps a little

    • Jodi

      Yes, more of everything – all the good stuff, too! We'll definitely have a fourth….not right now, not in the immediate future, but soon x

  • Nikki Sicari

    Hi Jodie, loved this post! I have three (nearly 1, nearly 3 and 4) and it's crazy and busy and I'm tired but it's awesome and I love it! I totally agree re the life lessons too! Our two eldest adore their baby sister and she just thinks they're the best too. Now my husband and I are thinking about a fourth. I'm worried I'll be too relaxed with a fourth as I feel A LOT more relaxed than I ever was with 2. It's busier but I never felt that same overwhelming feeling going out as when I first had 2!

  • Ronnie

    After three, it does get a lot easier…
    Ronnie xoxo

  • Elisha Ross

    Yes, yes and yes!! Ready to go for number 4!

  • Brandi

    I agree completely! It is a different world when you have a 'large family'–and certain things just have to be, for the good and the bad. Mostly, I think the development of independence for my older kids is a entirely good thing that I might not have pressed if I hadn't had to. But there are times when I just wish there was more…time, space, patience (mine, mostly) or resources!

  • kim aikman

    Completely. I was only thinking the other day how having a third child has made me so much better at accepting help & asking for it too. It was insanely hard for the first few years & it still is very hard work at times, but I love the dynamic of three. Xx

  • M

    My grandmother had 5 and said the third one hurt the most in every way… We have two and I'm not sure about a third, my husband is a definite NO but I could be swayed… Thank you for your honesty. M x

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