Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Ranks of Motherhood

The other day a fellow mom at the swimming pool was quizzing me on what it's like to be pregnant with #3. I answered her questions and then inquired if she was thinking about having a third. She said, "Well, there's no thinking about it now! I just found out yesterday I am!" I reassured her that she would be fine and gave her all the encouragement I could give even though I'm sure she notices my tired waddle, my yawns as I sit in front of the fan near the bleachers, and how busy I am hanging on to two little ones in the locker while lugging around a belly. I thought about how I act the same way with moms who have recently had their third. I'm always asking them all kinds of questions about the logistics of surviving when you have 3 kids 2 years or less apart.

It's almost like I've joined new ranks: The "I Have 3 Kids Club." There seems to be a realization among women that as you go up in number of kids you go up in some mysterious ranking in wisdom, experience, capabilities and possibly insanity? For instance, there is a mom who comes to swimming lessons who has 5 children, 3 of whom are in lessons, and two of whom are very young (one is still a nursing infant and one an active 1 or 2 year old.) I look at her and just think, "Wow! How does she do it? She must be soooo strong! How did she get through 5 pregnancies?" Moms like that are my heroes! Then there are the moms who have 10 or more kids and they boggle everyone's minds! Anyone who has had 2 kids knows the endless work involved and thus we have trouble comprehending how these moms do it! Anyone who has delivered at least a couple of babies and knows the pain involved in labor (especially natural childbirth) assigns respectful awe to women who have undergone that many, many times! And bonus respect points if your husband works a lot, is gone a lot, you had bad morning sickness or uncomfortable pregnancies, you adopted, or you homeschool or work full time! This doesn't mean moms of one or two kids don't work really hard. They work constantly! Yet, just as you build muscles with weight training and gradually add more and more weight, so also the more kids you have, the more disciplined you have to become as a mom and the harder you work in so many areas unless you want to live a life of complete chaos. Not only do you grow more as a mother and home manager with each child you have, you also learn to lighten up and relax on the things that aren't truly important. I get a kick out of Amy Scott's blog, Read her posts in the Babies category for some great advice on surviving life with 3 kids 3 and under. She now has 6 kids 10 and under, homeschools, and has a great sense of humor!

There is also a certain safety in talking with other moms who have the same number of kids you have. When I had one child, I sometimes felt like the ladies at church looked down on me in a child-like, head-patting way and were forever giving me comments like, "If you think motherhood is hard now, wait until she's mobile. Or wait until she's a toddler. Or wait until you have two, etc. etc." It was so nice to chat with my buddies who had one baby as well and compare our struggles and challenges and joys as well as discussing getting pregnant again and all of our fears and excitement over having #2 without feeling like we were wimps because we were plenty busy taking care of one baby. It's funny because now that I'm going for #3, most of the ladies in the church have no more advice to give since many people in our church have 2 kids. Those that have 3, or the rare ones who have 4, who give advice now pass it on respectfully as one warrior would to another and I welcome it gladly! And everyone and their dog feels the need to say to me, "You're gonna be BUSY!!!" Like I didn't know that and I like I'm not busy now!

Stay tuned in the coming months for updates on how we're making it work with 3 little ones! I have a feeling that I'll have a lot more energy than I do now; I've always felt better non-pregnant on no sleep than pregnant on a full-night of sleep! In the meantime, if you have 3 kids or more, please leave your Heroic Advice for me in the comments section!


SamAndHisFam said...

I totally agree -- I love talking to fellow moms and trying to glean as much wisdom as I can from the ones who have three or more! The ones who only have two kids or less just seem to give me a look of pity, while the ones in my boat give me that knowing look of respect or a smile when they see my belly.
It's funny how you can sometimes tell what people are thinking just from their reaction of your pregnant belly. And I get that line ALL THE TIME: "You're going to be busy!!!" Ahhhhh! I know that and I am busy now -- just like you said!
I do feel like I've crossed over into some new camp -- the mom of "gasp" THREE kids! It seems to be regarded as a much bigger step than going from one to two. Going from one to two is expected. Going from two to three makes people nervous for you. Going from three to four or more is considered CRAZY.
Anyway, I'm SO glad you're in the same boat as me and that we can encourage each other -- we will survive! :)

The Three 22nds said...

I encourage my 3 to be as independent as possible. My 4 year old picks out his own clothes, dresses himself and can, in a pinch, make his own toast. He also has started packing his own clothes for trips.
My 2 year old is responsible for finding and putting on his own shoes whenever we go somewhere.
I taught the baby to go up and down stairs independently at 10 months.
Having independent children has its own stresses...but I am relatively laid back when it comes to my kids, so it works for me.

You'll be ok. Mine are 4 1/2, almost 3 and 14 months now and I am an awana leader, teach sunday school, work 2 overnights a week, run a play group and am training for a triathlon as well as multiple other commitments that come and go. Some days its crazy, but if you establish your routine and priorities it works out. Ahhh but my favorite time of day is still when my husband walks in the door!

Heather said...

Lindsey, I appreciate your desire to glean wisdom from fellow moms. That's what community is all about--sharing and learning from each other. Yay for you, because you're taught others so much, too!

Thia said...

I don't know why I didn't notice previously that your due date is 8/18. Mine is 8/19. BET I will be around. Seriously, I don't think much about it, going from 2 to 3. My big concern right now is where to put a third car seat! If I stop to consider much else, my brain overloads. I agree, I do better on non prego non sleep than prego non sleep!

Stacy E. said...

Okay, I've been putting this off for awhile, but I just LOVE the honesty & encouragement on your blog - I read it all the time! (I'm an "Oakie" too, by the way!) I have six kids age 7yrs thru 4mo (no multiples) & I guess my advice would be just take it 1 kid at a time. God will give you just what you need when you need it if you truly seek Him. Each time I get pregnant (although I think we're done now, hubby says), I have to rethink logistics. Like, how am I going to position the carseats, how will I get from the van to the store, where will so&so sleep when the baby takes over the nursery & so on. I homeschool, but am not involved in anything else (yet) and still keep busy trying to keep up. The great thing about having them so close together is that they can all play together easily because they still have enough in common.

You are so incredibly organized - especially with cooking. (I hate to cook, which is a slight problem with 8 mouths to feed!) I know you will do great no matter how many you have.

Jason and Beth said...

I have a 3 year old an almost 2 year old and a 3 months old. I'm tired and overwhelmed most days right now. Although its getting better since I'm adjusting to the chaos I'm tired a lot of the time. It doesn't help that my infant screams a lot more than the others and that drains me very fast. But he does sleep 12 hours a night so I'm grateful for that.
My advice as a mom of to give yourself a lot of grace. Maybe going from 2 to 3 will be relatively easy for you and this advice will be void but nonetheless...
Oh yes and something else. Even when you are toast from delivering, nursing, lack of sleep,etc. Try your darndest to smile at your other babes when you see them, make eye contact and touch them to communicate you still love them.
Hang in there!

Sarah said...

Thanks for the encouragement and advice. That is smart to start cooking and freezing right when you find out you're expecting. It's good to know I'm not the only one who isn't true to frugality when pregnant! :-)

Congrats on your little one due soon! I love the ultrasound picture, those are so neat!

May God bless you and your family and give you the strength and energy you need in this last tiring stage.

The Three 22nds said...

Oh, I forgot to add 1 comment. Basically the biggest change for me with every kid was this: I had to get a little more unselfish everytime!

5intow said...

I have this temptation to "name drop" with my many involvements in life, but it really isn't important. Regardless of how many kids (1-20 . . .), homeschooling, ministries, jobs, family situations, illnesses, etc. We are all busy. Each of us has to rely on God's strength and grace.

He is so faithful regardless of how much we are going through in the moment and it is also encouraging to be around like-minded moms. I don't feel like I have a whole lot of answers, although I do get asked a lot more questions as time goes on, and I guess I have learned a lot on this motherhood journey, but we all can learn from each other, and will continue to learn from our own experiences.

I'm sure going to three will be a wonderful experience. Having no kids to one kid was the toughest jump for me. Motherhood just had a lot more in the package than I had counted on. Four kids to five kids was my next craziest, and I still haven't quite recovered from that one . . . Always learning new skills, always learning to trust Him more.

Mrs. Jo said...


You're right about how going from 1-2 is expected but going for a third is not in today's world and therefore people are often surprised and can be rude about it! I've had some non-Christian relatives make rude comments about how I'm always preggo and am just a baby machine!

3 22nds,
Thanks for the great advice! You are amazing to be able to keep up with so much and it gives me hope that maybe I'll make it!

Thanks Heather!

That's so great about us being due one day apart! I'll have to stay posted for your news too. I hope you can get another car seat in your vehicle or if not, that God provides a bigger vehicle soon!

Did you go to OHCC before or after me? I was there 200-2003. I can't believe you have 6 kids 7 and under! Wow! You are totally one of those moms I would be fascinated to talk to at the pool! Thanks for the compliments and wisdom shared and I hope you find a way to work out cooking in your house. Believe me, I'm really not that great about cooking lately as I've been so drop-dead tired that I have little motivation in the kitchen!

Thanks for being honest and sharing your advice! I pray God gives you the strength you need at this time and that it gets much easier as they get a bit more independant and older. Hang in there! I will try to smile big for my little ones! Knowing that I can't die on Ali and Jer and I have to meet little Justus is what will get me through the pain during labor!

Thanks Erin for the good advice too! Thanks for the reminder to trust in Him no matter where you are in the "ranks of motherhood."

Stacy E. said...

I went to Oak Hills from 1993-1997, then continued working in the Registrar's office after grad until Spring 2000 when I had my 1st baby. (married in '99) I saw your hubby & his sister around campus, but he wouldn't know me.

Do you sometimes feel like you become the person people keep describing you as? For instance, I always hear "You must be busy" (Like it's impossible to make time for fun) or "You poor thing" (Like they fell out of the sky on me or something!) I find myself fighting against stereotypes sometimes. Just because people say something doesn't mean it is so.

P.S. I'd love to talk to you at the pool - too bad we're not in the same state!

SamAndHisFam said...

Hope you don't mind, Linds, but I used your idea of learning from other moms for my most recent blog post. I thought it was a great thing to write about and I think it's great that you like learning from other moms too! :)

Nicole said...

Having 3 hasn't been that bad! The first year was hard but no harder really than going from 1 to 2.

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