The "rule of three" is a writing principle that suggests that a trio of events or characters is more humorous, satisfying, or effective in execution of the story and engaging the reader.
Well here we are. Three months with three children. I think I’m finally coming out of the fog a little bit in order to think clearly about how this transition has been for our family. I’ve been wanting to write for a couple months now - but every time I sat down to try, the words never came. And, of course, I haven’t had a lot of time to just sit there and wait for them to arrive. But I’m currently in the car driving back from a trip with my sweet family of five, and it seems like time and words have finally come together. (Translation: now that I’ve had three days of living in a hotel with two preschoolers, a newborn and sharing a double bed with my husband, I feel somewhat qualified to write this!)
What’s been good?
Let’s start off with what’s been good about having three children. First, there’s the obvious sweetness of having a baby again. The newborn smell, the soft skin, the baby coos and gurgles. Our first two were so close in age that, whenever Hannah was born, Micah was still technically a “baby” at only 18 months. It wasn’t until Hannah turned three last year that I felt the sting of no longer having a “baby” anymore. But God was gracious and I only had to miss it for two months, before I found out I was pregnant again with our sweet Chloe! The whole process of having a baby helps me slow down and remember what's truly important in life. The weight and responsibility of having someone else depend on you for their every need is a scary, yet, beautiful thing. I’ve also loved seeing Micah and Hannah in the “big sibling” role. They love being big helpers! They are always “fighting” over who gets to throw away the diaper and bring me the wipes (how did I ever change a diaper without help before?!) And when you have three - the other two can play together while you feed the baby, put the baby down for a nap, or just want to sit and snuggle. It’s pure bliss. That is, until someone starts crying. Which brings me to...
What’s been hard?
When one baby cries, it’s hard. But when you have two or three crying at the same time, you begin to assess which type of crying requires immediate attention and become somewhat numb to the rest. Sometimes I feel a little guilty that there isn't more of me to go around. I still remember one of the first nights we brought Chloe home and our second-born, Hannah, was in the other room fighting bedtime. Josh had already told her several times that it was time to go to sleep, but she wasn’t having any of it! I was consumed with back to back feedings, diaper changes and getting Chloe to sleep, that it wasn’t until I heard Hannah crying in the other room that it finally hit me - she needed me too. Before her little sister was born, I would scratch Hannah's back and sing her to sleep nearly every night. Now that I was home from the hospital, I wanted her to know I could still be there for her too. I picked Hannah up from the living room, carried her to bed and, as soon as her head hit the pillow, began to scratch her back and sing. She went right to sleep. Tears streamed down my face at the realization that while she was no longer the baby, she was still my baby. I’m not sure I was emotionally prepared for the balancing act of splitting myself three ways.
What have I learned?
On my first day alone with three kids, one of the first things I did was organize my house. Those that know me, know this is very out of character! I’m more of your spontaneous, go-with-the-flow type (and okay, sometimes that translates to messy!) But when I set my mind to something, I can do very uncharacteristic things quite convincingly. In the process of becoming a mom to three - I learned that I needed some organization to function. Or else, I would go absolutely crazy (or crazier!) Toys that used to be scattered across the house, now have a home in the bedrooms. I made a plan for our homeschool stuff. I organized the kids’ clothes. I even meal-planned! If "postpartum nesting" is a thing, I definitely have it. And truthfully, in that sense, being a mom to three has forced me to learn to become a better person all-around.
I don’t want to sugarcoat it - this season has been difficult to the point of tears some days. But I think that's just life. Whether we're single, married with one, two or three children - life can be difficult, painful and beautiful, if we let it. When the hard moments hit, our foundation is revealed. Without a life and marriage built on Christ, I know that this home of ours would crumble. I am thankful for the Word that is planted deep in my heart to remind me to seek peace when chaos is abounding and to never let my expectations steal joy from my reality. For me, expectations can often creep in through social media and what is portrayed visually through filters and staged photos. I’m sure if it wasn't social media, it would be something else - books, television, etc. There will always be ways we can gain inspiration, that the enemy will twist to make us feel inferior.
With all that said, having three children has helped me find my rhythm as a mom. Our first little baby boy changed our lives. We felt so blessed to become parents and enjoyed the 1-on-1 time of learning together. It wasn't long before we added our beautiful, second-born baby girl - and that season with two young babies should have been more difficult on paper, but we managed to laugh through it! Adding Chloe to our family has been such a sweet and wonderful gift - but also challenging, in the sense that it requires more of me. More attention, more planning, more initiative, and more focus. All good things. But in order to give more to my children, I’ve had to let go of some things I was holding on to for myself. My pride being one of them (and if the minivan didn't do it - the homeschooling sure will!)
As the rule of three suggests, a trio of characters are more humorous, satisfying and effective in execution of the story and engaging the reader. Here I am, the reader in the story of my children’s lives.