The Husband and I are not the first people on the planet to have three children in just four years. But in our little corner of the universe it feels that way sometimes.
My parents had my brother and I four and a half years apart. My husband’s parents had him and his brother five and a quarter years apart. We are about to squeak out three children in less time that either set of grandparents had two.
We have no model for how to manage how much our lives are about to change. No warm, fuzzy, completely chaotic childhood experiences to draw on. I’ve had several friends who had two-under-two around or before I had my two-slightly-over-two. But they all got wise and took the necessary precaution not to have any more so close together. It’s hard. The first few weeks with two were total bliss, because I did not need a repeat c-section. But then a routine sets in and the extra work and the divided attention becomes a harsh reality, and it’s hard not to feel guilty for falling short of something most of the time. Sometimes the baby got the shaft, but the toddler got oodles of quality time. Sometimes the reverse. And let’s not even discuss how mis-managed basic household tasks became.
I have a few friends with three, and the clear message is embrace the chaos, because there is no point in fighting it. But of these friends with three their situations were still somewhat different.
I’m not the first person in the world who will have a just-turned 4 year old a just about 2 year old and a brand new sweet baby. But I am the first person in my world.
Surprisingly? I am oddly comforted by this. I cannot look to model my life after anyone. I cannot copy anyone else’s coping skills or schedule or parenting style. I cannot compare my relative success or failure as a parent to anyone else. Realistically I couldn’t, or at least I shouldn’t, have been doing these things before. But I was.
For the first time it is actually clear to me that this journey is completely my own. Comparing myself, my parenting, the cleanliness of my house to anyone or anything else is totally pointless.
I can expect that new-baby-bliss stage. I can expect several months of being mostly overwhelmed. I can expect to rely on the television more that I would like to. There will be days where I’m convinced I’m scarring my children for life. And then they day will come when they see each other as friends and playmates. And I will realize that all those nights when I went to bed with dirty dishes still in the sink that it was the right choice to leave them for another day.