And Then There Were Five…

This little bundle arrived about three weeks ago.

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It’s strange how quickly time flies. I, literally, can’t believe I’m actually an adult some days, let alone a wife and mother of three. This pregnancy and now this baby have found me more contemplative than my other two children and I’d love to share a few things I’ve been thinking about and learning. (I’m only 3 weeks post-partum, so my brain is still mushy. I apologize if something doesn’t make sense.)

Here goes:

– I have spent the past 5+ years pregnant or breastfeeding, sometimes both. Because we intend to have at least one more biological child, I can expect to spend the next 4 or 5 years either pregnant or breastfeeding, as well. Although I don’t resent using my body this way, I look forward to the day when my body will not be attached to a child and it will feel like it’s ‘mine” again.

The physical toll that pregnancy and motherhood take on a woman’s body–and the way it affects her body image–is significant. A woman’s body changes and ages through the seasons of her life. I’m hoping I can appreciate those changes as I mature through those seasons and have reasonable expectations for myself and for other women.

– While in the throes of this third labor experience, I decided that childbirth sucks. I’m willing to admit that to myself now. So, after three superstar attempts, I have given up “the natural childbirth” dream. From here on out, my only goal in childbirth is to have a baby. I will still celebrate the success of those who have had awesome, empowering childbirth experiences, but I am going to stop trying so hard to have my own. I don’t expect childbirth to make me feel more powerful. I don’t need to feel more womanly. I don’t want to feel more in tune with my body. I just want to meet that baby. As long as that happens, I’m a happy camper.

– Mothers everywhere should be able to participate in a worldwide clothing co-op. When something gets too big (pre-pregnancy), or too small (during pregnancy), or just ill-fitting (post-pregnancy), you can trade it in for something else that fits better. Who wants to make this happen for me?

Baby poop is so much better than toddler poop.

– The hardest part of mothering is different for every woman. On the top of my list is a very simple fact: children need their mother. My guess is that many mothers, at their worst, are co-dependent. They thrive on being needed. It turns out, at my worst, I am close to the opposite: I hate being needed. I am thankful that I understood this about myself before I became a mother or this would have been ten times harder to adjust to.

– Also on the top of my list: I am never alone. A mother might be the only person the planet, apart from the President and the Pope, who has to ask someone to guard the door while she gets dressed, showers, or uses the bathroom.

Having a new baby gives you a whole new perspective on how huge your older children are. Seriously. They are huge.

– Now that I have three children, I’m starting to understand how easy it is to just keep having more of them. After a certain point, a family becomes a living, breathing organism with its own rhythm. Get into the rhythm and adding another moving piece doesn’t seem so tricky. (Just to clarify: I am not claiming to have found this magical rhythm, only claiming that I now believe it exists.)

– And, yes, your capacity for loving really does increase with every child. It is possible to love them all.

– I remember when I had my first child and older moms treated me like I was naive for setting high standards for myself and my family. You know the type. They give you the “first-time mom” rhetoric that claims every mother starts as a Perfect Mom idealist and ends up feeding her kids Lucky Charms for dinner in front of Disney cartoons. I hated that rhetoric then and I hate it now. It’s like a pre-emptive “I told you so” and it’s degrading to young mothers. The truth is that all mothers start naive. And all mothers learn and grow and change. And there is no reason to shame a young mother for starting with bold assumptions about childbirth, breastfeeding, education, etc. We should be gentle with the way we handle “naive” first-time parents and, rather than acting as if they will “wise up” after parenthood proves them wrong, we need to reinforce that good parents only get better with time.

– On that note: I am afraid that the better I get at being a mom, the worse I am at being a wife. I wonder if this happens to a lot of women. Their roles shift and their attention shifts and they don’t have enough to give to everyone. (This is a problem. I’m trying to deal with it.)

– If motherhood is making me a bad wife, it’s making me an even worse friend. (Sorry, friends. If there are any of you left…)

– One of the main arguments people give against having multiple children is that “they are too expensive.” This is a cop-out. Show me how a man spends his money and I’ll tell you what he loves. Having multiple children means rethinking priorities. It means sacrificing things you’d like to buy for yourself. And it means reconsidering what each child “needs” for himself.

– We bought a large SUV last summer because we needed a vehicle that would fit at least two children and three adults. We opted out of buying a minivan because we did not want a minivan. We know full-well that most families end up buying a minivan. We know that most people who have a minivan love their minivan. And we know that, someday, we will have to buy some other type of vehicle (likely a minivan). But we aren’t ready for it yet.

– That said, I nearly cried/screamed the first few times I tried to load all three of my children into said SUV by myself.

– I much prefer navigating a walk around downtown to loading/unloading three children into/out of a car. And parking lots? Ugh! They are death traps. I’d take sidewalks any day.

Don’t even get me started on carseats. I hate ’em.

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3 thoughts on “And Then There Were Five…

  1. I’ll never go anywhere 🙂 Love you my dearest friend and sister. Can’t wait to meet your most beautiful Edith xoxo

  2. Still here and I love your crazy family.

  3. I only have two, but so much of what you write fit what I have experienced as well… Especially the overwhelming ‘neededness’ issue…

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