Thursday, December 19, 2013

Life With Three

I have often said that the transition from one to two kids was much harder than the transition from two to three kids. When Bea was born, I was worried that I was ruining Lou’s life.  We had a daily rhythm that worked well but he was old enough to enjoy spontaneous plans - we had gotten to the toddler sweet spot.  Then there was this baby.  This cute, chubby, chilled-out baby (but baby nonetheless) who needed things at very inopportune moments.  It was bath time, but the baby needed to be fed. It was dinner time, but the baby needed to be held.  Lou wanted to go to the park but the baby was being fussy. The baby was cramping our style.  I realize now that it was mostly me, Lou didn’t really care if his bath was 10 minutes later or if he had pasta for dinner instead of chicken. But I felt like those compromises were taking away from Lou in ways that were unfair.  I realize now that having to share me and my time is a good skill for Lou to learn, but that lesson was a long time coming.
Having another child was, in some ways, more of the same.  Plans were already a compromise between the needs of two kids so adding a third didn’t really make a difference.  I had enough kid-experience to know that nothing catastrophic will happen if they don’t take a bath today (or tomorrow), if they go to bed later, if they watch more tv, or if they play in their room and make a horrible, horrible mess.  The bigger picture needs (love, safety, security, emotional health) were far more important than if our park date happened today or tomorrow. Also, having two kids old enough to play with each other meant that if I needed to feed the baby or make a grocery list, I could say go play together for 10 minutes and then we’ll go out and IT WORKS. 
I do try to find some time every day to spend with each kid one on one.  It helps that Lou is going to bed a tad bit later than everyone else so we can snuggle and wind down together before bed.  Bea comes home early from school a few days a week so I get to see her then and give her snack and get lots and lots of wonderful hugs.  The baby is most challenging because while he gets a lot of functional time (feeding, bath, rocking before bed) I have to remind myself to also enjoy him and play with him.  Stop and see which playmat animal is pissing him off today, admire how he laughs in the bouncer, have a conversation while he sits on my lap.
I know this feeling of managing the chaos will change, someone will grow, someone will need something new but for now I’m relishing in the feeling of “yeah, I got this.”  We are doing well.  We are swimming along.