When you have three kids you hear a lot of; “How do you do it? One is so hard, I can’t imagine three!” And yes, it is hard. It’s so hard that I sometimes always drink too much wine when the kids are
sleeping screaming and none of them can write their ABC’s because the struggle is in getting pants on all of them, and it takes until 10 am just to get all of our teeth brushed. By the time our basic needs are taken care of I’m ready for my third cup of coffee and a cartoon to take the edge off of the “MOMMY’S”.
Then it’s time to actually feed the kids and spend an hour trying to decipher what “I want a PB&J without any peanut butter or jelly or bread” means. (So you want a miracle for lunch then?) So no, we haven’t learned how to write or read yet but there’s still time to work on literacy just as soon as I’m done whipping up some gluten free air to feed to the kids.
I have had to cut a lot of corners and drop several of my standards in terms of nutrition and safety in order to make a large family possible. When three kids are screaming moms are a hell of a lot more likely to just say yes to the juicebox and fruit snacks. When you’re nursing a baby and your toddler decides to pull a chair up and climb a counter top full of scissors and knives and hypodermic needles you kind of just decide to let it play out so that your baby can eat and your child can develop a little independence, healthy borders and whatnot. Cut the apron strings and beef up your insurance. (I’m like, half kidding. Got your attention though, didn’t it?)
My patience is thin. Thinner is my wallet. I introduce myself as “The Lady Who Screams at Her Kids” when I meet my neighbors and we all have an uncomfortable laugh but I think we all feel better when the truth is set free.
I avoid shopping unless someone who qualifies as an adult can come with us or stay home and babysit. *GASP* who would ever avoid Target? A lady with three under five, that’s who. Popcorn, Starbucks, Yoga pants and Diapers can’t even drag me out of my house and that’s basically the same thing as Wild Horses.
You’ve seen the ladies who go grocery shopping with a stroller and a shopping cart? They’re geniuses and I only just now learned how to copy them. Three kids don’t fit into shopping carts no matter how many times I try and squish those nubile thighs into the seat.
“Your hands are so full!” they say. Luckily they’re too full for any stranger punching.
Breastfeeding has been shockingly easy. I thank Delilah and the experience of feeding two boys with no shortage of struggle for leading the way to this symbiotic relationship. Some women have five kids and still can’t nurse, milk supply herbs and pumping and latch cures and the planets all in perfect alignment on the day the lactation consultant arrives still can’t make the baby gain weight. I feel for those women. I have been in that seat. No matter what anybody says, failure to breastfeed feels exactly like a Failure. And you do take it personally despite knowing better and being smarter than that. For my lucky break of a lifetime the third child was the easy one and I finally have a baby who eats when hungry, stops eating when full and gains weight on a pediatric chart, amen.
Gone are nursing covers. Gone is shame.
Shame about the stretch marks, the size of my hips and the parts of my body that jiggle after I’ve stopped moving are all left in my past. I bought a bigger size and added about twenty kilos of lycra to my closet and I’ve never been happier.
I pull my shirt open anywhere I happen to be when Delilah is hungry and I feed my baby. It doesn’t matter to me anymore if men, the elderly, a priest or children are present.
My breasts feeding a baby shouldn’t be more offensive than a ten dollar omelet, birth control laws drafted by men or the pair of boobs selling you a Bud Light in a bikini in a snowstorm. I’m feeding my baby, not you so cheers.
Having three kids is a challenge. Challenges are for conquering, for finding light at the end of a dark and raucously loud tunnel. When your legs are giving out on mile three of the 5K but you push for personal best. I’m shooting for personal best with bad jokes about my screaming kids and a boob hanging out of my shirt. Okay, both boobs are out because remembering to clip my nursing shirt is hard, but do me a solid and look away. It’s less embarrassing for you if we can both pretend it’s not happening.
My third child saved me from a lifetime of guilt and worry that I’m messing everything up and has instead showed me that there are more important things to lose sleep over, that letting go is more than just an annoying song, and that we have always been and will always be okay.
I stay in more than I go out and I’ve lost and mourned a lot of connections with people who I still consider friends. It’s simply survival, and I expect a gradual transition into a life that fits me and my kids in just the right way. Because having a baby changes everything, and adjusting to three of them changes not only the way I fit into the world, but also the way I look at it.