Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who said she would never have kids. And now she has three.
Ok, ok, give me a break. I know my storytelling abilities should be way more developed by now, but I’ve never been great at storytelling. I did tell the truth, however. Once I genuinely thought I wouldn’t have any kids. And now I have three. Welcome to the circus.
My sweet Elena was gigantic when she was born. Eight pounds, 13 ounces. I will mention this only once (please don’t hate me, Lovely Other Moms), but I thank God a million times over because I only really labored two hours with her. It was the weirdest and most amazing thing, and also the biggest answer to “an easy labor” prayers. My little love was (and is) perfect.
I held off on this post because I wanted to see what things were really like with three before I wrote anything about it. I didn’t want to be too gushy about the beauty of three kids. I didn’t want to harp on how hard it is. I didn’t want to bemoan my lack of sleep. So here’s what I’ve realized over the last 2 months: having kids, regardless of how many, is all about perspective.
Take today, for example. I ventured out with all three by myself and had quite the afternoon. It consisted of a rousing game of I Spy, a lot of smiles from strangers because of my baby in the wrap, a lot of scowls from strangers because of my loudly crying children, explaining exactly why I don’t put money in the rides at the mall, an extensive trip to Mars (an echoing countdown to blastoff included), chasing a bouncy ball across the store while dodging other customers and leaving my two year old spinning in circles and screaming, letting my four year old get drenched in a splash pad I didn’t plan for, and having my feet peed on. And while I genuinely questioned my sanity on the drive home (and for the next several hours, actually), I realized that this life is good. It’s not easy, but it’s good.
Keeping my perspective that this life I have is good, even in the mess and stress and craziness, means that I’m training myself to be thankful for everything instead of upset that there are hiccups along the road. Often the beautiful moments happen in the same sitting as the challenges – interactions morph almost instantly back and forth, and the presence of the challenges doesn’t diminish the quality of the sweet or meaningful moments. For example, just because one of my children (who shall remain nameless) decided to throw chewed food into my face at dinner doesn’t take away the sweetness of the fact that two minutes before we were reading a Bible story and having a really good conversation about Jesus calming the storm. Keeping perspective means that I intentionally remember the good and the potential for good in my children and my situations, even when my natural tendency is to be pessimistic.
So today I am thankful that I have three kids who are healthy and able to cry and have meltdowns, even if those meltdowns embarrass me.
Today I’m thankful for a baby who sleeps well, even if she only does so in my wrap.
Today I’m thankful for a car to drive us all around, even if I have to fight with the car seats every time we get in.
Today I’m thankful for keeping a kids’ potty in the trunk, even if it means having my feet accidentally peed on.
Today I’m thankful for the absolute, adoring love Micah and Norah have for their new sister, even though I spend a good majority of my time protecting Elena from smothering.
I’m coming back to the blog with a new sense of transparency. More than ever I understand what it means to be stretched beyond my capabilities – my heart feels close to exploding with joy and love for my family one moment and exploding with frustration and agitation the next. I never imagined the feeling of expanding my wings to hold all the love, emotions, and developments of three ages, three people, and three distinct personalities, and yet looking back to just eight weeks ago makes me feel like there had to have been a void – unknown and unrecognized – that Elena now fills. We are growing together as a living puzzle, and among all the learning and wonderfulness and difficulty, I wouldn’t have it any other way.