I got an email from a friend twenty-one days ago (but who's counting?!?), asking how "life with three" was going. Turns out she and her husband are contemplating a third child; one is apprehensive, the other gung ho. So she thought she'd check in for some first-hand stories of just how insane it is.
Her email was timely, as I've wanted to get some thoughts on this in writing on the blog, anyway (before some of them are a distant memory). Please, friend-that-will-remain-nameless, don't deem the fact that it took me 3 weeks to respond to your email as a wordless answer to your question!
I've often said that if I could birth one-year-olds, I'd want to have tons of kids! With the girls, the first years of their lives were, at least in my memory, centered around the daily chaos of rushed morning rituals, full work days, pumping, cleaning the never-ending stack of dirty plastic pump parts/bottles/sippy cups, rushing home to throw together a quick dinner, and ultimately heading upstairs for bath and bedtime. While I know it didn't always feel hurried and crazy as we were going through it, it certainly seemed that way when I looked back on it after we'd settled into the toddler years. I mean, the fact that I could get on an airplane to fly to see my family and not have to worry about nursing and/or packing the pump? Awesome. Freeing. Dare I say it? CALM.
If I were asked to give a 4-letter word to describe our lives these days with three kiddos, I could think of several that would work. The one that wouldn't would be "calm".
I'm a planner by nature, but one thing that 3 kids has forced me to do is to basically plan every minute of every day. It certainly is more challenging, now that Ivie is in an essentially-half-day Kindergarten. While we love the Christian environment that we're blessed to have her in, it also involves making arrangements with 2 other families for morning carpool, as well as organizing after-school care that literally is different every single day of the week. These sorts of plans are actually right up my alley (you should see the morning carpool calendar that I created!), but I must admit it's mind-numbing. It's constant. And you have to be "on your game" all the time. It doesn't seem like there's ever really time to sit back and take a deep breath. Because if I DO have that time, it's likely I'll fall asleep from exhaustion.
And then there's work. My thoughts go back and forth on this issue, even more so since Bryce's arrival. I (mostly) love my job. I mean, there are aspects about everyone's jobs that aren't ideal, right? But I enjoy my co-workers, and I feel like I'm able to use my God-given gifts "for the good of the order". But on days (like this past Tuesday) when I pick Bryce up at 4:45p from day care, head to a friend's house to get Ivie and Macie (because the friend, who has 2 girls the same ages, was graciously willing to pick all 4 of them up from their respective schools and let them play together that afternoon), and then have to drive the 10 minutes home with two overly-tired, crabby, screaming, sobbing, hitting, angry girls, all while mentally scratching the dinner I had planned and instead contemplating what I can throw together FAST so as to thwart the next round of fussiness when the food isn't sitting on the table ready to be devoured just as soon as they walk in the door... On THOSE types of days, when the headache that started small toward the end of the work day but wound up taking over and sending me to bed waving the white flag at 8:30p, a big part of me wonders if any job is really worth it. The debate still rages within.
But enough about that. Because, really, when it comes to life with 3 kids, it's not about the job. While my employment outside of the home is, certainly, a minor factor in my personal fulfillment, it's not what keeps me going. As I tell Dale, it's not what makes me "tick".
As I sit here typing and watching Bryce content in his swing, "singing" softly, absentmindedly biting on his pointer finger, and blinking with eyelids that get noticeably heavier each time, I can no longer remember what our family was like without him. Nothing about it is easy, for sure, and days are long, repetitive, and tiresome. I wake up nearly 2 hours before the kids, get to work much later than I used to, drag 4 bags into the office each day, have sometimes gotten so involved with work that I forget that I need to shut my door and pump, leave work in time to make the well-over-an-hour trek to the two schools that are located on opposite sides of town, rush home to a house full of tired and hungry kids, somehow manage to get them all (and sometimes even myself) fed, muster up the energy to play for an hour before bath and kids' bedtimes, and then spend another hour washing bottles and readying the house to do it all over again the next day.
But even with ALL of that daily craziness, I can sit here and say, without hesitation, that I'm a happy mom of three kids. The path down which Dale and I have brought our now family of five may not always be rosy, blissful, predictable, effortless, or uncomplicated, but it's worth it. Every second, minute, day, and week. So much so that words can't even describe. And you know why?
Because, through it all, love multiplies. Exponentially.