We are quickly approaching birthday season in the Marshall household. I probably say this all the time, but I’ll say it again. I CANNOT believe that we are about to have a three-year-old and two one-year-olds. Since we are so close to October, I’ve started answering, “Three and one,” when people ask how old the kids are. It’s easier than saying, “Almost three, and eleven months.”
Just around the time Maddox turned one, I started thinking, “We gotta have another one!” His first year of life, dirty blonde hair, and dimpled cheeks left me wanting more. I remember thinking I always wanted our kids to be close in age so they could grow up together, play together, run in the same circles of friends, maybe have some of the same interests and have an automatic BFF. I envisioned a future where the kids played on the same sports team, drove to school together, and yes, went off to college around the same time! For some reason, I thought having kids within two years of each other would make that possible. (I say all this as if I were able to control any of it!)
At the same time, I could NOT imagine being able to love another little munchkin as much as I loved Mr. Maddox. We had a special first year together and I loved being able to spend time devoted to him. I also loved the fact that with only one kid, I could nap when he did. And Maddox was known as a champion napper! I know that everyone adding a second child probably goes through this.
As we all know, number two ended up being two and three. I was THRILLED to find out we were expecting twins (which is kind of an interesting story for another day). When I thought about having kids close in age, I never dreamed I would be part of the “three under three” crowd and I never considered the immediate challenges we would face. Here are some things that really changed in our household when we quickly went from one to three kiddos:
1. I became terribly outnumbered by the kids. This is always pointed out by well-meaning onlookers just about anywhere we go. It’s also painfully apparent to me, when we are out and about and someone is not on their best behavior. Last weekend, I needed several things from BJs and Travis wasn’t home. We set out for the store and I put Levi and Laney in the front part of the cart where I could buckle them in. Maddox sat in the basket. I knew his long, gangly legs would not allow much space for our cargo. My only option was to push the kids in one cart and pull another behind me with our loot. All in all, they were good. We got what we needed and got out of there… but not without a few comments that no one with kids this age has ever heard, including, “Mommy has her hands full.” One guy even said, “Whoa! I didn’t see the third one back there!” Of course, it’s tough, but manageable. Taking all of them out versus taking only Maddox out, has been a big adjustment.
(As I look at this pic, I realize that Levi didn’t have pants on! Guess it was a more difficult trip that I remember!)
2. Travis and I together, became outnumbered by our kids. Even with Travis, or any other set of hands helping out, the two of us will always be outnumbered by the kids. I kind of like it that way. It adds to the crazy.
3. The cost of everything tripled. Well, not literally. We didn’t have to buy formula and baby food for three kids. (I pray for those with triplets!) But, for the better part of this year, we had three in diapers, three in need of full-time childcare, three carseats and three cribs. It all adds up. I am happy, happy, happy to announce that Maddox is now potty-trained! Levi is eating table food AND we polished off our last container of formula last night. And all the people said a very enthusiastic, “Amen!” Oh, and did I mention that on their birthdays, the cost of daycare decreases a tiny bit?!
4. We learned (and continue to learn) to master the art of time management. This fact alone deserves its own post, but we have learned how to cram about forty-eight hours of work into a twenty-four hour timespan. I will venture to say that I have watched a grand total of two full television shows this year. We have learned new ways of doing just about everything. On Saturday morning, I looked at the clock and realized that by 10:00 am we had already: gotten the kids up and dressed, everyone had eaten breakfast, load of laundry was done, dishwasher had been run and emptied, trash was taken out, beds had been stripped and sheets washed, Travis had gotten in a workout, I ran an errand, stuffed and addressed birthday party invitations, and put the twins down for a nap. With all the upkeep that our home requires, we have learned to do what needs to be done, very efficiently. This means we may not watch as much TV as we used to, or stay up past 9 pm, but it works for us. We meal plan now. And, once the kids are in bed, we get to work tidying up the house, laying out clothes for the next day, taking out the trash, making bottles, and the list goes on. It may sound exhausting, but it actually feels satisfying to get it all done… which brings me to my next point.
5. We have embraced the concept of teamwork. It’s always interesting to me how some women say, “My husband never changed a diaper.” Or, “I am always responsible for bath and bedtime.” In our house, the only division of labor is when we divide and conquer. There are no jobs that “I” do and jobs that “he” does. We both do it all. We both change diapers, feed the babies, cook food, empty the dishwasher, load the laundry, do the shopping and care for the kids. We both work jobs outside our home, try to exercise consistently, participate in Small Group and are active at church. All these things require us to be united on all fronts. Maybe if we had a big boy and only one baby, it would be different. But, with three small kids, no one gets to say, “Oh, I don’t do that,” or, “Your mommy/daddy will take care of that.” Having three little kids has been the best team building exercise of all. I am confident that if Trav and I were on that show The Amazing Race, we would win!
This is how we usually feel at the end of it all!
6. I embraced the concept of the muffin top. Three babies. Two years. No explanation needed.
7. We used the TV more than I had hoped. I am not a TV Nazi walking around cracking a whip at anyone holding a remote. I think television is great for some downtime, but I closely monitor how much screen time Maddox gets. On the flip side, he has watched far more than his share of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Thomas the Train, Mighty Machines and The Magic Schoolbus this year. I tell myself these are educational and he doesn’t watch anything all day at school and if the weather is nice we go outside, so it balances out. Sometimes dinner and my personal hygiene take precedence, so he gets to watch a few shows!
8. Transportation became more complicated. I drive a minivan and I am not ashamed. Previously, I could have a babysitter pick Maddox up from school or they could go to the park or run an errand. That’s not so easy when you need three carseats. Few people can fit all of them in their car, so if I ever need someone to take all of them somewhere, they have to take my van.
I am thankful beyond words for the three babies that God has given us. We are so undeserving and I thank Him daily for the privilege of being their mother… and I thank Him for the fact that I don’t know what two babies is like because I might have been too scared to go for a third!