Three 3 and Under
Today is my last day to have a 1-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 3-year-old. Tomorrow my 3-year-old will turn 4, and I expect that my life will get infinitely easier since I won’t have three kids ages 3 and under anymore. Am I right, guys?
When we go places, I either pile all 3 of them into 1 stroller, or I carry Judah, hold Hattie’s hand, and ask Eliza to hold Hattie’s other hand while we walk across the parking lot as a big chain. It’s been funny to see wide eyes and open mouths the past few months when people have asked, “Are they all yours?” (Come on people, there’s only 3 of them!) It’s been even funnier to see their responses when they ask how old they are and I responded with 1, 2, and 3. (Okay, wide eyes may be an appropriate response to those numbers.) 97% of the time (sometimes I make up statistics, but this percentage is probably pretty close), the next thing out of their mouths is, “Wow! Your house must be busy!” I usually laugh and just agree.
Our house is definitely busy. No doubt about it. At any given minute (unless I KNOW company is coming), there are over 200 tiny little pieces all over the floor. I’m sure you think I’m exaggerating, but between the legos, puzzle pieces, costume jewelry, and My Little Ponies scattered around, I may have actually under-represented the number of things on my floor. My kids can’t be the only ones who seem to get extreme satisfaction from dumping toys out of their container and then walking away from them rather than playing with them.
Our house is definitely loud. It’s deafening at times. It’s filled with high pitched screaming at 3 different octaves. Yes, even little brother has learned that game. It's crazy because the screaming for: she took my toy, he hit me, I love this song, I found my long-lost microphone, I want you to chase me but I’m pretending I don’t, please don’t make me take a nap, and that tickles - all sound pretty much the same. We just hope that, at the end of the day, there have been more happy screams than upset screams.
Our house is definitely unorganized right now. I’m working on it, but we lose things, forget things, miss important dates, and have a 16-month-old that loves to throw things in the trash can (or toilet). I apologize if I was supposed to RSVP for something, return one of your dishes, respond to your text, write you a thank you card, or be on time to meet you in the last 3 months...like I said, I’m working on it.
Our house is definitely exhausting. All 3 of them always seem to need something at the same time...so I find myself being a triage nurse- which “emergency” can wait, and which do I need to move to the front of the line? I’m always cleaning up another mess, buttoning a dress-up costume, refereeing a fight, making a snack, playing a game, getting a child out of a dangerous situation, doing a craft, changing another diaper, or always, always, always pouring another cup of milk. I laughed and wholeheartedly agreed with another mama the other day who said, “I hate it when people ask me what my hobbies are....like when they ask, ‘What do you do when the kids go to bed?’ Ummm...I go to bed. I guess sleep is my hobby.” I’m in that club too.
I fully understand why people sometimes wait more than 12-19 months between babies. But do you know what? Our house is so much more than busy and loud and exhausting.
Our house is filled with love. All 3 kids love to be tucked in and held and cuddled, and I know someday I’ll miss those moments. It is physically impossible for my 3 babies to take a nap or go to sleep at night without hugging and kissing us and each other at least 2 times. (Believe me, we’ve tried. It has to be a minimum of 2 times or they will lay in their beds and scream about how they didn’t hug or kiss [whoever] goodnight for a solid 10 minutes....and that’s just not worth it, my friends. All.the.xs and os.) “I love you” bounces off our walls at any moment, and my heart soars when I hear it at those unprovoked times. Our kids fight with each other one minute but cry the next because they miss playing with whichever sibling is the latest victim of timeout. They all 3 can typically be found playing together or in very close proximity to one another. It is so sweet to see these bonds and little friendships grow. I pray that they are always good friends.
Our house is filled with laughter. High pitched giggles and deep belly laughs make all the chaos worth it. Sometimes, there may not be quite as much giggling in our house as high-pitched screaming, but man are those moments sweet. Those moments where they twirl and dance, those moments where they chase each other around the couch, those moments where they play pretend, those moments where I find that one silly thing that for some unknown reason, makes them all bust up laughing (so I do it for 10 minutes straight) - those are the sweet moments I will remember down the road. Marcus and I even struggle to hold in our laughter when we are correcting behavior. It’s pretty often that you will find one of us (usually me) hiding our face in our hands to conceal a smile while the other one deals with the circumstances at hand. I mean, it’s hard not to laugh when you have to say things like, “Stop licking your brother” or “Your sister doesn’t like it when you call her a triangle” or “We can’t throw Daddy’s shoes in the toilette” or “Don’t eat with your feet.” (Man, I sound really negative, don't I?)
Our house is filled with learning. We learn silly songs, we learn the ABCs, we learn to count, we learn the answer to every WHY question my 3-year-old asks. These 3 teach me just as much as I teach them, though. We learn about Jesus and about love and grace. With 3 so close in age, my kids are also being forced to learn that they aren’t the center of the universe. They have to share, they have to compromise, and sometimes they have to put others first. As much as I want to and as much as I try to, I just can’t be ALL things to ALL kids ALL the time. Only God can be all things to all people, so I just try my best to love them fiercely and point them toward Him.
Right now the days are long, but the years are so short. My 6 lb, 15 oz. baby girl who I swear I just brought home from the hospital yesterday, will be 4 tomorrow. Our house is busy, loud unorganized, and exhausting, but it’s also so sweet - and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.