There are some days when I think I'm going to totally rock (or maybe it's more like simply survive) this three kid thing, and then there are the other days. On some occasions I am able to walk into, through, and out of a store with both kids in tow, respectfully following and obeying me. I imagine the nearby strangers looking on at me (with my growing bump) and my two young children thinking, "Wow, she's got a real handle on this mom thing. Her kids are so well behaved." And then there are the other days.
Like the one where both my children completely melted down in the library, of all places! It was closing time and Adeline was bawling hysterically because she didn't pick out a movie in time to check out and Lincoln was ballistic because he wasn't able to finish all eight puzzles that he had dumped on the ground. As I carried his screaming, flailing body out of the doors and ordered Adeline to follow us, I was so embarrassed to be pregnant. This time I imagined the strangers looking on at me thinking, "She has no idea how to control her children, and she's pregnant again! What a mess." However, I realize that the first, idyllic situation above is filled with a false sense of pride and the second is filled with a false sense of humiliation. Some days--or moments--our kids behave and others are a complete disaster. It's a real crapshoot. I try the best I can to teach and lead them, but it's not always in my control how they respond.
Today was another one of THOSE days. The one you wish you could turn off and just make it tomorrow. Lincoln decided it would be a day of epic meltdowns and wouldn't allow me to console him. It began with toothpaste drama. Tim and I each have our own that we prefer and the kids have another. Lincoln believes he should be able to sample all three each time he brushes. At first, he was upset because Tim's was "too spicy," and then he was upset I wouldn't let him have another kind. I eventually gave in, letting him have the kids' toothpaste, but it was the end of the world when I washed off the spicy toothpaste to put on the new one he wanted. He proceeded to slam doors, put me in time out, spit at me, and cry on end. Once he recovered, there was the incident with the ant. Living in the woods, we are graced with the presence of big black ants on a regular basis. Lincoln wanted to trap the ant in a napkin, but when he failed I finished the job. He was devastated when I captured the ant and flushed it down the toilet. Thus, another 30 minutes of tantrum. Then, there was the meltdown in the car on the way to pick up Adeline. Then there was the episode on the playground at her school because he wanted the bubbles she was given as an Easter gift by her teacher. Then there was crying because he didn't want to get off the potty after he peed. Then there was hysterics because he didn't want to come inside when we returned home. Then there was crying because he didn't want to go upstairs for a nap. And on and on and on it seemed to spin. While trying to put him to bed I finally broke down in tears. "What's wrong, Mommy? Calm down," he said. My sadness led him to comply and I was able to get him down for a nap. But when I reached Adeline's room to put her down for a nap, the tears came again. I felt so overwhelmed with caring for Lincoln alone that I couldn't fathom how I was going to care for our baby that is due to arrive next month. Adeline reassured me, "Mommy I will be your helper. Now keep reading the story." Her sweet words, followed by a silly command helped me to recover, but I remained concerned about this next phase of my life.
Just about every mother of three, or more, has said that going from two to three children is the most challenging. I feel like I am as prepared as possible, but still so overwhelmed with the impending change in our family. I even find it hard to be excited (ashamedly) about the arrival of the baby because I am nervous about how I am going to make this all work. If I had even one compliant child I think I would feel more at ease about this transition. But since that's not the case I am often stressed and exhausted at the thought of trying to appease three little needy human beings at once, while still maintaining some sense of composure.
Yet, through all the concern I always come back to trusting this as God's plan for our family. He knew this baby was to be before the beginning of time. He planned this child, for our family, for me, for His grand purposes. This unborn child has a unique purpose that only he or she can fulfill for the Kingdom of God. I find joy in knowing I will one day learn what God has planned for my third child.
I also find comfort in knowing that I have Adeline to help me with our new baby. Last year, on another one of those rough days, I pleaded to God for help with Lincoln. I immediately felt His response, "I did. I gave you Adeline." And He is so right. Even though I'm in a place without family to help, I have my daughter to assist me. She is beyond eager for this child to arrive and to begin her role as the big sister, again. I know she will be there for me when I need it, as much as a four-year-old can. She is a wise and insightful soul. With Lincoln, he's two. It's natural for him to have tantrums and some days will naturally be harder than others. It's a season, but also one filled with great wonder and happiness as he continues to grow in his language and personality. His desire to cuddle is one of the most content parts of my days and the adorable things he says leave me laughing often. My every-now-and-again meltdowns are probably natural, I just need to keep coming back to God for peace and assurance on the tough days.
I know that reading the Bible and spending dedicated time in prayer will be a lifeline as I prepare for this child, and welcome him or her into our family. My daily reading this morning reminded me how small my concerns are in the face of God's power and might. Psalm 78: 13-16 declares, " He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall. He guided them with the cloud by day and with the light from the fire all night. He split the rock in the desert and gave them waters as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers." How pleasing to my soul to know that the same God who performed such miracles is the same God who created this child in my womb and the same Lord who has equipped me to raise and train up our new addition. And through prayer, I find the same calming effect. Knowing that He is hearing my heart and trusting Him with my worries provides me with new life and breath. He will sustain me.
To the mothers of three or more (or those of you who come from a family of five or more), I openly welcome ANY advice you have to offer. Send it my way and hopefully, we can bless others who are in the same state of mind as they prepare to expand their families. Leave your comments below to encourage us weary and worried mamas! Thank you in advance!