Monday, October 26, 2009

Trials of the Third

There is both luck and curse in being the third child born into a family. By the time the third child comes along, the parents are more relaxed. Those who were once helicopter parents find themselves uttering phrases like "where's the baby?" and "what are you doing?" from another room while the baby climbs the walls or pulls the cat's tail.

Things that once exasperated you, like the baby dumping a bowlful of crackers on the floor, now hardly register. When she tosses food from the high chair you barely bat an eye. Your home becomes a chorus of "uh oh!" and quick cleanup, rather than irritation. And you see these differences in parenting in that third child. When she makes the puddle of water by squeezing the nub of her sippy cup and sees your face, she goes to the kitchen, grabs a towel and mops up her mess. She takes pride in herself for doing a little something to fix what she may have messed up.

She has more people who love her than her siblings did at her age. Sometimes this is a curse to being the third kid. M and K both pick her up randomly, when she's minding her own business, and move her to another area of the room. She protests, vehemently, wordlessly, with grunts and screeches that leave little doubt that she's upset about the detour but she is too small to fight them off.

The curse of the third child also comes with a mother who perhaps is not ready to let her baby (and always baby) grow beyond her need for mommy. Ms. D will likely be stuck in a high chair longer than her siblings were. She'll also be in a crib longer if her mother has any say in it. Although D is a climber, she is still petite enough that she can't get her leg up to scale the crib walls. She will always be the baby of the family. She will always be behind her sister and brother. Her name will always be signed last in greeting cards.

But the thing I've learned most with each additional child (and there will be no more additions) is that life becomes more full. That could sound negative or positive. I think it's positive. The heart fills even as it expands. I would never doubt that a larger family has any less love for each and every one of their children. I have my three and they are perfect for me.

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slouchy said...

all of this, so clearly told, is why i really wanted a third. i expect third children are very well-adjusted, too.

kelleysbeads said...

ditto to slouchy

Life As I Know It said...

double ditto slouchy.

I am the youngest of 4, and while it wasn't always great, I do love being in a big family.

chelle said...

I third the motion!!!
Loved this post! I can so totally relate.

Madeline said...

Aww! I love this post. I so hope I get to have more kiddos someday. I imagine that it just gets more amazing with each addition (okay, so more work too, but really who's counting).

louann said...

I love, love, love this post. I just love it. You have said it so clearly and everything you said is so real. I feel exactly the same way. And yes, the 3rd will always and forever be the baby. Not too excited about my 3rd taking his first step.

 
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