life with three

After the third kid, it’s just logistics. We’re coming up on the last quarter of this Baby Year and I’ve been thinking about things we’ve changed since Chiara was born.

  • Instacart. When I saw our housemate get her Aldi groceries delivered to the house, I was like whaaaat?? I can get overwhelmed by meal planning and grocery shopping at the best of times, but working around a baby’s nap schedule + bad weather made me just give up. Chris shopped for a while (and he spends way less money than I do because he sticks strictly to the list) but he only had time to do it on the weekend and I just wanted him home with us. So, I convinced him that it’s worth it for the one year membership and we’re trying it out. I’m determined to love it (and I do), but then annoying things happen like 1) the shopper only delivers half the order 2) the order doesn’t get delivered or 3) they buy the wrong thing BUUUT I hate grocery shopping enough to look past it. And it gets worked out in an hour or so and I get a refund or redelivery or whatever. So, good customer service. It took a while for me to get in a groove with it (and not forget to order basic things) but now I’m meal planning and ordering on Saturday mornings and it’s been good. When it works well, I’m like, what an age we live in. Technology. 
  • Monthly dates. This wasn’t super intentional at first but with family visiting and swapping with friends, we fell into about 1x/month getting out for drinks post-bedtime. That time together has become much more precious because I now understand how easy it is to only really talk about the day to day schedule stuff.
  • Nightly clean up. We’ve just gotten more disciplined about the bare minimum of cleaning/tidiness so that it doesn’t feel awful coming downstairs the next morning. It really makes such a difference to start the (v early morning) with the kitchen wiped down/swept up.
  • Saturday morning “mama time.” This is for my sanity. Sometimes it’s a run and meal planning, or thrifting, or adoration. Sometimes it’s a three hour nap because I’m succumbing to the cold the girls have. Blerg.
  • Making space for each other’s hobbies.
  • Sleep training. We did this with the other two but I think I got serious about it sooner with Chiara, and we moved her out of our room at 5.5 months (Zelie was in for almost a year because we were in a 2 bedroom apt).
  • No guilt about switching off being with the girls to catch up on sleep on the weekends.
  • No guilt about streaming a TV show for the girls to watch post-nap time/quiet time.
  • Quiet time is sacred. Evangeline does an hour and some days it overlaps with Chiara and Zelie’s naps, some days they don’t all line up for very long, but it’s still necessary for everyone. And now Zelie does a 30 minute quiet time in the morning … I take any sort of quiet, alone time I can get.
  • Laundry. It took me this long to get into some sort of system. The big girls have a hamper and Chiara has one, and they get washed together about every 4 days. And immediately sorted! This is so simple but has really freed up the backlog of folding and getting back to their rooms.
  • Housemate coming in clutch. I’m thinking back to all those nights in the first 5 months that Chris wasn’t home for bedtime and Clare was there to hold Chiara while I got Zelie down, and then I could hold her while I did Evange. My spiritual director said, “Sometimes all you need is a pair of hands for 7 minutes.”  So true. Thanks, Clare!

And this isn’t logistics, but I’ve also been thinking about the sweetness of sister bonds, and how we’ve seen the big girls grow so much in this last year, too. My sister and I are 19 months apart, just like Evangeline and Zelie, so I don’t remember her birth. It’s been beautiful to see Evangeline’s special bond with Chiara. She is quick to try to make her happy – she made up a song to sing to her when she cries in the car – and things I find annoying, like repeating loud one syllable noises over and over again, crack Chiara up. Who knew.

I know in a couple years I’ll think it was silly of me to feel like I had a big kid in the house when my oldest was 4 and a half, but I have been surprised lately at all the things Evangeline can do, and wants to do. As I’m nursing Chiara, she will proudly come and tell me that she dried herself off from the bath, brushed her teeth and hair, flossed, put on her pull-up, put lotions on her legs, and put her PJ’s on. Then she’ll say, “Does that help the family?” because she’s also now on the lookout for ways to earn coins to put in her piggy bank. (Also discovered that she’s super motivated by charts.) And she and Zelie play together SO WELL these days. My favorite is when they act out the scenes from Frozen when Anna and Elsa are little. Do the magic, do the magic! THIS IS AMAZING! It’s just a fun new world with almost two preschool-age kids in the house.

when I thought I had an anger problem and then remembered I’m an introvert

Since adding Chiara to the mix, I’ve been reading/thinking/talking about parenting more than I ever have before. It’s not her – she’s almost unicorn baby level of chill – it’s me. It’s me learning what it feels like to be stretched to my limits and operate at full capacity. And what it looks like when I snap.

Anger, friends. So much anger.

Before becoming a mom, I don’t know if I’d ever experienced anger as an emotion before. Seriously. Annoyance and irritation, sure, but … rage? Nope. I’m an Enneagram 9 and the classic problem with that type is “being out of touch with one’s anger,” and I always thought, hm, weird, that doesn’t apply to me. Hah!

A while ago, I had two separate conversations with friends in the course of a week about going to counseling for parenting issues. Specifically, dealing with anger as a parent. And it surprised me that I had never thought of this as an option before, but because it popped up twice, it seemed like something I should consider. But then, all the obstacles – cost, insurance, childcare? And I didn’t do anything.

Then, one afternoon a few days later, I had a fantastic blow up at Evangeline and finally decided – if counseling is what it takes to make this stop, I have to do it.

I ended up making an appointment at the Women’s Care Center in town because a) it’s free and b) I could bring Zelie and Chiara, and I had a conversation with a counselor. I went in expecting her to give me strategies to manage anger, but when I described that I have a 4 year old, 2.5 year old, and 5 month old, and I get angry with my 4 year old when I’m tired, she turned the conversation towards self-care.

Are you getting enough sleep? Do you have help from your husband? Do you get time to exercise, be alone?

And I thought, Wait a second. Is this really the answer?

I consider myself good at asking for help and knowing what I need. The self-care route seemed like an easy out.

Later that day, I started reading a book called Introverted Mom, and found myself laughing in relief. She laid out three truths about anger that RESONATED.

  1. Anger is the natural response to the hard parts of motherhood, especially as an introvert.
  2.  Anger is an indicator to pause or change something (a bodily cue, similar to hunger).
  3. Quiet is a must for an introverted mom.

Oh yeah!! I’m an introvert! Everything made sense again. (I don’t know if I fully recommend this whole book, but it was worth it even just for this beginning part).

I don’t have an underlying anger issue. The self-care stuff isn’t secondary. I need to recharge to be a sane person good mom and partner to Chris.

The book gave me some reminders of ways to recharge and I thought of things I already naturally do, but now I recognize them as necessary.

Here’s what’s working right now:

  • Lighting a candle in the morning darkness
  • Morning Prayer from Magnificat while I nurse (even v interrupted)
  • Playing music
  • Getting out for a run about 2x/week
  • Reading novels while nursing
  • Stepping outside to just breathe
  • Soaking up the colors of the fall leaves
  • 20 min power naps
  • Going to bed as early as I can
  • Conversations with good friends (over Marco Polo if not in person)
  • Giving Evangeline a 20 min show after her quiet time (to bribe her to stay in her room for her quiet time and give myself a little more time)
  • Historical British dramas (Downton Abbey)

 

 

I’m learning to recognize what my “buttons” are, and to step away when I need to. And to note, without judgement, when I am particularly tired or overstimulated … before I lose it. I’m working on making time during the week and a regular time each weekend for me to do something restorative (Chris is a big part of this).

Because then I set myself up to enjoy time with these cuties and they get a happier mama. Win win.