Twin Cities Mom Collective

Embracing My Fears Over Having Three Under Three

At the time I’m writing this, I’m nearly thirty-four weeks pregnant. Our oldest just had her birthday on Tuesday, turning three and making me reminisce on the earliest days of her life and the beginning of my motherhood journey. It also seems like it has only been a few weeks since our youngest turned one near the end of June. Soon this new baby will join our family, and we’ll have three children, three and under – #threeunderthree. It’s a cheeky hashtag, but it’s going to be my life. I read recently that families of more than two are now referred to as mini family empires. While my husband and I are thrilled at growing our family and hope for even two more children, there are many moving parts to these final weeks. I’m trying to embrace my fears over having three under three. But I am feeling overwhelmed, and insecurity has started to creep in.

When we learned we were expecting this baby, I was six months postpartum. I watched two lines appear on a pregnancy test and could swear I almost felt the pains of contractions again. Of course, we were excited, but also, I felt I needed time to mentally take in this close age gap. There are 22 months between my daughter and son, and there will be a 15-month gap between my son and this baby boy. While we’re 36 and 34, so this is probably wise, I’m still catching my breath about the closeness of our children.

Recently I took just my son to the grocery store. A kind woman said the script upon seeing us and my giant belly: “you’re going to have your hands full soon!” I laughed and told her I had another child at home. The standard American family is two children, the socially acceptable number of children. While I’ve always wanted a larger family, I didn’t think the comments would begin so early.

I was hungry for children my entire life, obsessed with pregnancy and birth and babies since I can recall. My first desire I ever remember having was to become a mother. Each part of my motherhood journey has been both beautiful and hard, special and challenging. This was one of those moments where my joy held equal pace with my bewilderment, and there it was… fear.

My fears feel more real on certain days. Sometimes I am tired and feel like I am hanging on by a thread—barely able to fold a load of laundry and taking days to muster the self-discipline to put it away. I wonder if I am capable. As someone who values a clean home, aesthetics, and keeping things beautiful, I wonder if this third baby will destroy the ability to keep up with those things that I hold dear. Worst of all, I worry about my mood. Will I suddenly become a grouchy and selfish mother because I’m just so tired?

Then there are days I know I will be fine. When I think about the brave women who came before me or women who have much less support than I do, I know I can handle this. I don’t care for the motherhood complaint culture that has dominated our larger media outlets since the pandemic started. I believe those mindsets are misery creating and toxic. I recognize that I can do hard things, yes, even this.

When I found myself overwhelmed by my newborn daughter, I stumbled upon a cleaning website that had gotten famous almost 15 years earlier. It had a painfully ugly design, so much so that I laughed when I found it again, but the content was incredibly grounding to me. The author, Fly Lady, recommended never leaving your sink dirty before you went to bed and when looking at your to-do list or day to just do the next right thing and finish the task you were working on before starting another. It might have seemed trivial or obvious, but this advice helped make postpartum as a first-time mom manageable. I found it comforting and helpful to know I would wake up with a clean sink. It didn’t matter what kind of night I’d had or what my day would look like with this little unpredictable human. This might mean nothing to another mother, but for me, it gave me a semblance of control and predictability that I longed for.

I don’t know what or who will be my Fly Lady this time, but I know something will ground me in those early weeks and months of motherhood. I try to visualize all the things I loved about early babyhood, and those slips of beauty are something I look forward to. I am also delighted somehow, perhaps in a naïve way of having three children in high school at the same time. When I sat down to re-watch The Family Stone, I cried, thinking about our adult children coming home at Christmastime with their spouses and how full and vibrant our home will feel.

Our family story is unfolding just as it should. I know I have the strength to care for and love three young children. I’m looking at my fears head-on and believing they are no match for my will and passion for this calling of motherhood.

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