Last week I did something that I haven’t done in nearly six and a half years of parenting; I completely forgot about a playdate and stood a dear friend up, leaving her and her gorgeous children waiting in the park for us on a chilly Friday afternoon after they’d traipsed there across the city from school. It might not sound like much but for me it really was pretty awful. Another good friend once nicknamed me ‘Planner Hannah’ due to my love of planning, organising and all things related. However, since having Elijah, those tendencies have somewhat unravelled. Now I’m content congratulating myself if I manage to succesfully leave the house with all three children in clean(ish) clothes, brushed hair and teeth and the food and water we’ll need for our trip out. I reckon I’m coming in currently with a 75% success rate. I might not remember the craft activities I’m meant to be supplying, the sling I promised to lend a friend or the letter that needed posting but if I’ve kept three children alive, fed and clean(ish) then I’ll count that as a win!
It’s a funny thing really because I was totally much more on the ball when I had just two children. And I can’t quite understand how one more child makes that much more of a difference but it really does! It turns out that (for me at least) three, just one more than two, is the number it takes to move me from feeling like I’ve got this parenting lark sussed to feeling like I’m constantly treading water, rushing from one thing to the next with a mental to-do list that seems to grow exponentionally. These days it seems nigh on impossible to get my head into the space to plan out and execute some of the activities I did when I just had Sophia and Isaac. I look back at photos of carefully planned afternoons spent crafting, remember fondly reading stories for hours under a duvet on rainy days and having a house that remained reasonably clean.
Of course, age is an issue. I feel quietly confident (hopefully I’m not being delusional!) that as they all get older, things will get easier. Elijah won’t always want to climb on tables, draw on walls and throw the most monumental tantrums when I won’t let him unravel the toilet roll or dental floss whilst I’m trying to do some work with the other two. And the small sparks of sibling relationships that I’m seeing start to emerge between him and his older brother and sister will grow, fanned by proximity and time. Then before I know it I’ll have three children, thick as thieves one moment, warring the next, but loyal to each other to the end. I’ll be getting more sleep and we’ll regain the opportunity to craft, bake, read and explore with ease (although I suspect the house might still be a mess). Yes, balancing everyone’s needs and wants might sometimes feel like a scene from Jurassic Park but I don’t regret a second of it. However, I’m definitely not evening it up to four with another, dontcha know…three, it’s the magic number.