It's so funny looking back on the kind of mother I have evolved into after three kids. I grew up the oldest of three. My parents were definitely harder on me than my siblings. Probably because as a child, I was a parent's worst nightmare. Three years after me, my sister was born, who is definitely a middle child (and I love that about her). She was, and still is, attached to my mother's hip. She always made good choices and was a pleaser, my parents loved that about her and probably never even scolded her. Then came my brother 9 years later. He could have done anything he wanted. He was the baby, the boy, and my parents were old by the time they had him. He should have wound up in prison with my parents lack of parental gumption, but thankfully, has turned into a wonderful, Godly man. (He's single, ladies!) It always drove me crazy how my parents were totally different parents with each child. Even though I don't want to admit it, I get it. I'm now that parent.
When you have your first child, you want to be the perfect parent and have the perfect child. You want to show the world that your baby is always perfectly put together, that they sleep through the night as soon as they come home from the hospital, that they are smarter than all the other kids, that they are great eaters and are popular. You have no idea what you are doing, so you over do everything. I can remember always talking about #1. I thought everything she did was the greatest thing ever and just knew that everyone else felt the same way. Yeah, they don't. I would always make her "perform" in front of other people and would brag about how advanced she was. She never threw fits, was always dressed like a GAP model and never had a crumb on her face. (At least not that anyone knew about!)
Enter child number 2. I can totally do this. We still had a consistent schedule. I loved dressing the girls alike, and there was always a bow in their hair. I could take them places and they would act like normal human beings and people would comment on how wonderful they were. There were 2 of them, there were 2 of us, and we were still in control. That was all fine and dandy until #2 turned 2. All of the sudden #1 was a little sassy mouth that argued with everything we said and #2 decided she had an opinion about everything. She didn't want to wear a bow in her hair, she liked to get dirty, she threw screaming fits in the middle of Target. The sisters no longer played nicely but tried to kill each other every few hours. What the hell happened here? What happened to my perfect little family?
Enter child number 3. Enter complete and total chaos. Now we're outnumbered. Now I don't care so much about schedules. Now I don't care so much if they are all throwing screaming fits in Target, I just buy them some popcorn and a slush to shut them up so I can get my shopping done. I find myself saying yes instead of no. If the girls are trying to kill each other, I let them. If baby boy hits me in the face because he's mad, I kiss all over him instead of battling a time out. If they all look like lost orphans when we are out and about, who cares? Who am I trying to impress? I now find myself laughing with friends about the fact that #2 said damn it 4 times yesterday instead of keeping that to myself because my precious angel would never do something like that! I'm now thrilled when everyone gets home from school and there were no color changes. I now choose my battles carefully.
That's a big one. Choosing your battles. What is worth getting my panties in a wad over, and what is not? Do I get upset when #1 has a different opinion than I do and will argue it, or delight in the fact that she is slowly growing into a strong women that knows what she wants and goes after it? Do I fight with #2 when she wants to go to school looking like she's been wandering the streets for days, or give her props for having enough confidence to own what she's wearing, even if she looks homeless. Do I stand over baby boy as he's learning to walk, or let him fall a few times and get a couple of knots on his head? Do I care more about what my children look like on the outside or how they are being shaped on the inside?
There's a lot of freedom that comes with parenting multiple children when you stop caring about what your family looks like on the outside and start caring about what we really look like on the inside. When you stop caring what other mom's think of you, and do what you know is best for your family. When you stop comparing yourself to other families and start comparing yourself to what God intended your family to be. We are not a perfect family, and we do not have perfect children. We are all sinners and we are learning as we go. We make mistakes and we grow from them. I just pray each night that all of our children, no matter how many there end up being, grow to be what God intended them to be. I pray that they are clothed in the characteristics of Christ, and that they don't end up in prison!