They say three is the most stressful number of children to have. While stress levels rise with the number of children, strangely enough, it seems to go down after number three. I can't tell you if that's true, since we only have three, but I do know that taking care of three has been crazy. First, there are more fights, simply because the kids have more siblings to fight with. Then sometimes there's the ganging up against each other. The older two would play and chase their baby brother away, since all he does is break down their towers, even though he was actually trying to help. And don't get me started about the mealtime battles, the running after a toddler who is constantly getting into trouble, and all the chaos that is part of a normal day.
I think one of the worst things is the mummy guilt. Of leaving the toddler to potter about on his own so much while you try to school the older two. Of being distracted by the same toddler who wants to sit in your lap and draw on all his brothers' books while you try to teach the older two. Of not having enough time to plan interesting activities, of not having enough of you for all the "mama, mamas" that happen in a single day.
Three has been tough. I can't imagine how four, or five or six can be less stressful.
They are so different in personalities, and you realize there is no set parenting method that works for all three. What worked to teach Junior J his phonics isn't working now for Lil J. How Lil J learns is totally different from Junior J. Even how we discipline is slightly different, since dealing with a highly sensitive child differs from dealing with a strong-willed child. However, these differences keep us on our toes and remind us constantly that we aren't know-it-alls as parents. These little boys are constant lessons in our need to depend on our Heavenly Father for wisdom.
While three can be crazy, three can be wonderful too. The feeling of warmth in your heart is tripled, when you see the three of them playing together and laughing together (usually about goodness knows what!). You learn that you connect with each child differently. And these times when you sit back and look at your family, growing slowly but surely, you realize that you never had regrets having three, not even though they say it is the most stressful number.