the reason I’m glad we didn’t stop at two

I won’t say that parenting was easy with two.

Parenting is hard, whether you are rocking one bitty baby in your arms or managing the schedules of a flock of seven children. I will say, however, that we were surprisingly comfortable with two. We were baby wearers, organic eaters, and storybook readers. I even remember describing the bedtime hour as “peaceful” (you should see/hear our house at 8pm now!).

And then our third thundered into our world.

She was the first of our children to get a positive result from her heel prick test. Thankfully, a minor genetic deficiency…but frightening nonetheless to have to hold your baby three months fresh out of the womb down for a blood test. To be ushered into the offices of a specialist at a large children’s hospital in the next city over.

She was the only one of our three to scale bookcases, to go down slides headfirst, and to say “yes” before “no.” As in, “Yes, I can do everything my big sisters do – watch me.” She stands up in her highchair, takes all the pots out of the cupboards, and has been known to stay up until 10pm.

It wasn’t just her highly adventurous temperament though. It was the new family dynamic – where my husband and I couldn’t each “take one.” It was not having enough hands to hold at the grocery store. It was something I can’t quite put my finger on…only to say that having three children is distinctly different.

What our third child taught us is compassion. I understand now that there is a story behind all decisions. I can truly and deeply respect parents who lovingly choose to vaccinate or not, spank or not, homeschool or send to public school, etc. I understand the dad with the screaming toddler in the airport and the mom trying to catch her breath at the McDonalds Play Place.

I remember to listen because – more than I ever understood before – each child is as different as can be. A human being with unique DNA, wishes, hopes, dreams, failings, and gifts. Which is why birth is so breathtaking. No matter how many times a new child emerges covered in blood – every single time is a mystery and a gift.

When I ask for advice, I gravitate to moms of many because I know they’ve had to do this delicate dance over and over again. The moms of three – and especially four, five, and six plus – tend to have been humbled and, in turn, to respond with humility. They know this is no cake walk.


Because of my third child, I am a better person. Stronger. Gentler. A better listener. Unknowingly, she has brought me to my knees. In the moment I almost thought I had it all together, she reminded me that HE holds me together.



  1. JulieK says

    I have felt the truth of this already with two… we’d love to have a third, and partially b/c I already know the way God has changed my heart with just these two, I feel like each child just adds more to my understanding and eye-opening….

  2. says

    Oh I love this post. I can sooo relate. I think God doesn’t let you be ‘done’ until you have that one child (or maybe its the number of children…) that tries your patience, tests your resolve, stretches you and makes you realize you’re not going to be a perfect mother after all (drat!) ;) But, brings all the more love in your heart.

  3. says

    Oh my! Our 3rds would have a crazy good time together. I feel like you just described my Katherine. Just today I had adults gawking at her at the playground. A 2yo scaling the monkey bars better than her older sibs. Sometimes I wish I could instill a little fear in her for my own sanity, you know?! And she is up until 9:30 almost every night, too. What is up with that? But I love her something fierce. Great post, Stephanie!

  4. says

    I’m not sure why we decided to have a third when our second was like this… Maybe because he was barely over a year when we started for the third and we didn’t fully realize how fearless he was! And then of course we got two more and one of them is equally fearless!
    When people ask me how you do it I finally figured out that no one thinks they can, but when you have to do something, you just figure out a way. I certainly don’t feel like I have any secrets other than maybe to just lower my expectations!

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