“So, what’s it like having three kids?” This is by far the most common question I am asked as of late. It makes sense, given that my wife and I welcomed our third child, or the third “L”, in September of this year (editor's note: All our children’s names begin with the letter L, and my wife has taken to identifying them as L1, L2 and L3. We aren’t counting any wins or losses yet). Our third “L” was a planned addition, but I have to admit there was more than just a little anxiety as we waited for him to join our family. There were the common concerns about the baby’s health and sleepless nights, but also new fears like, were we going to survive?
It is these changes that people are really wondering about when they ask, “What’s it like having three kids?” They want to know how we can possibly be managing the enormous responsibility of three children, and perhaps most importantly, whether we have any semblance of our former lives. I know this to be true because before each of my children was born I was asking myself this question as well.
I wanted answers because I wanted to prepare. I wanted to know what there was to gain, what I may have to change, and what I would be giving up. With each pregnancy I sought out people I thought could shed some light on the topic. First-time parents, families of four and then (albeit a smaller group) families with three children under the age of five. In each case I got a healthy mix of very good advice, relevant information and utter nonsense. I accepted most things I heard with a certain degree of skepticism but some comments stuck with me. Following the birth of our second child I had a friend (and father of two) say to me, “See you in two years.” I knew the comment was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but nevertheless I remembered it because it was scary. Was I really going to lose “independent Mark” for two whole years??
So back to the question, how has my life changed after having three kids? Well, I’m still figuring that out to be honest, but I know for sure it’s not possible for me to say what it will be like for you. That being said, whether it be our families, our careers or ourselves, the one undeniable truth is that we are all going to encounter changes, planned or not. Whether it is adjusting to a new job, a death in the family, or having your first (or third) child, things will be different. Planning for change will help, and I do believe talking to others who have had a similar experience can provide support. However, it is important to understand that any change will be your own, and therefore you will experience it in your own way. For this reason, it can help to talk with someone who is not so keen on giving advice as they are in listening to your personal experience.
I will say our decision to go for that third “L” has produced more joy than any pain the loss of “independent Mark” has caused. Though we are still in the adjustment phase, I like to think of myself and my family as a work in progress so I’m not sure that the adjusting will end anytime soon. Lastly, if you have made it this far in my ramblings and are still looking for a straightforward answer, ask me how much sleep I’m getting. That is a question I can easily answer: Very little.