When I found out I was pregnant with my third baby, I thought my days of being a professional working mother were over.
I vividly recall sitting around our kitchen table one evening with our son in his booster chair and our daughter in her high chair, both making complete messes of their dinner but looking adorable doing so, and feeling like someone was missing from our family. It was this very subtle, but real intuition, that our family was not complete.
After battling infertility and multiple miscarriages for four years, I never dreamt having another baby would fulfill that vision. I figured I should count my lucky stars to have been blessed with the two kiddos modern medicine had allowed me to have and look into adopting a dog or taking up a new hobby instead.
So early one fall morning when that pregnancy test came back positive, confirming baby number three was on her way, I'll never forget how excited my husband and I were. What an amazing gift! But as I soaked up the reality that our family of four would soon be five, my excitement was coupled with sheer panic about how I was ever going to manage being a working mom AND successfully care for three children.
I was certain my days of being a successful professional were over.
Not being someone who gives up on anything quickly, I did what every frazzled, frantic person does and pulled up my Google browser to search for all the results I could find on how to be a working mom of three (or more!) kids. What I found didn't make my anxiety any better. In fact, most of what I found were blog posts from other moms stressing how hard it is to transition from two to three babies.
You're outnumbered, they said.
Daycare is expensive, they emphasized.
Juggling motherhood and a career was almost more than could be handled, they affirmed.
Gee, thanks, I thought!
I'm here to tell you, 8 years after my third precious daughter was born, they were right. To some degree. But also overtly wrong in the rest.
I was so anxious about not being able to handle the transition that my husband and I were overly prepared, ready to take this parenting challenge on arm in arm. And what we found surprised us immensely. It wasn't even as remotely hard as we had been told it would be. Why?
Because we as working moms can accomplish SO much more than we could ever imagine.
I‘d be lying if I said it doesn’t take a considerable amount of organization and communication between you and your spouse or partner.
Pack lunches and set out school clothes the night before so your mornings aren't so chaotic. Free up your weekends of endless cleaning and hire a housecleaner. Leverage conveniences where you can such as grocery deliveries, online shopping apps (like Sam's Walmart or Target). Take advantage of shared calendars (we use our Gmail accounts) to be sure everyone’s schedules are in synch. And don‘t be afraid to get help when needed!
Above all, stop believing you can't do what others say is impossible. Or too hard.
Let go of the need for perfectionism.
When you have one or two children, you have more time to fret about the small stuff. Add one or two more children to the mix, and you've just got to let more go.
The more children you have, the more confident you become in your ability to parent and to simply let the youngest join the rest of the family for the ride. Your life doesn't revolve around your children any longer. They begin to revolve around yours. And that builds tremendous respect between your children and you as the parent.
Our family just celebrated the 8th birthday of our last baby Engelke and she is the light of our lives. She completed us in more ways than one.
Did we have moments when the daycare costs totaled as much as a house payment? You bet. Were there times when finding someone to care for her when she was sick and I had to work was a struggle? Definitely. And was there ever a time when she might have been forgotten at Disney World because we lost count of the three of them? Possibly. But we won't go there right now...
I'm here to tell you those challenges are a reality no matter how many little people live in your house.
And that we as women MUST avoid the temptation to believe that being a thriving working woman and a wonderfully, loving mother to all of your children (no matter how many that is!) is not possible. Because it is.
I'm living proof.