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Three’s Company: Two vs. Three Children

So you have two beautiful children, and you are feeling good about life and things are manageable. But there is that nagging question…should we shoot for a third? We were there. We had pro and con lists, many marital discussions and looked to friends for advice and inspiration. In the end, the universe gifted us with a third child before we had even made our decision. The universe is funny like that. So here I am four years into my journey as a mom of three…all three kids are still alive, but it has been one heck of a ride.

Let’s be clear that I love all of my children dearly and wouldn’t trade a single one of them (most of the time). My third child is the happiest kid I’ve ever met and, at times, is the light of my life…he is also a classic third born and quite often completely unhinged for absolutely no reason. Those theories about birth order are pretty accurate. I did not parent the third child the same as the first because I was a completely different person after three years of parenting, and their personalities sure do show it. Our first is your classic high anxiety perfectionist. The third simply came here to have a good time and we believe he will live in our basement well into adulthood. The second simply can’t figure out who she is or what she wants.

Many aspects of our lives would be easier had we pulled the plug at two kids. Our house would be cleaner and quieter. We could have nicer things (because the third is set to destruction at all times for some reason). Going out in public would be less of an Olympic feat. Traveling would be easier. We could take more elaborate vacations (he might be small, but adding one more kid means a bigger hotel room and seriously adds more expense to the vacation). In general, the third instantly tips the scales. There will always be extra challenges and we will forever be outnumbered by our children.

Having a third child has extended me well beyond my capacities as a mother. There have been times where I did not know how I could handle another day of frustrations. There are times where I feel that my kids are shortchanged because I do not have the time or attention to go three ways. I often believe that two arms are simply not enough for this many children.

Yet at the same time, my heart has never been more full. I am in awe that I created these three little people who have taught me priceless lessons. I have learned more about myself in four years of having three children than I did in my three years of having two kids or even in the 33 years prior. Being pushed outside of my parenting comfort zone has forced me to dig deep and find strength in myself that I never knew existed. The universe sure did know what it was doing when it gave me three people to raise. It turns out that I was a bit of a high strung perfectionist myself (I’m an only child, HA!), but having three children has forced me to relax and learn to let things go.

So is there perfect number of kids to have? Absolutely not. Every family situation is different and parenting is always going to be a challenge no matter how many children you fill your home with. My belief is that you take what the universe gives you and do your best. So if you have two beautiful children and are thinking about possibly extending your family to three children…know that your head will spin when trying to keep them all alive at the pool, but your heart will overflow when you watch them together, reading to each other, learning from each other and genuinely loving each other (despite the frequent accusations toward each other). 

Are you on the fence of 2 vs. 3 kids? What are your deciding factors? 

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