I'm sure a lot of you have read this article by now, as I've seen it circulate through Facebook a few times. Apparently Today.com surveyed over 7,000 US moms and the results tell us that moms with three kids are more stressed out that moms with four kids. Here is an interesting quote:
"The study found that while transitioning from two to three children is overwhelming for parents because it means they are outnumbered, mothers tend to 'let go' once they reach four children."
So they are saying we need to have four kids to 'let go' and be less stressed? I'm sorry, but I don't buy it. I realize that I don't actually have three kids yet and maybe I will eat my words some day, but I can assure you that I'm not going into this assuming it will be easy. There will be stress, sure. There was also stress as a new mom to my only child. And again when we transitioned to two children. I understand that having three kids means you are 'outnumbered' and the defense switches from man on man to zone. Three kids means a lot of 'needs' that will rest squarely on my shoulders (and my husband's, and our 'village' that is here along with us). But my bottom line is that how can one generalize to say that 'three kids is the hardest number' when there are so many unique factors to consider?
Doesn't it depend on the kid? I hear that there are mythical babies out there who sleep through the night at 6 weeks. I simply cannot imagine what life would be like to get solid sleep before the year mark of a baby's life. Some babies have colic, some babies are seriously ill, some are needy and have 'intense' personalities. Some don't sleep (mine). Some babies are really challenging when it comes to getting them to eat and gain wait. Let's say you have one of these difficult personality traits in a baby, but he's your first child. Don't you think that this mom would say that 'ONE CHILD IS SO HARD!' ? Or what if you have an 'easy' baby the first time around and then payback comes with number two? Pretty sure that mom would say, 'HOLY COW, HAVING TWO KIDS IS STRESSFUL!' And that is ok! Mad props to all moms with any number of children, no matter how easy or hard they may be. It's hard and it's different and it's also wonderful, if you ask me. I think it's more about each individual child and their challenges versus some 'critical mass' number of children that is 'hardest'. Isn't the concept of stress a thing that is in the eye of the beholder? It's really very subjective and personal.
This brings up a thought that has been swirling in my head for a bit, one that I might also mention in an upcoming blog post about the 'best advice' I've received. I believe that people are as happy as they make their minds up to be---a quote I've had written in my high school 'quote book' for years now. Some people will be miserable and negative and stressed and will try to bring other people down along with them with their complaints. And trust me, we ALL have those moments---but I'm talking about the general mindset of people, not just a bad day here or there. There are simply the 'woe is me' people of the world who never seem to snap out of it, right?
I also think that some of the most positive, optimistic, and laid back people in the world also happen to have intense challenges in their lives. They have major stresses, too. But it's all in how you handle it. Have you noticed that those who are dealt really crappy cards in life (cancer, the loss of a loved one, serious illness in the family, financial difficulties, etc. ) can also be the ones that seem to handle it with grace? I guess it's one of the times when the cliche 'God won't give you more than you can handle' rings true. Again, I'm not saying that anyone with heartbreaking circumstances doesn't deserve to complain and feel badly about their situation. They do! But I also believe we can control our reaction to events, but we cannot control what happens to us in life.
Why can't we make a conscious decision, as mothers with three children, to 'let go' right now? Why does it have to take a fourth child to learn that lesson? The article clearly states that mothers stress more about the pressure they put on themselves versus the pressure they feel from others. Isn't that another can of worms in the world of moms? I think we are all our own worst critics.
Maybe those 7,000 moms who were interviewed for the survey are right in that three kids is the 'most stressful' number. But I just don't agree with generalizing that ALL moms of three kids are the 'most stressed' moms. I think it depends on the mom and the kids and all of the complex circumstances around their lives.
So my prediction on how stressful three kids will be for me? No clue. Probably hard but not impossible. It depends on what type of child we are given this time around, so what is the point of speculating before it happens? There will be an adjustment period, a learning curve, some low points and hopefully even more high points of having three children. I can't promise that I'll never be stressed out or have my whiny posts on this blog at times, but I can promise to focus on the positive as much as humanly possible. I realize how quickly these little kid years will pass, I realize how blessed we are to have two-going-on-three kids. The other day-to-day stresses in life really need to take a back burner to the bigger picture of priorities. Less stress. More laughter and sarcasm.
There will be wine at that point, too, which will surely help;) Maybe those 7,000 moms aren't big drinkers?
Time to insert a random picture of my kids that must be included in a post with so many words. The caption: I 'only' have two kids right now so I should save all of my stress for when there is another one of these guys posing for the camera, I guess. My kids are not perfect and definitely have their challenging STRESSFUL moments…but they sure are cute;) Plus, Nate says we are NOT having four so I better get used to the stress level of three at some point!