Have a third child. It’ll be fun, they said.
Our third child has proven to us in more ways than we’d like to admit – that we are average, at best, at parenting. When we were raising our older two children we often marveled at how well-behaved, easy and manageable our children were; that because of our kick ass parenting skills we had pretty much nailed the art of child rearing. Baby proofing? What was that? Never had to do it. Screaming for no reason? Nope. Never dealt with that either. Throwing fits, biting, head butting everything in sight and destroying toys???
What feral child would do such things?
Our second son entered this world on a beautiful bright September afternoon while his older siblings were at school. With almost seven and nine-year age gaps between their new baby brother, our older two children were pretty pumped to be getting a sibling. And because he was our third – and gender reveals are so not our thing, we decided to wait until our little one made their entrance into this world to find out if we’d be adding more estrogen or testosterone to our family’s home.
Jude Alexander Smith came into our lives after a few pushes from yours truly and a calm afternoon spent looking at magazines, chatting with the nurses and my handsome husband pecking away at his laptop. It was a pretty laid back day to be having a baby – but this was our third rodeo so we were pretty much pros. Having had a blood clot in 2012 we didn’t think having any more children would be an option for our family. I’d always wanted four children (only because four is an even number and I like things to be even and symmetrical) but at this point, the fact that almost seven years after our middle son was born we were having another, seemed surreal.
Yet there we were – in the hospital awaiting our induction. Since the medication I was on to prevent blood clots had to be stopped within 24-48 hours before giving birth, we had planned for this day since finding out, on my Birthday, earlier that year that we’d be adding to our little family. I remember thinking how crazy weird it was that after all these years – we were back in the hospital waiting to welcome the newest member into our crazy fun Smith crew.
And when he arrived – he was perfect.
The first year of his life was honestly a blur. Four weeks after I gave birth, I was back to working from home. Eight weeks after I was back to attending local meetings and at ten weeks old, I found myself preparing to fly across the country with a breast pump as one of my carry-ons and leak pads stuffed in my bra thinking, “never thought I’d have to do this again.” Life was definitely different now that we had a third child in the mix.
As Jude started walking, which he did so earlier than our older two, at nine months – we were pretty ecstatic. Our oldest, Miriam, is very cautious and didn’t start walking until she was 18 months; although when she did begin taking steps she was like a seasoned pro and we swore she’d been practicing at night in her crib just waiting for it to be perfect. To know her now, at almost 11 years of age, this describes her personality to a ‘T.’ While she didn’t walk until 18 months old, she was pretty much speaking in full sentences at that same age. This confused a lot of people because she was so tiny (she only weighed 18 lbs at 18 months of age) that it made them do a double take any time we were in public. Luke, our middle child, was very much average and on pace with his milestones. He started walking at around 11 to 12 months and talking shortly before he turned two.
All in all…my husband and I were pretty sure we were winning at parenting.
Here are some of the crazy moments that proved to us, once Jude came along, that we didn’t know shit about parenting:
- When we lost Jude – the first time…and the three times since
- When he ate a dishwasher pod on Miriam’s 10th Birthday
- When he learned to unlock the doors (and then would leave the house)
- When he took his diaper off in his crib (thank God there was no poop in it)
- When he started using the collanders to climb in the kitchen and turn on lights
- When he discovered that toilet paper expands in water
- When he realized he could headbutt things and get a reaction
- When he learned to climb stairs – and his high chair
- When he learned to scale the bannister
- When he discovered the gas burners on the stove – and then how to turn them on
- When he learned to pick up my weights and carry them around – and then throw them…
- When he learned he could rip books apart and just say, “oh no!”
- When he thought it would be fun to put his chair on top of his horse on top of the couch and climb on top of it, busting his lip
- When he could open the silverware drawer and reach the knives
- When he throws toys, shoes, books, anything really – in the hampers
- When he changes the settings on the washer and dryer – and will restart the dishwasher
- When he found scissors – and the lighter for our candles
- When he started bringing us our China from the hutch in the dining room
- When he figured out how to push the settings on the piano – and play the Entertainer on repeat…
- When he broke Luke’s 3DS
- When he figured out tampons are actually pretty cool toys and they come apart into lots of little pieces if you shred them
- When every sippy cup we owned got thrown in the trash after he was done drinking his milk
- When he started taking his clothes off (this is fairly new)
- When screaming at the top of his lungs became a pastime
- When biting you made him laugh – same applies for hitting
- When he pummels you while you’re working out
- When he hangs from the treadmill and tries to hop on it while you’re running
- When he climbs onto the stool and then to the counter and walks on the stove to open the cabinets where ALL the medicine is…
We sometimes wonder – why did we ruin such a good thing that we had going? Our older two were angels compared to this little rascal and we were beginning to see the light at the end of the parenting tunnel. We were done with diapers, wipes,car seats, strollers, pumps, bottles, baby food, high chairs, potty training…we were IN THE CLEAR!
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t love that crazy little boy with all my heart. His little teeth, his sweet smile and genuine laughter; his love for his big sister and big brother and how much he just wants to be in their world – all. the. time. His obsession with brushing his teeth and Popsicles and how he could read “The Hug Machine” 500 times in a row and scream “HUG!!!!!!” along with you.
How he gives the sweetest and cutest kisses and poses for pictures on cue; how he loves when we say our dinner prayer and gives you real hugs, squeezing tightly, as you say night-time prayers before putting him to bed. How he makes me oh so thankful that God saw it fit that we were to be parents, a third time around, to this precious little soul. And that I get to be responsible for raising him and watching after him on this Earth – and that I get to call him mine and be his Mommy.
Through all the craziness, Jude has made me a better Mother.
He’s made my husband and I better parents. He’s forced us to step up our game – to realize that our little ones are only little once. We see things through his curious eyes and adventurous spirit and his older siblings are learning what it’s like to care for someone else other than themselves. They’re helping to raise and shape and teach their baby brother, so he’s made them more responsible children and young adults.
Until Jude, our lives were pretty smooth sailing. Miriam and Luke were already self-sufficient; they make their own beds, lunches, get dressed, brush their teeth and hair and walk themselves to the bus every morning. They don’t need us for much any more other than lots of love, attention and carting around from activity to activity.
Jude still needs every bit of his Mommy and Daddy. And while he sometimes drives us insane, has us asking ourselves, “why’d we have a third?” on the daily, watching the clock like a hawk until we can celebrate bedtime and constantly yelling to the big kids, “where’s Jude!?” just to ensure he’s still actually in the house and not halfway to the neighbors…I’d have three more baby Jude’s if Dan hadn’t gotten snipped.
So since he did – we’ll just stick to the one we’ve got and be very thankful for our little rambunctious bundle of crazy energetic boy – our Jude Alexander.
And mark “nap” on our calendar for the year 2022.
-Confessions of a (tired) Corporate Mom