The life of a mom is a full one, with noses to wipe and doorknobs to sanitize. What I don’t have to round out my life are friends. I waved sayonara to those after I had my third kid. I miss having a bonafide buddy to tell my secrets to.
In my head, there’s a woman just like me who swings by unannounced and doesn’t see my sloppy mess, and our kids play seamlessly together while we day-drink wine and speak of nothing sanctimonious, be it sugar or organic cotton. What I have in lieu of this kind of friendship are several amazing women whom I can only connect with on Facebook. Romantic relationships are not the only ones to suffer when a new baby comes kicking in.
I’m sure that this situation is not exclusive to having a third baby, but what has to be acknowledged is that three kids is not just one more than two. Three kids is a major lifestyle change. The firstborn was trying, because coming to terms with your whole entire life and being belonging to another demanding person is arduous, and it can feel stressful, if not burdensome. Having two kids is hard for the first year of sleepless nights and fights for attention, but then rather seamlessly, you ease yourself into the role of referee.
I might be terrible for admitting it, but three kids feels like having a herd of goats. I easily juggled two kids at Christmas parties, the beach, and activity gyms for toddlers. I adapted to keeping eyes on two instead of one; I managed to stay on top of their behavior in public (at a minimum), and I kept them from running into traffic. But with three children, all bets are off. It’s granted that if I’m not in the confines of my home, I don’t know where one of my kids is going to end up. Chatting with an acquaintance in the grocery store isn’t possible because my toddler takes my inattention as an opportunity to climb out of the cart and run to the cake aisle. (Who wouldn’t?)
Getting invited to anyone’s house when you travel in a pack is rare, and when the opportunity does present itself, one of my kids inevitably wakes up with a fever, barring me from being in the same breathing space as another mom. It’s our code. We live and die by it, but it almost always keeps me stuck in my house.
I don’t really leave home base with all three kids to begin with. I don’t have coffee dates or shopping trips. It’s a little isolating, sure, but the one time I attempted to take three kids shopping, my 2-year-old ran away like a heathen, snatching items off of shelves and hiding from me. My 5-year-old laughed maniacally at this behavior and my 2-year-old assumed that if his brother was laughing he must be doing something right. Despite my pleas and desperate tone, they ran away laughing like jackals while I held a fussy new baby and felt the eyes of judgment from the staff burn into me.
So I grabbed a bunch of stuff because my kids were tormenting everyone, and I felt like if I spent some guilt money they would allow me back. I heaved my toddler under my arm and he screamed, setting off my baby’s shrill little vocal chords, and my 5-year-old grabbed onto the back of my shirt and proceeded to entertain our onlookers with a song—until he got kicked in the head by his brother’s flailing legs and then he too was screaming.
When I bring three kids into a play zone, I can expect nothing less than to leave sweating, wearing some poop, $30 poorer and taking a vow that I’ll never return to this fresh hell. The last time we went to one of these “Fun Kid Zones” where the toddlers can run around free-form, my son asked me to take him to the potty, and while I was wiping his little bum, my 1-year-old daughter climbed out from under the stall and stuck both of her hands into the toilet in the next stall over. Luckily it was unoccupied, but I know my kid, and that wouldn’t have stopped her anyway. When I tried to change my 2-year-old’s diaper, the youngest beelined for a flight of stairs twice and the front door once, and I think it took me no less than 20 minutes to change that diaper. All in all, I managed to say about four words to the friend I was visiting with that day—connection lost. My life always looks that chaotic right now.
Perhaps I am just a poor wrangler of children and my inability to pay attention is the reason I lack deep relationships. Or, my time management skills just suck too much to maintain a friendship.
Maybe realistically life gets busier for everyone and friendships have to fall by the wayside for survival? Maybe friends find other friends that fill the roles they need and then someone like me is just on the periphery wanting things to be different but feeling absolutely stuck in the pitfall section of raising a large family.
Time is the largest asset that I am lacking to be able to devote to someone I can confide in outside of my marriage. Everybody needs a friend who just emphatically gets who they are. If you have yours, hang on to that relationship and don’t take it for granted. If you’re out there looking, come by and grab a cup of coffee in my loud house between 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. and avoid looking at the bra hanging from the bathroom door. If you don’t widen your eyes at my conventional fruit snacks, we could probably make this work.