I’ve officially reached the third trimester of what is most likely my last pregnancy ever. Maybe it’s knowing that this baby, my third child, will be my last that makes me view everything through a bittersweet lens. Maybe it’s because she came as a little bit of a surprise that I didn’t have time to prepare myself to enter this phase of accepting all the “lasts.” Maybe it’s just this particular blend of hormone cocktail.
But for whatever reason, I’m not sure my heart can handle it all.
1. I’m not sure I can handle loving another human when I already love my first two so much.
I love my two daughters more than words can even say. There are so many days when I feel like I’m balancing on the edge of insanity — that I can’t let the full weight of this love in or it would destroy me. It’s the kind of love that fills every corner of my being and threatens to pop my precious balloon of reality. How can that possibly stretch to hold another child?
2. I’m not sure I can handle the drain on my energy and sanity.
Let’s be honest, raising two children isn’t exactly an easy job. Heck, raising one child isn’t exactly an easy job. Kids take energy. They slowly sap your sleep and your willpower and your sanity. Don’t get me wrong, they also feed your soul like nothing else on this earth. But parenting is not for the faint of heart. There are a lot of days when I don’t feel like cooking or doing laundry or playing Barbies or loading up the crew for a day at the water park. There are a lot of mornings when I wish I could have just one more hour in bed.
But I suck it up anyway. Because these two little humans need me. But three? I used to joke that God only gave me two ears, two hands, two feet, and two eyes — so why would he give me three humans to care for? But here we are. I feel blessed beyond belief. But I’m also terrified. How will I find the energy and the sanity to give all of them the love and attention they deserve?
3. I’m not sure I can handle the lack of time.
Let’s just say for a moment that I do find the energy and sanity to give them all of the love and attention they deserve. That doesn’t solve the impossible dilemma of time. There are only so many hours in the day. There are already dance classes and dentist appointments and laundry and cooking and baths. Not to mention that in order to keep up with it all, I need to set aside some time for self-care like exercise or writing. Or, heaven forbid, sleep. How on earth can I possibly have time to truly sit down and see each of them — to know them and cherish them and still do all the other basic tasks of keeping them alive and well?
4. I’m not sure I can handle the risk.
Raising kids isn’t just stressful because of the energy it requires. It also comes with the intense risk of having your heart broken. And I don’t mean heartbreak like losing your first love. I mean the kind of heartbreak that destroys every piece of you to the point where you can’t begin to recognize the pieces to put them back together. It breaks my heart when my oldest falls off her bike and begins to think she can’t ever learn to ride without training wheels. It breaks my heart when my toddler cries when I leave.
But those are small tragedies compared to what is possible. Nothing in this life is guaranteed. Families suffer through the loss of a child. Children suffer through the loss of a parent. It is a risk you take when you let yourself love this way.
5. I’m not sure I can handle the world they are growing up in.
Something about this pregnancy has made it impossible for me to watch the news. Social media has become a minefield. It seems that almost every time I am mindlessly scrolling, I find something that makes my heart hurt. And I can’t take it. More than ever before in my life, I find myself scrolling a little faster, trying to unsee all the heartbreaking tragedy, so much of which involves children in one way or another. How can I send my babies out into this world that is so full of hurt?
6. I’m not sure I’ll be able to let them go.
At the risk of making this post even more depressing than it already is, I’m about to say the most morbid thing yet: When it comes to parenting, the worst-case scenario is that we have to let them go, and the best-case scenario is also that we have to let them go.
It sucks, and it’s true. Even if we make it through the adventures of raising children to be independent human beings, in the end, we still have to let them go. After all, that is the whole point. No matter how desperately my heart wants to keep them wrapped safely in my arms and protect them from everything that scares me, I can’t.
But I do know that with all of this fear and uncertainty comes the greatest wonder and deepest love that I never even imagined until I experienced it. It’s a love that makes me scared, but it’s a love that also makes me strong.
Because even though this life can be hard and this world can be scary, even though hurt will inevitably be one of their teachers, and even though mom may not always be able to do it all, at least we will have each other. I can’t protect them from fear and uncertainty, but I can show them the kind of love that makes it all worth it.