My Third Child Was My Hardest -- By Far

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My first born was a quiet baby who was able to stay occupied while staring at his mobile so I could shower. He’d fall asleep in the car, even on the shortest ride. When he was a toddler and we had to wait for over an hour to get a table at restaurant for my mom’s birthday party, he was content with saltines and playing with everyone’s shoelaces. He wasn’t perfectly behaved at every moment, and I struggled with a lot of things especially as a first-time mom, but he was laid back, able to self-soothe, and content to play on his own.

Strangers and family members used to comment about what a “good baby” he was. I thought it was because I was a natural at the mom thing (nope) and I stuck to a routine. While other moms said they weren’t able to go anywhere or get a shower in, I literally didn’t understand what the problem was. Yep, I was an asshole, to say the least.

My firstborn gave me the confidence to have another child and his sister was a lot like him. She was always a great sleeper. She ate anything I put in front of her and was always happy. When she was in kindergarten, her teacher told me how well-behaved she was and jokingly asked if she could clone her. I sat with my hands folded in my lap feeling very proud of myself. We had our struggles, but she was easy as far as kids go. Again, I felt it was because of my stellar parenting skills and strict routine. Again, I was wrong.

My two older kids made me feel like I could mother a dozen and when I got pregnant with my third child, I figured he’d follow suit. After all, not only where my kids pretty mellow and easy distracted if they broke into a tantrum, I had experience under my belt. So, what could go wrong? I felt prepared.

This third child was sent to me with “payback” tattooed on his a** and has shoved more humble pie down my throat than I can swallow.

That was almost 14 years ago and let me tell you something: This third child was sent to me with “payback” tattooed on his ass and has shoved more humble pie down my throat than I can swallow. He’s a teen now and I’m still chasing my tail. He’s not letting up either; the lessons just keep coming.

He was my biggest baby and labor was so hard with him I didn’t think I could actually birth him — people told me labor gets easier with each child, but people are wrong. It’s something they tell you along with other lies, like “parenting gets easier.”

The longest sleep stretch he had for the first three months of his life was two hours. TWO. HOURS. He cried all the time and never fell asleep in the car. Or when I walked him for hours. Or when I nursed him until my nipples bled.

He gave the middle finger to every trick I used on my two older kids. He was feisty and threw things–large things– around as soon as he was strong enough. When he was one, I could not get him in the front seat of the grocery cart. He was so strong, he would fight me and my efforts were fruitless.

He had a tantrum every damn day, multiple times per day. And that kindergarten teacher who was so in love with his older sister came up to me in the hall one day during pick-up and said, “I see him every day when you pick up your older kids. I’m not sure what I’ll do with him if I have him in my class.”

My third child has tested my patience to the max and has forced me to learn to parent in a completely different way. He’s strong willed, has ideas of his own, and would rather take apart every toy and electronic in sight to see how it works instead of use or play with it.

He’s been a tough nut to crack and he knows it. He burst into my life and I have not come up for air since. I have such big love for him though. He knows that too.

He taught me that no matter how “good” of a parent you think you are, or how hard you try to get your kids to behave a certain way, they are who they are and their actions aren’t always a case of lazy or “bad” parenting. Believe me, I’ve parented him harder than I parented my other two combined. He still finds cracks to slip through — just ask every single one of his 7th grade teachers (who all deserve trophies, by the way).


We reached out to other parents who had three kids (or more) and many feel as though their third challenged them the most. This seems to be a pattern. While I feel for them, it also feels good not to feel alone and wonder why all my parenting skills went down the shitter as soon as I birthed my third.

One father of three said this: “Everything we thought we had learned and thought we had mastered as parents went down the drain with the third. He pretty much defied everything from naps, sleeping in our bed, didn’t like car rides, didn’t like school. (I’m talking every morning from pre-school through beginning of 2nd grade we were practically dragging him.)”

Well, thank the good lord above I wasn’t the only one dragging my child to school every morning. I wish he’d taken his kids to my school to divert some of the attention from my son.

A mother to three girls said of her third: “Things seem to have balanced out, particularly since her sisters are raging teens/tweens, but after having two great sleepers, two great eaters, etc. My third was NOT that at all. Still isn’t.”

It’s not even fair– you think you have it made and suddenly you are demoted from confident parent to having to buckle up and prepare for turbulence, at every turn, all the livelong day.

Another mom of three boys chimed in with, “YES YES YES. But also, the one who made me an honest mom.”

Exactly. The strong-willed child will make you honest because you literally can’t cover up that shitshow and are forced to work hard and deal with it the best you can.

A parent of three described her third as, “Strong-willed. Relentless. First two are 1000 times easier and prepared me in zero ways. I feel like a new parent all the time because I’m like, ‘Ummm, what do I do here?'”

If you ever figure it out, please write a book for the rest of us. It’d be a bestseller for sure.

This pattern isn’t broken just because you have more than three children, according to a mom of four who says, “For some reason my third is my wild child. I’m not sure why but he is completely different. His attitude and personality are definitely his own! He pushes me past my limits daily and as frustrating as it can be, it’s as good as it can be.”

My third child gave the middle finger to every trick I used on my two older kids.

While number three can be the biggest test of our lives, the third time really is a charm. I know this because my baby has got to be the sweetest most thoughtful child who is always willing to help someone out, while his brother and sister can’t be bothered.

He loves deeply; he thinks deeply, and many other parents of three kids said the same of their third.

We’ll take it — we’ll take the good with the hard because the tough things about our third child makes them unique and opens our hearts. And honestly, the precious things they do more than make up for the difficulties.

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