Having another child often causes moms to reflect. Reflect on things that have changed, things that are better, things that are worse. So much joy comes with the addition of a new child, and so much change as well. Often people share birth stories of how their new bundle came into the world. You don't want to hear my birth stories - I'm one of those annoying moms who had relatively easy labors. My longest was 6 hours, I never pushed for longer than 30 minutes, and I LOVE epidurals. There's the summary of my births. I know I was blessed, and for that I am grateful. So instead of sharing detailed posts about my births (which for any of you who share your birth stories, thank you! I love reading them), I share detailed posts about my thoughts as I transition between each child.
If you scroll down a few posts, you'll find my post from when shortly after Ali was born. I titled it raw moments. If I were to give you a raw moment or thought from having three, it would simply be "help!" When Hosanna was born, Emmet was not yet two and a half. I had three children under two and a half. It's a lot of work. I have three different sizes of clothes in the closet, three different sizes of diapers in the cart, three little bodies to get dressed in the morning and bathe (whenever I actually remember to bathe them), three little mouths to feed, and three little hearts to nurture. There are mornings when I have changed 6 poopy diapers in a total of 30 minutes, and then moments of pure bliss when we've managed to get all three of them asleep at the same time. I am so beyond thankful for my husband. He cooks, he cleans, he bathes the kids (because frankly, the reason I forget to bathe them is because I simply hate bathing them), he changes diapers at 3 am, he takes all three of them on a walk so I can get a moment to myself. He's incredible and amazing and I'm so glad I'm doing this with him. But three under three is a lot of work.
I went grocery shopping a week ago. It was the first time I had taken all three kids by myself to go actual grocery shopping. Since Ali doesn't walk yet, she was sitting up front in the cart, Emmet was sitting in the back of the cart, and I was wearing Hosanna in an ergo. We managed to make it through the store with very little meltdowns, and checked out. Since we were at Winco, where you need to bag your own groceries, I paid for my groceries and then began to put them in bags. This couple was standing behind us in line and as the grocer began to ring up their items, the woman came and asked if I wanted help bagging my items. My first reaction was to say "no, I got it - thank you though!" But in the last second, I caught myself and instead I responded "you know what, that would be really helpful, thank you so much." Because it was helpful. My food was in my cart in half the time and it was really nice to have the help. And it was so very kind of her to offer.
I left the grocery store that day and began to realize that having three under three has taught me to accept help. I'm an independent person in an independent culture. Typically, in American society, we don't like to accept help. We like to "do it self!" (as Emmet would say), and often feel the need to prove ourselves, to either friends, family, or society. We got it, we are adequate, we are equipped, we are able. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with being able to "do it self!" Except, that sometimes, we "can't do it self".
The funny thing is, that as Christians, we can't do it self. We need Christ. Even as a missionary, I have been struggling a lot lately with remembering why I need Christ. I know all the right answers, but if I'm honest, sometimes I feel I can do just fine on my own. I know that's not true, but that's definitely how I feel. I forget how incredible the Lord is and how despicable I can be. And when I forget about my depravity, I have a hard time remembering why I need Him. For this reason, there is beauty in weakness. And I think this is part of why the Lord gives us difficult times - to remind us that we are nothing without Him and we need His help. Which He readily gives in such amazing and incredible ways, we just need to ask for it.
I shared an article a few days ago on Facebook titled "God will give you more than you can handle". It was written by a man named Mitch Chase. In short, the article was fantastic. You can find the entirety of the article at the link below, but I've included an excerpt that I found particularly challenging.
Trials come in all shapes and sizes, but they don't come to show how much we can take or how we have it all together. Overwhelming suffering will come our way because we live in a broken world with broken people. And when it comes, let's be clear ahead of time that we don't have what it takes. God will give us more than we can handle - but not more than He can. The psalmist asks, "Where does my help come from?" (Ps. 121:1), and we must be able to answer like he did. We must know and believe, deep in our bones, that "My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth" (121:2). When trials come, trust that the Lord's help will come. This news is helpful to sufferers since we're saying something true about God instead of something false about ourselves...God will give you more than you can handle so that His great power might be displayed in your life...[He] will give you more than you can handle, but the coming weight of glory will be greater than you can imagine.
In no way am I saying that children are the equivalent of "overwhelming suffering". But I do think that three under three can constitute as a trial. And I cannot do it alone. It has become such a tangible example of my depravity and simple incapability to do life alone, but to rely on the Lord. And He has given me help in so many tangible ways - the lady at the grocery store, the man who gave me his cart last week at a different store, both of our parents who watch our kids so we can go on a date or have a morning to rest, the countless friends who have talked with me when I'm at wits end or met us at the mall to play so I can get the kids out of the house. Motherhood is done best in community, among women who are living similar trials, and striving together to find blessing amongst the difficult nights and trying temper tantrums and embarrassing episodes in public. Ultimately, as Mitch puts in in the article above, "God will give us more than we can handle - but not more than He can". And I think the biggest thing that I have learned from having three under three is that I simply "can't do it self". And I don't need. to.