When I found out I was pregnant with Nate, the twins had just turned two. Catie was five, and we had moved into our new house a few months before. We were busy settling into our new town, unpacking boxes, and shuttling Catie back and forth to Kindergarten at our old church.
The twins were silly and frustrated, and energetic, and sick, and impatient, and selfish. All at the same time, just like two-year-olds are. They fought us for more attention and looser boundaries. And most days, they fought with each other.
Those were days of epic messes, created by kids too young to really help clean anything. There were days of so many tears, Sam getting his feelings hurt, Elisabeth throwing a temper tantrum, and me feeling overwhelmed and alone.
They were also really, really fun days. If it’s fun to watch one child discover the world, that fun is amplified when two of your kids are growing a little more each day, seeing the world through their developing eyes and each other’s. Most days M and I were so exhausted at night because the day had been so much fun.
But, be sure, we were exhausted.
And in public, our family looked a little like a traveling animal shelter, with stray cats and dogs and rabbits running away from us in three different directions. In other words, not too many people were coming up to us and saying, “Do you know what you need? Another child!” However, plenty of strangers and friends did suggest we might want to hire a nanny. Or two.
So, when we found out we would be adding a helpless infant to the mix, we were understandably scared. Life with three little kids was exciting, fun, and always interesting. But we weren’t really looking to add any more fun or interest to our already full lives.
As I was just about to go in for the C-section to deliver Nate, I can remember thanking God for all we had learned about babies and toddlers. This time around we were more ready: we had coping strategies stuffed in every one of our pockets. We had confidence. Not to mention, we had so much stuff. Closets full of bouncers and exer-saucers, and enough clothes for an entire daycare.
I didn’t see it then, but now I see what we really had. We had lost control. Those crazy-chaotic years with three kids under the age of three had taught us we were not in charge. God was. When we were completely exhausted, He gave us super-human strength to keep going. When we were sad, He gave us hope. He provided the right friends and family to help at just the times we needed it.
This realization was our most valuable gift. We didn’t have much time or energy, but we had faith.
Life with Nate was different. He was the unexpected guest that comes to your fancy dinner party, just after you’ve scalded the soup. He showed up just when we’d thrown up our hands and declared everyone was eating pizza. (We did eat lots of pizza, by the way). We weren’t in control and we knew it, so we were ready to put up our feet and enjoy this new guest.
Whether you’re considering your second child, your fourth child, or your tenth, I think you’ll see this experience will be yours too. The ways your current kid(s) have worn you down are fertile ground for another family member.
I know. It hasn’t turned out the way you thought it would. You’ve lost control. You’ve given up your iron-clad plans. You’ve surrendered.
Perfect timing for a baby, isn’t it?
Because of your surrender, you will be different parents to this kid. Sillier. Tireder. More laid back.
Before you know it, that capricious attitude will spread throughout your other kids.
So, yeah, your family will kind of always look like a band of homeless animals. But right in the middle of that chaos?
You’ll be having so much fun.

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