It seems like the “norm” for my generation is to have two kids at MOST. Those of us who have three, four or five kids are seen as outliers. As a result, I read a lot of articles about parenting these “extra” kids and the pros and cons of these “large” families. But, I don’t want to talk about that. I only have three kids. So, I want to focus on that third child. (You know, the one that moves you from the category of “normal” family to “BIG” family.)
It seems that most of these articles about parenting the third child focus on how the parents are distracted by the older children in the family. So, this third child has a lot less structure that the older kids. This child gets away with more. This child doesn’t get the special focus of the first or even second born. In general, this child is depicted as kind of an afterthought. It’s not that this child isn’t loved. It’s just that the parents are spread thin and don’t have as much energy or time as they did with the first one.
I have a different perspective. My kids are all very close together. My oldest daughter, Ginny, was a mere 18.5 months old when her first sister, Corinne, was born. Corinne made it all the way to 19.5 months before our youngest, Annie, came along. Annie is now almost 20 months old. I joke that she’s my “oldest youngest child” ever. And, since we feel that our family is complete, she will always have that billing. I look at this tiny human being, this “baby”, and cannot imagine telling her to “wait, please, while I do such and such for the baby” or “you need to be quiet because the baby is sleeping”, etc. She IS the baby. How is it possible that both of my older girls were asked to put someone ahead of themselves at this same age just because of the difference of what amounts to a few months? How was it that I asked these girls to bring me things or do things for their littler sisters when they were still so little themselves?
Also, I REVEL in all the little nuances of Annie’s personality! I adore the ways in which she is still my tiny baby. I am impressed by every new little skill she masters. I can’t remember if I did that with the other girls. Did I take in all the little ways they were changing when they were this age? I know I didn’t revel in their accomplishments the same way. Quite the opposite! I PUSHED them to master skills they weren’t quite ready for because I needed them to be more independent. I needed them to be “big girls” so I could take care of the baby in the family. I don’t have that pressure with Annie. She can take all the time she needs to master these skills. I can focus on her like I couldn’t with the older two.
I also admit to being a “freak”. ALL of my girls have baby books that are completely up to date and had all of their monthly photos taken. I know that most parents aren’t able to keep up with those types of things, and I don’t judge them at all!!!! Those silly things were important to me. So, I prioritized them. Like I said, no judgement. So, again, where those articles talk about how the third child is neglected by not having those types of things, that doesn’t apply to my Annie.
So, like I said, I have a different perspective on parenting this third child. Where most people may think that the third kid gets the short end of the stick, I think she’s got the advantage of having a mom who’s got some experience and the time to focus on her in a way that her older sisters didn’t get. So, I’ll sit here soaking in the joy of every aspect of my youngest girl while managing the guilt I now feel about making my other babies “big girls” perhaps a little sooner than was in their best interest.
I will say this though. Although they fight like all siblings do, Ginny and Corinne are two of the best big sisters there are! Here are some of my favorite pictures of my girls just being good sisters. I love these!