02/12/2014 12:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

What Life Is Really Like for a Mom of Three

I'm a mama of three -- a 16-year-old son, 11-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. My typical wait in the grocery store check-out line normally goes a little something like this:

Me: Makes an announcement to all: "Don't ask, I'm not buying anything in the check-out aisle."

Child 2: "But Mom, can't I just get some [insert latest candy obsession here]?"

Child 3: "Oh, I'm getting some of [insert any one of many chewing gum options]!"

Child 1: "Mom, can I grab one of these (insert a beverage or snack option)?

Me: "Didn't you'll hear me say I'm not buying anything?!"

Child 2: "But Mom, please. I never get to have any (whatever it is she wants).

Child 3: "This is not fair! You never buy me anything at the store."

Cashier tries to hold back laughter.

Child 1: "You know what? Just forget it. With all this going on, I don't know why I bothered."

Mom tries best to ignore child 2 and child 3 as they continue to beg.

Child 3: Throws random candy item onto my pile of groceries "I'm getting this!"

Child 2: "Mom, are you going to let him get that?! This is so not fair!"

Mom: "Take that off, I told you I'm not buying anything!"

Child 3 yells at child 2 for "hating" and ruining his chances of slipping something by me. He storms off as Mom yells at him to come back here. Child 1 goes after him.

Child 2 crosses his arms. "Life sucks." (all because she can't get some Tic-Tacs).

Mom is embarrassed at all the commotion and outbursts.

Child 1: "I'm not coming to the store with you anymore."

Me: "Me neither!"

The above is just one of many examples that I can pull out to demonstrate how different it is to have more than one child. As you can tell, my kids are spaced apart nicely; a little over five years in between 1 and 2 and four years in between 2 and 3.

What this means is that I remember. I know what it was like to have only one child. And then what it was like to have two. Then three. It's a huge difference. It's night versus day. It's Zen versus Momzilla. It's "motherhood is such a joy" versus "will I survive this craziness?"

This topic comes to me from a forum discussion in one of the many motherhood groups I interact with. One mom of three small children was complaining because she gets tons of advice from moms with one child, advice that makes her feel like she's wrong for thinking that her struggle is different. That motherhood is motherhood, no matter how many children you have. And while that is true to some degree, it's not the whole story.

Motherhood with one child:

  • Your attention is not divided among multiple people who all crave the same amount of your time.
  • Your hands don't become pawns in the "who's holding mom's hand while we walk across the street" competition.
  • Your wallet is not divided by multiple college funds, activity funds, back-to-school shopping funds, school fundraiser funds, etc.
  • Your car is not on the road six times between 6 and 8 p.m., three to four times a week, while shuffling multiple kids to their various activities.
  • Your grocery bill is not more than triple. Unless you've got a teenage son; then I take that back.
  • Your will is not tested 30 times over every hour, by more than one person at a time.
  • Your car rides don't consist of multiple screams from the backseat of: who touched who, who's arm is on who, who's seatbelt is in who's way, who's iPad is too loud, who's game is annoying who, etc.

I think you get what I am saying. Yes, motherhood is a hell of a journey for all of us. But when you throw in one, two, three or more additional children, it changes the game. The rules are different. The experience is a lot more challenging. And the struggle is not the same.

Disclaimer: I don't support or encourage mommy wars in any way. This article is not meant to diminish the significance of anyone's motherhood journey -- whatever that may be.


On her personal blog, Memoirs of a Clueless Woman, Carin shares lifestyle & parenting insights inspired by faith, family, and joy. Join her community and get your free bonus, The 5 Best Tips on How to Control Your Time and Get Things Done, to learn how to successfully maximize your time usage.I'm a mama of three -- a 16-year-old son, 11-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son.