The Challenges Of 3 Under 3
There are two types of people in life. Eeyores and Tiggers. Yes, I just categorised everyone according to Winnie the Pooh. Leslie is a definite Tigger, but not in a delusional way, more in a “Bouncing is fun so keep bouncing” way. Leslie’s ‘hiccup’ was undergoing IVF far from her family, only to end up with 3 kids under 3.
Meeting her is a refreshing change to all that is controlled, contrived, and over-thought-out about Dubai. She wears a low-key silky blue top that bring out the blue in her eyes not because she planned it but mostly because that’s what she grabbed this morning. We meet in a French café and she looks around with numerous “are you kidding me’s” at the sight of all those high heels at 10:00 a.m. on a Tuesday. She is that unicorn who cooks 5 times a week, successfully completes Spartan races, holds down a job, and is charming to boot. She doesn’t cancel our meeting despite the sudden news that her grandmother has just passed away and that she has to fly home in a few hours. She shows up, is present and ready to share her story although she’s not sure “who would care”. To her she’s normal and just doing her thing with a healthy disregard to contrary advice about parenting. And no, she never reads parenting sites.
Everyone was pregnant and she couldn’t get pregnant. “I tried not to be jealous. Jealousy is not a good trait.” After trying, but not succeeding and not knowing why, they did IVF and had twins in October 2011, who were born at 35 weeks. One weighed 1.5 kg, the other was 2.5 kg. First two years of their life the hardest bit was handling both at the same time. “When they could finally sit up, I could handle them… And then when I could finally be out with my kids and not have a panic attack, well, that’s when I got pregnant.”
Her third was born in April 2014 and that’s when Leslie’s half year of 3-under-3 kicked off.
The hardest thing with three is, “There’s always someone waiting. I feel bad.” She’s the type of mama who will listen to “Let it go” on repeat for hours on end and help her daughter into her playheels and lipstick so she can prance around to the song. I’m serious… hours. I’ve been there. She’s also honest with her kids telling them they came out of her vagina, but it’s the farthest thing from crass when she tells me the story. It’s endearing and makes me want to set up a play date. You know, to make Rice Krispie treats the real way. She admits to having a glass of wine during bath time and is indifferent to what anyone might say about that. In fact, she is so confident about what she does that there’s no room for anyone else’s useless opinions to crowd her energy. Nobody’s bringing this Tigger down.
When she found out she was pregnant with her third baby she cried… a panic cry. “I remember my mom saying, ‘It’s fine. You’ll make it work.’ When I finally went to the obgyn at seven weeks and she said there was no heartbeat I was so upset because I was so happy to have gotten pregnant without IVF. And yes, we eventually heard a heart beat a few days later at the foetal medical centre.”
As a middle child she is the self-proclaimed glue who believes in the importance of quick and rational decision-making. With a level of efficiency you would expect from a heart surgeon or a space astronaut, everything is written down in her world. Right down to cutting their nails. “I don’t have wasted time.”
Kitchen dance parties help. Always thinking ahead. “I can’t think in the now. I need to know. Plan their menu for the week. Saves time.” She prioritises which child at that moment needs her the most. “Who needs me more? Hungry or poopy diaper.” Poopy diaper almost always wins first.
“I love them more than life, but as a working mom I want them to grow up knowing women can have 3 kids, workout, stay fit, cook and still train and kick ass in a Spartan race running 10kms and 24kms.” As a paediatric occupational therapist she helps children with autism, Aspergers, ADHD, and more. Her job keeps her upbeat and keeps things in perspective. She’s not the mom that cries at graduation from KG1. Yes, sure it’s a proud moment, but she just doesn’t feel it’s deserving of any tears.
I ask her what I always want to ask these moms but usually never have the nerve to. “Do I ever lose my shit? Like when spaghetti sauce is everywhere? Funny because it’s always when I want them to go to bath. I either yell, walk away or bring wine with me to bath time.” Again, Leslie doesn’t need outside validation to prop up her parenting. “They read you. You’re the glue. I didn’t see light for a long time. But it helped them to gain independence.”
Her take on social media? “Dangerous. Life’s not like that. I never post when Hayden is having a tantrum. It’s insane.” She laughs. “Take it one day at a time. The crazy part is really not gonna last forever. Wild is my new normal. And this is what I wanted. It’s hard. But it’s what I wanted.”
Leslie’s 3-under-3 half year is a good reminder for all us mamas out there. We choose this. We want, pray for, are thankful for, and celebrate this crazy mommyhood ride. The next time my 2 year old purposefully shoves cornflakes up her nose – the same nostril – I vow to laugh and smile and get on with it. It’s all about the light, right? The light and making those cornflakes lodged up that nostril soggy so we can scoop them out with our fingernails.