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The Realities Of 'Third Child Syndrome'

PARENTING: When I was expecting my first baby, I read three different pregnancy books. 

When I was due my second, I looked up relevant chapters in the aforementioned pregnancy books if something inexplicable occurred (restless leg syndrome, anyone?).


While I awaited my third birth, I tried to remember at one point where the pregnancy books were stored, but immediately forgot all about it as I was pulled in three directions by an inquisitive four-year-old, a runaway two-year-old and a busier-than-I’d-like job.

I don’t think baby number three fared badly as a result – at least, not as a direct result of the missing pregnancy books. But it didn’t end there – there are clear signs that “third child syndrome” has been in place in our family throughout the last two years.

While I awaited my third birth, I tried to remember at one point where the pregnancy books were stored, but immediately forgot all about it

My third child inherited all of his big sisters’ toys, but received few to call his own. He plays as happily with dolls and hairdressing sets as he does with the cars and trucks that his kind aunts and uncles presented to cover the parental oversight.

My third child has a pink hand-me-down tricycle that he loves. It goes very nicely with his range of pink hand-me-down pyjamas and the pink flowers on his sleeping-bag. He seems fine with it, and so am I.

My third child’s soothers are washed each evening, but throughout the day, they are regularly dropped, lost, pushed under the couch, pulled back out, picked up again and reused by this enthusiastic and self-determined toddler. The parent that I was six years ago would have been horrified, but today I hardly notice. I’m sure my house is clean enough to prevent any serious hazard (note: that last part is not entirely true).

My third child has a pink hand-me-down tricycle that he loves. It goes very nicely with his pink hand-me-down pyjamas

He picks up food from the floor, and we don’t dive to wrestle it from his mouth. He climbs on the coffee table to dance to music and we sigh whilst hiding smiles. He raids the fridge, leaving dinner uneaten, and we turn a blind eye. He naps on his own terms during the day, and ends up in our bed most nights. He watches Mickey Mouse on YouTube at 5am. He loves cake almost as much as he loves television. His sisters didn’t know either existed at the same age.

Our standards have slipped – they’re probably somewhere on the floor with his food – but that’s OK. He’s bright and bubbly and full of smiles. He charms us and hugs us and bombards us with kisses. He’s the boss of the house and the centre of our universe. His sisters forgive the broken dolls and we forgive the marks on walls.

We’ve forgotten some of the parenting guidelines with this third child, but we’ve finally worked out what’s really important. – Pictured: Andrea's son, Damien

About the Author

Andrea Mara, a freelance writer, blogger, and mum of three.

Follow her blog at www.officemum.ie

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