Well, that's how I interpreted the results, anyway.
“Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels, according to an exclusive TODAYMoms.com survey of more than 7,000 US mothers released Monday,” taunted TODAYMoms.com reporter Rebecca Nube.
Her words leapt from the screen and wrapped around my throat, squeezing harder and more deliberately as I continued to read.
When I'd recovered, I spent the afternoon searching wildly for an attorney to represent me under whatever legal basis I can concoct to sue every single mother who participated in that darn survey.
Seriously, you survey-answering traitors to your fellow species, on the heels of announcing glorious news, this is the congratulations I get: Friends posting the survey link on my Facebook wall. Other friends advising me to “pray for twins.” Still more friends confirming the survey results.
I see you rolling your eyes. You think I’m overreacting, don’t you? Well, remember how you had all those weird and unexpected things happen after you gave birth to your first child? And remember how you lashed out at your friends later for not telling you before?
News flash! They were being good friends! They were following the unwritten rule of mommyhood: Keep the bad news to yourself! Pretend it’s all good and that you manage without wine! Pretend, people, pretend!
Upon realizing legal action was implausible (because I’m clearly too busy having kids), I decided to fight back. I thought, I can match this lousy TODAYMoms.com’s “Sucks to be you” telegram and raise it an unofficial Facebook survey that says three is just fine. (Aside: Does such a survey merely reveal that moms of three are still capable of answering unofficial Facebook surveys in the middle of the day? No matter!)
In fact, of 25 independent respondents surveyed via my Facebook page, 20 respondents offered positive responses to “What’s great about three kids?”
Two confessions here: Using "respondent" makes me feel smarter, and I’m totally counting one friend's optimistically scary response that “the older kids have started babysitting their sister for very short stints and no one has been seriously injured yet.” Thank God I have friends like this.
Unfortunately for my stress level, a statistically insignificant same number of respondents to a Separate and Still Unofficial Maureen’s Facebook Page Survey underscored the truth of TODAYMoms.com’s survey.
Kori’s four children — blessings of adoption — were all born within a 19-month span. “We have had up to five kids in our household (when we were fostering),” she explains. "At one point, we had four 1-year-olds and a 2-year-old. It wasn't as tough as it sounds. The key when you have more than two who are close in age is that you have to get them on the same sleep/nap schedule. If you don't — you’re doomed."
(What? Kids can be on the same nap schedule?)
Some moms who have reached Cloud Four of BlissMomdom* speculate that even more children would bring, well, even more bliss.
*This term makes the act of having four children sound really out there, like a sci-fi film, which seems similar to having three children, thanks to TODAYMoms.com's survey.
Those same parenting pioneers quickly dismissed any suggestion that they would be adding more kids to their own broods.
"I would say going from two [children] to three was a much bigger, more stressful transition than three to four,” Stacey shares. “Even though my fourth came with designer genes, when you go from two to three, you're outnumbered, end of story."
She continues, "I think if you can learn to manage three, the sky is the limit. Although I have no plans of validating this particular notion."
Overwhelmingly, moms of more than three said three was, indeed, their mental tipping point.
"I totally agree [with the survey results]," says Teri. "My third one tipped me over the edge a little; after that, four and five didn't seem like that big of a deal. I say once you run out of hands it doesn't really matter how many more you have."
In some cases, the order of personalities helped ensure a third — or maybe the math was just too confusing for me to cull a statistic. "If No. 3 had been No. 1 or No. 2, there may not have been a No. 3," Angie explains. “It’s not easy, but teamwork helps! That and letting go of trying to have a spotless house [and] laundry all clean and put away all the time.”
It should be noted that of two fathers who participated in my survey, one lauded the virtues of having four kids and the other noted that more kids equals more birthday cake.
Indeed, while today was full of revelations, the biggest lesson is quite clear: From the moment we welcome Cherub No. 3, no one will expect me to demonstrate either sanity or housecleaning skills.
And there'd better be a lot of cake.
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