Last week I was at the park on a play date with some of my Mom friends and – !HOLD ONTO YOUR HATS! – the conversation turned to our kids. Because the conversation never veers away from our kids. On play dates you are only legally allowed to talk about three things – kids, children and babies. Once in a while someone might throw in something about a cleanse. After play dates I usually have an overwhelming urge to spend a few hours in a crack house just to be able to have an adult conversation where there is a guarantee that the topic will not turn to anyone under the age of 10.
“We are on the fence about whether or not to have a third,” My friend said, squinting as she scraped a fleck of dried poop off her daughter’s cheek with her fingernail. “Really… we’d like three but I just really don’t want to end up with three girls.”
Then, turning to me and laughing, “Oh sorry! No offense!”
“Psssht!” I said, dismissing her with a wave of my hand. “You know I don’t get offended.”
“WHAT AN ASSHOLE!” I lamented to my neighbor that night, slugging my wine. “I was sitting right there. RIGHT. THERE. Hellllleuuu! I mean… I’m not going to say she doesn’t have a point though. At any given moment during our day these girls are about five seconds away from knocking out each others front teeth over a Barbie shoe. The relentless fighting is driving me to the brink of insanity and frankly, well, sometimes I’m afraid to be alone with them when they eat. But, hey, what were we talking about again?”
“That’s not having girls,” She said. “That’s having three.”
A moment of clarity passed over me as I wondered who was this wise old Gandolf-like creature who suddenly replaced my neighbor at our patio table.
My mind raced back to my own childhood with two little sisters. It was immediately flooded with images of me conspiring with one sister to clothesline the other as she went running out of her bedroom for her Easter eggs, our forearms rendering her incapacitated so we could get her candy while she struggled to bring oxygen to her lungs.
I remembered two of someone was always ratting out the other to our parents.
One sister pinning me down while the other stuck her wet finger up my nose. Which really, with my allergies, was more punishment for her.
My entire childhood was built upon ganging up conspiracies. Two would fight; one would have one someone on her side. One would not. There were brief flashes in time where we would all three get along, but then someone would tell someone to act like they were going to touch my leg and I would unleash my inner beast and make it rain adolescent hate upon everyone in the car. God knows my Mom could have written about 100 blog posts titled, “No really… I’m actually going to throw you little turds out of the car and drive away. LOLOL!”
I can tell when one child is awake in the morning because the house is filled with happy chatter coming out of the playroom. I can tell when two children are awake because there’s playful dialogue and laughter as they play with their princesses. I can tell when three children are awake because woodland creatures are clamoring over one another for their lives as they flee our yard.
My three children are a simple, yet unsolvable math equation:
A + B = Good time happy play
B + C = Good time happy play
A + C = Borderline tolerant of one another
A + B + C = I change my philosophy on nuclear arms
What have I done? All this time I attributed my girls’ unbridled aggression and spontaneous evil toward one another on their gender. I thought girls were just emotional and barbaric by nature. It was easy to blame my parenting frustrations on something for which I had no control. Like my stomach being two sizes bigger than the rest of my body due to a Velveeta addiction. It’s a force of the universe that I cannot harness. It just is.
But the number of kids being the root of the problem presents an interesting dilemma. And by interesting I mean hopeless and brought on by ourselves. Nick asked me not to get into all the details of our permanent birth control plan, but it involved a scalpel, some numbing cream and his quivering scrotum. Which means if we were to have a fourth it would look a lot like either our mailman or Jon Hamm, depending on whether or not Jon Hamm takes me up on any one of various offers I have made him via Twitter DM. So probably the mailman.
Yet, somehow introducing another human being into our already fragile yet borderline hazardous family dynamic does not seem like a wise choice. A couple of weeks ago I managed to kill three perfectly healthy goldfish within 5 hours of carrying them across our threshold and welcoming them into our home.
The other option is to sell one of my children. Which at first sounds harsh and illegal, but you have never been with us at the zoo. I suspect it would be easier to bear than you might think. One of the three will throw someone an iron palm because someone is hogging the water bottle and a huge brawl ensues as I try to sneak away and vanish forever in the crowd.
But, like Jason Voorhees, they pop out in front of me from behind a random bush just before I hit the exit even though I’ve been running at top speed for ten minutes.
It’s a disheartening position to be in knowing that your only options for improvement upon your situation include either adultery or a significant amount of prison time.
Last year a survey of 7,000+ Moms found that Mothers of three stress more than Moms of one, two or four. (BTW… 60% said raising girls was harder than raising boys). I read this and my first thought was, “I TOLD YOU SO! I KNEW IT! I WAS RIGHT ALL ALONG!”
Then my second thought was, “SHIT!”
In addition to the iron-clad research performed by the Today Show, I did my own little investigation and found some scary results:
FAMILIES WITH NOT THREE SIBLINGS:
FAMILIES WITH THREE SIBLINGS:
The light at the end of the tunnel is that now that we’re grown my sisters and I no longer want to kill each other when we find ourselves in the same room. With the exception of most holidays and family functions. Also with the exception of one of them acting like a big jerk or behaving in a manner that meets with my disapproval, like acting like they’re going to touch my leg.
But at least now we have the option to live far away from each other and screen our phone calls and not end all disagreements with giving someone a pink belly.
In the end, would I like them to behave more like the Ingalls children and Jesus? Yes. But it’s like I tell my kids – we get what we get and we don’t flash our tits.
Trust me. Stunts like that are how you wind up with three kids.