Lessons I Never Taught

Once upon a time I had three kids in three years.  Mimi is 17 months older than Jude.  Jude is 16 months older than Silas.  Their birth years are 2007, 2008, 2009.  
It was hard.  It was harder than hard.  It was comically hard for at least 18 months.  
But I figured it out and I am grateful I blogged my way through it so I can refer back to the wisdom I once gained and then blacked out of my mind because it was such a rough time for me.
Now I am reaping the rewards.  I am soaking in the payout for the hours and hours logged.  The three minions and I survived together.  We made it to 6, 7, and 9.  
I didn't plan to have three kids so close in age, but they were meant to be born together as Irish Triplets.  I stress constantly that they aren't getting adequate one-on-one attention.  I worry they won't develop their own personalities being all lumped together.  But the worries are far out shown by the benefits.  

Now that they are in the elementary stage I am enjoying observing the Lessons I Never Taught Them.  While I was busy teaching these kids to do normal kid things like use the toilet and tie their shoes I am discovering that I was also inadvertently teaching them more valuable life skills.  I was scraping by hustling one kid out of the bath before he peed in it while at the same time corralling the other kid away from the dishwasher loaded with knives.  While I was busy keeping them alive, fed, and clothed they were learning amazing things without my intentionally teaching them.
Lesson Learned:  Responsibility
Because they were raised in a pod and my hands were always full my kids learned to work together.  If I couldn't get Silas' pacifier because I was helping Mimi in the bath Jude could handle that need for me.  I didn't have to ask him, he just became sufficiently irritated with the fussing that he figured out a way to make it go away.  The truest test of responsibility is seeing a job that needs to be done and doing it, without being asked.  If I have taught that (by default) then I am making children who will be contributors.  They can see a problem and try to figure out a way to fix it.
Lesson Learned:  Compassion
There are many times when kids do not get the same nor equal things/treats/opportunities.  I learned from one of my sisters to guard these moments because they would teach the kids that life isn't fair.  But that's not what happened.  Instead when Silas got a treat he had already experienced what it feels like to be the one without the treat and he developed empathy.  He wouldn't give away his treat but he would certainly share bits of it.  This applies to play dates, presents, video games, time alone with me, nearly everything.  They know what it feels like to be left out or deprived and they work to prevent that experience for the others.  

Lesson Learned: Patience
This might be my favorite benefit of pod children.  They do not get all of their needs met immediately.  This mitigates entitlement and curbs spoiled children.  If they have to wait a minute to get out of the car it's ok.  If I have to pick up one kid somewhere at the same as another kid that child learns to wait and not panic.  They learn that a bonked head is more important than your ice cream being scooped.  They know their place in the world.

Lesson Learned:  Service
There are so many kids around here.  There is no way I could do everything by myself.  So we serve each other.  The funny thing about service is that you learn to love the people you serve.  Sure they're resentful when they have to clean up the legos that they didn't mess up but it makes them aware of their own impact on their environment.  They give help and they get help.  

Lesson Learned:  Forgiveness
When your entire existence includes two sidekicks you learn how to manage them.  They negotiate with one another, take turns beating the crap out of each other, gang up and restructure their gang to leave the other person out.  They hurt each other's feelings and have to work it out.  This is universal among all siblings but when you're all just about the same age and in the same space you learn to get over offenses almost immediately.  Nobody harbors anger for very long.
Incidentally, I think this is the best lesson I learned from being in a big family myself.  My siblings and I fought all the time and then it would be over ten minutes later.  Now, as an adult, I have extremely high tolerance for conflict and I can interact with people even when they are being difficult.  I am unable to harbor anger.
Lesson Learned:  Friendship
For the first four years of their lives the three big kids slept in the same room.  I would try to move them out but during the night they would migrate back together.  We had enough rooms, they didn't care.  They wanted to be together.  Now they are each other's answer to boredom.  You can't play catch alone and jumping on the trampoline is no fun by yourself.  Thank goodness for siblings.
Photo credits: Jessica Peterson the magnificent

Having kids close together was difficult but the payout has been magnificent.  For every time I had to find and put on three pairs of shoes there is an hour of outside play time together.  I was so sleep deprived that I hardly remember those years.  But here I am with an opportunity to have children close in age all over again and I have chosen to do so, without a second thought.  Lou and Philo are 16 months apart.  I feed them with the same spoon, they steal each other's bottles and wear the same size diapers.  There is frequently a line for the changing table.  And it is non-stop tag team constant needs hard.
But I know the payout is worth it.  They are learning lessons I could never teach.


cbowick1000 said...

I love it!

MaryAnn said...

So beautiful..... No matter what age we are we constantly learn. Such a wonderful journey.

Sally said...

So many awesome lessons.

Chelsie Goble said...

You're such a great mom! I loved reading this! :) thank you for sharing. Also, your sleep book recommending worked for us. Thank you!

Mama Coons said...

Well said, and important too. I, like you was raised in a large family and went on to have a large family. Siblings help raise each other and teach us to thrive in the world !

Mara said...

My first three were also born in 3 years. It WAS hard...but now that they are living their teenage years together, the "payoff" is evident. I feel as fond of this stage as I ever did with any other. ��

Mara said...

My first three were also born in 3 years. It WAS hard...but now that they are living their teenage years together, the "payoff" is evident. I feel as fond of this stage as I ever did with any other. ��