(Well, marginally better.)
As I formulate this post in my head (but way, way before I will get the chance to actually type it out), Sally is sitting in her high chair with an English muffin. She's not eating it; that would be too prosaic, too pedestrian. She is using it as a powder puff and rubbing its jellied veneer all over her cheeks and forehead.
Then she licks it, and proceeds to rub it across the front of her shirt. I'm guessing that she's finished with it.
It used to be that I would have never let an English muffin be abused in such a way. I would have taken it from her tray and
I would have changed her into a new outfit and pre-treated her stains on the first one.
Now? Well, I'm not going to lie to you. She will wear the same jellied shirt all day, and I don't pre-treat anything anymore. (I can't even bring myself to admit the shameful science fair experiment that met me in the laundry room today. All I can say is that I had to throw some things away. Oh, the horror . . .)
Gone are the days of Francie, the Only; the days of matching tops and bottoms, with coordinating hairbows. Even the less coordinated, though still very clean, days of Francie and Fiver are gone.
And why? Because Sal's the third one, and the third child is where you crest the hill and hit the downward slide. Three is where, to quote The Greatest American Hero, you are operating pretty much on a wing and a prayer.
Ask anyone with more than two children, and they will tell you that things start to go a little haywire with the third one. Some may disagree, and swear that it is the second one who does it, but I am here to tell you the truth, my friends: The HomeFront Corp. took it on the chin with Number Three.
I don't know why it is, because I certainly don't remember feeling like having two kids was a cakewalk. Heck, I remember being overwhelmed at times by Francie alone, but bringing home our third baby was like throwing a nine pound monkey wrench into the cogs of the family machine. We've recovered, just with a lesser degree of decorum. If that's at all possible.
With two children, I still felt like I had a good hold of most situations, and I mean that in the literal sense. If worse came to worse (and it usually did), I knew that I had at least one hand for each child. I became an expert at tucking each one under an arm and heading for the nearest exit like a broken-field runner.
With three, I simply ran out of arms. No matter how full my hands were, I knew that there was always a free agent on the loose that I could do nothing to deter.
For me, the bump up to three kids was a little like finding out there is a skunk living under your deck: sometimes there is nothing you can do until you get some back-up. Or some professional help. Either way.
I've been pleasantly surprised to find that bringing Bun home did not require nearly as much juggling as bringing Sally home. I have learned to turn a blind eye to anything that does not require medical attention. Or a fire extinguisher. (That means the matching outfits and cute accessories were some of the first things to go.)
I don't mean to imply that having three children is unmanageable or frightening or terrible. I'm not trying to scare those people who are pregnant with their third or contemplating a third addition. If you're thinking about it, then I say, yeah baby! go for it! Sally has added immeasurable joy to our family. If you're already pregnant, then it's too late to worry about it anyway. It will do you no good now, and remember: Sally has brought immeasurable joy.
I'm just saying that it really helps if, in the midst of all that joy, you don't care what they look like. For a little while anyway.