Three kids appears to be the magic number for many families today. Every time I meet a new mommy friend, she has (or is working towards) three kids and statistics show that there is a major increase of three-child households in North America. Why is three the new two? What’s up with the three kid trend? I talked with a group of moms of three to get some inside perspective and here are some of their most popular answers.
It isn’t ‘new’ at all
Many of the moms I spoke with had always pictured having a family of at least three, because they came from larger families. Replicating that experience with their own brood just felt natural.
As Jolene, a mom of three young boys, told me, “my husband and I both come from a family with three siblings so I wonder if subconsciously that is what we were wanting too.” Amy, a mom of two boys and a baby girl, reflected, “We went for a third because we both have larger families and love all the people around for Christmas and family get togethers.”
So it shouldn’t be a surprise that Elizabeth and Casi, the other moms of three I spoke with, also came from families with several children. Casi says, “growing up in a family of four kids I always had a partner in crime. As we got older our relationships have changed, but I always have someone in my corner.”
Don’t Look Back
Another common thread among the mothers was a fear of regret if they didn’t have a third. As Jolene explains, “when it came time to decide on a third, it was more of a well, maybe we’d regret it if we didn’t.”
Elizabeth used her instinct to determine when her family was complete. “When I had two boys, I had this pull toward babies and a feeling in my stomach at the thought of not having another one. People told me again and again that I “would just know” when I was done wishing for another child; they were right.”
Amy remembers that “after having two we thought we were crazy for wanting to add another to the chaos, but we still wanted that larger family and decided on one more.”
Logic doesn’t always stop us from making our best decisions, those come from the gut. “I still love holding babies,” Elizabeth adds, “but holding one doesn’t make me long for another one. I cannot explain it.”
Call it female intuition—many of us just know when we are done or we recognize a bittersweet longing deep inside if we aren’t.
The Garage Sale Curse
You know the one. The family who gets rid of all of their baby stuff—the high chair, the crib, all the tiny baby spoons and sippy cups. Then, bam! A plus sign shows up a plastic stick one groggy Sunday morning.
Families occasionally/often grow unexpectedly. Sometimes families who thought they were complete, hadn’t recognized life’s bigger plan.
Jolene admits, “we had already given away a lot of our baby things, so proof that we’d thought we were done at two.” But there some things—and feelings—you just can’t predict, and you certainly can’t plan everything.
We Did it For The Kids
Many of the mothers thought that adding a sibling to the family was a gift for their other children—one they were fortunate enough to be able to give. As Casi emphasized, “Not everyone [has] the luxury to choose how many kids to have. I think about my situation with gratitude…”
Jolene smiles, “the best part of having three is seeing the strengths and gifts emerge from the older two that we didn’t see before. For example, our oldest is very thoughtful and care-taking and our middle is really interactive with the baby– very goofy and silly—he will make a great playmate for the third.”
“I loved watching my oldest be a big brother and wanted my middle to experience that bond with a younger sibling,” says Elizabeth. Sibling love was a big motivator for adding baby boy number three to the [crazy, busy] mix.
There’s nothing like the joy we experience when our children interact lovingly and happily with each other. It softens the edges of the bickering and competition that also go hand-in-hand with having siblings.
Overall, like most good things in life, these mothers emphasized that the magic of having three kids was hard to put into words.
Casi vividly remembers when she came home with her third child, “I brought her home from the hospital and I felt like I had my whole family in that house. Everyone that was supposed to be here was here in that moment.”
Elizabeth agrees, “I look at the three of them, to my husband, then back to the three of them, and it just feels right and good.”
It seems like the motivation and predisposition for having three children is not an exact science—for many families thre three kid trend isn’t a fad they’re following, it’s a feeling and a gift.