Friday night the girls spent the night with their grandmother (And for those of you who think it's great that we have built-in babysitting, let's just say that there's always a price to be paid. Some day I'll go into more detail about the m-i-l.), so we just had Campbell at home. B had to work late with clients, so it was just me and the baby at dinner. He happily flung pasta around while I scanned the stack of toy catalogs that arrived this week (how do I get on these mailing lists?). I had Campbell bathed and in bed by 6:30, with the rest of the evening to myself. I worked, I knitted, I went to bed at 9:30.
Saturday morning Campbell and I noodled around until B got up, and then I left the boys to go for a nice run. I took a nap while Campbell took his morning nap, then we played some more. As B was making lunch and Campbell sat in his chair, foot on the table, eating his sandwich, B and I talked about how easy we had it back in the days of having just one child.
The kicker is that we didn't know how easy it was to just have one kid. I was a nervous wreck for most of Ella's babyhood, and according to B and my mother, I cried a lot of the time. I don't remember crying a lot, but they swear I did. Back then I would have struggled with getting one child bathed into bed solo. And I would have spent the morning worrying that I wasn't doing enough to provide enrichment and learning experiences. I would have never just sat on the sofa and read the paper while the child played with stacking cups and blocks.
Oh how much I've learned since then. Or maybe it's just that I'm more tired and worn down. Or maybe it's that I know I can keep a child alive until age 7, so I don't worry so much about what happens to a 1-year-old. Whatever the reason, if I could go back and have just one child knowing what I know now as a mother of three, life would be so easy.
Unfortunately, I think the only way to be completely relaxed about having one child, and to realize how easy it is to just deal with one child, is to have more than one. Otherwise there's no basis for comparison.
But I do think it's a measure of how much I've grown as a parent that I can get all three kids fed, bathed and into bed solo without too much trouble.