Three cheers for my third child

Today my baby is 25 years old. Get that? TWENTY-FIVE! My baby! Who's no longer a baby! (And who wishes I'd get that through my thick head!)

Andrea was born 25 years ago today, forever changing the makeup of our family, the makeup of my heart. She's my wild child -- and readily admits it! -- my child who dares to be different and manages to make different look so good.

Not long ago I wrote a post for the soon-to-be-defunct Rocky Mountain Moms Blog about the challenges -- and charms -- of the third child. In honor of my Andie, this is that post:

Three's a charm ... and a challenge

A friend recently had her second child and when I went to meet the little guy, one of the topics of conversation was how integrating the new baby into the family hasn't been as difficult as she thought it might be. No, the second baby isn't all that hard, I told her. It's the third child that completely upsets the family balance.

I've told many people this throughout the years. As a mother of three girls, all born in relatively quick succession, I learned 24 years ago when baby No. 3 arrived on the scene that going from one to two babies, while initially a juggling act, was doable without any major trauma or drama, but the transition from two babies to three was -- and continues to be -- one of my greatest challenges as a mom.

"But you already had two," people marvel. "How could it be that much more difficult to add one more to the fold?"

It's a matter of logistics, I counter. Mom has two hands, which is one short when there are three babies. In a home with two parents, there are exactly that: two parents. If all kids are in need of attention, who gets left out? Mom can take care of one, Dad can take care of another, and the third has to hold that thought and wait until Mom or Dad is free and ready to offer belated comfort.

Dinner tables are best suited to an even number of chairs, most typically four. When baby No. 3 comes along, a bigger table needs to be purchased, a table that seats five. But tables aren't made for an odd number, so a table for six is required.

Same goes for the family vehicle. Two kids work just fine in the backseat of nearly any car. But transporting three kids requires a larger vehicle.

And don't even get me started on visiting play areas or, in the later years, amusement parks. Rides at amusement parks are typically made for two; Mom can sit with one child, Dad with another. Which leaves one kiddo -- or one parent -- riding alone or watching from the gate.

Travel by plane presents a similar problem.

So yeah, having the third child requires a bit more thought, planning, and cost.

But the payoff makes up for that.

Siblings argue, that's all there is to it. Having a third kiddo in the group means that if two are arguing, there's always another playmate waiting in the wings.

Another advantage of three kids: easy lessons in the democratic process. Majority rules and an uneven number in the group makes it very clear early on that every vote counts and can change the outcome of family votes, be it for vacation places, what to watch on television or what to have for dessert.

But one of the best things about having three children? The realization that three truly is a crowd -- which makes for the absolute best-ever group hugs, as six arms squeezing one Mommy are so much better than four.

When it comes to kids, yes, three's a challenge. But more importantly, three is forever a charm.

  ~ Originally posted on Rocky Mountain Moms Blog March 21, 2010

Yep, Andrea was the third, the challenge, the good luck charm. She remains all three.

She continues to be the one to raise eyebrows, to rock boats, to make me laugh the loudest, cry the hardest, worry the most.

She and I -- so very much alike in so many ways, so very much Cancers -- butt heads ferociously ... yet love each other fiercely.

She's my favorite third child, my sweet baby Andie, my strong, independent woman.

She's my friend. She's my birthday girl. She's the one for whom I wish the very, very happiest of birthdays ever!