Fall Traditions, Old and New

By Aimee Tafreshi

In August, my family made a cross-country move from a beautiful, pristine island in the northeast corner of Florida to the wide open, dusty spaces of West Texas. We arrived just in time for the beginning of the new school year and hurriedly ordered school uniforms and supplies as our first order of business. Still living in a corporate rental with most of our worldly belongings in storage, we took a triage approach to life, prioritizing the creation of a sense of normalcy while in housing limbo.

When we arrived in Midland, my husband relished the zero humidity heat. He is one of those people who will proclaim that 114 degrees isn’t so bad without the added moisture in the air. While I am inclined to agree, I felt slightly nostalgic for the muggy dampness of the usual southeastern and Central Texas summer and complained that the sun felt more intense here, amplified by the lack of trees.

When we face transitions in life, the world goes on with business as usual; the sun still rises and sets, and the seasons change. It was with some excited anticipation that I awaited the first cold spell in Midland and realized that none of our five children had appropriate winter gear, or even as much as a windbreaker. During our hasty exit from Florida, there was not enough room on the U-Haul for our winter clothes, so they were relegated to storage. Sadly, I didn’t even pack a pair of fall boots, which for any woman who cares much about footwear, is a major fashion dilemma. We might be able to wear socks with flip flops during a “Florida winter,” but here in Midland’s more desert-like climate, it actually gets cold.

As I counted down the days until the temperature would dip into the 30s, I convinced my more fiscally conservative spouse that a shopping trip for fall attire was in order. An upside to living in a larger city is better access to shopping. There isn’t a Nordstrom, but there is a Dillard’s, Old Navy and Banana Republic (Outlet). On Amelia Island, I had to drive over an hour to visit a mall. As I presently walked into various retail stores, I felt overwhelmed by the choices and sheer abundance of clothes. I promptly got over that feeling and put a big dent in my budget at Carter’s and Gymboree so my kids wouldn’t freeze in the unfettered winds of West Texas.

As the cooler temps arrived, I began to feel happiness again. Fall is my favorite time of the year, and it’s not because Starbucks was now offering pumpkin spiced lattes. I love the feel of the breeze on my arms before it’s too cold to wear a t-shirt. Autumn also happily coincides with football season, the perfect excuse to veg out all day Saturday with Game Day and the best match-ups. (Who are we kidding?—we have 5 kids!—but we watch what we can. We’ve managed to turn one into a football fanatic and are working on the others.) My husband and I have taken turns at the local fields watching our 8-year-old son experience his own “Friday Night Lights” during his flag football games. I love just sitting and watching, pausing from life to take a breath and let someone else do the running around.

We’ve also explored the local family-run farm—they seem to have these all over America judging from my friends’ Facebook feeds—where the kids cheer on piglets as they race, play tug of war and roll down the field in a big barrel. There’s something refreshing and freeing about letting your kids run loose on a big tract of land with old-fashioned entertainment, no charger required. We have visited this agricultural wonder three times now and have enjoyed different experiences each visit. My favorite new memory is probably seeing my kindergartner fly down a metal slide sitting on a burlap sack with a look of half terror and half exhilaration on his face. (I had to explain what “burlap” is.) I loved that I could set my 15-month-old twins down and not worry about lack of child proofing or them getting into trouble. Hay, dirt and grass are good for the soul.

This past week was a great example of new traditions paired with some old ones. The week didn’t start off with the highest expectations. I found out my husband would be away on business for the week of Halloween. For some people, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But for me, Halloween is one of my top three holidays. The image in my head of the whole fam dressed up as The Incredibles instantly went poof. (We would have been in good company with the fifty percent of American families who dressed up as this brood of superheroes.)

Not one to be deterred, I gamely took the kids to a pop-up Halloween store where they picked out non-coordinating costumes including a character from Harry Potter (I couldn’t tell you her name if I tried) and Dracula (I sadly noted that a duplicate vampire costume collected dust in storage). My oldest son and I originally had big plans for him to dress as a “Zombie businessman,” one of those original ideas that sounds easy until you realize it will take one to two trips to thrift stores, the effort of deconstructing the second-hand clothes into zombie threads and the artful application of make-up (or face paint, as I tell my boys) to achieve the desired ghoulish effect. I love nothing more than playing with face paint, but two lurking toddlers would likely thwart my artistic efforts. So we dialed it in and decided for my second grader to channel Dallas Cowboys’ player Dak Prescott, a costume choice that would require minimal time and effort. I silently thanked my son for choosing this slacker option. A more ambitious mom would have at least zombie-fied the quarterback.

With not enough time (or the desire to spend one hundred more dollars), I forwent the Etsy option for the twins and found some cute Bert and Ernie costumes on Amazon. When the day arrived, I realized that I absolutely couldn’t go as myself, as scary as that would be, so I headed to Party City at 8 a.m. and found a budget-friendly witch costume in the young at heart but, let’s face it, middle-aged, soccer mom section. And of course, I needed an authentic looking broom stick (every mom should own one—how did I not have one?), witchy head piece, ‘90s style Goth black choker and classy spider web tights to complete the look. We were finally ready to make our Halloween debut in Midland.

Unfortunately, the perfect mix of summer sunshine and autumnal breeze dancing around earlier in the week made way for its ugly cousin: cold, rainy and dreary. It was Mother Nature’s cruel Halloween parlor trick. When we headed out the door, the thermometer showed 48 degrees, and we lacked layers, outerwear, and most importantly, common sense. After all the work that poured into costuming multiple kiddos, taking bad photos and the resulting EF5 devastation in our too-small temporary home, there was no turning back. As we rounded the block, the babies were too cold to cry, reduced to a look of shock. My timid Dracula deadpanned to an adult, “I want to eat you,” a slight deviation from our rehearsed “I want to suck your blood,” spoken with a vampire accent.

My exuberant sons also attempted to beat the crap out of a jolly adult dressed up as an inflatable T-Rex. I finally had to ruin the Halloween magic and yell, “Stop beating him up! There’s a real human inside that costume!!!” The final dramatic moment occurred when we witnessed an English Bulldog gallop free from his owner and proceed to pee and poop all over the pebbles (we have rocks, not grass, in these parts). The stout fellow then turned his attention toward us, charging me and Dak Prescott, who screamed, “He’s going to attack us now!” I prepared to shield the babies in their stroller, and the pup ran full speed toward me and jumped up on my dress in a flash, aiming his slobbery jaws toward my lips. I simultaneously wondered if there were poopy paw prints all over my new witchy get-up and how I could dognap this slobbery blob of pure love and happiness. Alas, he sprinted back to his amused owner.

After trick-or-treating on two streets, we returned home with frozen limbs and overflowing buckets of candy, just what we needed on a school night. The babies were never happier to be in their cribs, their pale chubby arms felt like cool ice packs, and I hoped they would thaw out overnight. Despite the Arctic blast, the older sons were ecstatic—I think my daughter was too; she was frozen like Audrey from Christmas Vacation and could only nod and grunt.

As I began to clean up the scary mess that was Halloween, I breathed a sigh of relief that another holiday was in the books. Now I could look forward to Thanksgiving, where my dear mother would do most of the cooking and cleaning, thank the Lord. (Sorry Mom!)

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Baby Bennett’s Birth Story

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By Lacey Appolito

Three weeks ago, I delivered my fourth baby (second girl) with my most favorite OB and I couldn’t be more thrilled that my family is now complete. Two boys. Two girls. Lots of chaos. No shortage of love.

I have a weird habit of reading birth stories on my phone while taking a bath during my last month of pregnancy. As each week passes, I change my Google search… 36 week birth stories. 37 week birth stories. 38 week birth stories… You get the idea.

The final few weeks of pregnancy are filled with anticipation. Every cramp is scrutinized. Each trip to the bathroom is a quest for a lost mucous plug. It is fascinating to read how different women experience labor and birth, and exciting to imagine how your own will play out.

My first son Jack was born on a full moon, at 40+3 weeks after days of false labor. I was induced with my second son William at 41 weeks, and my daughter Evie’s birth was almost identical to what I experienced with Jack. It was a full moon and I endured several days of inconsistent but strong contractions before she was born at 39+5 weeks.

I thought for sure that my fourth baby Bennett would come early and fast since my body had birthed so many times before. And even though I know that how dilated you are doesn’t mean much in terms of when you will deliver, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed when I was barely a finger tip dilated and baby was very high at every single appointment leading up to my 40th week of pregnancy.

I was confident that a fourth baby would more or less fall out of my body, but it wasn’t looking like that would be the case at all. So, with the full support of my husband and OB, I scheduled an elective induction for Baby Bennett’s due date, and unlike my induction with William, I didn’t fret over my choice to induce at all.

In comparison to my spontaneous labors, William’s birth was less painful and more controlled. It really was an easy birth, and after a fast labor with Evie, I was worried that Bennett would be born in our car on the way to the hospital, which I wanted to avoid at all costs obviously.

Fast forward to my due date, September 14th, 2018. My husband and I checked into the hospital at 5AM. I quickly changed into my hospital gown and we rested while the nurse set up the Pitocin. Soon after the IV was placed, I felt a few mild contractions and about an hour later my OB came in to check my cervix, break my water, and insert an internal catheter to keep a closer eye on my contractions.

After my OB broke my water, which I have never experienced pre-epidural by the way 😳,  the Pitocin was cranked up and my body started to respond. I dilated from about one centimeter to five centimeters relatively quickly, and I felt confident that I would have a fast labor, after all.

Prior to my induction, I toyed with the idea of a natural birth. Of course I didn’t share this plan with anyone but my husband (who laughed because he knows me so well), so once I reached five centimeters the nurse started talking epidural.

I wasn’t in excruciating pain yet, but I also knew I did not want to feel the pain I felt with Evie, when I was eight centimeters dilated and clenching on to the side of the hospital bed for dear life, cussing and crying, begging for an epidural to take the pain away… So I agreed.

And then everything stopped.

For two hours I remained a little more than five centimeters dilated, but suddenly the situation changed. I started to feel the pain of each contraction again, and despite pressing the epidural button over and over again, the pain only intensified.

It wasn’t pressure I was feeling. It was the familiar stabbing sensation of labor. And it hurt like a mother.

The nurse checked my cervix and I was seven centimeters dilated. The pain continued, moving lower with each passing contraction.

“I’m feeling pressure!” I moaned to my nurse through clenched teeth, who decided to call my doctor up to check me again. Less than thirty minutes had passed and I was now nine centimeters dilated. The doctor wanted anesthesia to come push more medicine through my IV before birth, as the pain was unbearable at that point.

So we waited… briefly. Anesthesia never made it, as I was ten centimeters and ready to push within a couple of minutes.

My doctor returned, and sweet Bennett was born almost immediately. I pushed through two contractions and in an instant she was there! They placed her gooey body on my chest and she peed all over me, but I didn’t care. I was captivated by the moment. In awe of life and its miraculous ways.

It was a bittersweet moment in time, and one that I will cherish forever. My last pregnancy. My last birth story. My last time to experience the surreal feeling of bringing a child into the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dog Days of Summer

by Lacey Appolito

Being a parent is a rollercoaster. Every day is different, though it can feel like ground hog day, and some days are better than others. This summer has been particularly challenging for me as a parent (and really as a functional adult, too).

For those of you who don’t know, I am a work from home mom. I own and operate an e-commerce business out of my home, but I also wear the hat of stay at home mom. My three kids, who are currently 5, 3, and 2 years old, attend a mother’s day out program for 20 hours per week during the school year, and I really do have a pretty sweet gig when school is in session.

BUT school ended May 18th, and summertime has been a little rocky to say the least. Caring for three children under the age of six is a full-time job. Every minute brings new demands for snacks, more milk, potty help, diaper changes, attention, redirecting, and SO. MUCH. REFEREEING.

On top of the daily grind, I am trying to run a business. When my kids are home for the summer, it is difficult to work on growing or improving Little World Organics. I do what I can to get by and then it is back to my kiddos, because they need me almost all of the time.

Now here is where things get really interesting… I am currently 34 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I am tired. I am uncomfortable. And most days the temperature is over 100 degrees, making our much needed outside time pretty freaking miserable.

So what is a super pregnant, stay at home/work from home mama to do?

Do better. I have to do better.

Better for my kids. Better for my business. Better for myself.

My little tribe and I have exactly one month until school resumes for the fall semester 🙌, and six weeks until our family grows by one, which will inevitably change our family dynamic forever.

During the dog days of summer, when all I really want to do is curl up with some Netflix in a very cold, dark room, I vow to:

  • practice patience
  • find time to work on my business while the kids are sleeping
  • be present when they are awake
  • exude love
  • minimize exasperation
  • play more

We’ve had a rough couple of days around here, and it is time to turn it around. Despite the enormous amount of energy it takes to pack up three little ones and take them to the neighborhood pool alone, I am going to do it. They need it. I need it. It’s time to breathe some fresh air into our summer routine. I am ready for a change.

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Snack time at the pool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newborn Twins. Enough Said.

Photo credit Boston Photography

By: Aimee Tafreshi

The fact that I am writing this blog is a miracle in itself. I cannot make any guarantees about proper grammar or a logical progression of thoughts. You see, my husband and I welcomed twins approximately five weeks ago. We were not “trying” for twins, and we did not avail ourselves of the latest medical technology seeking out two bundles of joy. But Mother Nature laughed, thought “I’ll show them,” and here we are with a boy and a girl.

We had a “pleasant” enough hospital experience. We were lucky to be at an excellent medical facility with great nurses and doctors. The nurse anesthetist deserved a gold medal as she seemed to be the face and main brains of the anesthesiology portion, and she also played DJ and took excellent photos post-delivery. I was so excited when she told me that she would play music in the OR, I immediately began thinking of songs for an impromptu playlist before being wheeled in for my c-section. “Sucker for Pain,” Ludacris and Snoop Dog with a touch of the Texas Fight Song seemed like a great soundtrack to welcome these babies into the world. The rap started blasting, and a member of the medical team said, “It’s like we’re in the club.” We were off to a promising start.

And then the spinal block wasn’t quite working one hundred percent, and my blood pressure started tanking. I then threw up on the operating room table. They were ready to put me under general anesthesia, a plan I initially welcomed, but then a part of me thought, I don’t want to miss this, no matter how miserable I feel. They injected some more drugs and voila, my blood pressure stabilized, and the doctor proceeded. He finished sewing me up with some chill Jimmy Buffett playing, his choice, which I appreciated.

I felt like I was on that table forever. My mom paced in the hallway wondering what was taking so long. At 2:33 p.m., we welcomed a beautiful baby girl with a healthy set of lungs, a feisty 5 pounds, 7 ounces bundle of attitude, whom we named Marin Elise. One minute later, we met Rhett Wortham, her younger but larger brother, weighing in at 6 pounds, 5 ounces. I always suspected that Rhett was siphoning all of the food in utero, leaving his sister crumbs. No wonder she seems so angry now and screams incessantly until fed.

I don’t remember too much from the recovery room, other than telling the nurse that I was so happy to be here. “Why?” she asked, clearly confused by my comment. “Because I’m no longer on that operating table,” I replied. They brought the babies in, none of them requiring any NICU time, and Marin latched on right away. Rhett seemed confused but would learn how to nurse with the help of a lactation consultant who was a baby whisperer of sorts. Unlike past lactation consultants at other hospitals, she wasn’t the kind to pressure you to exclusively breastfeed. “Tandem breastfeeding twins by yourself will be very hard,” she said, “especially with other children at home.” Another nurse told me, “Fed is best.” I appreciated them planting these seeds of wisdom in my head, so I would later not be so hard on myself if I couldn’t live up to my own expectations of how feeding twins should go.

Recovery in the hospital was painful, as is typical with a c-section and tubal ligation. I felt massive pain, vomited many times and could barely walk without crying or hunching over in agony. They let me stay an extra night and even offered more time, but by day five, we were ready to split, as ready as new parents can be. On the day of our hospital departure, we loaded the twins into their new baby carriers and tried to take a photo together as they bawled their eyes out.

We were able to get settled in at home before our other three children traveled back from their summer trip to Alaska with my mother- and sister-in-law. It’s hard to predict how siblings will react to a new baby (or babies), but our kiddos were at least excited to meet them. Our daughter was ecstatic to finally get a sister, although she mistakenly believed Marin might be ready to play with toys right away. I explained that babies are a little boring at first; they basically eat, poop and sleep.

There has been an adjustment period for the kids and us parents. My husband had to take over school duties, such as attending the new school year “meet and greets” with the teachers and taking the kids to the bus stop in the mornings. I have felt some guilt about missing out, but then I thought how neat it was that my husband was able to participate in some events that he had missed in the past due to work. We have been fortunate with help from family members and neighbors for rides to activities and hot meals. Eventually we will be on our own, but hopefully by then we will be ready.

Life with newborn twins is not for the faint of heart. We have had our share of hiccups and off-color jokes at 2 a.m. We may have referenced North Korean prison camps and crack houses. (Don’t ask.) We have felt like mistreated livestock kept just enough alive to pass muster before the inevitable slaughter, popping Advil like bovine antibiotics and growth hormones. About two weeks after first meeting the twins, my youngest son looked lovingly at Marin, and sweetly asked, “What is her name again?” Ahh, the pitfalls of a large family. I guess he can simply refer to her as “Twin A.” Just yesterday, I looked at my baby girl and said, “Well that’s a funny face Marilyn.” I then realized I had called her by the wrong name and prayed no one had heard me. In my defense, an HGTV show taking place in Maryland played in the background.

When the day begins to spiral out of control, we have developed different coping strategies. I started watching Outdaughtered on TLC, a show featuring a couple with the only all girl quintuplets in the country. If anyone can make me feel better about having twins, it’s a family that is dealing with five two-year-olds. Plus I have learned some helpful strategies from watching them, and the fact that the parents are still alive and sane is reassuring. We are also thinking of buying stock in Nespresso and Blue Bell Ice Cream, given our massive consumption of their products. I couldn’t survive at this point without a large stockpile of caffeine and refined sugar. Looking for more natural remedies, my mom gifted me a lavender stress ball, which I often squeeze and vigorously inhale like my life depended on it.

My husband made the helpful suggestion a few weeks ago that when our older children act unruly, we should play a song to redirect them and release some tension. I started brainstorming and chimed in, “Oh yeah, we can find some Native American tribal music, grab hands, and run in and out of a circle,” envisioning a kind of spiritual coming together. My other half looked at me amused and said he was thinking more along the lines of Lady Gaga. Regardless I’ve already found a song with a great tribal beat. Sometimes you need to reach out to the universe or a higher power for guidance.

When my husband and I used to hear of someone having twins, we used to caustically remark, “How terrible! Can you imagine?!” Then twins happened to us. It’s called karma. I can confidently say that caring for twins is the hardest thing either of us have ever done. It’s harder than law school, studying for a bar exam, taking a bar exam, practicing law or going on a submarine deployment. I don’t know what would be harder. Oh yes I do—triplets. In a recent nightmare, I dreamed I was tending to three babies, running around the house, trying to stop the crying. The next day I remembered this dream and felt gratitude that there were only two of them. We think it will get easier once they turn three. Until then, I will live vicariously through the Beachfront Bargain hunters on TV and dream of a kids’ club on a cruise. And I will try to pause during the chaos, breathe in their baby smells and memorize their funny expressions before they sprout up into independent big kids.

 

Aimee Tafreshi is a mom of five, freelance writer and attorney who also contributes to Nameberry.com.

Two’s Company, Three’s a Big Mess

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By: Aimee Tafreshi

 

I grew up in an All-American family with two children, spaced an ideal three and a half years apart, complete with a loveable Golden Retriever/lab mix. I had time to bond with my parents and didn’t feel threatened by the arrival of my baby sister (other than hiding my mom’s car keys when she went into labor). I gleefully pushed her as a toddler around the living room in a laundry basket. And I tolerated her creating a “tornado” on the Monopoly board when I was in the lead, ending our game.

Despite our idyllic set-up, I secretly admired my friends with large, boisterous families. Everyone in my extended family limited themselves to a practical one to two children, usually of the same gender. I wondered what it would feel like in a family of three to four kids with multiple cousins running around at holidays, too many to count. During a phase as preteens, my sister and I pretended we had a mysterious older brother. His “room” was my dad’s study. We nearly convinced some friends that he existed. At some point I knew that, one day, I would have three children. I also wanted to answer the eternal question—Do middle children live up to their reputation, as, shall we say, a tad odd?

Fast-forward into my 30s and my prophecy has become reality. I have an 8-year-old daughter and two sons, ages 6 and 4, not so neatly spaced at 21 months apart. The biggest rivalry exists, however, not between the two little boys but between the big sister and middle child. I have learned from my husband’s childhood experience, as well as my current situation, that their 2.5 years spacing is perfectly suited for explosive sibling rivalry and constant one-upmanship.

Do I regret having three children? Absolutely not. Is the middle child really as different as they say? Absolutely. I have no regrets about our family make-up, but there are some things you should know if you are considering taking the plunge into three kid-dom.

First, the middle child is a unique individual. I actually used the word “unique” on a class form to describe my son, because I couldn’t think of a third adjective. Was he funny? Not really. Was he super kind? No. I jotted down as many synonyms as I could think of for smart and then threw in “unique.” This kid is going to work for NASA someday. He will be the guy at the computer with a row of empty soda cans and crumpled candy bar wrappers. We secretly refer to him as Pig Pen because he’s always inexplicably covered in dirt. I don’t know if he will get married or not. He will need a wife who will wait on him hand and foot and who has the talent to cook without taking any time to do so. (Yes, his need for instant gratification is probably my fault; plus I’ll blame Minecraft.)

My middle child has been uniquely challenging since he came out of the womb, but as he gets older, I appreciate him more. As a baby, I would feed him around the clock, and he was always hungry. I would load him up on milk before play dates and would then spend the entire gathering feeding him more as he fussed. I used to think we were very different, but now I realize he is a lot like me. Sometimes the children the most like us drive us the craziest. After all, who would want to parent themselves?!

My conclusion: I can’t speak for other middle children, but mine fits the bill as marching to the beat of his own drum. And I love him for that.

Another point to consider—life in a large household is chaotic. Some parents like to use the term “organized chaos,” but let’s face reality; the chaos is often a free for all. One must employ a triage approach—if no one is profusely bleeding or has a broken bone protruding from his skin, then you can carry on with those dishes. Pick-up time in the afternoon is the worst. The kids yell over each other as I drive, screaming about their day, and crying when I choose to listen to one’s story first. I end up screaming the loudest that I’m going to get in a car accident if they don’t put a cork in it, and by the time we pull into the driveway, everyone’s eyes are stained with tears.

Which brings me to the competitive aspect . . . each child will constantly keep tabs on what the others are getting. I have had to tell them to stop counting M&Ms when I hand them out for a treat. Woe to me if one gets 22 little candies and the other receives a meager 21. At Christmas time, the presents were initially allocated so that Santa happened to bring one child a few more gifts than the other two. “You can’t do that,” I screamed to my husband, “they will count the gifts and think Santa is punishing the other two!” He stared at me in disbelief—Do you really think they will count the presents?—and then helped me reclassify the gift giver of the extra packages. Sure enough, the next morning the kids raced up to the table where St. Nick’s gifts sat and exclaimed, “Why did Santa bring us only two gifts each?” I smiled, satisfied that the question was not, “Why did Santa bring him two more gifts than us?!” Crisis averted.

Fights will often ensue about perceived minor issues, like who gets to sit next to Mommy in the restaurant, or who will push the elevator button (the latter is a big source of contention in two-child families as well, to which my sister can attest.) Simple decisions are fraught with peril and the potential for large scale fights to erupt, so parents must anticipate these conflicts and plan for a peaceful conflict resolution.

Another big issue for large families is logistics. As in, there is no way we are participating in winter swim league, spring soccer and Little League in the same season. I have to be judicious with what activities we commit to each year. My youngest son has yet to do much in the way of organized sports, but I’ve heard there are benefits to delaying team sports until children are seven or eight.

Schedules are a consideration for parents who have visions of raising the next Olympic gymnast or swimmer. Either limit yourself to less children or plan on dragging around the others to a ton of meets and practices. I have found endeavors in the arts (like dance and music lessons, theater camp and art classes) to be more forgiving to busy schedules, as you don’t have an added game or meet every week. We are doing swimming AND soccer this spring, and I am scared. I drew the line at tee-ball. My youngest will have to wait another season or two to begin his Major League baseball training.

The result of these logistical nightmares challenges—parents become better than FedEx at delivering their children from Point A to Point B on time. We have become experts at packing like an Apocalypse is coming—no detail is too trivial—and transforming into drill sergeant mode, adept at delivering orders with military like precision. I’m not here to be my child’s friend; I’m here to deliver him to soccer on time.

Another aspect of logistics is the effect on a parent’s personal schedule. I work, albeit remotely, and there are some weeks where there is literally some type of appointment or school commitment on the calendar every day. I feel for the majority of working parents who have a set work schedule because the parenting world is stacked against having an uninterrupted workday.  Which brings me to sick days. No, not for a parent. We’re not allowed to be sick.

With three children, it’s a darn near miracle if someone isn’t nursing a viral or sinus infection on a given day. I can’t count how many times I’ve said in recent months, with great exasperation, “Oh god, his snot is green again; we have to go back to the pediatrician.” (Big sigh.) I mean, can’t the pediatrician just give me carte blanche to call in a prescription when I need one? We all know when the runny nose just isn’t going to get any better, so let’s stop wasting everyone’s time. Because there is no time!!!

The bigger problem with illness is once someone gets sick, we all fall down like a weak house of cards. And Mom and Dad with our old rusty immune systems usually take the brunt of the evil virus. I won’t forget my trip to the ER for dehydration for a lovely sickness my son passed on to me, only to come home to two more barfing children. There’s nothing like doing laundry all night long with a hospital admission band still on your wrist. (My husband was out of the country, so he had a nearly valid excuse for his absence.) I like to remind him of this story a lot.

And finally, the elephant in the room that no one likes to talk about—money! Children cost a ton of money. Every month we hemorrhage cash like Trump drops Tweets. We try to shop for the deals, but all of a sudden a cute and economically priced $20 fleece jumps to $60.00 plus shipping and handling. A restaurant outing to a casual dining place approaches a Benjamin. (And they don’t like McDonald’s or Burger King—where did I go wrong?!) Think you can score at a Kid’s Eat Free night? Guess again! You will still pay for that third child’s meal. The deck is stacked against us.

Want to travel? Better start saving—parents who want a modicum of privacy in the evening know that hotel suites are the way to go. That reasonably priced hotel quickly exceeds a luxury one when you are scouting out the largest suites on the property. Renting a vacation home is the next logical step, but I want the free hotel breakfast and maid service! (Free breakfasts are a must for large families traveling to avoid racking up a massive food bill each morning for half-eaten Cheerios.)

And finally, the one thing I want to leave you with, perhaps the biggest nuisance of them all—homework. Yes, homework. When the three kids are all small and in diapers, parents will dramatically lament having “three under three” or multiple kids in diapers. The stakes get real, however, when the tikes start elementary school. You will spend hours upon hours each night assisting each one with various stages of learning, including teaching “new math” that you never learned. When deciding whether that third child is the right decision for your family, simply do the math. That is, can you handle 13 years of homework times X number of children (adjusted for overlapping school years and volume of homework)? If you can solve that equation, then you might be ready for number three.

Aimee Tafreshi is a freelance writer and attorney who also contributes to Nameberry.com and her own blog once in a blue moon, aimeetafreshi.com. She is also a mother and professional chauffeur to three spirited, young children.