Bonding with your third child is nothing like bonding with your first two. Somehow the third child gets left alone a little longer, gets swept up into the activities of their older siblings, instead of having their own, and consequently, waits a little longer and seems to grow up a little faster.
You just can’t respond quite as quickly to their needs the way you did with your first, or even your second, child.
You learn a new way to prioritize. You learn to listen to their cries differently – is that cry one of hunger, anger, or are they simply overtired? – and to recognize the cries they make. You ask yourself ‘how urgent does that cry sound?’ when you’re in the washroom wiping a bum or elbow deep in laundry.
A wise friend told me, when our third was born “The older ones will remember.” and I keep going back to this. When I know that the baby’s cry is one of frustration because he can’t yet crawl, while the middle one is crying because they’ve had a long day and just want a hug, and the big kid is asking for another glass of milk. I scoop up the middle boy and embrace him tightly, comforting him as I pour another glass of milk for his brother. I don’t want the middle one, or the oldest, to think that LuckyMama never took time to love them fiercely.
But then at night when your third baby falls asleep in your arms – his weight heavy against your chest, and his slow deep breaths lulling you into perfect serenity – oh, in those moments, you hold him longer. You hold him longer than you held the others. You rub his back, tell him how perfect he is, and soak up all of him and that perfect moment. Because bonding with your third child isn’t the same as bonding with the first two. It’s a different kind of special, and it’s another dimension of love.