The Most Third Child Thing I’ve Done Yet

I had my third (and final) baby five months ago. And though I felt prepared and pumped and like I would be able to give her everything the other two got, well, I often find myself cutting corners and saying, “well, she’s the third.” Don’t get me wrong, she gets plenty of love and care but we’re just more laid back this time around. And we don’t have the bandwidth to dote and obsess the way we did with our first. She wears a lot of hand-me-downs (sometimes they match). She plays with a lot of hand-me-downs (and TV clickers). She gets man-handled (and often fed) by her older siblings and it should go without saying that there is no baby book for her yet (or perhaps ever). Hardly crimes, I know, but it’s certainly interesting to note how our parenting style changes as we have more kids. The most telling example so far:

I was down in Florida for vacation recently and my mom and I took my three kids to the beach. Like Murphy’s Law of parenting, the second we carted all of our crap onto the sand and sat down, the baby had one of those blowouts where everything had to go. I was unfazed because I had packed plenty of wipes and a change of clothes and an extra onesie and … oh yeah, I forgot diapers. %&$! I considered how far it would be to drive to the nearest drugstore (far), I scanned the surf for other families who might have an extra diaper (there were none), I wondered aloud if I could fashion a cloth diaper out of a beach towel (I didn’t have the skills ... or the scissors). I considered letting her go commando in her onesie (I quickly reconsidered). The thought of leaving the gorgeous, peaceful ocean where everyone was so happy and relaxed (even the buck-naked baby was chill — that’s her, above) nearly broke me.

And then my mom said, “Wait! I think I have a Maxi pad in my purse!” My mother has one of those bottomless-pit bags with emery boards and Band-Aids and coupons and tons of other stuff I never carry but always seem to need. She doesn’t even know how the Maxi pad got in there but thinks she may have taken it from one of those baskets in the bathroom at a wedding (she probably figured she could save someone’s day someday) and, well, we were saved. I grabbed the last onesie from the bottom of the diaper bag, stuck the Maxi pad on it, stuck the baby in it and—voila!—she was covered. We stayed on the beach till sundown then grabbed a bite to eat nearby (at an outside peel-n-eat shrimp place so I didn’t feel like the baby was underdressed in her sanitary napkin). My mom and I kept laughing hysterically at what a third-child move it was and how I never would have done something like that with my first (I probably wouldn’t have been on the beach in the first place because it would have interfered with his nap time — yeah, I was pretty type-A). Oh, and the Maxi pad never leaked. Absorbent!

You may think this is atrocious. That I’m neglectful. That I shouldn’t have three kids if I can’t remember to pack diapers. But stuff like this happens to the best of us and I think my mom saving the day with a Maxi pad is genius. We totally lucked out and I’m so glad I’ve learned to lighten up and roll with the parenting punches a bit more. I have also definitely learned my lesson and now always check and double check the diaper bag to make sure there are diapers in it. D’oh!