3 under 3: Triple trouble

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Amy Condon is a mum to 3 kids, who are all under 3! Yes, you heard us right. Each week she tells us all about the ups and downs of bringing up 3 children so close in age. This installment is about her little ones throwing some spectacular tantrums...

'When people used to ask what I did, I'd say: ‘journalist', but what do I tell them now? Housewife sounds so old-fashioned and unliberated, while stay-at-home-mum or home-maker are just so twee. So I settled for full-time mum. But then I agonised over the suggestion that mums who worked somehow forget they were mums between the hours of 9 to 5. Turns out, I needn't have worried. It's a moot point. These days, I need a new job title. Referee.

I've spent the past week doing nothing but split up fights. No, that's not true. I've spent the past week depositing screaming toddlers in the ‘time-out' corner, snatching a baby away from everything her sisters are trying to do, wanting to ram knitting needles in my ears to drown out the whining, and splitting up fights. In short, mummy hell. Overnight, my three adorable little girls became a trio of divas. I mean, did I commit some huge mothering sin for which I'm being punished? Have I angered the toddler Gods? Considering some sort of blood sacrifice to appease them. After all, I've served my time in parent purgatory.

When G was 18 months old, she suddenly started throwing the most spectacular tantrums. I'm surprised the neighbours didn't call the police. She'd scream and rage and tear around all because I had the nerve to try to get her dressed or tell her she couldn't have a snack. Given I was also six-and-a-half months pregnant at the time, it wasn't exactly fun. But just as I was despairing, my baby came back to me. The tantrums all but vanished and all she wanted to do was cuddle and play again. It was all just a way of her asserting her independence, of figuring out who she was. And when T decided to go through a similar phase a month or so later, I took it in my (admittedly by then very waddly) stride. So surely they'd worked it out? They knew who they were? Knew their place in the world? Apparently not.

Nothing is good enough for G. She threw a spectacular wobbly the other day because her father cut a sausage in half. The wrong way. And while T is quieter, that's only because she's focussing all her energy on riling G up, and maintaining a constant hum of whining. Even M can't be relied upon for a smile. Managing two very wobbly steps seems to have spurred her into thinking she's now one of the girls, and she's completely disinterested in anything apart from what her sisters have. Each of them is out to prove she's her own person, and I'm the target for all their frustrations. ‘I don't like Mummy,' G informed me the other day. ‘I like Daddy.' These are the kind of weeks when I think perhaps I've had too many children.

All I can do is hunker down and hope that it's another phase, that I'll start to hear the twins laughing again as they concoct some new game, instead of having to pull them. I hope they'll start letting M join in, instead of finding her chubby little presence an irritation. And I hope G decides she maybe likes me, just a little bit. As one of three girls all born within three-and-a-half years, I always wanted the same - a close-knit group who could face the world together, protect each other and, most of all, have a lot of fun. But I guess sometimes being close means you have to jockey for space, and when I turned to my parents, expecting a little empathy, they could barely contain their amusement. My sisters and I might be close now, but our bond wasn't achieved without a few casualties. Mum and dad said what got them through my own tantrum-filled toddler years was picturing me as a mum, being blessed with a daughter just like me. It seems they got their wish. In triplicate. So all I need is patience. I'll be patient next time G kicks off over a misplaced straw. I'll be patient when T is grabbing my leg and whining to be picked up. And I'll be patient as M refuses to be distracted from her twin-baiting. I'll patiently wait until they have children of their own. Then, oh how I'll laugh...'

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