My third and final baby is six weeks old, and my heart aches at the thought of how quickly the past month and a half flew by. I’m a mom of three. Over five years ago, my motherhood journey began with the birth of my first son. I’m not sure where the time went, but this time around, each and every moment—even the 3:30 am feeds—seems to be happening on hyperspeed. And, if the past five years have been any indication, time truly is a thief.

Related: It’s so different with my last baby

At six weeks, we are starting to see the first of many milestones to come: baby girl’s first real smiles, accompanied by the most adorable baby noises as she begins to engage with the people and world around her. I’m also acutely aware of the fact that every milestone we encounter with our sweet baby girl will be more bittersweet than my two previous newborn experiences because as our last baby, all of her “firsts” will also be my “lasts”.

And so, I’m often reminding myself—even in peak moments of exhaustion—that this is the last time we’ll get to celebrate the first time our baby smiles, sits up and crawls. This is the last time I’ll get to breastfeed, enjoy first words, first steps and so much more. 

But as the youngest of three, some days soaking up and enjoying her “newborn-ness” seems next to impossible. Between the mental, physical and emotional load of being in the thick of raising two active, sensitive and hopefully kind boys (you should see us during the morning rush of getting our oldest off to school on time and our now-middle-child off to daycare), it seems like most days, our third baby is being met with a very haphazard and disheveled me by 10 am.

It’s OK to not enjoy every moment of having three kids.

So, this letter is to future me. On the days I need that extra reminder when the mom guilt starts to creep in. With experience comes a bit more wisdom, and three kids in, I’m choosing to let go of that guilt and instead meet my last baby where I’m at. As much as I wanted, hoped and prayed for our third and final baby, I’m also reminding myself that it’s OK to not enjoy every moment of having three kids. After all, I was just starting to get bits of my pre-kid life back with a four and almost-six-year-old.

Related: I wanted a third child, so why am I feeling conflicted?

This time, I know it’s OK to feel frustrated by the restless, wakeful nights, the struggle (for both of us) when she tries and fails to latch right away, and especially the morning chaos of getting the big kids to school in time for baby’s first nap so she’s not overtired. This time, instead of wishing the hard moments away, I’m choosing to enjoy the newborn experience as much as I possibly can.

But I’m also choosing to ask for help when I need it. I’m also learning to be OK with a very messy house most of the time. As a mom of three, I’m learning to give myself grace for all the frozen dinners and extra screen time we will all be consuming as we figure out our new normal. This is motherhood the third time around, and all of my feelings—good and bad—are valid.

So to all of the moms out there in the same season of life—I see you. I am you. Life is possibly the furthest it can be from perfect, but I know it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be.

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