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Five years ago, I walked into a room full of moms, hopeful to make some new friends in the same stage as me. I had my first child in tow, the one who’d been born a smidge over three pounds seven months before. The one who screamed every time a male entered the room. The one who still woke up every two or three hours at night. The one who only wanted me, every second, of every hour, of every day.

I walked in late, because how does anyone get anywhere on time with babies? Sweat beads began dripping down my nether-regions (thigh gap is not a thing postpartum) from hauling in the massive infant car seat, scavenging for my checkbook to pay dues, and anxiously shushing my overtired baby girl.

I watched as all the other moms skipped in with their three, four, or five perfectly-coordinated kids and looked down at my one. The one who’d been wearing the same sour onesie for three straight days and was having a hard time catching her breath between piercing wales.

I shushed her again, lest anyone realize I had no idea what I was doing.

How do they do it? I wondered. I have one. They have, like, fifteen. How is it so effortless for everyone else when I just want to curl up into the fetal position and sob right here in the middle of the hallway?

Two months later, I did exactly that on the un-mopped floor of my bathroom upon seeing my positive pregnancy test.

I can’t. I am barely surviving with just one. There’s no way I can take care of two humans, I thought.

Turns out, I can. And, holy smokes, I can even take care of three. Because after that second little girl arrived seventeen months after the first, a little boy made his grand appearance two years later.

A few months ago, I pulled up to that same organization of moms, only this time in a different city, with my three little ones in tow. At the time they were four, three, and one. We were a couple minutes early. They were all dressed (ish), hair brushed (ish), gripping their water bottles and baggies of snacks with chubby little fists. They all three held hands as we waddled across the street, and a gracious mama with a baby wrapped to her chest held the door for me as I ushered my line of ducklings into the foyer.

“I don’t know how you do it,” she sighed. “We barely made it here this morning and it was just the two of us.”

I stopped her and looked right into her tired eyes to make sure she heard me loud and clear.

“Girl. One is so hard. This was not me with one. I only made it here two or three times with my first because I just didn’t know how to leave the house. I assure you, your world with one is much harder than my world with three.”

New mamas, please don’t doubt yourself when you see moms of multiples. I learned, grew, and adapted with each new child. I figured out how to juggle, prioritize, and let them cry or tune it out. Each addition became my new normal and God gave me what I needed when I realized how utterly insufficient I was.

That first one, however, I was in it. You are in it. That first one is just a huge science experiment full of lots of trials and lots of errors. I promise, it gets better. It gets so much easier. Don’t doubt your mom-ness. Don’t assume everyone else is doing it better than you. You’re way too tired and unstable to start thinking those dark thoughts. Just know, we were all there on numero uno.

One is so hard, but it gets easier. Someday, you’ll be an old pro, or you’ll at least learn to give yourself grace when you’re not.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

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