But am I glad I did?
It didn't take me long to realize that life with twins and a toddler (now preschooler) was about as far from "easy" as it could get. Going anywhere requires major planning and preparation and I'm constantly looking at the clock and counting backward to build time into our schedule for dressing, hair-brushing, meltdowns, diaper changes, and loading of all gear into the car. There is no "pick up and go" in my world. Everything requires advance thought. Everything is difficult. Getting places on time (something that is hugely important to me and always has been-love her though I do, my mother was constantly running behind when my sister and I were younger. We were late for everything, and I hated it) demands organization, and it means that those of us who can dress ourselves, put on our own coats, and get themselves ready to go (and I count Isabella in this mix) do so.
Fortunately, Isabella (for the most part) has stepped up wonderfully, and I have noticed a huge change in her behavior over the past year. Yes, she's a year older, and I think maturity is a part of it, but by encouraging her to do things for herself instead of seeking my help, I believe I've empowered her with a sense of accomplishment. She loves saying, "I'm a big girl. I can do it" and most of the time, I let her run with this. Sure, it takes longer for her to put on her coat, hat, and mittens then if I were to do it for her, and it does take more time to clear the table after dinner when Isabella takes her plate to the sink and her napkin into the garbage, and it sometimes takes a very long time for her to clean up her toys at the end of the day.
But I like to think that my encouragement of her independence, instead of doing the things for her that I know she's capable of doing herself, will not only help me stay sane, but also help her self-esteem too. She gets such a thrill from calling me into a room ("Come see what I did, Mommy") to show me some big-girl task she's done for me without asking-picking up the babies' toys, putting napkins on the table for dinner, etc. Isabella frequently tells me, "When I get bigger, I'll sweep the floor for you/make the babies' breakfast/wash the dishes," etc.
Fortunately, her preschool re-enforces the independence I'm encouraging at home. In the mornings, the kids are encouraged to hang up their own coats and place their school bags in a basket. One child each day is chosen as the snack leader and he/she helps the teacher pass out the snack. The kids help with cleanup too.
Of course, just as you can rely on the moon rising as the sun sets each day, my family members are not fond of my parenting style. I am "too hard on her." Isabella is "just three" and "still a baby." One of my aunts still carries her around every time she sees her, as if Isabella wasn't 31 pounds and 32 inches tall. They bundle her up when we're leaving their homes after a visit. They sometimes even feed her when Isabella refuses to eat at mealtime. I realize that some of this is just what relatives do. They coddle. They spoil. They like the idea of Isabella still being a baby, because babies are Cute! Cuddly! And babies most certainly do not tell you, "To bad for you, I won't."
But for me, with three little ones, two of whom are supremely cute, but incredibly needy little parasites, allowing Isabella to do for herself everything that she's capable of doing (most of the time anyway) makes my life a bit easier.
And these days? I am all about "easier."