Today’s columnist, Catherine Ball: Why three is just a number for me

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Since I gave birth to my third child last August, something strange has happened.

Now wherever I go, whatever I am doing, people queue up to comment on the fact I have three children - and apparently even more shocking is the fact that all of them, all three, are girls.

On a daily basis I get told that I have my hands full, that I’m outnumbered or that I simply must be crazy. Others delight in telling me that when all three of them reach the teenage years, I am basically doomed and should consider building a nuclear bunker in the garden right now.

I’m not sure when it happened exactly but it seems that today’s society has got caught up on this idea of the ‘ideal family’ and that family has two children – one boy and one girl.

If you have anything other than this magic combination, the life commentators (you know the people, they’re the ones who seem to lurk in public places eager to pat pregnant bellies, tickle baby feet and wind up toddlers mid-tantrum) leap out to pass comment. If you have one child, they are desperate to know when you’re going to have another.

If you have two children who happen to share the same gender then the burning question on their lips is whether you’ll try again to get a baby of a different flavour.

And if like me, you don’t stop at two then you’re seen as a glutton for punishment or someone who must have missed the talk on contraception at school.

As one of four girls myself, there is nothing at all odd to me in having three daughters.

Each one was planned and I couldn’t be more delighted with their gender.

And, to be honest, once you have two children you rarely get a minute to yourself anyway so it hardly makes much difference if you add another little one to the chaos.

Of course there is respite from the well-meaning comments and it comes from other parents of 3+ children.

In fact, to a parent with six, seven, eight or even more children, a mum-of-three is just mastering a basic juggle with tennis balls while they are pulling off a whole circus act with swords, fire and a flying trapeze.

Of course, the next time someone dashes up to tell me I’m crazy, I’ll smile and nod politely as always but really I’ll be thinking ‘You don’t know what you’re missing.’