I will probably be saying this for at least the next year, if not forever, but four kids is not for the faint of heart.
I don’t believe in playing the “who has a harder game,” but J and I definitely sit and reminisce about those 17 months we had with only one child.
I mean, it was complete chaos and mayhem then. We had no idea what we were doing. We still don’t. But in that moment, we only had one child waking up in the middle of the night, one child with dirty diapers, one child throwing up when a stomach bug came around, one child who wanted our undivided attention, you get the point. Although it’s funny, because in those moments, it definitely didn’t seem any easier with just that one baby than it does now with four. Probably because it wasn’t easier. It was just different. I think that’s why you start out with one kid at a time. OK, most people start out with one baby at a time. Some are blessed with more than that on their first go, whether through giving birth to multiples, or adopting multiple children at once.
But this fourth baby has made me take learning to give myself grace to a whole new level.
It’s trickier in a lot of ways, I think mostly because we are in Hawaii, and not back where we had our feet firmly on the ground. We’re still figuring things out. And then we threw in this other child.
I wouldn’t trade her, or this experience, for the world, but it’s definitely a learning curve.
I finally had to tell H today that this was her last month of gymnastics. Not because we can’t afford it, or because it’s too much time, but because it’s too much time in the car for Bean. We spend just as much time in the car with this god awful Honolulu traffic as she does in her class. And Bean literally screams her heart out the whole time we’re in traffic.
Not that I enjoy hearing any of my kids cry or complain, but a toddler or preschooler thatbis unhappy in the car is a lot less heartbreaking than an itsy-bitsy baby who just doesn’t understand and can’t be reasoned with. OK, so toddlers and preschoolers can’t really be reasoned with either. I mean, I like to think they can… But we all know better.
As I was cursing myself for having apparently lost one of Sweet M’s shoes in Costco this evening and forgetting to get gas, while trying to dice up onions while H held her sister so that maybe dinner wouldn’t be on the table too much past bedtime, H started reading to me magnets on the refrigerator that were given to us long ago by her godparents.
“Momma,”she said, “children are a gift from the Lord.”
We are just going to pretend in that moment the tears that spraig into my eyes were from the onion I was chopping. After an afternoon that’s been a little hectic, and moments when I’ve probably been more frustrated and exasperated with these sweet people than I should be, it was exactly the reminder I needed.
They are a gift. Regardless of whether you believe in a higher being or not. These children are a gift. And somehow, I got them. I get to be the momma to these four amazing people.
Mr. B is starting to read. It’s kind of the most beautiful and frustrating thing to witness. Yes, I won’t sugarcoat it and say it’s not frustrating. For me. He’s doing amazing and isn’t frustrated in the least bit. But I can never quite figure out how he sounds out the word “nut” and then yells “big!” I’m left scratching my chin wondering if we’ve been looking at the same book. But he is unphased. And over all, he is sailing through his reading lessons beautifully. And most importantly, he is so proud of himself, which is kind of one of the most amazing things in parenting to witness. Your child reading. At least it is for me.
I had really feared we were behind in their homeschooling until I sat down over the weekend and started to really look at where we were at in the curriculum. And we just finished week 21 out of 36. So I think we’re going to be OK. That was a huge weight off my shoulders.
I’m really loving homeschooling them. But I’m also kind of looking forward to the day that there is another awesome school I can send them to and feel good about it. Miss H thrives in big environments. Me, not so much. B is a lot like me in that aspect and currently expresses no interest in ever attending school unless it’s college, but I suspect he’d change his mind if his sister were gone each day. We will see. Right now, we’re just taking it day by day.
I got brave enough this past week to take them to the beach without J. I had friends there to help, which was nice, but I also feel pretty confident that I can now do it by myself. As long as we are at the right toddler-friendly beach.
I’ve been re-reading “Unconditional Parenting” by Alfie Kohn (if you have a kid, are around kids, or know a kid, I can’t recommend this book enough!). It revolutionized my parenting years ago, and in the thick of things I’ve found myself falling back on old habits because they’re easier sometimes.
But I keep talking to my kids. I keep telling them the kind of momma I want to be and apologizing when I’ve acted poorly myself because I want them to learn that even adults make mistakes and it’s okay to admit that and tell people you’re sorry. I also find myself muttering “I could be a nicer mom if my kids were crazy lunatics” sometimes, but…really, they’re pretty darn good kids. Sometimes I have to remind myself that the unattainable bar I set for myself isn’t fair to set for my kiddos, too.
We also just got Bean a crib and side-carred it to my bed. And we bought her a new car seat. There are not words enough out there to praise my husband for putting up with his wife’s crazy. I’m not even gonna tell you how many car seats we have purchased since becoming parents.
Oh, and Sweet M stuck a giant pearl bead up his nose tonight. He was quite proud. This is my life, yo.