As my kids file out of my mini van like clowns out of a VW bug, it’s hard to believe that a few years ago I cried myself to sleep at night, unsure if I would ever be able to have a baby. But, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, lots of prayer and Dongo the Voodoo priestess, here I am with a 5, almost 4 and almost 3-year-old beautiful girls.
I’ve become so accustomed to living the life of a circus ring leader that it almost takes me aback when people ask me how I do it, or, more commonly, look at me like I’m insane.
And while each state has its own set of parenting suggestions (some might call them laws), here is a little peek behind the curtain to see what makes this family machine whine, choke, gasp for air, but ultimately move forward.
EEEEEEveryone’s a comedian. Let me begin with the barrage of sexual innuendo “jokes” I get daily. I would like to include the words ‘variety of’ in that sentence, but unfortunately every gross old man in the universe attended the same sad school of comedy and can only come up with, “You know what causes that… right?” followed up with a throaty chuckle and gentle nudge to my uterus. Also sometimes they will throw in a wink just to make it even more super creepy.
Let me clarify – it’s not the idea of strangers commenting on my ridiculous situation that makes me want to light them on fire; I like to laugh, especially at myself. Bring it. Just please, PLEASE GROSS OLD MEN EVERYWHERE… come up with something new.
I’ve had all sorts of brainstorms for how I might one day respond, ranging from singing the chorus to Gimme That Nut and twerking away down the baked goods aisle to staring them dead in the eyes and with a completely straight face say, “No… can you tell me?” Then, no matter how awkward it becomes, pledge to maintain eye contact and complete silence until they slowly back away or cry.
Now THAT would be funny.
I’ve just never been brave enough to pull the trigger because most of them look at me like it’s the most brilliant thing I have ever heard and, well, they’re old. Who knows how much time they have left on this earth so I’ll let them have it. I know… I’m a martyr.
The Juggler. Multi-tasking has become such a part of my life that I am now literally unable to shut it off. Nick gets aggravated with me because I can’t just sit down and relax and have a conversation after dinner; I’ll get up and sweep the floor or start making lunches for the next day. Maybe both at the same time. “Go ahead… I’m listening,” I’ll say as I grab the scissors and begin cutting his hair.
It all started around the time when I was newly pregnant with my third and became a master at simultaneously barfing, breastfeeding and changing a diaper. No really – I AM NOT KIDDING. Now I do my taxes at a dental cleaning. Shave my legs while I do the dinner dishes. Shower while reading the paper.
My life is all about logistics. I’m constantly evaluating our daily routine and cutting out the fat. There’s no reason a child can’t walk and put on their shoes at the same time. My kids are like sharks – if they stop swimming they will die in the water. We must remain in constant motion or the whole machine will break down. Hair. Teeth. Breakfast. Out. Do not pass go, do not stop to question your outfit or change your shoes.
The Tired. Part of being able to multi-task is the ability to get really really good at cutting corners. Cutting corners is another way of saying “lazy”. When my 3-year-old tells me she wiped herself after she pooped, I just want to believe it so badly that I do. And it isn’t until the next day when I notice a family of flies buzzing around her shorts that I realize I probably should have taken a quick break from hot gluing Shutterfly’s head back on to check for fecal sprinkles.
All this constant forward motion means that once in a while my tank is on “E”, especially because my husband has an average of three days off a month so it’s all me, all the time. The only way to survive is to occasionally declare it National Mom’s Checked Out Day and just let the chips land where they fall. It’s actually liberating to give yourself a one-day pass and serve popcorn for breakfast and let them drink out of the toilet. Watch TV. Open the new box of Crayons before the old ones are used up. They can put the entire tube of toothpaste on their toothbrushes or, better yet, not brush at all. By the end of the day their teeth have the consistency of Laffy Taffy but I have hit the ‘reset’ button and everyone lives to see another day.
Bulk. There are tons of economies of scale that lead to huge benefits to having kids so close in age. Such as, they are all in the same class at swim lessons. Same sports teams. You think three in diapers sounds like a nightmare but I bought an Air Stream with Pamper’s points in 2012. And, maybe I’m jumping the gun here, but I’m already planning a big Brady-style wedding.
They share friends, toys and clothes. Which, if they turn out to be anything like my two sisters and I, will hit a low point in about 9 years when they each have a handful of each other’s hair because SOMEONE stole SOMEONE’S silk shirt while they were sleeping.
So the good news is that after almost three years of trial and error of learning how to juggle the needs of three little kids I feel like we are finally in a happy place. Sure, there are meltdowns and occasionally the little one will pee on me but for the most part our house is filled with controlled pre-school chaos.
But the bad news is kids are always changing and presenting new parenting challenges. Tomorrow is another day, and from tomorrow until the day I die I will be just one nervous breakdown away from having a file at DFS.