When Katie was 1 and Sarah was a very tiny pipsqueak, still sleeping 10 hours a day in her car seat, I had Katie enrolled in ‘The Little Gym’. It was a great program, designed to clean out my pocketbook while also teaching Katie the basics of physical education. I loved it, she loved it. It was grand.
There was another woman in my class who was always there with her twin boys. She was so beautiful. Make- up on, dressed well, gut lost after birth. I loved her. I really did! She was the sweetest thing in the world.
One day, we got to talking and I found out that she also had an infant at home. So she had twin 2 year old boys and a baby. And she looked so great. I remember saying, probably after a night of little sleep, “Wow, you must really have your hands full!” A sentence I have come to detest, in all honesty. All parents have their hands full. These are kids after all.
She replied, in a carefree, calm, manner, “It’s all relative.”
That comment stuck with me. I was impressed with her positive spin, the smile that never left her face and her confidence in handling those boys.
Even after I found out she had a full time Nanny and sitter, the comment still resonated within me.
Is it all relative? Does it all depend on what you have and how you choose to handle it?
I know that – in my mind and memory – I was very relaxed with one child. I remember quitting work with 6 weeks to go in Sarah’s pregnancy. I joined a mom’s club, went to playgroup, impressed everyone – who was laughing behind my back at my naiveté, I am sure – with my confidence and relaxation. One was nothing! Sooo easy! Two was going to be a breeze!
I blocked out the up all night, never would nap, whined all the time, addicted to the paci, entering the terrible two’s stage early stuff. It was so easy. Right?
When Sarah came home, all hell broke loose! She was colicky, addicted to the breast and oh so teeny. I felt immense guilt for ignoring Katie to tend to Sarah and ignoring Sarah to tend to Katie. I tried to keep up with ‘The Little Gym’, the library, playgroups, and such. But it was too hard. I was too tired. And too inexperienced. I was overwhelmed and could not imagine having any more children.
And then we found out about Megan. Secretly happy and overly confident, I was thrilled. Katie would not yet be 3 and Sarah would not yet be 2, but I thought, “Hey, it’s just one baby and two kids, I can do this.”
Wrong like that time I wore leggings wrong.
I am so completely overwhelmed I can not even find time to look the word up! These kids have my number and have it posted in the garage to throw darts at! And they are really good shots!
But I will say that when Megan is down for her nap, and loves me enough to give me her famous 3 hour siesta, I feel relaxed and happy because 2 kids seem so much easier! All of my kids are really high maintenance – still trying to figure out where they got that from – so it seems odd that I would feel that the two who can talk, order me around, fight and actually hurt each other, and drive me mad are so much more manageable. But I do. Because compared to the stress and apprehensions of having all three awake, it does ‘seem’ like I have a better handle on it.
And when I think – sometimes – that we may have made a mistake by surgically stopping the birthing process in out family, I think 4 would now be so bad. I’d have three kids and a baby.
How hard could that be? I know a lot of mothers who have 4 children and do a fantastic job!
But I know tomorrow there will be more crying, tantrums, bad behavior, and complaining… and the kids will be here too. So, I’ll be back to trying to juggle three kids with two arms, wondering how I will ever get through the day, worrying that I am not paying enough attention to any of them and that I am paying too much attention to just one.
Wishing for bedtime.
And trying to decide if it’s all relative.