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Thursday, February 17, 2011

four kids and seven days later...

Maybe it's too soon to declare this, but I do believe I've got this mother of four thing under control. It really hasn't felt much more challenging than having three kids. And not being pregnant anymore makes me feel like I could take on the world! I'm feeling new and improved, equipped with super powers that have enabled me to leave the house on two occasions, get kids off to school on time (and bathed), provide snack for Leo's pre-school class, help Madeline complete a 100 day of school project, cook a few meals for my family, continue waging the laundry war, squeeze in the occasional shower, get all the kids to nap at the same time everyday, spend hours on the floor playing (because I can finally get down to the floor comfortably) and still manage to feel pretty well rested. The crazy fat bitch has NOTHING on me!

I hated being pregnant(could you tell)? But all along, I kept reminding myself that one day it would be over; the crazy fat bitch would be gone and life would return to normal...with four kids. I anticipated labor more than a kid does Christmas. Darren tells the story about waking and finding me in labor. He rolled over and saw me laying there at 4:30 a.m. wide awake with a big smile on my face (between contractions)and all I could say was "this is gonna be fun!" I had just completed my fourth pregnancy. Childbirth and four kids would be a peice of cake.

Yes, four kids seems a bit daunting in theory. In fact, it seems to be the point in which people seriously start to question your sanity. I'll never forget some of the priceless moments during my pregnancy when I would tell people about baby #4, like the oil man who came to fill our tank and upon realizing i was pregnant again, told me so (literally as if I didn't know) and looked at me with a fear in his eye that had me reassuring him that he was not the father. Or the priceless look of astonishment and speechlessness on my brother's face when he heard the news. Or my father's genuine concern after sharing our news "are you...ok?" Or our waitress who was about to offer us some parenting advice until she heard it was our fourth and quickly realized she could teach us nothing. Or the co-worker who told me that he thought I was the "hottest chick" there until he found out how many kids I had. Or the handfull of strangers who would politely ask if this was my first child and then rudely respond "why?" when hearing it was my fourth. (Why not?) And finally (for now) the lawyer who is drawing up our wills who told us that we're pretty "standard", other than having four children. Yes, the only person to take it all in stride was Darren...seriously, he didn't even flinch.

There have been only brief, fleeting moments of panic and adjustment so far. The day I got home from the hospital, I immedietly took a shower while the baby was sleeping and the other kids were still with their grandmother. While I was showering, the kids came home. Lennox went down for a nap before I could even see him. Hours later, we had a visitor. "Where's Lennox?" she asked? "Oh shit...!" Yes, after months of hearing his grandmother jokingly say that we were going to forget about little Lennox, and reassuring her that that could never happen, we forgot about him. I don't know how long he had been awake and crying in his crib, but he looked pretty pissed, so it could have been a while.

There have been only one or two moments when two or three kids are crying at once and I freeze, momentarily, and stammer "oh God, oh God, oh God!" Yes it's more of a state of panic, but it's also a sincere prayer for the strength to survive the moment.

I've only been nearly sufficated a few dozen times when all four children sworm me at once the moment I sit down, because if mommy is sitting down, they must know why I'm sitting and when I plan on getting up again to meet their every need.

There are daily pleas to the oldest children begging them to try their very best to listen, cooperate, try to get along, and try to do for themselves. An almost 4 year old Leo always offers his very best assurance that he will be the very best boy, but seems to forget about his good intentions the moment he walks away, and 7 year old Madeline insists that she will try, but cannot make any promises. Points for honesty.

She remains my biggest challenge. She is the one single factor that can make me channel the crazy fat bitch. I happen to know that she is far more capable than she prefers to let on, and I find it infuriating. I know this because she has slipped up a few times and proven herself. Last month, for example, she kept her room perfectly clean for nearly three weeks(I have never kept anything clean for that long). But there has to be something in it for her. Asking her to do something simply because it is her responsibility and she is perfectly capable and "I HAVE FOUR KIDS TO TAKE CARE OF NOW! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, PLEASE HELP ME OUT A LITTLE!!!!!doesn't get me very far.

I suppose I should give credit to the calmest, most content baby I have ever given birth to, and they've all been pretty mellow babies. I know that a constantly screaming baby in the background of a house with four children would be a total game changer. I am lucky. Her guardian angel hasn't stopped hugging her since she was born. She is peaceful and angelic, always.

I have always, at the end of every single day of motherhood, thanked God for my children, even on those days when I had to shut them in their rooms two hours before bed just the get them away from me. I have added a special thanks this week, for knowing better than I did, that I was meant to be a mother of four.

Darren likes to joke about us having more. He even sent me the perfect text while I was in the hospital with baby #4 that almost melted me into thinking about #5; "I like having babies because I have them with you." He's right. It's special. Our family is big, and would be incomplete without any one of us. He is my partner. We may not be married, but nine years and four children later, we are still genuinely in love. I can't imagine a stronger bond.

I feel incredibly blessed. Sometimes I wonder how everything could feel so perfect when I just lost my mother (and yes, it still feels like I "just" lost her) and she isn't here to share all of this with me. But in the words of Charles "Pa" Ingalls, "how can you ever know true happiness if you've never known real sorrow?" I have known both, and one does indeed teach you to fully appreciate the other.

Leo: If Santa brings another baby brother or sister, can we keep it?
Me: Heck yeah! If Santa brings it, we can keep it.

I'd be up for one or two more under those circumstances.