have i ever steered you wrong?

Often people with one or two kids will say to me something like, Wow, I struggle with my one/two all the time.  How do you do it with four?

And, usually, I say something like this: Well, the hardest thing is going from zero to one.  I think I was just as overwhelmed with one as I am with four.  Once you have a child, ALL your time and energy goes in their direction — so it really doesn’t make that much of a difference if you have one or if you have ten; parenting is all-consuming no matter how many kids you have.

I’ve come to realize lately that I am totally full of shit. 

Was I saying that to convince myself?  Who knows.  What I do know is that some weekday mornings all four kids have to get out the door by 8, and other mornings it’s just the boys.  The days when just the boys have to go are pretty peaceful: the getting dressed, eating, lunch packing, brushing and flossing happen pretty seamlessly, as a rule.  Of course they gripe and moan and forget their lunch and homework and such, but, compared to the days when everyone must be woken, dressed, fed, brushed, shod and jacketed and find their sharing/library books/backpack/permission slips, the days with two are MARKEDLY easier than the days with four. 

Now, it may be that I’d never have noticed that it was "easy" with two if I didn’t have four to hold up as a glaring comparison.  After all, when Lex was a baby I looked at people with two or three kids and freaked out a little at the very idea of having more than one child.  I so clearly remember being pregnant with Nathan and talking to a mom at the park who’d just had her third child.  I was pumping her for information because I couldn’t believe that I was going to be able to handle two! kids.  Several years later, she was marveling at me, saying how she was coping with her three, but couldn’t imagine having four. 

My older three kids do spend every other weekend with their dad and step-mom, so I get breaks that most mothers of four do not.  Every time they go, I resolve to clean the house and get little projects that I’ve been putting off forever taken care of, but usually I shift into low gear.  I putter (what a luxury — I wish I’d appreciated the fine art of puttering more when I had free access to it), I read, I cook, we take Willow out places that are sort of a pain with all the kids. 

I don’t know if I’ll cry in my beer the next time someone asks me if it’s really tough having four kids, but I think I’ll stop sugar coating it.  Basically it’s a lot of this


but even more of this

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5 thoughts on “have i ever steered you wrong?

  1. laura

    i usually offer to folks with 2 who remark on how i manage with 5 that it isn’t like i woke up one morning with 5 all at once. i eased into this. frankly going from 2 to 3 was as hard as going from 0 to 1 but when #4 came around all i thought was what is one more. in fact, i signed on to take in an exchange student weeks after #4 came and hosted a slumber party one week after she came home from the hospital. 5 kids is easy but i have help…the whole family circus and probably like you, the bigs help take care of the littles. who cares if others don’t get it. let them think we are super-moms or crazy.

  2. Student Nurse Nancy

    LOVE the picture of the dishes. It looks like you came over and took it out of my sink. I could not agree more on getting 2 kids booted out the door vs. all 4 of them. My younger two never want to wake up when the older two need to leave. I have resorted to bathing and sending them to bed fully dressed(jeans, shirt, socks) the night before the mornings everyone needs to get out the door at once. My friends laugh at me, but hey, it saves so much time and makes it much less painful in the morning.

  3. Heather

    Catching up after months of barely touching my keyboard. It all sounds so achingly familiar: the above mentioned Ring of Hormonal Hell, the frantic mornings, the downshifting (despite the vows to clean the house, change the sheets, work hard…) when the kids go to their dad’s house.

    It’s good to be reading again. Hang in there! 🙂


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