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