Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The more the merrier.

In our homeschool group, there are lots of families with lots of kids. It seems like four is the new two, although there are a handful of families with five or more (and of course some with only one).

As I sometimes struggle to keep track of mine (and there are only two of them!), I can't help but wonder what no one likes to be asked: "How do you do it?"

I don't mean it passive aggressively. How do you do it is not code for why do you do it. I'm not judging; I'm genuinely curious (and impressed!). I honestly don't know how anyone could raise more than two kids at a time.

There are only four people in our house and I have yet to get on top of the laundry. Like...ever. Not to mention the dishes and meals and grocery shopping and birthday parties and toys and projects and raising the kids to be decent human beings. I get overwhelmed just thinking about it.

At the park one day I mindlessly uttered to no one in particular, "I don't know how you guys do it..." A mama within ear shot piped up. "Having four is way easier than having one. When it was just me and my first baby, it was the worst. No distraction. No playmates. No breaks. Just me and my needy baby, day after day. That was hard."

I could tell she was being serious but I still didn't believe her. I loved when it was just me and my baby. We had our routine and nap time and could easily take outings whenever we wanted. I had time to write and workout and have nothing but very fond memories of that time.

But that was baby Liam. He was some sort of freakish anomaly. Like an adult in a baby's body. It was kind of like hanging out with a cuter version of myself. We both dig alone time so our time together is short and sweet and usually pretty effortless.

But I forget that not every kid is like that. Take my Finn for example. Yesterday while Liam was as school, Finn wanted my complete attention. FOR THE ENTIRE SEVEN HOURS LIAM WAS GONE. Now I love some one-on-one with my boys but this was out of control.

I tried "filling his tank" but it didn't seem possible. We'd play for a while and I'd be really engaged and present. Then I'd attempt to check in with my to-do list and he'd either send himself to his room with hurt feelings or stand next to me shouting Mama until I gave up the fight and went back to his room.

And it wasn't like he wanted to build or do an art project or read books all day. Nooo. That would have been way too easy. He wanted to just play. Pretend. ALL. DAY. LONG. I love the idea of pretend but can never make it happen with enough conviction to impress the boys. I'm basically in trouble the entire time.
"Mama, you're not doing it right! This is the battle of heros, remember? We have to force before you cut off my arm..."
"No! Queen Princess Knight doesn't sound like that. She's a girl. She sounds like this." (Does the voice exactly how I was doing it the first time.)
"You can't talk. You're a dog. Get back on your hands and knees."
"You already said that favorite color! You have to come up with a different favorite color. And sing better this time."
It's exhausting.

I was so excited to pick Liam up at school yesterday we were actually on time. What a relief to hear Finn talking to someone other than me for a change! It was like I could exhale for the first time all day.

Today I did the smart thing and invited a friend over to play. It turns out that mom was right. The more, the merrier! The boys are having a blast, no one is doing pretend wrong and my to-do list is finally ta-done. If anyone needs to borrow a three year old to increase their child/parent ratio for a few hours, I've got one who is available every Tuesday.

No comments: