I wake up at about 6:30am to Camden's footsteps quietly padding downstairs to play the Wii before anyone wakes up. I look over at Calista who ended up in our bed sometime during the night, my little bundle of sweetness, cheeks smooshed together as she lays on her side, lips pouting outwards as she sleeps so deeply, uneven breaths and squeaks, and sneaking fleeting grins as she sleeps. Moments later I hear a quiet tapping coming from Lauren's bedroom. By the time I reach her room, the lady-like tapping has turned into impatient pounding that she be let out of her room. When I open her room, she squeals and gives me a bear hug. The racket has woken up Luke who emerges from his room half dazed. Unlike most people who normally wake up with swollen half-shut eyes, his eyes are the very widest immediately after waking. He also greets me with a big smile but with a softer, more subdued hug (the only time of day you can call anything he does subdued). We go downstairs together to start the day and I'm overcome with a feeling of being the luckiest woman in the world that these four little lovies are mine. This is going to be a great day.
Fastforward about 30 minutes. By now, both the decibel and anxiety levels have risen considerably. Calista is awake and fussing, wanting to be fed, and Luke and Lauren are complaining loudly that Camden is still on the Wii because Curious George is on and they want to watch it. Diapers are soggy and hanging down to their knees from the night and need to be changed before they start leaking through. I've been working on breakfast, but all four are ravishing little wolves and need to be fed...hmmm...about 30 minutes ago.
Fastforward a couple of more hours and perhaps we have gone out to the grocery store or to do some other errand. Getting out the door in and of itself was like a Russian circus act, getting the flip-flops on the right feet, going potty one last time, finding the binkie, telling them for the tenth time that they can't bring their Legos along, and packing the diaper bag that's big enough and holds enough supplies to support a small army. By now I'm feeling like my ambitions to take the kids out with me is as about as smart as trying to take a goat into a grocery store. Make that four goats...three of them without leashes. I look like that mom you see and instantly feel sorry for. My heart rate is significantly higher and I'm sure my blood pressure is similar to what happens when the kids are playing with the garden hose and it accidentally gets kinked off. I'm letting out a steady stream of statements like, "No Lauren, that's not candy! That's someone's yucky chewing gum!" and "Luke, please get your hands out pants!" and "Camden, if you hit your brother one more time...!"
By lunch time I've begun thinking that people that have more than 3 kids must have some loose screws upstairs...seriously. Why would anyone in their right mind deliberately put this kind of chaos into their lives?! And then continue having children!? And now I'm a part of that crazy club.
Naptime is a God send and by the time the two hours are over, I'm beginning to see glimpses of my sanity reappearing. While the girls sleep, Camden shows me his newest Lego creations and tells me about the new level he has advanced to on the Wii. I listen to Luke tell me his made up jokes that lack in both sense and a punchline but that still make me laugh at his creativity and bizarre thinking.
The time between then and when Dennis gets home is the wildcard. Sometimes he comes home to a smiling wife, happily peeling potatoes in the kitchen. But sometimes he comes home to a woman who makes him think "Whoa, Nelly. Who are you and what did you do with my wife?"
I sheepishly admit that bedtime is my least favorite time of day. Both me and the kids are tired and irritable and I eagerly bargain with Dennis that I'll clean up dishes and straighten up the house if he'll please put the kids to bed. Dishes and brooms don't sass back so they sound like pretty good company right about then.
By 9:30pm things have settled down, the house is darkened, clean, and quiet and Dennis and I are discussing the day. We laugh over the funny things Luke said, talk about new words Lauren has started saying, how big Calista is getting and how much Camden is growing into such a little man. We swap stories we heard or read on the news and discuss our visions for our future. Once again, life as a suburban housewife is peaceful and calm.
I go into each of the children's rooms before I go to sleep to check on them. As I watch them sleeping, each with their characteristically ultra long eyelashes and sweet faces, I fall in love with each of them all over again. I think sometimes, what if this were the last time seeing them? I would want to remember every curve of their face, the size of their tiny hands, the sound of their little voices, everything. I would want to take it all in and not miss a single thing.
I know there will come a time when I long for these days. When they're gone and the house is quiet and empty, I'll look back on these days and wonder why I ever took things so seriously. Why I took myself so seriously.
The feelings I have for my children come full circle with the ending of each day and once again I'm filled with gratitude for being the luckiest woman in the world.