Tuesday, June 5, 2012

How to boil a frog

I used to look at mothers with their quiver full of kids and wonder how in the world they did it.  After having Luke, I was in dumb-struck awe of anyone who had more than two children.  I have people approach me all the time when I'm at the store and comment while shaking their heads on how full my hands are.  Yesterday at Costco, an older lady said with a wink, "Honey, it looks like you need to have more kids," as she saw me unsuccessfully trying to keep my three little goats corralled around me (the fourth goat is thankfully still small enough to be buckled into the cart).  I'm sure I looked like a really bad circus act parading through town.

Yesterday was one of those days where the thought of my youngest being only a year old and that I have at least 17 more years of this mayhem ahead of me makes me want to sit in a corner rocking back and forth and banging my head against the wall.  
June 2012 011-2

As a kid, I didn't really enjoy babysitting so I imagined that my home would never be overrun with the sounds of stampeding little feet and my walls covered with greasy little paw prints.  Maybe a couple pitter patters, but nothing more.  But I've decided that the chaos that is added with each kid is like the story I told the kids in Sunday school about the frogs in boiling water.  If you put a frog in cold water and raise the temperature slowly, bit by bit, soon the water will be boiling and the frog will be belly up, never having noticed what was happening.  

I started the day out with a refrigerator void of milk and having to resort to powdered milk for breakfast.  Dang it.  Being married to a farm boy for 11 years, I knew that would never fly.  I was going to have to go to the store with all four littles, something I usually avoid at all costs.  Warning the kids early in the morning of what our plans were for the day, I spent the next hour getting the girls ready, making beds and cleaning up breakfast, and calling out the time we had left before I wanted to be out the door.  As I loaded the girls in the van, Luke sauntered downstairs in his pajama shirt and nothing else... nothing else.  "Luke!  Buddy!  We're leaving!  Go get dressed!  I want to be out the door in about 30 seconds!"

"What?!?  Where are we going?"

Fifteen minutes later we were pulling out of the driveway with a sulking 5 year old in the backseat muttering things under his breath that he's probably lucky I didn't hear.

Bed, Bath and Beyond came first.  In and out in two minutes- that was my plan.  Within 10 steps of entering the store, my plan was already shot to heck.  Camden stood in open-mouth awe at the shelves stacked to the ceiling of gadgets he could use to rubber-band and tape together to make all sorts of weapons of mass destruction.  Within 8 seconds flat, Lauren had discovered the world's most fantastic tea party with $20 plates and $15 teacups, which just so happened to be in the most breakable, expensive part of the entire store... the wedding registry office.  I'm sure the employee that followed us discretely throughout the store watching us had nothing to do with post-destruction clean up he was sure would happen.

Costco was Costco in all it's wonder and glory.  How thankful I am for their large parking spaces, limousine shopping carts, free food samples, wide aisles, and a food court with inexpensive churros and hotdogs.  Surely the CEO of Costco has a quiver full himself (or herself). God bless you.  

...Aaaaand that's how they lure in these mommas and get them to spend $200 each time.  

Then came the doctor's office with Luke and Calista's well-child checks.  I wonder sometimes if the reason so many kids are diagnosed with ADHD is because they were sitting in a stark white doctor's office for an hour before they were diagnosed.  My kids were bouncing off the walls, literally.  And then the pediatrician dropped the real bomb when he told me that the new state regulation was that children stay rear-facing in their car seats until their two years old...   TWO?!?  Are you kidding me?  Are there really that many people in the state legislature that have never had kids? Are they oblivious to the fact that the one year mark is celebrated by parents, largely in part because they get to say good-bye to rear-facing car seats?  As Calista howled and screamed after getting her one year shots, the poor nurse had to navigate through three chimpanzees bouncing around and singing, trying to make their little sister smile.  As deafening and raucous as it was, it warmed my stressed out little heart.

On the drive home as we rocked out to the Sesame Street soundtrack, poor little Calista had several explosive sneezes- the kind that send snot flying everywhere, giving her a nice little gooey web to play with. Camden, the designated snot-cleaner-upper since I was driving, would hand over the snotty tissue holding it by the tips of his fingers with watery eyes and turning his head trying not to gag.  A few minutes later I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Calista's little mouth, chewing on something like a calf with a mouthful of cud. When she flashed me a big gummy grin and I could tell it was something plastic that wasn't supposed to be there. Camden had had it with baby duty and sent Luke up to see what it was.  {insert dry heave} "Gross! She's chewing on her bandaids!"  Sure enough my little lady had picked each of the bloody bandaids from her shots off her chubby little thighs and was blissfully gumming away.

The rest of the afternoon was a mind-numbing blur of folding clothes, keeping thieving little hands out the pantry, tying water balloons, and fighting a pounding headache.  

When Dennis came home, he asked if I wanted him to take the kids to tennis lessons.  No!!!  I'll do it!  An hour of sitting in the van reading a book while the kids took their boundless energy out on a poor, unsuspecting tennis instructor sounded heavenly.  Aaah... to finally sit down, kick my legs up and read a book.  And wouldn't you know it, halfway through their lesson, a freak monsoonish-type storm kicked up, cancelling their class a half hour early.  Back to the trenches to start with the bedtime routine.  

After kids were tucked in bed and the kitchen cleaned up I went around to check on the kids.  Thinking the boys were asleep as I went to turn off Camden's lamp, he turned to look at me and smiled.  

"Did you have a good day?" I asked.

"Yes!  It was an awesome day.  Thanks for everything you do.  You're a great mom," as he wrapped his arms around my neck and held me in a long hug.

And just like that, it all become worthwhile for this little frog.


Rex Family said...

Thanks for sharing this. I was seriously having this kind of week and was feeling very alone. It's good to know that I am not the only one with kids like this.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful post, Rita. I find comfort in the fact that we're all fighting the same beautiful battle together, even if we're not physically together. You're not in it alone!

AllisonK said...

One of the best posts I've read in a long time!! perfect description of motherhood. You are wonderful!

Trent and Julie said...

Thank you so much for this post-- you are amazing---I miss you-- thanks for reminding me to keep it all in perspective..

me said...

Beautifully written sis. I wish you weren't so alone in your endeavors! Modern industrialization has moms spread out raising their children largely on their own. And no rest for the weary! At least during the day. May you continue to find joy, groundedness, and sanity in our imperfect world.

Merrick Family said...

I find that I usually feel very alone during the hard times but I find that just by talking about it I see how many other people feel so similar! One of the things I love about interacting with other mothers is being able to relate to them on such a personal level because of our shared experiences.

Merrick Family said...

Yes, isn't it amazing how similar our own little battles are? I'm always in awe of you and how you handle your family dynamics with twins at the end!!!

Merrick Family said...

I can't tell you how much I've loved reading your blog. It has provided me with a lot of wonderful perspectives. Keep writing!

Merrick Family said...

Oh, I miss you too sweet friend! We need to get together before you move away. It makes me sad just to think about you being so far away.

Merrick Family said...

Yes, there are so many times that I look at other cultures and think how blessed they are to be so involved in each other's lives even though they may be in lesser developed nations. We are involved with others, but usually more on a digital level instead of a personal level. At the same time though, there are so many conveniences that make our lives easier despite the isolation. My greatest blessing is a husband who is phenomenally supportive and encouraging. I am so very blessed.

Cher said...

ha ha. this post cracked me up. i loved the part about luke gagging when he saw calista was gumming the band-aids.
wow, that was all in one day? you're amazingly brave. and such a great mommy.
also, like everyone else said, glad to know we're all fighting the same battles with our little ones! although i must admit i have never had all the kids together at the dr when one of them gets shots. :)

Merrick Family said...

Yeah... you should try it some time! Then you'll get home and either give yourself a big pat on the back and say, "Well done!" or you'll smack yourself on the forehead and say, "What was I thinking? Don't I ever learn?" I usually do the latter. :)