of stretching and meatloaf

20141209_162931Strangely, I just observed that most of my posts in the “Being Mommy” category are also filed under “Keep Calm and Carry On” . . .

We have four kids now. I know because I keep counting them. Also because Alex texted me the other day: “I just saw my wife out the window with FOUR kids. Are they all ours?” Answer: Yes.

The transition is going well, I think. Walter is still a sleepyhead, I’m getting at least five hours of sleep most nights, and hot meals have appeared on the doorstep more than once. I did not cling to my mother’s jacket when my parents departed Sunday before last (though this may only be because I was holding a child with each arm, it is still a triumph).

I am holding Walter right now and I just found a sticker with a pink rose on it affixed to his right knee cap. That pretty much sums up his siblings’ feelings in regard to him–they all adore him and demonstrate it constantly with improbable offerings and displays of affection that are, at best, uncomfortable for the wee chap (at worst, life-threatening).

One thing that’s happening in this phase, I’m growing. I can tell by the growing pains. This is the fourth time now and finally I’ve caught on to the pattern. Just like a growing baby inside means physical stretch marks, a baby born means mental and emotional ones. It’s learning to juggle all over again. I’m a little calmer this time, my heart’s a little quieter. Perhaps I’m finally learning to expect to not know what to expect.

20141202_080148For example this morning. I might have expected it to go smoothly. I chose to get up for the day after the five o’clock feeding in order to get back to a pattern of early starts, which are my secret weapon. I showered, did devotions, tidied up, sorted and started laundry, emptied the dishwasher, started the coffee, opened the blinds, and plugged in the Christmas tree before 6:45. I am Superwoman and I am going to have a Good Day, thunk I.

But I forgot to tell the children. Things went well through breakfast and getting dressed, with the exception of one (feigned) broken ankle on the part of one Little Miss and sympathy tears on the part of one Little Mister.

Then I tried to make a simple meatloaf in the kitchen. It should take about ten minutes. I pack a ton of vegetables into my meatloaf, so I began peeling carrots. Enter Norah, who wanted to help. I am trying not to be such a cranky “Not Today” Mommy so I said yes. Mid-way through her second carrot she accidentally capsized the carrots and all the peelings onto the floor. While we were cleaning it up, Hugh fell down and began to weep and Walter started screaming like a raptor from his chair in the dining room. I went to Hugh first and Norah began to pull the string on the chopper-thing to cut up the carrots. She accidentally pulled too hard and the whole bowl flipped off the counter and scattered tiny bits of shredded carrot all over the kitchen floor. I settled Walter, then went to help clean up the carrot. While we were at it, Walter began to scream again immediately and Hugh pulled open a craft drawer and grabbed a huge bin of teeny-tiny plastic beads, which he ripped open and dumped all over the dining room floor. While Norah and I cleaned them up he grabbed handfuls of beads and dropped them down the back of my shirt. I gave Hugh magnetic plastic letters to stick to the fridge and picked up Walter, still screaming. Suddenly Hugh began to cry and grab his diaper. The next ten minutes are now a blur but I know eventually I sent the girls up for a diaper for Hugh and put Walter down (still screaming). Inside Hugh’s diaper I found a large plastic magnetized letter R, which could not have been pleasant for the poor chap. It then dawned on me that perhaps Wally was hungry, so I nursed him right there on the kitchen floor amidst the carrot residue and some dried-on tomato stains. Once I was incapacitated, Hugh wiled away the next few minutes drawing on the floor with brown marker and throwing crayons at me from a safe distance.

This was about thirty minutes. During the above I also reheated my coffee three times, doing it too long the last time and causing it to erupt in boiling java all over the microwave. Also Norah and Harriet, between them, asked me if we could “please do the craft kit now” thirty-nine times. The craft kit is Norah’s prized birthday gift which involves permanent paint that cannot get on clothes, furniture, or skin and about three million pinhead-sized styrofoam balls. (Being, apparently, the wicked witch of the west, I will not let them engage on this without assistance.)

Also through all of the above, think   s  –  t  –  r  –  e  –  t  –  c  –  h.




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19 Responses to of stretching and meatloaf

  1. Jenn says:

    Oh yes! I have four as well. It is so much more fun reading about what THAT kind of morning is like for someone else than trying to laugh and not cry through my own! Bless them.

  2. Lindsey lehtinen says:

    Oh I love you and your family and your transperancy! So many moments seem this way to me too….chaotic. I keep trying to “live into the chaos” and see it as a blessing but fail time after time. I am wondering if there are any verses that you meditate on or recite to yourself frequently for moments or days like these? I want to be better equipped so I can be a calmer mommy!

    • betsy says:

      Lindsey, I’m right there with you! Most of the verses I hang onto (WHEN i think in terms of verses–way too often I don’t think of them at all!) are related to reminding myself of how I should be responding–the fruit of the spirit, or James about the wisdom from above, or controlling the tongue! I also tell myself over and over–“every day is a gift” and try to count my blessings–it helps me shove aside the internal to-do list. I’m so glad you asked about this, it inspires me to think more intentionally about this!!

  3. Jenna says:

    Betsy, this made me laugh out loud and then continue laughing through the last paragraph. From one mom of four babies to the next: well said.

  4. Melissa says:

    Betsy, you are doing such a good job! Hang in there!

  5. Laurie says:

    Sometimes – oftentimes – Rick and I would be sitting at the dinner table when one of us would look at the other and say, “Where did all these kids come from???” as if they had suddenly just shown up. Don’t worry, Betsy, carrot-tomato- brown marker kitchen floor soup probably won’t be a staple in your house… And stretching makes us better able to tackle the really strenuous stuff. Love reading your take on life with littles. In the wonderfully wise words of Dorie, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming swimming, swimming…”

  6. Dawn says:

    As I was reading your post, I could immediately think of similar times at our home this week, this was a crazy week for us. Thank you for sharing!!

  7. Sarah says:

    OH, man, Betsy! This post had me laughing by the end. You are a fabulous mom and I completely admire you. I love the picture of the chaos and makes me feel like yes, maybe the chaos we also have is totally normal. 🙂 I love your secret weapon of early mornings. I’m trying to get up earlier but think a very early start would really start the day off well! What time do you go to bed to make that possible?

    • betsy says:

      Hi dear Sarah! What is there to admire, I wonder?? Things are so much messier than I ever thought they could be–in every way! I’m glad we’re all in this together. As to bedtimes, they vary wildly at the minute because I have a newborn and i’m always deciding whether to stay awake until the next feeding or unexpectedly crashing early from fatigue, etc. Generally I think i’m going to bed around 11.

  8. Erin says:

    Oh dear! I have been laughing over this post for days. I tried to recount some of it to my husband the other day, but I don’t have quite your knack for story telling…

    Praying for you that the stretching will be of the growing sort and not too painful.

  9. lisa franklin says:

    love it. congrats to you on your newest one < : newborns are so special and reading this post takes me back to that time. i have 5 and can soooo identify with the day turning out differently (pretty much every day it turns out) than i had planned. my hubbie and I also started asking the "are these all ours?" question starting with number 4. it's taken awhile to soak in. our 5th is almost 18 mos. and it's still soaking in that we have, count them, FIVE.

  10. lisa franklin says:

    p.s. this is our 2nd year using your “advent readings for the very young” and we LOVE them. thank you for sharing your hard work with us!

  11. lisa franklin says:

    p.s.p.s. love the war posters! my son and i are reading a WWII War Diary set in England (written by a 9 yr old) for his homeschool (It is so well done; i highly recommend it for about ages 8 and over or if a child is particularly precocious, a little younger) and they mention the “Dig for Victory” and “Make do and Mend” mottos and posters all the time.

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