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.
For 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.