Wednesday, June 19, 2013

From the Mom With All Those Kids

Dear Person Asking Me Why I Have So Many Children,

The truth is, I don't know. I didn't sit down with my husband when we first got married and set a number goal. I mean, we talked about it. We would fantasize about having two girls and two boys and oh how perfect that would be, etc. We talked about names we liked. We talked about names we didn't like. But we also talked about the giant heated, stone, in-ground bathtub we were going to build in our dream home in Ireland.

Likewise, we didn't sit down before each child and make a detailed budget sheet. We didn't examine our finances. We didn't look at assets and the stock market. We didn't calculate the cost of college tuition and dance lessons or how inflation would factor into Friday night pizza delivery charges. I guess that's irresponsible. But the bottom line is, it wouldn't change anything.

I still think it's a little funny when people comment on how many children I have. I don't feel like I have a big family...except when we have to take potty breaks on road trips, and then? Oh boy do I feel it. But just the every day thrills and spills? It just doesn't feel like a huge number of people. Okay, maybe that's not totally true. Sometimes it feels like a huge number. When everyone is crying and the laundry is up to the sky and dishes are overflowing and I haven't slept in four months, then yes, it feels overwhelming. But right now? In this moment? It doesn't. And actually, there are probably more of these moments than I even acknowledge.

As for how we afford it, well, I don't really know. We just kind of do. We buy what we can afford and we don't buy what we can't. There's a lot of stuff that falls into the can't category. There are a lot of gadgets we don't have, a lot of trips we can't take, a lot of things my children have to do without. I'm not sure if that's fair. I was an only child and I had pretty much whatever I wanted. It was great. I had a good childhood. But that nice car I drove my senior year? It got totaled. And that JCrew sweater that I just had to have doesn't sit next to me at the Thanksgiving table and tell funny stories about the time we got into trouble sneaking out of the house. Those things were wonderful and I am thankful that my parents worked hard to give me the things I wanted. But they are just things. I know there will probably be times when my kids feel the sting of having less money than their friends. Maybe they'll resent me. Maybe they won't. I hope, though, that one day they will sit with their siblings and tell stories about the time they painted the walls with finger paints the night before an open-house. Or the summer they spent running through the sprinkler and catching frogs and eating popsicles for lunch. In those moments, I hope they'll realize that some things are better than money.

I don't have a magic answer for "how I do it". We get up in the morning. We go to bed at night. Most everything else just sort of happens in between. It's not always fun and it's not always tidy. We can't afford it. We can't organize it. It's tiring and it pushes me to my limits. Honestly, I have no clue what I'm doing. The more kids I have, the less I know about parenting, and life in general.

But ya know what? It's pretty amazing. I see miracles every day. I am challenged every day. I am humbled every day. I'm the villain, the hero and the bystander every day. I say things I never thought I'd say. I feel things I never thought I'd feel. It's not perfect but it's good, really good.

Your Friend,

The Crazy Mom With All Those Kids

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mom Tired

When you're pregnant, everyone tells you that their best advice is to sleep when your baby sleeps. When you have a new baby, the first thing they ask is how he or she is sleeping at night. With babies, it's just assumed that you're going to be tired. What no one tells you is that it's actually not about babies. It's about motherhood. Yes, it begins with pregnancy and no, it never ends. Moms are tired. All the time. Forever.

I've decided there are levels of tired. There's "dog tired", which I imagine is just a step above plain tired. Then comes "bone tired", meaning you've yawned more than once in an hour. After "bone tired" comes "exhausted". This is somewhere around the vicinity of a car that is getting low on gas and starting to sputter. Then there's "dead tired". At "dead tired" the average human being requires sleep or, ya know, they die. But it keeps going. Below "dead tired" you have the "walking zombie tired". This is where I spend a majority of my life. I'm alive, I'm moving, but there is very little reasoning going on in my brain. And unlike normal zombies, sleep zombies don't crave brains...they crave pillows. And just a tiiiiiiny bit below "walking zombie tired" is "mom tired". "Mom tired" is when you have been "walking zombie tired" for so long that you don't care if the world itself stops turning, you have GOT to have a nap.

Today, I was "mom tired". I wanted that nap. I needed that nap. I knew, in my heart of hearts, that it wasn't going to happen but sometimes you just can't help but dream...oh wait, dreaming requires sleep.

But then, miraculously, it looked like a nap might be in the realm of possibility. Child 5 was napping. Children 2, 3 and 4 were outside playing (in the back yard that is fully enclosed by a six foot privacy fence and pad locked on the outside), Child 1 was playing the Wii and Child 6 was ready to snuggle up and nap with Mama on the couch. This is going to happen! I'm going to do it! I'm going to NAP!

I get comfy on the couch. Child 6 falls asleep. It's peaceful and pretty quiet. Life is good. Until...

The alarm goes off. Not the fire alarm. The child alarm, the one they all have inside of them that goes off when their mother is trying to rest (or pee alone).

All of the sudden, the children who were outside come running inside (loudly) demanding a container for a frog. "What? No! Put the frog back where you found it!" Discontented sighs, a few "but mom"s, heavy footsteps.

It's quiet again...for about twenty seconds.

Then the children come back in and run up the stairs, loudly. This wakes Child 5. Child 5 then comes down and demands everything. A snack, a binky, a rag, a spatula, a walrus, a private jet...oh, and his Mickey Mouse cup. This cup is like a stray dog. It turns up everywhere. It follows us on walks and then waits at our front door. I think I've tried to throw it away like thirteen times but it just keeps finding it's way into my cupboard. And the thing is, Child 5 isn't even attached to this cup. He doesn't even use a sippy cup, we have to take the lid off. But today? Today, right now in fact, he wants the "Mee Mows" cup. JUST the "Mee Mows" cup. And where is the "Mee Mows" cup? Your guess is as good as mine. Under normal circumstances, Child 5 would just accept another cup. But his alarm has gone off. He knows that mom wants a nap. This must.not.happen.

After placating him with a green cup and a popsicle, every other child needs a snack, a drink, and answers to every question that they've ever had in their entire lives. I think they keep a list stored in a compartment in their brains reserved for when I'm "mom tired".

After meeting their requests, Child 4 starts doing the potty dance and completely forgets that he actually knows how to walk the whole five steps to the bathroom alone.

I manage to close my eyes again, just long enough for Child 5 to rip a pancake to shreds on the living room carpet and Child 4 to feed part of a banana chocolate chip bar to the dog because "him love it". Great, now I can plan how to console them tomorrow.

At this point everyone was loud and playing this game where they stack themselves on each other and roll down the stairs or something like that. I was actually afraid to go look.

I finally gave up. I'd say I'll try again tomorrow but I'll probably be busy burying the dog.

This is how we started out. This is how things should look.

This is how things actually looked. See that nice Jenny-shaped spot on the couch? That's where I should be.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Do or Do Not, There is NO Try...

Whoever told men that it was acceptable to pee while standing up should be taken and beaten with a large plank of wood covered in barbed wire. The wood is to smack some sense into them. The barbed wire is to poke holes so the stupid can drain out.

They all think they can do it. Little boys think they can do it. Older kids think they can do it. Grown men think they can do it.

As a mother of five boys, a wife to a grown man and having had the pleasure of cleaning the men's bathroom at Church a few times let me tell you something...THEY CANNOT DO IT!

That is all I have to say right now.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Turning Thirty

This weekend I turned thirty. Thirty is a big number. I mean, think about it. How many things do you honestly need thirty of? If I came home from the grocery store with thirty eggs, my husband would think I'd gone crazy. If I put thirty tic tacs in my mouth at once, I would probably choke to death. My point is, thirty is a big number.

As a surprise for my big 3-0, my friends in Richmond orchestrated a birthday weekend getaway for me. They got me a plane ticket, hosted a dinner, a brunch and an open house. They housed me and fed me and drove me around. It was all pretty fantastic. I imagine this must be how Reese Witherspoon feels on her birthday. My friend and hostess extraordinaire, Carol, even got me a custom cake. It had the state of Virginia on it. Well, we're going to pretend it was the state of Virginia. It was definitely not a big hill with the words "Over the Hill" above it. No, definitely not that. If it were, Carol would have some explaining to do.

The weekend started out with the one negative aspect of my airplane. I do not like flying. Not at all. AT ALL. I withheld this information from my friends for two reasons: 1. I really, really, really, REALLY wanted to go home. 2. I sometimes like to pretend that I'm a grown up who doesn't freak out over things like air travel. But in real life? I freak out over things like air travel. Every time I tell someone that I don't like to fly they tell me things to try to make me feel better, except their advice is stupid. They say things like, "more people die in cars than airplanes". First of all, now I am freaking out about the drive to the airport. Thanks guys. And secondly, let me just explain the difference between a car and an airplane. Cars are on the ground. Planes, if you haven't noticed, are 38,000 feet IN THE AIR. People also tell me about how people fly all the time, blah blah blah. People also voluntarily stick needles through their body parts. People eat raw fish and pay money for it. People cannot be trusted to make wise choices. I think I scared the girl sitting next to me, who happened to be a 2nd year medical student. The good news? She's well prepared for her rounds in the psych ward.

Once my plane landed I spent a good hour lying on my friend Elisabeth's floor, trying not to die. It worked. I didn't die. Are you impressed? I am.

After hanging around with some friends, we headed to dinner at my favorite restaurant, Baker's Crust. Perhaps Florida's greatest downfall is its lack of Baker's Crust. Well, that and the pants-loving cockroaches.

Let's talk about Baker's Crust. It's actually really about the mushroom and brie soup and the crepes diabolitin. That's what I get every single time I go and I could stick my face in the plate, swim around for a bit and then slurp it up until ne'er a trace is found. I usually have people with me so I try to eat like a human so I don't embarrass them. I'm not cool enough to find new friends. I'm darn lucky to have the old ones and they, for some odd reason, are okay with being seen with me in public. I'm not messing that up. But it's tempting sometimes because those crepes and that soup? Manna from Heaven.

Dinner was great but the company was better. I had good friends from Richmond, a friend who drove up from Charlottesville and my beloved Pediatrician. Yes, my kid's doctor came to my birthday dinner and gave me the most fantastic book (it's like she knows me, which is weird. I mean, it's not like I'm a hypochondriac with six kids or anything strange like that.) and even brought her stethoscope to listen to a wheezy baby Chase. Don't you wish your doctor was as cool as mine?

After dinner we weren't quite done, so we went back to my friend's place and stayed up late doing what we do best...telling hilarious stories and acting like idiots.

The next morning we had breakfast with a few more fantastic ladies and went to Target. No birthday is complete without a trip to Target.

After an afternoon of hanging and watching "Duck Dynasty", which I am now hooked on, thank you Elisabeth, I went to dinner with my "best and dearest and oldest" friend. This friend is days away from delivering her baby girl. We were hoping to coax her out with a nice dinner and our monthly Godiva chocolate but alas, she was not interested. I remember what it was like not wanting to be seen out with your parents. It's okay Mary, I get it.

On Sunday baby Chase and I ventured to Church to see some peeps and then had an afternoon cake party. I like to pretend this weekend was for me. Let's be honest, it was not about me. It was about baby Chase. It's okay, I'm just glad I have mammary glands and therefore get to be his automatic plus one.

After staying up way too late and sleeping through my alarm, I managed to make it onto my plane and again, not die. And now I'm back home with my family.

I've had a lot of birthdays. Remember how 30 is a big number? But this one, well, it was pretty awesome. A huge thank you to every single one of my friends and family members who made this birthday so great!