When people see me and ask this question, my answer is usually a simple, ‘it’s crazy,’ for lack of a better simple explanation. And also because that is pretty much the truth right now. But I want to use this space to try to better explain our new-found status as a family of five a./ because I want to tell those of you who keep saying things like, ‘you look so put together,’ ‘you seem so calm,’ ‘everything seems so great,’ not to believe everything you see on my Instagram feed [and omg I LOVE you so much and thank you profusely for saying these kind, undeserved things]. And b./ because I want to remember these moments, hard as they are, because time is just flying by and someday my babies won’t be babies anymore and the thought of that is just too much to bear.
Honestly, our days right now have me purely in survival mode. My priorities: everyone is fed, babies have clean diapers, preschooler goes potty before we leave the house, and my older two must get out of the house at least once per day or we all lose our minds. This last part is one of the most challenging because it is still hotter than the surface of the sun here in the desert, so both our activities and our time spent outdoors is limited.
I am also in a constant state of frustration. I yell too much. I try not to, but sometimes it feels like the only way I can get anyone’s attention. My older two fight constantly. My oldest antagonizes his little sister when he thinks I am not looking and she screams and can’t be reasoned with about pretty much anything. She also screams when nothing happens. And even when she’s actually hurt. So there’s no way to know what really just happened. They take out every. single. toy in three seconds flat and then fight about one stupid block or something and then do not want to clean up the huge mess they just created. The baby hates his carseat and screams anytime he has to be in it. Today he cried everywhere we went. Those tiny helpless cries put my anxiety through the roof when there is nothing I can do because we are driving to school and we are late [again]. My daughter only makes a “pee-yuu” when I am breastfeeding her little brother and always asks to be “up” when she sees I am already holding him.
Everywhere we go, every single stranger we come across says, “wow, you have your hands full.” Thank you, person I do not know at all, for that keen observation. Like, why do people feel the need to say anything at all? I know that they don’t mean anything by it, and they don’t know that I have already heard that 53,000 times today alone, but why? Yes, I have three children under the age of five. Yes, I am in Costco with two in the front basket asking for every sample within a 500 foot radius [most of which they cannot have because of their allergies] and the third in a sling taking his own sample of breastmilk and I am lifting crates of this that and the other into the awkwardly deep basket and so what?! No, I do not want to hear about how you did it with your four kids in the seventies. I give exactly zero fucks. Because I am on a ticking time bomb right now where this one needs to go the the bathroom, that one needs a real snack, and the baby needs a diaper, which I would really rather not have to change in the nasty Costco restroom that doesn’t have a changing table, thank you very much.
Ok now I am scaring you soon-to-be or considering-the-idea third-time moms. There is good stuff too. My husband is literally the most helpful he has ever been. He knows what I need and he mostly just does it. Because after three kids, we have a few things figured out. Not only does he work all day, but he gets up early every morning to make the kids and I a solid breakfast. We don’t usually get to eat it together, but if he did not make mine, I just would not eat breakfast. And at the end of the day when the house looks like a hurricane came through it because there is just no way I can keep up with all the chores with all of said goings on, he cooks us all dinner, does the kids’ baths and bedtimes, bounces the baby, and then does all of the dishes too. He’s for sure a keeper.
I get little moments of joy with each of my babes too that keep me sane. My baby boy will crack a string of smiles at me while playing on the floor and looking up at my face. My daughter will throw her arms around my neck after I change her diaper and squeeze me and say, ‘hug,’ and then purse her lips together towards my face and say, ‘kiss.’ The other day when we had just come out of the house after lots of yelling and rushing around, already running fifteen minutes late and baby screaming per usual [what must the neighbors think??], we are in the car driving my big boy to school. He started talking and at first I was hardly paying attention, just wishing for a moment of peace and quiet when I heard him start into, “Mom, one day, when Ale and I are bigger, we can make our lunches ourselves, and open the gate ourselves, and get down the stairs ourselves… and that will really help you Mom.” It will my baby, but then, you won’t be my baby anymore. So that day can wait.
This good stuff fills my heart with so much joy, that I almost forget all the hard stuff. So I keep the pictures pretty and the messages positive. And someday, I will be all put together again.