The last few months have been busy, tiring, sore and fun. But mostly busy. If I am crazy to have had so many children so close together, I am at least loving every minute of it (OK, maybe not the 3am ones) and somehow I make it through the days without losing my mind. Or a child. Matthew even went to the US for two weeks when Edward was only six weeks old and I survived! But I will say that the experience made me stronger – in the same way that bullying can be considered character building.
I homeschool in the mornings, mostly with the giant leech attached to my boob. If I’m lucky, Matthew is not away and will have made me a coffee before he goes to work and that can make the difference between a good day and a day when I am a crumpled heap in the corner when he gets home. In the afternoons we venture out to a variety of responses ranging from evil looks and lots of tsking/’why aren’t your children in school today?’ to ‘you’ve got your hands full!’ to big smiles and ‘oh you lucky thing! aren’t they lovely?’ I play little games with myself as to what I think the next person will say while I shepherd the children down the pavement of the busy road and try to remember that I must not let my mind wander for one second because somehow I have sole charge of four small children, three of whom are on the loose, and I AM EXPECTED TO KEEP THEM ALIVE.
In my sleep deprived state, it’s easy to forget that bit sometimes. Hell, I have trouble remembering to put all my clothes on before I leave the house, I’m not sure I should be trusted with anything as important as children.
I do grocery shopping online and other very important computer-related activities (which may or may not be blog reading – just sayin’) every evening, all evening while the baby feeds himself into a coma and thence to bed. Somehow, in between all this daily fun, I manage to stack the dishwasher twice and do about three loads of laundry, make 26 meals or snacks and occasionally sit down with a cup of tea.
My mother comes one day a week to help and on that day I am able to catch up with the backlog of chores and laundry and have one meal each week without the baby in my arms. Matthew cooks on the weekend and I freeze leftovers that I can reheat during the week. Without this help the house would look like the apocalypse had hit and the only thing left? – the bones of our emaciated bodies. And the mountain of dirty laundry.
Some days there is too much crying and way too many tantrums but I have learnt that they don’t get me anything. (Just kidding! I’m referring to the children of course.) The worst time of day is suppertime when the baby is at his most tired and hungry and I have the most to do. I have had to buy a sling for the velcro-baby/giant-leech because there is a limit to how much I can do with one arm and the rest of us need to eat. The children get bathed less often than I would like and the bedsheets changed even less than that. I try to set myself no more than one thing to get accomplished on those days when I am doing this parenting gig by myself. Sometimes this is something as over-achieving as leaving a message on a friend’s answerphone to let them know I am still alive. Sometimes this is still overdoing it because I can’t even remember who it is I’m phoning by the time I get to leaving a message. Which adds to the kind of crazy woman tag that I am cultivating right now.
But if I make it to the end of the day with everyone tucked up safely in their (dirty) beds and my sanity intact, I’m happy. Aim low: that’s my advice.