Everyone who knows us, knows this story was coming. It was pretty crazy with four young children at home at one time. As the last two arrived, the older ones were moving on and in school all day. Do the math, not so many kids at home, the days become easier. There is no logical math in parenting! Days and hours add up, that is true but the work increases in bizarre ways. The workload never decreases. It never gets easier, it just gets different. I will swear that sometimes I parent now more than I did when they were little. But, I digress!
Four smiling children left for school one morning, or rather, I took them to school. This involves loading six small children in various states of dress into the car and driving to two different schools and then back home. The whole process takes about 45 minutes just for the drive. This does not include the time it takes to get them into and out of the car. "Pook" and "The Surprise" were still at home with me. I did not send any of my children to preschool. It is my sincere belief that they need time with Mom and time to be little and loved by me. Those of you who have young children, know that two children can be a handful, especially when they are energetic boys ages four and two.
We had our usual day of me desperately drinking that first cup of coffee to function, straightening up the kitchen, wading through the daily six loads of laundry, sometimes cleaning bathrooms, picking up toys, trying to plan dinner... well, you get the idea. I would get some peace during naps and I tried very hard to get the boys to nap at the same time. My other moment of peace would come when I sat them down for a meal or snack.
This was a particularly hectic day. The boys had just woken up from their naps. "Pook" was in shorts and barefoot, "The Surprise" was in a diaper and t-shirt. Both of them were sitting at the breakfast counter having a snack. "Pook" never sat still for long. At some point he had climbed down off his chair and was on the floor under the counter. I know I was somewhere in the kitchen with them, but cannot remember exactly what I was doing at the time. My memory has been erased by the vision of my four year old making a sour looking face and telling me that the raisins don't taste good. I turned and saw him picking up raisins off the floor. Wait! I hadn't given them raisins to eat!. In seconds, I scooped him off the floor and ran him to the sink and started brushing his teeth and rinsing his mouth. If you haven't guessed by now, some little "pooplets" had come out of his brother's diaper and relocated themselves on the floor. I was horrified! "Pook" was not scarred by the incident at all, but believe me I was!
Later that day, we made our rounds and picked up the older kids from their schools. After we got home, of course the kids were all starving and looking for snacks. In the middle of the rush to find food, "Pook" announced to his siblings, "Guys, whatever you do, don't eat the 'rainsins'. They aren't really 'rainsins'." The gang all looked to me for an explanation. It has become one of our favorite stories. I think "Pook" even got a stuffed raisin in his Christmas Stocking that year! Kids and moms can survive a lot, can't they! :)
It was not very often that "Doc" and I could get away for an evening. Going overnight anywhere without the tribe was highly unusual. Let's face it, if you could find someone willing to watch six energetic and creative kids the cost of paying one to three babysitters would be astronomical. If I were to be honest, and I will, there were days when I did not want to watch them!
It may be one of the reasons "Ninja" and I became friends and why I love her. She was crazy enough to take on that task!!! You just have to hang on to a friend like that!
I truly do not remember where we went but I do remember that she had the kids alone with her during the evening. How do you entertain six kids? Parking them in front of a video game was not an option. I did not allow those in the house. They couldn't play outside because it was dark. Here's an idea! Hide and Seek in the Dark. Sounds good right?
First we establish the rules. Actually there was only one rule. This is good - not a lot to remember in the heat of the game. The rule is: NO RUNNING! An excellent rule, especially since we have a beam right in the middle of our kitchen. They had a ball. I can only imagine the giggles and screams as they scared each other in the dark!
Until...... The lights were turned on and blood was found. One look at the "Blonde" told the whole story. As soon as the game started, she took off running and ran smack dab in the center of that kitchen beam. Of course, she continued on so as not to interrupt the game and more importantly, she did not want to get in trouble for not following the rules. I am sure the "Ninja" went through a quick moment of panic. "How do I tell my friend that I broke her child?" No worries. Remember, I know what my kids are capable of.
I need a little break from the heavier discussions.
Interesting - both "Mommy" and "Mini-Me" decided to have pictures of my grandchildren done on Saturday. Because she lives closer, I went with "Mini-Me" to lend an extra pair of hands. The memories came flooding back. Now I know I am aging because when my children were born, their hospital photos consisted of a blue or pink blanket depending on whether they were male or female and a quick photo that made them look like little monkeys because the picture was taken right after they got drops in their eyes. I don't care what anyone says, those pictures were not cute. But we bought them anyway and handed them out proudly didn't we?!
First official pictures were never taken until around six weeks. At that time photographers just didn't do that. Now, we like to get pictures in two weeks or less. Babies are posed in cute things like bowls and baskets and are often naked. A newborn without a diaper is cute and potentially messy. I am amazed at how the photos come out - and a little jealous.
So I went with my daughter to help. Wait - no one ever helped me!!!. Imagine this scenario. Six small children ages 6 months to 11 years. The 11 year old is a perfectionist and needs to look perfect. Oh yes, she wants to hold the "Surprise". As "Mommy" it is her entitlement. But wait, "Calvin" who is all energy and motion wants to hold the "Surprise". The "Surprise" is a boy and should be held by his brother, not a girl! "Mini-Me" and the "Blonde" are indifferent to the whole thing and "Pook" is not interested in not being muddy or unable to play for that period of time. So, I finally handle the dispute by giving in. "You will both have pictures taken holding the "Surprise"."
To some degree, you want them to be dressed nicely for pictures. That can be accomplished without too much fanfare. The girls are of course anxious to be "dolled up" and very cooperative. "Calvin" and "Pook" are placed in nice clothes but promptly become half naked and/or sloppy multiple times enroute to the studio. Thankfully at this point, the "Surprise" is somewhat compliant due to age or lack thereof.
"Doc" has often said that those group photos are more a statement about me than how beautiful our family is. The ability to corral six children, get them into dress clothes, get them to a studio without a fight or a black eye and then have them smile in a perfectly photogenic way is no small feat. By the way, I gave up on the perfect picture when "Calvin" was born. He was rough and tumble and if I waited for bruises and scrapes to go away we would never have had a photo of him. I also gave in on facial expressions - if that's what they want to look like for posterity, so be it. It is what it is.
All in all, we have some stunning family photos that were taken throughout the years. I would like to think that the family love always shined through. Others would say, I should have been a drill sergeant if I was able As for me, the kids looked great but I was always disheveled and near tears and definitely ready for a relaxing glass of wine when all was said and done.
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!