I had started a post regarding how I had noticed that much of what I have read over the last few weeks about being a stay at home mother is mostly negative based. How inane & mind numbing staying at home with a baby is, how spending the day with a toddler is an exercise is frustration & give them a day in the office...PLEASE!
It seemed that everywhere I looked, every one I spoke too, every blog I read, every meme posted on facebook, was having a dig at staying home with children.
I love & am so grateful that we are in a position that I can stay at home to (help) raise our many minions. I've been a sahm since late 2004 when I was in the last weeks of our first pregnancy (with Ben). Doug & I always planned that when we had children I would stay home with them unless extreme financial circumstances required us both to work.
I enjoy the rhythm of our days, both the predictable & the unpredictable moments each day holds. Most of the time our days are great, in fact I would have gone as far as to say that every day is awesome, with just a few hard moments here & there. However, almost without fail, when I'm starting to get comfortable, maybe a little confident that I've got this gig down pat, Murphy's law pays me a visit.
Just when I'm thinking what an amazing young man Ben is growing into, that Rianan is such a brilliant sister & incredible young girl, how sweet & caring Jack can be with his younger brothers. That Blake is just too funny sometimes with his sense of humour. How happy & easy going Will is - even more so for a two year old, or how Clay is just the ideal little 3 month old - no colic, no reflux, no inconsolable crying, sleeps for two to three hour stretches during the day & then goes to bed for the night by 6:30pm, waking bright eyed & chatty at 7am the next morning. When I think how easy I've got it, & that it could be from having more practice than standard over the years that I've got a handle on this. Silly me.
Yesterday...I have no words for how
Blake wanted rice bubbles for breakfast - he repeated it several times as loud as possible, to make sure I knew. No problem, filled his bowl with rice bubbles & put it on the table in front of him. Cue breakdown. Blake dissolves into tears, face buried into his hands, dribble & snot dripping between his fingers.
"What's wrong Blakey?" I ask, thinking Will had taken his spoon or Jack has changed the tv channel.
"I didn't want rice bubbles" he cries.
Calmly & firmly I say to him that he told me many times he wanted rice bubbles, so that is what I've given him.
"No I didn't, I said weet-bix. I don't want rice bubbles I want weet-bix". Still in tears & completely distraught over the fact that he has rice bubbles in his bowl.
By now the rice bubbles have gone soggy & I'm just not in the mood to argue about it, so another bowl, this time with weet-bix, is put on the table. The tears stop, face wiped up & breakfast is eaten. On the plus side, Sumo (our little Jack Russell) gets rice bubbles for breakfast.
Then Jack did not want to wear pants. It was 13 degrees yesterday, colder than that in the morning.
"Fine, wear your school shorts, but you must keep your jacket on at recess & lunch" I say, knowing full well that he won't. Whatever. 13 degrees isn't so bad, especially when it's a sunny day with little wind.
"I don't want this t-shirt Mum, I want the other one" Jack complains next.
I have no idea which tee he's talking about, given that his shirts are all the same.
"Nope, you have to wear that one, I do not have time to sort through the clean washing trying to find you whatever t-shirt it is you're after. There's nothing wrong with that one so put it on please & start getting ready for school"
(the clean washing pile is always ridiculous here. Yesterday morning there was a pool table covered with clean & folded washing, plus 2 loads of clean unfolded washing in what was the only spare corner on the pool table, in the second lounge room another 2 loads of clean & unfolded washing, plus another 3 loads of clean & unfolded washing in our room. Getting it cleaned & dried isn't the issue. Folding & putting away however is just a constant job & I struggle to keep on top of it all. Hey, at least it is clean, if a little creased)
Ben, for whatever reason yesterday, took forever to get ready for school. Ten minutes before we have to leave & he was still yet to get his shoes on, pack his recess, lunch & fruit. (The food is all out, ready for each child, on the bench. They just have to put it into their lunch packs) Brush his teeth & finish packing his school bag.
Most mornings I have to regularly remind Jack to keep getting ready, do whatever the next task is. He gets distracted very easily - it can easily take over twenty minutes for Jack to put on his socks & shoes - seriously. Yesterday was no exception.
Will fought tooth & nail to try & get away with wearing just his jeans & singlet. Wrestling a two year old to put on a long sleeve top & a jumper is not easy or fun at any time of the day. Trying to put a jumper on while they are simultaneously trying to take a long sleeve top off is near impossible.
By this stage it was taking all my patience & concentration not to turn into a screaming banshee while trying to get these little people fed & publicly presentable, while keeping tabs on the bigger minions on how ready (or not ready as the case was) they are for school.
We managed to get out the door, with everyone fully dressed in weather appropriate clothes, to school on time.
Blake, Will, Clay & I get back home, & the frustrations just continue. As I'm in one room cleaning/tidying/sorting, Blake & Will are creating their own unique sense of fun in another.
Me : In the kitchen emptying the dishwasher
Blake & Will : In Ben's room tipping out all the Lego then spreading it over the entire floor space
Me : Picking up millions of Lego pieces (with all of two minutes help from the little turds)
Blake & Will : Pulling all the (nicely folded & put away!) clothes from Jack's cupboard & Blake's drawers then jumping onto the clothes mountains they created
Me : Wishing I could be squirrelled away in a nice hotel room, many stories up, over looking a gorgeous beach view, with a hot chocolate & room service at my disposal, curled up in a big lush arm chair with a good book. Instead I'm folding & putting away clothes (that have already been folded & put away once already!) While I'm at it I put away all the other folded clothes that have been living on the pool table for the last week.
Blake & Will : In the pantry taking a bite each out of the few apples left & putting them back on the shelves
Me : Feeding Clay on the couch, thinking I am finally enjoying a quiet moment of serenity while the boys are playing with toys in Blake's room
Blake & Will : In Rianan's room tipping out thousands of tiny little Rainbow Loom rubber bands & running through them.
I'm certain many mum's know how ridiculous it is trying to pick up hundreds of the tiny, fiddly little bands.
When Blake & Will team up like this, as they do once in a while, I am reminded how glad I am that they are normally sweet little boys & not the mischievous little imps they had temporarily turned into. I imagine this is just a small taste of what it would be like to have twins keeping you on your toes. No twins here, just a 17 month age gap.
That was pretty much how the rest of the day went. The little monsters conspired against me & got up to mischief every waking minute. Just to make sure that Clay didn't get lost in the mix & start feeling left out, he decided to do a 180 on his sleep patterns & mix it up for the last two days. He's decided that half an hour of sleep twice a day is enough & that he would much rather be watching the exasperating antics of his brothers from the safety of my shoulder. Breastfeeds have also turned into a two hourly occasion filled with head turning & neck craning attempts to see what else is going on.
When it came to school pick up time, there was no way I was going to meet Ben, Rianan & Jack at their class rooms. Instead I waited in the car next to the school gates for the older three to come out together, giving me a chance of keeping the two little hurricanes contained & the rest of my sanity intact. I was going to need what was left of it to get through the next four hours.
Not even yet home from school (you'll remember it is only a two minute drive) & the arguing started. Just petty, silly little reasons. Jack's leg was touching Rianan's. Ben had laughed at Jack tripping over. Rianan was looking out Jack's window. You get the idea.
I figured we'd get home, get some food into their bellies, then separate them all if the niggling at each other continued. Discouragingly it did not get much better. Within the hour there was a blanket rule of if you could not be nice you could not be around any one & had to find something to do in your own room.
In the end we got through the day in one piece, even if I lost a little more hair from stress instead of postnatal hair loss. (yep it's as lovely as it sounds. I think Doug & I both are a little sick of constantly finding my hair everywhere)
Just to make sure that I would not forget this lesson about getting too comfortable, thinking I have my parenting skills somewhat up to par, today was another day I would rather not repeat. Especially the mess Will left trialing from the kitchen through the hallway into the toilet & bathroom as we had an unsuccessful attempt to get a poo scored in the potty. Let's just say that kiwi fruit is currently on the banned food list for Will & I'm down half a packet of wipes.
Don't worry, I'm aware that I am far from having it down pat with this parenting gig, but I think that we're doing alright, at least most of the time. The kids are usually great, well behaved, all round sweet natured little people, so we must be doing something right.
When days like yesterday & today roll around, I am reminded that raising little people is not meant to be easy, whether it's one, two, three or six. Furthermore, when you are going through a nice easy phase, whatever you do, do not think about how you have everything down pat & running smoothly, let alone speak it out loud. Guaranteed you will be eating your words within the next 24 hours.
Welcome back Murphy, thank you for bringing me back to my senses.
**As a side note, Will has been doing brilliantly with wearing undies at home. We're now braving small trips out of the house sans nappy. However after today's nasty mess, I'm remaining cautious about claiming success just yet...