Let me begin by saying, we don’t plan to have seven children. We are hoping to add one more to our brood and although Ben and I both have/had a grandparent with a twin, I don’t think we’re going to jump from three to seven when that time comes. Perhaps I should go knock on wood just to make sure, though, eh?
OK. Superstitions qualmed (which is not a verb, but that’s just where I am today).
Let me continue by getting to my main point: lately it seems I hear variations of “I don’t know how you do it” “I only have one; you have three!” and so on from my fellow mamas, but here’s the thing – I don’t know how I do it either. I never have. And that is pretty much what I tell anyone who tries to tell me that they shouldn’t be stressed because they “only” have one child. Guess what, sweet mama friends? I was waaaay stressed out when I had one kid. And when I had two. And now that I have three, well, in some ways I am more stressed than ever, and in others, I am learning to let go.
Let me explain.
The big kids are off to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a couple days since Harrison didn’t have school today. I don’t think they’ve been away since Lincoln was born and even before that, they maybe had one sleep-away visit during the summer, so this has been a long time comin’ to say the least. They were both so excited when Grandma Deb got here yesterday morning that they put on their “pack packs” (RL’s phrase) and let themselves out of the side door while Deb and I were chatting in the living room. When Grandma caught up with them (I was nursing the baby), Raegan told her, “Ready to go!” So go they did and I don’t have the slightest doubt in my mind about whether or not they are having a good time. Just look at the pic my SIL posted on Facebook of the cousin fun from today. Clearly they’re doing great!
Perhaps it goes without saying, but I was pretty excited myself. I mean, really?! 48ish whole hours to focus on just the baby?! WhooHoo! Here was my time to live it up and SLEEP. The timing turned out to be crucial, too, because Tuesday night I got about one whole hour of sleep the entire night (stupid sleep problems), and the only thing getting me through Wednesday was knowing I would be two kids short come Thursday and then I could take it “easy.”
But remember what I’ve been saying all to my friends since Lincoln’s arrival? I was stressed with two and I was stressed with one. Of course there are some things, many things!, easier about my day-to-day when the big kids are away, but the days are never completely and totally smooth. It really doesn’t matter how many babes you have under your care (I will eat those words if I end up with seven, I know); if you are in charge of the life and well being and total survival of another human being, it is not going to be easy. It’s just not. And sure enough, Lincoln, my totally-chill-roll-with-it-sweet-lovin’ boy, reminded me of that yesterday and last night.
Perhaps it was too quiet in the house for him, or something, but the child did not want to nap. He fought me going down and once we finally got through that, he slept for a nanosecond and was ready to go again. So, no. No nap or “rest” time for this tired mama who was trying to recoup after Tuesday night’s disaster. To be fair, my sleep has recovered quite a bit in the last few weeks, but it seems that every week and a half or so, I have a really crappy night, so I’m in this whole two steps forward/one step back in regards to my sleep (and mental function). And to be fair to LT, his day sleep is always a little erratic, so it wasn’t terribly shocking that he didn’t nap for very long, but I was holding out hope that he’d cut me some slack. However, if I’ve learned anything since becoming a parent, it’s that babies do not come into this word understanding “slack.”
After turning in early last night (under the covers by 9:02!), I thought, Yes! Baby is alseep; here we go! Since Lincoln usually goes from 9:30 to 5 or 6ish, I though I was going to get one heck of a long sleep. But I swear, when you have more than one kid, he (or she) can sense when you suddenly aren’t so distracted by the others and that is often when they demand your attention. Like last night, when Lincoln decided to start fussing like crazy at 12:30. He never does that, so why last night?! And then, to add to the absurdity of it all, he put himself back down before I could even finish going to the bathroom and getting dressed to go get him to nurse. So I put myself back down and slept well until 5:45 which is apparently the time Harrison has imprinted on my brain as Wake Up time. I will say, though, that is much different to wake up on your own terms at 5:45 than it is to have a preschooler come barging into your bedroom. I was far less tired and was able to just be still in the dark quiet, although it probably helped to not have to hear the toddler screaming for Daddy from her crib, for once, too. And wouldn’t you know it? We had to go wake Lincoln at 7 because, seriously, I was about to explode with milk. TMI, yes, but truth in the trenches of nursing, my friends. Truth.
So there you have it. I have no idea how I do it when I have three in the house. And I have no idea how I do it when I have just one, because IT is always different. Every kid. Every day. Everything and everyone is in constant motion and flux, so whether I’m faced with one, two, three, or (gulp) seven, all I can do is whatever works within that moment (because you darn well know it’s going to be someone and something different the next).