Fourth Kid: A Short Essay on How I Do It

Just kidding. There is no way I am about to get all pontificat-y on parenting. If anything, you know that when people ask me how (or praise me for doing) what I do as a mom, I have a hard time not laughing and saying, “I have no idea how I do it either!”

But really, there is some truth in that. Much of my mom life is completely winging it, just like everyone else, because – as we all know full well – there is no one right thing that works for every kid and every parent. That’s life.

While I will stick to my long-ago claim of it doesn’t matter how many kids you have, raising tiny humans is hard, I will admit that some things have changed about me as a parent since I wrote that post. For one, I’ve let down some of my standards.

Before you think I’ve lost it, let me clarify: I have learned to let some of the minor shit go so it doesn’t become major, and that too is a personal and unique journey for each of us as parents (or as individuals). In my parental life, the best (albeit maybe silly) example I can give you is this: I no longer force the children to stay at the table when they eat (snacks, that is).

Yes, I legit took a picture of floor sweepings. Yes, I had just swept this flour in the last 36 hours. 

Ground breaking, eh? But it’s actually an interesting progression of control and what it means to relinquish some of that in the name of embracing the mess. No, really, because this slippery slope has led to waaaay more mess in my house and it’s the really annoying kind where you step on pretzels and Cherrios all the time, but honestly, I just don’t have the fight in me to make them stay put anymore while they snack.

For one, I don’t want to be at the table for 80% of my day, and as my friend Megan’s blog name will attest – being a Keeper of the Snacks is a legit part of motherhood as far as any of us can tell.

For 1.A, I have other shit to do. Most of it involves picking up after my little crumb spillers and mess makers, so you know, Catch 22, but seriously. When it comes to battling over keeping them in their seats versus following them through the house with a broom, well, fine. At least I’m up and moving.

But what this phenomenon is really all about is The Tunnel and the fact that I know have one, almost two!, kids out of it. And this is why it doesn’t matter so much how many children you have, but how far apart they are in age. Because once your littler one(s) see your bigger one(s) doing something, by goodness, they are going to want to do it, which should mean that my older children have been setting wonderful snack consumption manners examples for my youngers (because the Bigs actually did have these rules enforced), there’s just a bit too much coming and going and here and there to worry about where so-and-so is when they eat an animal cracker. Or a graham cracker. Or a WheatThin. Or Ritz. Goodness. Why do we eat so many crackers in this house?

This guy is Culprit No.1, followed by LT at a close second. 

And so. Along with the mountains of laundry, I sweep the floor umpteen times a day. My couch cushions are at times crunchy feeling, and Lord in Heaven, I once found the 7yo eating a graham cracker in my bed (that was NOT okay, btw!). In other words, motherhood is messy. Literally and figuratively. And what I’ve learned from/by the fourth kid is that that is perfectly acceptable.



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