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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

My Epiphany

Last night I had cause for reflection. Don't ask me how, because there was so much going on in the chaos around me that I shouldn't have been able to string two cohesive thoughts together, but somehow I managed. It went kind of like this:

My kids came home from school. I had approximately forty-five minutes until my first piano student arrived. By some miracle (no doubt related to two consecutive days off of my other job) my house was actually clean. (And no, I'm not counting the upstairs. So there). I immediately sat one child at the piano to practice, ushered the other one in for Homework War I, and started making dinner.

I'm frying hamburger, yelling at N. that he needs to play and F sharp, redirecting L. (again, and again, and AGAIN!!!) to the maps of Washington he's trying not to color, sending C. to the corner for tormenting his sister (at least four times before finally exiling him to the upper floor purgatory also known as his bedroom), and trying to explain to M. that no, Mommy could not pick her up right now, and would she PLEASE stop crying.

I believe I was rinsing the noodles when the reflection began. All of the sudden I was in Brazil, with that Girl who lives there, and I was spending my morning eating blackberries, floating in the pool, and loving the easy, carefree moments of life. It was kind of maddening.

Because I remember when my life was like that.

So I thought (as I dumped the sauce over my noodles, and yelled at C. that NO! he could not come downstairs yet), what's happened? Why the chaos? Have I lost it completely as a wife/mother? WILL IT EVER BE EASY AGAIN??!!!

And then the epiphany happened. It's not how many kids you have, it's how many age groups of kids you have. Those easy days? There were three of them, but everyone was five or younger. Everyone had the same needs, the same toys, the same troubles (for the most part), and their laundry was WAY smaller. As in, a toddler's entire wardrobe fits in one load, vs. a giant ten year old's getting-bigger-all-the-time jumbo wear. You can't tell me this doesn't make a major difference.

Now, I have a ten, eight, five, and two year old, and must simultaneously juggle everyone's VASTLY different needs, toys, troubles, activities (because eight and ten year olds definitely have these), and laundry. Instead of two precious preschoolers playing with dinosaurs, I have the G.I. Joe combat zone in one corner, Dora's doll house in the middle, and a rousing semi-automatic dart gun war going on all at the same time.

While I teach a calm, cool, and collected piano lesson. My poor students.

So I have come to a conclusion. If it was easier the last time everyone was in the same basic age/needs/interests category, it (philosophically) should get easier when they meld together once more as "school age kids". Plus they'll be able to do their own laundry - and don't think I won't make them.

This is something to look forward to - while I treasure these crazy, hectic, chaotic, never-quite-finish-doing-anything years of having adorable young children,of course. Because they are adorable, and I really don't want them to grow up too fast. (Well, there are moments...)

So for now, I figure I can do anything (as long as no one expects me to do everything and do it well), and while I'm doing it I'll try to remind myself that I used to have things under control too, so surely I can't be a total disaster...I mean, I actually remember mopping my floor because I had nothing better to do. That can happen again someday, right?

And by the way Girl in Brazil, I will be forever grateful to you for that reminder. It was seriously just what I needed to find that light at the end of the tunnel.

21 comments:

Natalie said...

This is a fantastic epiphany. So great, in fact, that I will not try to convince you that having all school age kids isn't nearly as easy as you just made it sound. I totally agree with you on the easier when they were all toddlers at the same time thing. I think that's part of why I've got the baby-toddler stage glorified in my mind. It was so much less complicated then... All I know is that I have 4 school age kids now and that equals 4 sets of homework, 4 teachers to have concerns & conferences with, 4 kids to have seperate activities... What's that yoga pose you have?

Stephanie said...

This is my favorite post of yours so far. I think I've said that before, but this time I'm telling the truth. :) No, really...it felt like I was reading a little about me, except I'm not sure about the Brazil thing and I don't teach piano, but you get my point. My kids: 9, 7, 4, and 2. I'm feeling like that each day at 3:40 when my kids come home from school and I'm just about to get dinner ready. I was thinking I should call you after I read this. I'll give you a call soon so we can catch up again. I miss you.

wendy said...

It does get harder in some ways. But things kinda go full circle, before you know it, they (as you said) can all do their own laundry, drive themselves where they need to go, clean up, and you can all sit around the table playing cards and laughing yourselves to death. Awesome.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Mine are all packaged in a smaller, closer age group, but it DID/DOES make a world of difference when they can do things TOGETHER. I know I shouldn't rush the TV thing, but how cool will it be when they all like the same kind of shows and we don't have to fight about Dora vs. The Magic School Bush. Who am I kidding? They'll never like the same shows; that would be too easy!

Chaka said...

Good point. I've got 9 kids and I can relate to your post (and I'm the detached dad)

Melissa Bastow said...

So you're telling me that it's just going to get worse for someone in my position? GREAT. Thanks for that.

Annie Valentine said...

Glad you said it out loud.

I just ate five cookies and I hate myself.

Alison Wonderland said...

I'm not sure that I believe that having them all in school will do it but I do believe that it'll be easier when they're all adults.

Barbaloot said...

I just hope you're not looking forward to when they're all teenager-ish:)

But hey, if nothing else, I grew up in close age groups with my brothers and while I'm sure it made for hectic times we are all GREAT friends now.

The Kooky Queen--Rachel said...

Such an interesting thought! And since so far, my kids will all be 3-4 years apart...I could have quite a few age groups going. You're saying it's gonna get harder!? EEEEEEEEE!

Shelley said...

I just saying "yep that's how it is here too" "yep that's me". I just want to know if it really does get simpler (?wierd word). Mine are 11, 9, 8, 4, and the irony is my 11 & 9 year old daughters should be, at least in my mind, the "closest" and simplest. Not so!

Laura said...

Well, at least you'll always have me to compare yourself to, to feel better, hahaha! You know I'll never have it all together!

Sue Q said...

15....13.....9......4 (in ten days).....

Yup. Same old story, with a double dose of an adolescent twist.

I need you to send me your address so I can send you something special to help you get through days like this. No, it isn't chocolate, but it will give you a great laugh and hopefully, a little inspiration. Email me, 'kay? You won't be sorry, I promise!

david mcmahon said...

G'day from Australia. I'm a parent too, and this post will have a wonderfully truthful ring to any parent of any generation.

That said, I have treasured every moment with my children and I hope they treasure their time with me as they grow.

I guess we doing a good job - because they still kiss us every day, yes, even in front of their friends!!

Grandma Blog said...

The kid days will never be over they just grow up and produce more kids then you are the grandma and then the great grandma.

Jen, I guess the blog folks didn't want me to follow you so I re-joined.

nikkicrumpet said...

You're right. When my third child was born my oldest was 2 1/2...so I had three under three. And everyone always said how hard it must be. But in reality it wasn't so bad (once they were all out of diapers) because we did the "terrible twos" all together, started school, played baseball, went through puberty. It was one group doing all the same things and sharing the same friends and clothes. It really did make it a lot easier. And when they left home and moved out on their own...it was like having to only go through the separation anxiety once instead of three times. So ladies...have them babies close together and simplify your life lol

Natalie said...

I have five, aged from 10 months to 16 years. I am thinking of taking up drinking Cabernet Sauvignon through a straw!
I can so relate. :D

That Girl in Brazil said...

You know, it's funny. I've been thinking about that post myself. Mostly because while Monday was super-fantabulous-awesome, the rest of this week was the PITS.

And I do mean the PITS.

This whole 'opposition in all things' thing really ... sucks.

I guess the important thing is to remember that we've HAD good days, we HAVE good days, and we WILL HAVE good days again.

(Sometimes it helps to say that repeatedly.)

Sniffles and Smiles said...

Priceless! So very true! Thanks for your wonderful authenticity! Congrats on your mention in POTD!

jane said...

amen.

my kids: 11, 9, almost 6, 2 and-a-half.

my 11 year old is doing her own laundry. :)

Marivic_Little GrumpyAngel said...

Don't worry. Time will come when it will quiet down and you'll have vastly more time for things you want to do. I think I do nowadays, except now I deal with the achy feeling that it's almost over, and I hope I made everyday of the chaotic days count. Sigh.