Thursday, September 15, 2011

The General "How's It Going?" Post

It's been just over a month now since Waylon was born. Can you believe it? Well, maybe you can. (Actually, maybe I am the only one following along. I like how I sometimes write this blog as if there's a huge audience of readers with burning questions about my children, when in fact few people, if any, really care about the mundane details of our lives. Oh well, if you just read that sentence then you're here I guess. So as my friend Kat says, "CLICK AWAY!" if you don't care for the content.)

Where was I? Oh right - life as a family of five. First off, my recent post about preschool, in which I mentioned watching three kids 24/7, was totally inaccurate. I've had a LOT of help this first month, so there were not too many days when I watched all three kiddos by myself from start to finish. Even fewer where I had to do that and cook dinner. Still, though, I've done it, and that's a task I wasn't sure I was up to as of this time last month. It builds confidence to get a few of those days under your belt.

The answer to the "How's It Going?" question greatly depends on when you might ask it. On a good day you'd hear: Waylon's an easy baby so far. The girls love him and are very (read: overly, almost aggressively) affectionate toward him. With each passing week, he's been sleeping blissfully longer stretches. We're slowly but surely getting into more of a groove, learning how to get around and keep everyone fed. As parents, we're striving to give each kid enough individual attention, and learning to accept the messier state of our home. I'm feeling good and have even managed to squeeze in a few short "runs" (I'm using the term loosely).

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But on a bad day (or during a particularly bad hour, I suppose) you'd hear: Logistically, the whole show is tough. It's going to get easier I know, but right now it's damn hard to get everyone fed, dressed, gone to the bathroom, and out the door before it's time to turn around again because someone's hungry, or having a meltdown, or forgot something, or it has started to rain or whatever. And Waylon is not usually the one having the meltdown. Of the girls, Georgia in particular knows that one of the ways to get "individual attention" is to get it in the form of negative attention by pushing all our buttons. She has a comeback for everything and often gives us attitude you'd expect more from a teenager. We do our best to be patient. Seriously, we dig deep. But I am ashamed to admit that since Waylon's birth, both Joe and I have found ourselves (once each, I think) yelling, "SHUT UP!!!" at the children, something we don't condone and never would've dreamed of doing before. I am not saying it is okay either; I'm just saying that I guess everyone has their boiling point, and we've been pushed past ours many times this month. June is for the most part going with the flow, especially in light of the fact that Georgia has unfortunately taken it upon herself to play the role of third parent to June, correcting her 1,000 times a day and giving her incessant instructions. Still though, June's two, and it shows. Regardless of the messenger, she ignores 950 out of 1,000 instructions and when disappointed knows how to throw a tantrum with the best of them. As for ourselves, Joe and I have instituted a "name your one thing" policy for each other on weekends, in which we start the day by selecting the one thing we'd like to get done, if nothing else, by the end of the day. It might be exercising (for like 25 minutes). It might be writing this blog entry. It might be calling a friend, or in Joe's case unfortunately, reading a contract for work. The point is, you pick one (and we work to help each other accomplish it), and then EVERYTHING else is considered gravy. I think this approach has helped me not feel disappointed at the end of the day when I haven't gotten to the 50 other things I thought I would. Most of the time it works out, but this weekend, my one thing was to make it to the Renegade Craft Fair, which mind you, was open both Saturday and Sunday from 11-7. Despite everyone's best efforts, it just didn't happen. Sometimes you just have to put your own interests last and accept that it's not meant to be. (But don't give me any credit for a zen-like attitude here; I didn't throw in the towel until (a) holding back tears about this silly craft fair so obviously not worth getting upset about, and (b) rolling down my window to make a sarcastic comment to two idiot women who were positively staring at me while I tried to parallel park our minivan in a congested area somewhere remotely in the vicinity of the street fair.  I believe my exact words were, "Thanks for the audience!! I am doing my best here, okay?!")

(Man, that whole thing sounded so complainy, didn't it? I have serious respect for bloggers who can write about the difficult, not so fun parts of family life without sounding ungrateful and whiny. I am not so good at it, but I don't want to sugercoat and share only the good parts. First off, I could be sending other parents into a deep depression, wondering why their inferior families don't measure up. : ) More importantly, I assume that my own children may read this stuff decades later, and the last thing I want is for them to believe they were easy little angels all the time. C'mon! I love 'em to death, but that just ain't right.)

So, let's talk specifics about the difference between having three kids and two, because I know some of you out there must be thinking about breeding, right? Okay, let's put it this way: I have heard it said that the best thing you can do for your children is to raise each one as if it were the seventh of ten children, and I think we're getting closer to really achieving implementation of that parenting philosophy.  Have you ever nursed a baby while simultaneously giving two children a bath and making chocolate frosting on the stove?  I have, and if it were an Olympic event I'm sure I would've gotten at least the silver, but for being disqualified due to burning both the chocolate and my hand.  Dude, I totally had it in the bag until someone decided she needed to get out of the tub midstream to go #2.  Newman!  Here are some other examples.  

First baby: pretty much never leave the baby alone in a room if it's awake. Always take it with you, even if you're just going down the hall and will be right back.
Third baby: when the baby falls asleep in its stroller, and you're about to eat dinner on your porch, it's okay to leave the baby in your driveway or parking area so long as you're within earshot.

First baby: your life consists of either doing what you were going to do anyway and toting baby along with you, or in our case, (since we weren't so good at that "carry on as usual" crap), devoting all of your attention and energy to the baby at all times, wondering how any human could ever possibly have more than one child, let alone twins.  You lie on the floor next to the baby saying multisyllabic words like "carbohydrate" and "apostrophe" so that the child's brain grows rapidly, or something like that. 
Third baby: you will find yourself with the baby strapped to you in a Moby wrap while kneeling in the grass in the middle of the boulevard, collecting sticks so that you can roast imaginary marshmallows while playing pretend campfire.  You hope the baby's brain grows, but find yourself forgetting to take your doctor recommended multivitamin for breastfeeding mothers and rarely remember to give the vitamin D drops that the pediatrician told you to. 

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Welcome to the world, Waylon.  Sit here, now let's paint!

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First baby: rarely does tummy time, because you feel so bad for the little pumpkin when it fusses about not liking it.
Second baby: rarely does tummy time, because you're having trouble finding time for it in the schedule.
Third baby: frequently does tummy time, because it's the one fussy time of day when you don't have to feel guilty about not immediately rescuing the baby while your hands are full with the demands of two other children. If the baby's going to fuss anyway, it might as well work on its neck strength.

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Gee, are you enjoying your playmat, Waylon?

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First baby:  you get a Baby Bjorn because everyone seems to have one, you were told to register for it, and hey, isn't that neat?  Wearing a baby now and then for the fun of it is oh so cute! 
Third baby:  you wear the baby all the time because your life depends on it.  It's the only way to keep your hands free.  It seems to be the only place the baby will consistently fall asleep.  You've ditched the painful Baby Bjorn that never suited your back in the first place in favor of the more comfortable Ergo, sans "infant insert" because you're a know it all parent who scoffs at such things.  Just scrunch that baby down in a froggy position and go!  You've graduated to "double babywearing": holding a toddler who demands to be picked up, while simultaneously wearing the baby in a carrier.   

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My beautiful view.

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Occupational hazards of babywearing, at least with my babies.

This is how we roll:
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I don't think the world's ready for this jelly. Excuse the badonkadonk.
(In case you're wondering: Joe took this pic on a cell phone after we met him at the park on his way home from work, and Georgia's soaked through from running through a fountain.)

First baby:  your guests politely wash their hands before picking up the baby, and you hover close by to make sure they're giving it adequate head support.
Third baby:  you'd let any willing person hold your baby.  You're constantly admonishing your older children, "Not in his mouth!" and would be satisfied just to keep all sibling fingers and other foreign objects out of your poor baby's mouth, nose and ears. 

First baby:  you're on maternity leave and have no appointments or planned events to keep track of, so even if you experience the so-called "mommy brain" phenomenon, will it really matter?
Third baby:  you call your husband at work crying because you both screwed up and accidentally missed parent orientation night for your daughter's school.  Devastated, the only explanation for this that you can figure is that you are a horrible mother.  So you immediately purchase a larger than life dry erase wall calendar in a feeble attempt to keep your life more organized.

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And one of the biggest differences of all:  breastfeeding.
First baby:  the nurses in the hospital give you bad advice or no advice at all, so you head home (a) paranoid that baby is starving, and (b) with torched nipples that take weeks to recover.  Breastfeeding becomes a temporary hindrance to your bonding with the baby since you're so sore that you can't help but cry sometimes when your husband walks in with the baby saying, "I think she's hungry."  You are so modest that you use a nursing cover even when you're alone in your own home, in case someone's walking by your open living room windows.   
Third baby:  after just a couple days of soreness, you and baby have got this nursing thing all figured out.  As an old pro, you don't mind nursing all the time if that's what makes the baby happy.  Sure, bring it on, make yourself a human pacifier.  If someone wants to walk by your open living room windows and gawk at your bare breasts, well...meh.  You don't have the energy to get worked up about it.  After 5 weeks, you've cheerfully nursed the baby in a restaurant, a doctor's office, and on a park bench in the middle of Logan Boulevard, just to name a few.  And not because you're the new poster child for breastfeeding advocacy, but because it seems otherwise you may never go anywhere!  You know how to do "Train Nursing" and do it often.  (What?  That wasn't covered in your Intro to Breastfeeding pamphlet that they gave you at the hospital?  Mine either.  It's a highly advanced technique that does not involve breastfeeding on an actual train.  This is a teaser, but if I can get Joe to take a photograph without too much boobage, I'll show you what I'm talking about in a future post.) 

Family of three: a heckuva lot easier to capture a decent group photo.
Family of five: you need a group shot for the preschool wall and decide that this one will suffice -- tongue out, messy hair, looking at keys, and with a baby who has spit up running down his chin and looks like he's been licking toads. Joe, I think you are the winner here.

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9 comments:

Teresa said...

I know you only through your blog... can't even remember now how I found it, but I love reading it. Yes, you do have readers! I feel more sane and normal reading that you also yell "shut up" to your children. I haven't done it yet but almost did today, and I only have two - a just-turned-three year old and an almost-one year old. My husband and I are both lawyers, but I quit my job shortly after returning to my job after number two, and life is better. I desperately want a third, but I'm just not sure I can do it. It's comforting to read your blog, though I'm not sure whether it's pushed me closer to or further away from having a third. Anyway, just wanted you to know that you have readers who appreciate the time you take to put your thoughts and feelings into words!

Ann said...

Okay, first, I LOVE the family photo. I mean, if you can get it together with THREE KIDS, I have to get on that and get one of our family now. And I appreciate the no bullshit approach to blogging. It's great to wax all positive and philosophical sometimes, but the nitty gritty details of everyday life are so much more fun to read. And the first/third comparisons are hilarious. I don't think I'll ever get to that point, but I'm learning anyway. Well done.

Maggie said...

Love ths post. I felt this way even during the first year of Abe's life... no third kid involved. I like the concept of treating every child like the 7th out of 10. In fact, I often think to myself, well those Mormon/Amish/whatever families probably handle this better than most of us because they just know what is actually worth giving attention to and what is just an attitude issue.

Susan said...

Tthat dry erase calendar you got is awesome! And, I admit - single, kid-less me just splurged for a planner. Yep, the paper kind. I just can't keep my life organized on a cell phone. I can't imagine doing it with 3 kids.

The Chapples said...

Awesome post. I recently found your blog and our sons were born at the same time. I relate to so much of what you said, even though I just have two kids. Thanks for sharing and being so real. It's awesome to know that others are out there in Mommyland doing the best they can to just make it through each day.

Sarah said...

Okay that was hilarious, and so true! I'm very impressed I have to say, and am still in the "how do people have more than one child?" phase. And that calendar looks great - Tell me you didn't put it up yourself.
I wish I could help, especially with Georgia. Mia loves 4-yr-old girls and needs a playmate. And I could help with the preschool thing. Except that that would only make things worse. Maybe you can all just hang out at preschool, boobs and all!
Hang in there! You look great and this has to be the hardest part, right?
btw, I'm waiting to see how the meals change in the future. Breakfast got a lot more loose at our house with each child - Josh was practically raised on Lucky Charms!
Love ya!

Me? A Mom? said...

Truer words have never been written, especially about letting anyone hold the third child that is willing.

Rock on. You're doing great

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE this family photo! What a beautiful family. Tom T.

Adventures In Babywearing said...

LOVE this. So true!!

Steph