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side effects of motherhood

side effects of motherhood

Easy like Sunday morning

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It’s been two weeks since my helper came back from her holiday and I’m still basking in the luxury of having an extra pair of hands to help around the house. You know how you thought your life was hard but it suddenly gets 18,000% worse and you realize how good you’ve had it all this time. Then when it goes back to the original level of difficulty, you’re like THANK YOU GOD I WILL NEVER EVER EVER COMPLAIN AGAIN.

How amazing is it exactly? I had a nice long shower today. In the middle of the morning. Without a baby staring me down as I lathered up. Or kids banging on the door yelling for gummies “RIGHT NOW I AM SO HUNGRY!!” For a moment there, I thought I was on vacation and it was glorious.

Also, it’s such a treat to be able to put one kid to bed at a time. So relaxing. Having to get Finn and Theo and Hayley to sleep at the same time was a nightmare because this sweet baby whom I adore so much is a total diva during bedtime. Her immediate vicinity must be void of any disruptions as she partakes in her evening feed. If she hears the slightest whisper, she shrieks. If she detects someone shifting their body weight from the left side to the right, she shrieks. If someone just breathes a little deeper than usual, she will immediately be alerted to the oxygen level imbalance in the room and  yes, there will be shrieking.

Most nights, I’m pleading with Finn and Theo like “guys, please don’t talk and don’t move and try not to breathe too hard.” Who am I kidding? Asking these two to not move for 40 minutes is like asking them to donate both kidneys and an eyeball. They can’t even last 2 seconds without loudly whispering “mommy mommy tomorrow let’s eat popcorn it’s so delicious!

SSSHHHHHHHH if you can be quiet until baby Hayley sleeps I might consider it. Now just shush!!” I whisper back too loudly, causing the baby to unlatch and frown. She had been side eyeing me with disapproval the whole time and she needed to let me know this was too much.

Five minutes go by in relative peace, with the exception of two coughs and a spasmic leg shift.

Mommy I need to poop!” Theo announces triumphantly. He had taken five whole minutes to cultivate his need to poop and it was a success. Around here, poop is a treasured free pass to party during bedtime and he celebrates by doing his nudist victory lap around the living room.

I try not to begrudge my kids their right to poop but this was a most inopportune time. By the time I washed him, chased his naked bottom around the house and got him changed, baby Hayley would be back at level 0 on her falling asleep scale.

Phew, glad those days are over.

But there’s one good thing to have come out of this experience. Having spent three weeks doing their share of chores, Truett and Kirsten have gotten used to the routine and they’ve continued to help out around the house with packing and cleaning and vacuuming and I JUST LET THEM. They now feel responsible for the cleanliness of the house, so much so that when they saw Finn and Theo dropping a trail of cookies in the bedroom, they hastily um, reaccommodated them to the deck chairs outside and made them eat their cookies by the pool. They were like “sit here and eat!! Don’t come back in until you’re done with your cookies understand?

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Can’t say that I wasn’t extremely pleased.

side effects of motherhood, Truett

The beginning of birthday season!

Look who turned 8 last week.

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It’s still taking a while to sink in, that I’m the mom of an 8-year-old. I’m not ready for this, I need time to process this information.

I mean, I’ve got babies all figured out. They’re intense but all they need is milk and sleep and cuddles. I know toddlers too. They need milk and sleep and cuddles and playtime.

But an 8-year-old, that’s unchartered territory. It’s all new to me, figuring out when to be a mom and when to be a friend, a confidante. When to just hear them out without judgement and when to offer sagely advice. When to shelter them and when to let them go even if it means they might get hurt. Making decisions that will shape them into the kind of grown up people we hope they’ll become.

On that note, it’s getting harder to phone it in, or to get away with the little parenting inconsistencies that toddlers will give you a free pass for. Big kids, they’re sharp. They’ll notice when you say one thing and do another. They’ll question every decision you make and point out when you’re not being fair. They’ll spot every flaw and call you out on every parenting misstep because now, they know.

I think I’m getting better at this though, and it’s largely because I’ve had Truett as my big kid to figure all this out with.

***

If you’re wondering, here’s what 8 looks like:

//The most delightful conversations about all of our favourite things. Books, movies, music, babies…

The other day, he said “I didn’t know that watching babies is such hard work. Sometimes, I spend 10 minutes with them and it’s like 10 hours.” I laughed for a long time.

//Truett has turned out to be such a voracious reader. This boy loves books and I love introducing them to him. Recently, he’s been into Tintin and now I have someone who gets me when I say “Blistering barnacles!!”

//He’s still bringing the hugs and kisses, even when we’re out. I can’t tell you how glad I am about this.

//Tru really likes surprises. Which also means that he loves giving them out. Last week, he made me a coupon booklet with very cool vouchers for stuff like “1 hour of babysitting” and “20 hugs” and “a head massage”. I asked him what the occasion was and he said it’s a surprise just because.

//This doesn’t happen very often but on the rare occasion that I get to tuck him into bed, he still holds my hand till he falls asleep. :)

//A super star sub on Team Too Many Babies. Part of the reason why we have so many babies is because the big kids have been incredible babysitters and they make my job so much easier.

Happy birthday, Truett! You really are my rockstar.

side effects of motherhood

I’ll have that with a side of doo-doo cake

I have a confession to make: I’m really, really enjoying having 4 kids.

It’s such an obnoxious statement, making it sound like it’s a piece of cake. Which it isn’t. Unless you mean a piece of doo-doo cake, then well, um, fair enough.

Parenting 4 kids is a lot like standing in the middle of a matador ring with a herd of wild bulls charging at you (and also each other) and your job is to make sure that everyone ends the day with nobody hurt or bleeding. Some days, we find a rhythm and it’s almost beautiful to watch, but more often than not, I’m just holding on till I hear the bedtime bell ring and I can herd them all off to bed.

Except weekend mornings. Weekends are like a breath of fresh air. Everyone’s happier, the kids are less fight-y, and we have a Saturday morning routine where all the kids tumble around on our bed playing crazy games for an hour. Also, now that Theo is bigger, he’s so pleased to be actively participating in the mayhem. On these sort of mornings, my heart is full and the madness of the week seems worth it. I mean, how did we luck out so good?

A typical Saturday morning conversation goes like this:

Me: SERIOUSLY, THESE BABIES ARE SO CUTE I CAN’T TAKE IT.

Husband: I think it’s your ovaries that can’t take it. Want to have some more?

Me: We already have some more. One more coming soon.

Husband: We can go for maybe one or two more. Two more girls, round it off to 7.

Me: That would be cute…OI, STOP IT!! No more, I can’t have any more. We’re done here.

***

In an ideal world, we’d be basking in bliss all weekend long, but with 4 kids, there is no such thing as an ideal world, so come Sunday morning, we got served a nice, large slice of doo-doo cake.

Baby Theo started vomiting, followed by a fever, then Finn got all lethargic and ill, then by the evening, both Truett and Kirsten came down with a temperature, accompanied by all the signs of stomach flu – diarrhoea, vomiting, cramps, the whole works. Which also translates into too many bedsheets changes and super gross mop ups. The baby will poop and it will trigger Tru’s vomiting, which will make Kirsten gag and run.

The downside of having so many kids in such close quarters is that viruses like hanging around here too. We try everything from essential oils to immunity-building supplements, but the potent viruses still party like it’s 1999.

So on this fine Monday, we have 4 sick kids slumming it out here making me barf bag presents and I’m not sure if this whole 4+1 kids gig was such a good idea.

Yeah, ok, still is.

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side effects of motherhood

Aaaand we have a walker!!

So guess why this baby is, as we say, happy like bird?

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Baby Theo has finally discovered the freedom that is walking on his own two feet. Ok, not entirely. He still requires the use of walking aids, but he’s taken a few steps on his own and is feeling rather pleased with himself.

I think he feels like a rockstar having so many people cheer him on even though he doesn’t make it past 3 steps before falling hard on his chubby cushy bottom.

The important thing is to get up and try again. Which is easier when you have big brothers (and sister!) who take turns to walk with you.

Big brothers make the best walking aids :)

A video posted by Daphne (@daphneling) on

Baby steps, y’all!!

side effects of motherhood

Stay this way

I had some snuggle time with my big boy Truett two nights ago and as he turned to give me a goodnight kiss, he jabbed me in the ribs so hard with his pointy, bony big boy elbow I almost passed out. This boy is all tall and lanky and gangly right now.

“Ok, night! I’m super tired, you can go now.”

“Hey, talk to mommy for just 10 minutes, I want to hear all about your day.”

*grunt mmmmhrrrmm grunt*

That was it. All 2 minutes and 12 seconds of snuggle time and I was being unceremoniously dismissed because my super snuggly services were no longer required. I hung around for a while and he was out like a light in another minute or so.

When Truett was really small, he would take an hour to fall asleep and I spent many nights (and days) thinking of how nice it would be if my baby could fall asleep in a solid minute. As a newly minted zombie parent, having a baby that could fall asleep quickly was like finding a unicorn who could shoot rainbows out of its ears. And I was hot on a unicorn hunt. Please God, if I could ask for just one thing, make my baby fall asleep in a minute. People say be careful what you wish for, because you might not want it once you get it. I hate it so much when these cliches turn out to be true, but GAH, here we are.

I normally handle these sort of moments quite well but I started getting all teary. I blame this video that I watched earlier in the day where women talked about what they would do if they were young again. It really gave me the feels – it’s sweet and wistful and nostalgic all at the same time.

“What I wouldn’t give for an extra second of cuddling my babies before they became too big to hold,” said one of these sweet old ladies.

This would totally be me in another 20 years. Saying the exact same words.

Suddenly, I really missed Truett. It’s strange because he was right there and I adore Truett the big boy, but I missed Truett my first baby, with his squishy hamburger face and tubby fingers. That baby is all gone. :(

So I stuck around next to him and ran my fingers through his hair, thinking of the time I ran my fingers through his hair as he he fell asleep on my chest for two hours one rainy, thundery afternoon 6 years ago. He was the perfect size for cuddling and I could hold him for as long as I wanted. Now I’m watching him get almost too big to hold and I’d probably suffocate if he fell asleep on my chest for two hours but I’m going to squeeze in a few more years of cuddling until it gets too weird to do it. TRU, I’M GOING TO CUDDLE YOU WHETHER YOU WANT ME TO OR NOT. THIS IS NOT OPEN FOR DISCUSSION.

I’m also going to hold my other 3 babies while I still can right now and they will have no say in this matter.

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Look at this I-could-use-a-cuddle face. I’m going to look back at this face and cry.

Be all in while I’m still in.

PS. And to my kids, just so we’re clear, you guys will need to have babies (no, not now!! eventually!!!) because if I can’t cuddle you at 30, I’m going to need to cuddle your babies. This is also non negotiable.

side effects of motherhood

WHAT IS THIS MADNESS??!

When people ask me what life with 4 kids is like, I don’t quite know what to tell them.

Depending on how well my day went, I tell them about happy baby faces and the kind of fun conversations you only get to have when you’re interacting with 4 developing little brains. Sometimes I tell them about my magical bag of laundry that fills itself up every morning like a gift that doesn’t stop giving. Sometimes I tell them about the beautiful moments of bliss where no one is whining at anyone. Sometimes I tell them about the hurricane that…you know what?

Here. This is what my life looks like.

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side effects of motherhood

Being all artsy in NYC

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One of the things we had planned to do in New York was to catch a Broadway show (Disney’s Aladdin!!) but with a party of four, paying full price for all 4 tickets was a little steep, especially since Finn was likely to either sleep through the whole show or get restless and make me leave the theatre 20 minutes into the performance.

Our solution to this? Lottery tickets.

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Here’s how it works: several pairs of tickets are reserved for the lottery each day and 2.5 hours before the show, they’d open up a counter for anyone to put their name down for a lottery draw. Winners of the draw could then purchase a pair of tickets (usually worth $150-220) for $30 each.

It was quite an experience. There were like 200 of us huddling outside the theatre in the cold, looking very hopeful as the names were called out one by one. The winners would squeal in excitement as their names got called out and after the last name was read, there would be a collective sigh of disappointment from the crowd.

We tried this 3 times until finally, we heard the lady yell “Kirsten Kao” and I couldn’t help squealing “YES YES YES!!! Over here!! 2 tickets!!”

So that’s what it feels like to win the lottery. Totally rad!

Kirsten was so thrilled that her name got called and she had a wonderful time watching Aladdin with the husband (whose favourite Disney show happens to be Aladdin). They both agreed that it was a fantastic performance.

While they were watching the show, I thought I’d bring Finn over to the Museum of Modern Art for an afternoon of art appreciation. Despite the fact that I have very little artistic ability (both to create or talk about art pieces), we had a great time at MoMA. In fact, I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. It would be pretentious of me to tell you about how the reductive quality of the spatial relationships contextualised the eloquence of those pieces, but seriously, some of them were really quite um…nice.

Finn liked this watermelon so much, he stood there and made me take a photo.

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There was even a very fun kids area for the little tots to express their artistic side. Here’s Finn getting all artsy at MoMA.

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Oh wait, back up a little. So Finn and I hopped on the subway to get to MoMA from Times Square and we got off at 5 Av/53 St only to realise that there were no elevators at that station. We stepped off the subway and stood there looking up at what seemed like 30,000 steps to hike up. With a massive double stroller.

I considered my options, which were a) to make Finn walk beside me while I attempted to carry the stroller up the steps (and hope he doesn’t run off) or b) take the subway to the next stop with elevator access and walk back to MoMA. I was leaning towards option b when a burly black guy walked over to us and said “Hey let me help you with the stroller. I’m late for work anyway.”

“Wow thanks!! But this stroller is really heavy”, I started to say, then I looked at his giant biceps and I figured it would be insulting to his muscles. So I said, “Thanks, but I really don’t want you be later than you already are.”

“That’s alright. Why don’t you carry the baby and I’ll help you carry the stroller. I have 2 kids so I know how crazy this is.”

I picked Finn up and he helped to lug the stroller up a ridiculously long flight of steps while I thanked him every step of the way.

People say New Yorkers are impatient but we met a whole lot of kind, helpful people who would stop to hold doors open for us to pass and give up seats and offer to help with the stroller on the subway. Ok, there was this one guy who tsked and said some words I will not repeat when we took an extra 3 seconds to navigate the stroller up a kerb while crossing the street but that guy was the exception rather than the norm.

On our last night in New York, the husband bought me a ticket to Wicked and offered to watch the kids while I had a night out. Best. husband. ever.

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The set was incredible. As was the story and script and singing. It’s every bit as good as it’s hyped up to be. Possibly even better.

Not a bad way to end a visit to NYC. :)