It takes a village

There’s a traditional African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child, but I was always kind of iffy about that. I mean, it’s a nice idea but 1 kid, really? You need a whole village for that? I could do it with one hand tied behind my back. Oh 2 kids? I’ll need my other hand, I suppose, but not much more. Because see this mom vest I’m wearing, the one that says “MOM” in bold uppercase Arial Black font? That means nobody does a better job with these kids than me so step on aside, I’ve got it covered. (I know, I’m with you – how did I get away with being that annoying?)

Right now with 4 kids, I’m reconsidering my stand on that. As a matter of fact, I’LL GO AHEAD AND TAKE THE VILLAGE OFFER, thankyouverymuch.

Coping with 4 is proving to be quite the challenge. I’m not one to shy away from a challenge but wow, this is a big one. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so out of my depth before, like everything is one step away from spinning out of control and I’m one breath away from drowning.

Doesn’t help that I’ve been dreadfully ill twice in the past couple of weeks, floored by a bout of flu and then followed by a terrible stomach bug episode, of which I am still recovering from. In between vomit sessions with my head still in a barf bag two nights ago, I looked at the husband and said “why did I think I could do this? Because I clearly can’t.”

“It’s ok, you don’t have to do this on your own,” my very wise husband said.

It’s true. Raising these kids, making sure they’re clean and fed and hugged and educated and loved, it ain’t a 1-person task. I need my village for that.

Also, when you’re so ill you feel like you’re going to die, you morbidly start thinking about your own mortality. Like “bollocks, what if I die from this, what happens then??” I panicked for a moment at that thought but then I considered my village and I thought, “ok relax, the kids are going to be ok either way. Maybe not the best kind of ok (because hello, mom vest!), but ok enough.” Although turns out that I’m not dying of a stomach virus so that’s moot.

I guess what I mean to say is that this post is really about all the people who make up this village of mine, to whom all the thank you’s in the world would not be sufficient. And perhaps being ill is making me sentimental but they’re the reason my head’s still above water and I am so grateful I’ve got them in my corner.

And as for feeling like I’m out of my depth, well, as my favourite fish, Dory, would say, “just keep swimming, just keep swimming.” I’m cherishing every crazy, stressful and happy moment one day at a time.

Being 5 like a boss

Every single day, I’m thankful that I’ve got a little girl and that girl is Kirsten. She’s like an old soul who’s too cool for her current age. This kid is 5 but sometimes, she says and does things like a 10-year-old, and in a good way.

She’s the perfect combination of sugar and spice, sweet and spunky. She’s like the yin to all the yangs in this house, or is it the other way around? Either way, she’s got enough in her to balance out the 3 crazy boys.

***

One time, she sees the husband holding baby Theo with one hand while trying to pour chocolate milk for the bigger kids with the other hand.

Kirsten: Dad, you know what? I think you need 2 more arms.

Husband: Yes, I think so too. But 4 arms would look so weird, don’t you think?

Kirsten: Well, if everyone had 4 arms, then it wouldn’t be weird at all. It would be normal.

Husband: It’s like you have an adult brain in a 5-year-old body.

***

Kirsten: Hey mom, I’ve got a secret. //whispers I actually don’t really like angry birds but I know kor kor likes it when I play it with him.

Me: That’s so sweet of you, baby.

Kirsten: But don’t tell him that, later it will hurt his feelings.

Me: It’ll be our secret. I’m just going to tell it to the Internet, is that ok?

//thinks for a moment.

Kirsten: Is that your blog thing?

Me: Yeah, the blog thing.

Kirsten: Ok, sure. And please put a picture of my new water bottle.

Me: Way to be random, but sure.

water bottle

***

Kirsten: Kor kor, I can’t believe I’m going to say this but…I think I like bananas more than potato chips.

//gives an audible gasp.

Kirsten: Ok, there I said it.

***

It was one of those afternoons where it was just me, Kirsten, Finn and Theo at home.

Kirsten: Mom, we can do this. You put Finn Finn to bed and you can leave baby Theo here with me.

Me: Are you sure? Ok, just holler if you need help, I’ll come running.

Kirsten: Don’t worry, just put the iPad here so I can watch Tangled.

I was fully expecting Theo to protest but I peeked at them several minutes later and they both just stayed in the same position I left them in, with Kirsten stroking his head and Theo babytalking back at her.

kirsten and theo

It sounds so braggy to say this but I have the raddest daughter in the whole world and I’m so glad she’s mine.

Big brother status

I wasn’t sure how Finn was going to adjust to being a big brother seeing how he’s been the baby of the family for the past 2 years but he’s been doing a fine job of it.

Well okay, he thinks babies are terribly boring but that’s to be expected of a 2-year-old because I do too and I’m 32. When baby Theo first came home, Finn regarded him with mild disinterest. He went to observe this strange new specimen we were all fussing over and after looking the baby over for a minute or so, he got bored and ran off to play.

Since then, he’s been paying more attention to the baby – doling out surprise kisses, singing loudly in his ear while he sleeps and shoving random toys in his face. It’s sweet.

theo finn

finn theo

The downside of being bumped up to big brother status is that he loses dibs on momma time. It’s the rule of the universe – the baby gets dibs because they know nothing about delayed gratification. “What? WAIT for my milk?? You must be joking.” Meanwhile, the bigger kids have to wait their turn. “Momma play puzzle?” Finn would ask while I was feeding the baby. “Sorry sweetie, give me 15 minutes. I’ll be with you once baby sleeps ok?” //Cue sad baby eyes.

Some nights ago, he was in a tantrumy mood, refusing to go to bed. “PLAY TOYS! Finn Finn play toys with momma,” he said over and over again. I gave him his milk, sang to him and told him 3 stories but he was intent on staying awake even though his little body was exhausted. “Momma carry?” he insisted. “No baby, I can’t carry you to sleep, you’re seriously too heavy now.” “MOMMA CARRY PLEEEEEASE?” he shrieked. A few no’s later, he shouted “NO MOMMA…I WANT AUNTY CARRY!!” I didn’t know how to answer that and in the silence that followed, all I could hear was the breaking of my heart. “It’s ok, I’m here, son. Momma is here for you.” 20 minutes of this back and forth later, he finally climbed onto my chest and lay there holding me till he fell asleep.

He’s never fallen asleep like this before and I realised it’s exactly how I hold Theo to sleep – head pressed against my chest.

Sigh, so this whole episode was my little boy missing me and this was the only way he knows how to show it. Maybe he thinks staying awake means he gets more time to spend with me. Or I don’t know, maybe he thinks being a baby like Theo means he gets back his dibs on momma. Or saddest of all, maybe he thinks should get used to the idea and go with a replacement. Just thinking about it makes me want to cry.

I know it’s a lot to ask of a 2-year-old boy, having to share his mommy with a needy baby who gets to be carried all the time. And he’s so sweet to love Theo as much as he does.

It’s probably the hardest part about having so many kids, finding the time to love on each kid when they need it, especially when they all seem to need it at the same time. I tell myself they get other perks like having siblings to go crazy with but sometimes, it’s just not the same. These parenting choices are so hard to make. Have I been focusing too much on the baby? Which kid gets my attention at any given time? Will it ever be fair to all of them? If only I could clone another me, I’d do it. I hope it’s just a phase and things will even out once the baby becomes less needy.

1 26 27 28 29 30 382