In the spirit of nostalgia I was remembering how different things were when we only had two kids. That's literally half the kids we have now. We had really gotten settled into a rhythm and routine at this point. We were renting a fabulous 4 bedroom townhouse and had just upgraded to a mini-van. My husband had just gotten a hard earned pay raise and we finally had a kind of financial balance despite constantly rising gas prices. I was a Mom with 2 kids and a tidy little house. Both kids were reliably sleeping through the night and so were we. We both had energy to spare. For the few months before I became pregnant with baby I was Inspired to live another kind of motherhood than I do now. I'd get up and have my hot cup of coffee and hit the ground running. I think this lasted a ridiculously short time. Maybe 3 months. In those 3 months I:
1. Showered. Daily. And got dressed in more than pajamas.
2. Made 4 loaves of home-made bread twice a week and several batches of chocolate chip cookies.
3. Made yoghurt in my crockpot weekly.
4. Washed, folded and put away laundry. Sometimes I would hang it out on the clothesline.
5. Washed, dried and put away the dirty dishes. Daily.
6. Made 2 special home-cooked meals. Home-made baby food for the kids and something fancier for we adults.
7. Swept the floors. Vacuumed the furniture. Dusted. All daily. I'd wash all the floors on my hands and knees weekly.
8. I slept when I wanted. Or read a book. The kids lived by my schedule.
The other side of this litany of insanity is that we almost never went out. I also didn't spend as much time enjoying my kids. I ended up switching to formula because I couldn't keep breastfeeding and have a clean house. My oldest son's first year is a blur to me because I was too busy trying to be something akin to a Stepford wife to acknowledge all his needs and little milestones. I wish now that I had let the laundry wait and sat down to cuddle him when he was still able to sit still in my arms. When we had our third, our second son wasn't thriving on breastmilk and it wasn't caught until he was around 4 months old. After switching him to formula I ended up dedicating every free second to giving him as much fatty food as he could tolerate. I was so stressed I stopped all my extra baking, cooking, cleaning and self-pampering to be there for him. As stressful as it was at the time, once I dropped these (unquestionably excellent in principle) habits, I found myself with time to rediscover my older children. My priorities shifted dramatically. I didn't have to drive myself crazy with housework. It all needed to get done, but never at the sacrifice of the needs of the kids. When they're babies they need an extra hug more than they need a cookie. I'll take time later to build my legacy as an immaculate housekeeper. For now I'm happier building my legacy as the Mommy who thinks there's nothing in the world more important than kissing your boo boos, hearing your funny stories, dancing with you, and telling you "I love you" knowing those words feed your heart in ways unseen but lasting. So when people marvel at how we manage with 4 kids, I can't help but reflect that it's actually easier than when we had just two because along the way I've learned that another chance to enjoy a new baby while our house goes to pot again isn't a burden, it's a gift.