Since this latest addition to the family, I've been asked what it's like to have 4 kids instead of 3. For some reason, making the jump between 3 to 4, is a leap from what's considered "acceptable" to "excessive". If that's not what people think, it certainly feels like it. Lots of people report that they couldn't do what I do, although I don't think it's that hard to ignore laundry, not clean up the kitchen or fail to cook more than one meal a week. How hard is it to stay in your pajamas all day and make excuses to your husband?
I am becoming envious of people who have one or two kids because I know how much easier their life is. I also laugh when I hear someone with 2 kids complaining about taking them "all" to the store. What all? Of course, there are those with more than 4 who are laughing at me.
Every addition to this family has come with its own set of problems. Lily was the first. 'Nuff said. Darcy came along, 15 months later, during a hurricane evacuation. She was born at an unfamiliar hospital with an unknown doctor. We had a 15-month old, just learning how to walk and talk, and a newborn. Two children in diapers. And we weren't at our home. In fact, we weren't at our home for 6 months because of damage from that hurricane. Our life was stressful and uneasy. We only had one car.
Darcy and Reagan are 26 months apart. We had a 3 year old, a 2 year old and a newborn. Going from 2 children to 3 children is a massive undertaking. Brian and I felt outmanned, outgunned and overwhelmed. We didn't go anywhere for 2 months. Reagan was 6 months old before Brian ever took the 3 of them somewhere alone. When he finally did take them somewhere, it was on a 6-hour road trip to Beaumont. Two kids still in diapers.
And now 4 kids. Reagan and Joshua are 21 months apart. We have a 5-year old, a 4-year old, a nearly 2-year old and a newborn. I thought everything about this baby was going to be easy. Not the pregnancy, but life after delivery. I thought I would recover quickly from surgery, bounce back to a person who has everything under control in the house. That hasn't been the case. I run from one task to the next, just trying to keep the screaming to a dull roar. There are some days I feel sure Joshua believes he is being raised in the violent ward.
I have never in my life felt as I do now that someone always wants something from me. Someone is always calling my name, getting into a loud altercation with their sister, needing to be fed, changed, wiped, gotten up, gotten down, dressed, hair fixed, bathed or taken somewhere. Even the dog makes demands on my time: let her in, let her out, feed her, keep her from ruining yet another pair of the girls' shoes or tearing up another book. Life with 4 kids (and the dog) is much harder than I ever thought it would be.
I am frustrated that it seems to be so difficult and I look in the mirror and see someone who is frazzled and tired and worn-looking. It's not a surprise; that's exactly the way I feel. Frazzled, tired and worn.
When I was 20, I left the good life at Sam Houston State and moved back home with my parents to live. I had 4 jobs (at the same time) making no money, working about 90 hours a week. The worst days of it were Saturday through Monday. Tuesdays were my only day off for the whole week. At about 10pm on Sunday, when I was about to start my 3rd job of the day, having already worked 13 hours at the other 2 and gearing up for another 8 hours, I would think about just making it until Tuesday when I could get some sleep.
I keep trying to look ahead to when I might have some relief and there doesn't seem to be a Tuesday in sight. I have to keep reminding myself that I am now the mother of 4 children under the age of 5, and frazzled, tired and worn is now my life. I don't remember feeling this way when I only had 3 kids, not including pregnancy. So I guess the answer to the question, what's it like to have 4 kids so close together, is this:
It's freakin' hard.