Have you listened to much Jim Gaffigan? He’s a famous comedian, and totally worth your time if you haven’t heard his stuff before. Jim-bo and I have something in common now; we both have 5 children. He does a bit about telling people he has 5 kids, and how they’ll say, “Well, that’s one way to live your life!” It’s crazy to have 5 kids, right? In this society, it’s crazy. I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and even in the “breed like rabbits” Mormon culture, 5 kids is…plenty.
I’ve been saying it for a while, so if you hear it somewhere else, let it be known that I’m taking credit – 4 is the new 6. It used to be semi-normal to have 6 kids back when my parents were having kids. Not anymore! In the LDS culture, if you have 4 kids, that’s when people officially stop asking you “When are you going to have another one?” You’ve fulfilled your quantity to “multiply and replenish the earth”, and people leave you alone. I had 4 kids. I even had the perfect mix of 2 boys and 2 girls! So when we decided to add another, I got more than a few odd looks and comments.
I was so hesitant to have another child because I knew exactly how much work it would be. This wouldn’t be my first rodeo folks. But I couldn’t ignore the very obvious promptings and feelings I was having forever. In a huge leap of faith, we brought another precious baby into the world.
And now….we adjust. As with any major life change, there is always a transition period where things are no longer like they were, and haven’t yet quite reached a new equilibrium. Limbo. We are currently, very squarely in the middle of limbo. And as with any new challenge, it has caused me to stretch and grow in sometimes painful, but beautiful ways.
I’ve been mentally compiling a list of what it means to be a mother adjusting to 5 young children.
*It means swallowing your feelings all.the.time. I wanted to collapse and sob when my Mom left to go back home to St. George after helping us for a few days. But I couldn’t because there were FIVE kids who needed my attention. I wanted to scream at my newborn, “JUST SLEEP!”, but I couldn’t because that would mean I was crazy. And I’m not there…yet. I wanted to sit and rock my newborn until the end of time, and shed grateful tears as I prayed my thanks to God. But it only lasted 2 minutes because my toddler needed a diaper change. I wanted to smack each of my kids for times in the past 3 weeks when they’ve said, “I’m tired”. HA! But I didn’t because I’m a mature adult. A mother of 5. And that means swallowing your feelings a lot. It also means apologizing for when you don’t, and you explode at your kids in a huge eruption of rage. It happens.
*It means not knowing what the heck is going on. At 1pm on Saturday, I got a text from my son’s music teacher reminding us about the spring concert that night at 5. What concert? OH! You mean the one you have texted us about multiple times for the last month? Yeah, my brain isn’t turned on all the way, and we were lucky to make it to the concert at all last night! And when your brain isn’t turned on all the way, it means you do things your normally wouldn’t, like impulsively buy lip stain for $22 online, or spend $29 for a pillow (haven’t mentioned that one to my husband yet). It means not knowing what day it is, or what time it is, or who has dance on what day, oh and also, it’s daylight savings time this week so…you’re really in trouble.
*It means being the lucky and blessed recipient of so many quick, precious moments that no one else sees. I try my best to document our family’s history. I probably take too many pictures and write too many words on our personal family blog, but I know I’ll forget all the small details and it’s my attempt to try and remember as much as I can. But a lot of the time, I just can’t whip out the camera fast enough to forever freeze time. Even if I could sometimes, I realize that pausing to take a picture would only interrupt the moment. And so I get to be witness to thousands of fleeting moments that no one else will ever see, and things I may not remember a few years down the road. Things like those almost asleep smiles that newborns give you, or watching your 5 year old put her arm around her 2 year old brother during a scary part in a movie; listening to your 10 year old very maturely handle a tough situation with a friend in the next room; loving the way your daughter’s lip turns up a little as she tells you about a dream she had last night. And on, and on. I get to see it all!
Every day we get a little bit closer to our new normal. Most days I still call it a success if I get a shower in. My body is uncomfortable and foreign to me. The lack of sleep causes me to blow up tiny irritations and freak out about the future. But I have a tiny baby to cuddle up on my chest, which is about as close to Heaven as you can get. And because it’s my last time having a newborn, I’m trying to soak it in as much as possible, even the hard parts. Which means I’m taking lots of deep breaths, accepting more help from others than is comfortable for me, and thanking my Heavenly Father for this journey.