Let me tell you the truth: Four is more than three.
It's not rocket science. Four has always been greater than three, and I'm pretty sure it always will be, so don't even imagine that "it could all be the same" once you've had 3. It can't.
With four kids, life is different. Very different.
I'm not sure if it's the number of kids itself, or if it's returning to the newborn stage after 3 years that's the kicker for me, but either way, just simply trying to keep up with the normal, every day tasks is what's been burying me (not to mention the extra financial impact that comes with a new kid - babies are expensive). Forget about adding in anything extra in my life - it's just the basics that have seemed overwhelming. It's like I'm in a river and the current is too fast, and I just can't keep up. Sometimes I wonder if I'm strong enough, or if I was even cut out to do this.
I was unloading all my stresses and crying to my mom about it a few weeks ago. She did what all good moms do. She was firm and steady. She told me when you're going upstream, you've got to pick up the oars and keep paddling. Maybe you feel like you can't paddle fast enough, but you certainly can't stop; you paddle like crazy, and eventually you're going to make it.
I needed to hear that. I needed to hear that the ONLY choice I had was to buck-up and keep paddling. I do believe that eventually there's going to be a lull in the river, and I will have made it upstream, and everything is going to be okay.
Already I'm doing better than 3 weeks ago.
First of all, about every other night, the baby will sleep all night. That's making a huge difference in my life.
Second of all, I'm no longer nursing for 6 hours a day - that's partly because the baby is sleeping longer at night - Hallelujah! My baby is also getting faster at eating. I'm probably nursing for about 3-4 hours a day. It's still a huge chunk out of my day, but we're making progress here.
Third of all, I can laugh about the anxieties I've been having. For example...back when the weather was still beautiful, a friend invited me to the park. I had to turn her down, because I wasn't ready to face the park. Did you hear me? The P-A-R-K...we're talking about one of the least stressful kind of play dates. The you-don't-even-have-to-clean-your-house-for-visitors kind of play date. You know? It's where the climbing structure is provided, where you don't have to yell at the kids for clamoring upon the couch. THAT was too much for me that day. Now, granted, I believe I hadn't even made it to 6 weeks post partum at that point, but STILL, never in my life did I imagine that packing a diaper bag with snacks and going to SIT at the park would feel like a little much. But it did. It really, REALLY did.
I'm still not the cool mom I was when I only had 3 kids. That's for sure. And let's not even begin to talk about the mom I was with only 2 kids - I really rocked at 2 kids. I used to be able handle all kinds of adventures on the fly. But I'm a totally different mom with 4 kids. IF have enough advance notice of an event that's going to happen, then I can give myself a jaunty little pep talk to mentally prepare for how I'm going to handle that event with 4 children, and sometimes it turns out okay. Like yesterday, when my sister talked me into going to the summer movie - I mentally prepared for a day, still almost didn't go, finally went, had anxiety walking in the theater doors, sat down, and I basically had to let my sister do all the work while I nursed. Fortunately, we didn't forget or lose anybody, and all in all, the event was conquered as a success. But it was week 6 of the summer movies. The old me with less kids could handle that adventure EVERY week of the summer. Now I can do it only 1 out of 6.
At any rate with all this paddling, and swimming, and barely treading water in my new 4 kid life, there have been some noteworthy moments, too. Amid everything, it's been overly apparent that my husband is an amazing man - he's "beautiful" on the inside and out...how do you even say that for a man? He's MANLY on the inside and out? He's handsome through and through? However I should say it - he's a keeper. He helps with the kids so much. And through all of this craziness, our kids make us smile all the time. They remind me that they're the reason I have to keep going.
Here are some recent favorites:
- When he prays over the food he asks Heavenly Father to "bless the food to NUTRITION and strengthen our bodies." Hehehe!
- He adds a G into the words Reunion and Onion. "Do we have any ongions?" And "When are we going to the REUNGION?"
- In a very innocent and scientifically correct way, Tyson was holding Ace, and the baby tried to "eat" him, and Tyson said, "Stop staring at MY chest - you need your mom's br----." (That's just one of many hilarious and slightly awkward moments I've had in the last year as we've had questions that required explaining human anatomy, and the birth of babies, and other similar topics with my boys.... This mothering thing is an adventure!)
- We went on a road trip for my cousin's funeral. We traveled through the canyon to Globe, and Emmett had to go to the bathroom SO BADLY. Every corner we turned, he would see a new ledge and say longingly, "That would be a good place to pee!" He begged us to let him go INTO the canyon. We didn't think it was entirely appropriate to do such a thing...you know...off a ledge into the canyon as cars drive by, but we couldn't let our 5 year old have an accident in the car, either. We finally found a pull-out and let him live his dream. (As a mother of boys, I am learning to accept that the world is their urinal.)
- On the way to Globe, Emmett was all about the tunnel. He told us 500 times to let him know when we made it to the tunnel. He even announced, "I'm testing my breath to see if it works!" (Because you have to hold your breath for the tunnel.) "Yep, it works!"
- He likes to see "leggy-bugs".
- The other day I was lying on the bed, still trying to wake up, and the baby was next to me. The older boys were loving on the baby - nearly mauling him to death, and I cautioned, "Give Baby Ace some space!" Miles immediately answered, "I don't have any space!"
- He says, "Ace is cute. Mine awesome." (Miles was definitely trained by his older brother Emmett.)
- He loves his baby brother and tells us about Ace's feelings, too, "He's love me!"
- Ace is starting to coo. It's so awesome. It's amazing to me how much he's starting to make noises (when Miles was this age, he didn't do any of this - it's amazing how early you can detect speech delays, and it's even more obvious when you have a kid making the milestones - cooing by 3 months being one of them). At any rate, he "talks" the most to his Grandpa Tenney - not to me, or his brothers, or his dad, or anyone else. Grandpa Tenney and Uncle Taylor are his favorites. They pay serious attention to him and have a special connection with Baby Ace - they talk to him like he understands, and he responds back to them like they are his best friends. It's really so cute. He'll be grinning and talking to them and I'll walk in the room to watch, and the baby will go stone-faced. Then I'll leave and he gets all happy again talking to Grandpa like his Papa is the only one who understands him. He's starting to "talk" and coo to other people, too, but we know who his favorites are. Even when Ace was a week or two old, he would respond differently to my dad's voice than to any one else. My dad would start talking to him, and he'd immediately freeze with wide eyes, and his arms would hang down by his side as he listened intently. He smiled for my dad first, before anyone else. I'm telling you, they're best friends.
Well, blogging was a nice little break - I guess it's time to go pick up the oars & keep on paddling.