I bow to you

Ladies and Gentlemen: let me begin with a nod to all humans who do their best—child-free or parental, gainfully employed or working your bum off for free—I acknowledge your hard work. I know life’s not easy. But I have a special something to say to a few of you…

Dear Mothers with Three Children:
I bow to you. I have recently gone from just-barely-hanging-in-there Mother of Two to no-way-I’m-going-to-make-it Mother of Two plus an immobile Spouse who eats WAY more than a child, but uses his words and can be trusted not to damage any of the stuff in his room if left alone for extended periods of time. Which he isn’t, with the ice and the food and the meds and the requests for a change of Netflix streaming to “I don’t know…what is there?” Three children must be more work, but I don’t know how it’s possible to actually do all that work without losing a limb or a child or your sanity or something. And I therefore bow to you. Namaste.

Dear 24-hour-a-day Mothers of Three Children:
[I reject the stay-at-home designation because it’s code for “easy job” amongst the uninitiated, and because you don’t actually stay at home.] I bow to you and fall over with exhaustion now that I’ve glimpsed one iota of what you do. But three inept people 24-hours with no break and I would. Break. Especially if they were all under 7 or so. Email for a quote of how far back into my head my eyes roll thinking about how you can possibly still stand at the end of the day if your Three are either very young or teenagers.

Dear 24-hour-a-day Single Mothers of Three Children:
I hereby elect you President of the United States. Because being the sole source of everything for three inept creatures with no other adult support IS HANDS DOWN harder than being the leader of the free world. [If you have a chef and a housekeeper and a Cabinet like POTUS does, I disqualify you from this election. Cuz you know nothing about anything and I resent that you tricked me into bowing and then voting for you.]

So I suppose that this is my way of telling the rest of the world that there is a Bermuda Triangle whose delineating points are:
Three Dependent Dependents
plus
No Breaks
plus
No After-Bedtime Partner
that equals the trifecta of Everyone Should Repeatedly Bow to You and Give You Their Spare Chocolate.

And if you live in that Triangle for more than a week, your local bottler and brewer should sponsor your evenings right here, right now. I know the first three drinks are on me.

P.S. Full-time Mothers of Four or More Children: I just passed out from trying to imagine. I’d like to give you all a cyber-nap because without one I’m guessing you’re all dead right now.

P.P.S. Full-time care givers of both small children and an aging parent: I did not forget you, but your situation is not at all funny, and no matter how I wrote this I couldn’t make it funny and I’m sorry that all I can offer you is deep empathy and wishes for all the best. And chocolate. I wish you chocolate, too. But keep it quiet because the Moms of Three think they’re all deserving and whatnot, and who am I to burst their bubble at how easy their lives are, relatively, since I just told them they have me glimpsing how easy my normal life really is, relatively. “Really” and “relatively.” I’ll bet your life doesn’t even allow for words of that many syllables, simple thought they are.

P.P.P.S. I must now go weep that the best modifiers I can conjure are “really” and “relatively.” Seriously.

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28 thoughts on “I bow to you

  1. oh for small miracles to let you know how ‘easy’ your real life is….! ahhhhh! i send you glittery chocolate nap, does that exist? if it does, you deserve it. i hope you make it through, if i was anywhere near not thousands of miles away i would leave soup on your stoop with the chocolate. cyber soup and chocolate to you and a speedy return to all that is normal and hard enough.

  2. I have multiple friends with 3 and 4 kids all very close in age, and sometimes I just stand back from them and stare like I’m at some intergalactic zoo watching something amazing and impossible for the very 1st time.

    I bow to them, too. Because I have 2 kids close in age and a husband who at times cannot figure out where we keep the milk (really? no guesses at ALL??), which is already close to sending me over the edge on a regular basis.

    We should get t-shirts made and start a fan club. Or devotion club. Something that lets them know how humbled they make us.

  3. Try three children, an aging mother and a childless (HA) aging uncle, both with serious health issues.

    My fingers are raw from hanging on/biting them.

    I can’t drink enough to be coherent in the morning for teaching, and really, who needs the extra calories and ghastly complexion that comes from continued imbibing. I look bad enough with the dark circles under my eyes and wrinkles on my forehead from the perpetual state of perplexion that comes from such a motley crew.

    So I run. A lot. And run half marathons. ‘Cause for a little while, I feel like I am running away. And then I ache, which keeps me from running away.

    Thanks for the cheering up this morning…I REALLY needed it.

    And yeah, shout out to the single mothers of three or more. They are bad asses, yo.

  4. As a Mom of 6- all between the ages of 5 and 10, I can tell you that you find tools for getting through your day. You suck it up, you get yourself organized, you try to get enough sleep so that you can handle whatever the day throws at you, and you just do the best you can do, every day. And tomorrow you start all over again.
    Some days it is hard, some days it feels easier… chocolate helps.. so does chardonnay! And reading posts like this when someone acknowledges the hard job that motherhood is sometimes.
    Hang in there… you will get through this!

    • @Sharon WELCOME! I got chills reading your comment. Six? And you get organized and do what you have to do. Well, putting it that way, it’s manageable. Maybe because my great big baby arrived post-op with no newborn phase? Maybe because I’m totally not enough person for this job? Maybe because I make things way too hard on myself? I have to do something more than bow to you, though. Six. Geez. I think I might throw you a parade. Everyone likes them, and I can guarantee the town needs to celebrate you with bands and balloons.

      @Aubrey Anne I’m so sorry about the PPD. Hormones do wacky things, but the weight of an entirely new life in your world when you already know what a life of that size can do to your heart, mind, and body is a lot of wallop for such a small package. Hope you’re doing better. Running is way awesome if you have the time away from the kids. The more moms of three I talk to, the more I find that is an after-age-five kind of thing. And that means a LOT of years without any time to yourself. Hang in there. And Welcome!

      @Rainyday Hahaha. You and Unicorn both point out an excellent flaw in my offer: there is no spare chocolate ’round here. But I’ll buy some or sacrifice my next twenty or so portions to hand out to those whose plate overflows more than mine. Dang, my eyes have been opened to the glory of the Mom this week. ;-)

      @Lisha Oh. My. Gawd. Honey, honey, honey. The husband in Iraq bit has components nobody else has…knowing you *have* a husband but have to function without one, living in fear for his safety, having to negotiate the feelings of the kids during that year, and becoming way too close to your USAA representative. Oh, wow. The parent with Alzheimer’s I don’t even want to think about. So hard for the caregiver, since you do everything so lovingly and they just don’t know. And can be not just forgetful but their scared isn’t easily placated with the only thing you have —love. I hope every calendar company will, in your honor, burn every single extant 2009 calendar. I hope documentation of that year forever fades into dim memories. And I hope when your husband came home he was able to reintegrate easily and painlessly, that he’s physically and mentally whole, and that your family has the most awesome 2011 and 2012 ever in the history of the world. Phew. You amazing, wonderful survivor, you.

      @JuJuBee What the holy guacamole can I do for you today?! Sweetness…single with three, then a mom of six? Six. Like the number after five? Which comes after four? I don’t know. I’m giving Sharon a parade and I have to think of something special for you. I clearly can’t offer to babysit while you have a spa day. Unless your children are all over 30. Then I could handle it. I think I’ll have to…I know. I will hang a pinata full of wonderful treasure maps outside your house. Lock the kids out. They’ll bang open the pinata and find they have to go all over town looking for their treasures, all of which will be wholesome, delicious, and foster a lifelong love of reading. And you’ll get hours by yourself to do whatever you want. Including attending Sharon’s parade.

  5. I am a mother of three, but honestly I think my husband is more work than all three kids combined! (Dear Second Commenter: I feel your pain.) I could hardly believe the difference between taking care of two kids and corralling three of them. When my third was born I had such a terrible bout of postpartum depression I almost killed myself. It was quite a shock to my system, and Husband and I were separated at the time. Anyway… all this to say, it’s hard for everyone! But husbands are the biggest pain of all (especially sick or injured ones)! ;)

    I hope you get a break soon!! (Running sounds awesome now that you put it that way, Maria!)

  6. I have 6 kids. My hubby was sick one day last week with a little cold and he was more work than the kids put together.
    Once upon a time I was a single mother of 3 and ohmygods…how did I do that?? I met a single mom with 4 the other day and I just wanted to hug her.

  7. Spare Chocolate?! There is no such thing in the unicornverse. Let’s not ever bring this up again. capiche?

    You and whoever else in your army can always have my soup. Spare, leftover, not touched, freshly-made, organic, extra, overflow. All YOURS. I can do without, even tho I do like it, you need as much soul food donation as possible.

    My stus turned in craft projects covered in glitter this week, oh how they love glitter as much as me. Let’s just say I about died when I realized I had glitter on my TEETH and chin last night. Yes, it was from having a choco bar (and cheesecake) out while I was grading. Glitter even tastes shiny. but there are better/less toxic toppings for your food and face out there: raspberry sauce. Wear it with pride.

    I bow to you. no matter what the situation.

  8. I used to wonder why my mom suffered depression after her third child was born. And then I had one kid and thought I understood. And then I had a second child and realized I didn’t know sh*t as a parent of one child. And now, as I glance around at the amazing parents of 3+ children I’d think the same things you wrote if I had nearly enough brain cells left to be so damn witty. (PS: I hope spouse is back on his feet soon. Really soon.)

  9. One of my friends has five kids. I can’t even begin to contemplate that. I might have jumped off a building at that fourth positive pregnancy test. Three kids is almost doable, if the kids will play together. At least you can fit the family in a minivan. But four? Five? Just kill me.

    I really hope that your hubby is up and about soon and that this will all be something you look back and laugh hysterically at. In the meantime, cherish any breaks you get and try to sleep whenever you can.

    PS – Does the advice “sleep when the ‘dependent’ is sleeping” apply to care giving for an adult as well?

  10. @tara Perspective comes in weird places, don’t it? Thanks for the glitter chocolate. I’ll have extra when you and unicorn come over for soup.

    @Letmestart Sorry, but I wet myself laughing about the mysterious secret milk hiding place. I was working on the phone with a client at 9pm on night and Spouse asked if there was any pasta left. As though his functioning eyes and brain and hands and legs and reaching and looking parts were all broken. WTF? I know I tell the kids to ask before they go in the fridge, but maybe you could take as a given that you may look whenever you want? Sheesh.

    @Maria I would totally run, too. As soon as mine are old enough to sleep predictably, I’m gone every morning at 5am. I can’t freaking wait. Sorry your hands are so full. As I said, I bow and offer chocolate.

    @Unicorn Oh, Sharer of Soup. Oh, Grader and Eater of Glitter. Oh, Professorial and Doctoral Wonder Who Works Soup and Chocolate and Cheesecake and Glitter into Most Comments: I bow to you always. Glad the studentia are helping you settle back in.

    @ck With one tough kid I thought “I can’t imagine two” and I really couldn’t. And I didn’t try. But I watched people with two and *some* people made it look easy. Or at least tolerable. And then I had two and I thought “Holy Crap is this really what it’s like? I can’t imagine three.” But I never really tried to imagine, really. Because how good is imagination for something that is a 60-seconds-every-minute-and-sixty-minutes-every-hour-and-twenty-hours-every-day kind of mind blowing cluster f*$%? So I never really sat down to think about what happens when two are fighting over something and another needs food. Or when two need help to the bathroom and the other gets bored and mad and scotch tapes the stairway. Or when everyone wants something different for dinner and I get it all out and then realize the kid upstairs needs something but the toddler can’t be left alone…stuff like that. (He’s doing really well and will be back on his feet soon, though not toddler-ready for a while.)

    @Fie the sleep rule might apply if I didn’t have so much work (awesome, welcome, intellectual, paying work) to do this month. So he sleeps almost 12 hours a day and I’m getting six. Maybe. But at least he’s clearing the Netflix queue for us and lettig me know that only 1/6 or so are worth watching. Time saver, right? Sure.

  11. I have three kids. I have three boys. I can’t decide if that’s good or bad. I’m not sure though why you place so much emphasis on the under 7 age group. I have a 16, 13 and 7 yo. The 7yo – easiest by far. Seriously. One of these days I’ll remember to not argue back with my oldest. He should be a lawyer for the amount I get raked over the coals. And their social/sports/school/band schedule – you gotta be kiddin’ me. Totally reset the clock on boy #3. But, it’s okay – like I said he’s the easiest.

  12. Oh, dude, that sucks. It plain sucks. I feel your pain. That’s why advocate DVDs and pudding every night! For two blissful hours a day, you can be free. I hope things return to “relatively” easy in your household.

  13. @Cathy I picked 7 for no particular reason except that mine are both under 6 and I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. So I pretend 7 makes things better. Because it has to. Because after, what, 10, everything goes screaming downhill. So I’ve heard, anyway. But 16 and 13 and 7? I have no idea, I cannot pretend to have any idea, and I do not, after this week, want to pretend to have an idea. To you I bow. And offer bits of chocolate. Many, many, many bits. Dark. Fair trade. Delicious.

    @Fae I’ve always bowed to you and your three boys. And your continued full-court press for Pudding Day every day. We’ve all but dropped Pudding Day in favor of ice cream day. I don’t think we’re any better for that change, but life is flux, Faemom. Life is all about “there is no way this will last.”
    ;-)
    Hope you’re well. I haven’t been reading blogs lately, but I do wish you pudding and movies.

  14. ” …plus an immobile Spouse who eats WAY more than a child, but uses his words and can be trusted not to damage any of the stuff in his room if left alone for extended periods of time…”

    O.M.G. I just snorted my tea (and my nose hurts now. Thanks for that.) laughing at that line. Your husband and my husband (and probably many other husbands out there) must be related.

    • @Jane Sorry your tea caused you pain. I didn’t mean to exaggerate how often Spouse uses his words. ;-)
      @Cathy HOW have you not patented that guaranteed baby-mellower? Win-win, Cathy. Chocolate while pregnant and mellow child is a Win-Win.
      @subWOW I’m so glad I don’t have cable because the thought of shows like that makes me want to harm myself and others.

  15. Pingback: Sometimes You Say It Better Than I Can | Theycallmejane's Blog

  16. I just had an epiphany! The reason why the 7yo is so easy – I ate a piece of dark chocolate almost every night when I was pregnant with him! Wow – wish I had discovered that sooner.

  17. Oh,I don’t need a parade. I’m good with offerings of chocolate and beer ;-) My kids are all sort of spaced out in age so I think it makes it easier….the oldest being 21, then 14 yr old twins,,,then the rest are 10,6 & baby. Sharon,with the 6 between 5 and 10? I’d go crazier than I am now. She definitely needs a parade & other things.

    • @JuJuBee Sorry it took so long to reply, but I passed out and hit my head on the counter when I did the math of 21, 14, 14, 10, 6, and 1. Chocolate and beer it is. Everyone’s invited. We’ll drink and eat and bedazzle earplugs for Sharon.

      @Faemom I hereby decree, and Her Royal Nappiness, that any day you need ice cream is Ice Cream Day. FWIW, the bread this week SUCKED because my starter died and I had to use yeast and I’m new to the whole thing and my kids will be eating whole wheat bricks for at least a week. The pasta -making has died a Wounded-Spouse death and will be revived much later. And really, my kids would be happier with a nice and patient mom than with homemade carbs. I do it because I needed, desperately, to do something productive and tactile with that hour in the middle when I wanted to kick them both into the closet and slam the door. They watch me mix and pour, they help, I get my hands goopy, and everyone has a bit of happy. THAT’s the only reason I bake and cook and churn butter and walk uphill in the snow both ways.
      @SIL Oy vey with the naps. Hugs back xSidewaysEight

  18. Ice cream day?! That’s brilliant! I think I can follow your footsteps there. Some days I think about making my own bread and pasta and realize I am not a superwoman like you. I bow to you and all that you do for your family.

  19. I wish I could comment something witty. But, you know, I’m another one of those moms of three children with also way too many other things in my brain—including some ambitions of my own GASP!—and so I leave you with only a nod. And gratitude for your nod.

  20. Almost a month behind now…just catching up…and I have ONE just ONE child, and a fantastic supportive partner and I’m STILL drowning. There is definitely something wrong with me.THIS was awesome.

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