When I tell people that I have four kids, most of them give me the raised eyebrow better-you-than-me look. Nowadays it seems if you have more than three kids, people assume that you were the victim of an in vitro fertilization debacle. I get asked all the time are these ALL yours? Exactly why DID you have four? Wasn’t there anything to watch on tv that night?
For those who don’t know, there is a club of sorts, made up of women who have crossed the line between a normal family and pandemonium. You are required to have at least four kids to be a member. In THIS club I actually get to laugh at the mothers of five or six kids because I am the sane one. The rest of the world may make us feel weird for having so many, but in the club, we are revered as simply, over achievers.
Let me just tell you with four everything is different. I cannot walk into a restaurant where kids eat free without being leered at by managers and servers. They assume that because I have four we will leave a catastrophe in our wake or disturb all of the patrons. Okay, so those things are definitely going to happen. It is apparent that a family of two paying adults and four free kids is a strain on the system, but still here we are and we are hungry.
Few vehicles are roomy enough for four child safety seats. With the birth of the last one we were forced to go bigger. No I didn’t do the smart thing and go with a van. I scoffed at the van because I was holding on to my last shred of dignity. Everyone had Astro vans in the 80s and we swore that would never happen to us. Sure one might argue that my yoga pants, pony tail and Cheerios cereal embellishments aren’t helping my cause but I am STILL COOL! Just ask me.
With four kids, the once simple family vacation turned into a mass production. Between the packing, loading, stuffing, driving and stopping to pee and stopping to pee and stopping to pee. The drive alone can make you want to duck into a rest area and leave out the back door. While at our destination, it seems we spend most of our time counting children. We have learned to hold up fingers to represents the number of kids that each is currently responsible for and hope that Dad’s fingers and mine add up to four. There is NOTHING relaxing about a vacation with so many kids.
With two kids, extracurricular activities were fairly manageable. You try to pull it off with four? It becomes something of a miracle. One has baseball practice, one a soccer match and another a dance recital? On the same day? That sounds completely doable! I am pretty sure that once I was in two places at the same time. It all becomes a blur. At the end of most days, we arrive home exhausted, swearing that next season we are NOT signing anyone up for ANYTHING.
Meal time at my household is nothing like you see on Leave It to Beaver. It is more like a battle of who will get a word in edgewise. You can never get every one’s attention at once, so what happens is everyone just talks about what is on their mind as though everyone is listening. Except no one can hear, because they are talking as well. One-on-one conversations become increasingly louder, since we are all trying to talk over the other one-on-one conversations. Finally trying to return some sense of normalcy I yell: FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD JUST BE QUIET SO I CAN EAT MY PEAS!!!! This actually works, for about a minute. Then the chatter starts over with a slow build.
Saturday mornings used to be my favorite part of the week. My babies would creep into my bed, as the morning light began to fill the house. It was so precious. But as they got a little older and bigger it became much less enjoyable. The first one slides in and lies between us, almost undetected, we snuggle. THEN number two comes. There is a battle for positioning as everyone wants the perfect spot. This is where the now slightly larger knees and elbows start digging into my back. They finally get it all worked out and here comes number three. Having no room left, this one decides to lie on top of everyone. Then the complaining and arguing starts. Wrestling matches break out. I am now being kicked in the head. I look to see number four standing on the side of my bed and I gladly get up and let her have my spot. I have been driven from my warm, comfy slumber because I would rather be up, than repeatedly assaulted.
When I was pregnant with number four, many people told me that it wouldn’t be that much different from three. Now I know that they were all lying. Maybe it was poor spacing on my part, as my oldest was still four when the last one came home. It was definitely an adjustment. Either way I wouldn’t change it for all of the world.
I love the chaos and the bickering and the impromptu brawls. I have four little people who call me mom. I have four little people who tell me that they love me, four people who wants goodnight kisses. I have never once regretted having a large family. It makes my heart feel warm and full.
Even at forty I could never say 100% that our family is complete. I mean, sure most of the time I am sane BUT every now and then, the thought crosses my mind…..what if. Then I look at my husband with THAT look. What if we are supposed to have ONE MORE little one to call us mom and dad. I see his demeanor change instantly as he realizes what is happening. His face becomes ghost white. It is a look of sheer terror. Words like NO WAY, are you insane and don’t even think about it begin to fly out of his mouth, before I even say a word. I guess as the man working to support this brood you might have a completely different prospective: braces, college, weddings. I am not saying I want number 5. I am the one who laughs at the mothers with 5, remember? I am just saying we all have our weak moments and babies smell SO GOOD.
Luckily for my husband though, I AM 40 and the eggs have to dry up eventually. So even in those weak moments when I see a little baby in a pink polka-dotted dress, wearing a headband, that takes me back to my first baby, he only has to talk me down, for a little longer. He says: Look at what we have? Look at those amazing kids over there, biting and scratching one another. And he is right, it is hard to top the perfect four 🙂