“You’ve got your hands full.”
It’s a comment I hear pretty much every time I go to the store. Or the park. Or church. Or, really, anywhere.
I doesn’t bother me at all. It’s the truth. My hands are full, although not as full as my heart is.
I currently have a 3 year old, a 2 year old, a 1 year old and a baby due at the end of the summer. (That’s just a few months away!)
Yes, I will have four children ages four and under.
My hands, heart and womb is very full.
Sometimes, I will come across a well meaning friend, family member or even a stranger who will make it evident that they have NO idea what life is like raising lots of little ones.
I feel bad for those well meaning people who say ridiculous things, so I wanted to create a list of things mamas of little ones want you to know.
I should add; it’s what THIS mama of LOTS of little ones want you to understand.
What mamas of little ones want you to know
- Each day is a beautiful sprint. From the time the children wake up in the morning to when they go to sleep at night, they need me. I don’t get breaks. Just as a sprinter focuses on the goal of the finish line and runs with all their might toward it; mamas of little ones focus on the end goal and run as hard and fast as they can. Then, we get up the next day and do it all over again. The difference between us and the sprinter is…well, we probably eat more chocolate.
- Going out is not our idea of fun. Heading to a huge play area, visiting the latest and greatest restaurant, going to Six Flags…these are all great ideas, just not for us. At least not right now. The amount of work that it takes to get all three children ready to leave will boggle your mind. Add to that what happens when we actually get where we are going. I’m not saying it’s impossible, just that it is not something I see as fun in this stage. So, when you ask if I want to try out that new, huge park by your house; I’m just picturing me chasing after my three little ones with this huge belly. Sorry, it’s just not worth it. Let’s stick with the tiny, unpopular one.
- My children are my priority. Not my number one priority, but they do take priority over you. I’m not trying to be offensive, I just want you to know where you stand. It is my job to raise these children well, and in order to do that, they need my full attention. If you ask me to hang out and I have to decline for the third time, it’s not because I don’t like you. I probably want to be with you, a night out sounds wonderful. Yet, the first time, I was potty training a toddler. The second time, I had a house full of barfing children. This time, well, this time I just need to stay home and try to catch up on sleep (SO I can be a better mama tomorrow). It’s not you…it’s me.
- We will be late. Just expect it. As someone who thrives on punctuality, this one is difficult for me. I might start getting our children ready an hour before we leave. That is plenty of time for us to leave on time. However, it is inevitable that right before we leave; someone has to poop, or someone’s shoe fell off and no one can find it, or there was a diaper leak and now an entire outfit needs to be changed. I’ve had to learn the hard lesson that you can’t rush a potty trained pooper. If they are on the pot…you leave them there until they finish.
- I will be distracted. I was on the phone with someone a few days ago. It was an important conversation that I needed to have with our realtor. During that time, Levi was barfing. I was handling that situation, when Benjamin decided to get himself some water. He did a great job filling his cup, but then spilled it all over the floor. While fussing about the fact that he spilled, he went to get more water out of the spigot. On his way over, he slipped on the water and fell on his rear. His fussing turned to screams, but he pressed on. He got himself another cup of water and then promptly slipped on the previously spilled water, again. While he was lying there and I was taking care of Levi, Gracie was shouting at me that she was going to handle the situation for me. You can imagine that my focus was not completely on the conversation at that point.
- Teaching and training my children is my most important task with them. I am constantly training my children. I am working on teaching them life tasks, while also building their character. So when we are at the grocery and one of my children starts whining about not getting something, I need to stop talking to you and address that immediately. If they meet you for the first time, but don’t look you in the eye or speak loud enough; I will have them do it again. It might be annoying for you, but my focus is on training them – see #3.
- I know what works and what doesn’t. I know that my children need to get in their beds by 7PM, in order for us to have a good day tomorrow. I know that when my children eat too much sugar, it not only makes them hyper, but it makes them cranky and ornery. I know that most of the time, it isn’t worth the fight to tell Gracie what to wear. When she shows up in an outfit that may have been popular in the 80’s, know that I am choosing my battles wisely. You are not the mama, please do not try to tell me that my children NEED that sucker or candy bar. They don’t. Neither do you.
- Sleep is ESSENTIAL. When I say we can’t do something because of nap time, I promise that is not just an out. When you ask to do something at a certain time and I tell you that we have to either do it earlier or later, I am not being snarky. My children NEED sleep. I saw dramatic proof of that this week. Anytime I asked Gracie to do something, she would respond in a disrespectful way. I told Benjamin I was proud of him, she would respond, “I’m not proud of you.” I would ask her for help on something, she would say, “No.” and walk away. When I actually told her to do something, it was a huge fight. After a few days of this, I tried putting her to bed super early. To my surprise, she fell asleep almost immediately, although it was bright sunshine outside. The next morning, I had a different child. She was looking for ways to help. She spoke encouraging words to her brother. If I asked her to do something, she responded perfectly. I can’t emphasize enough, sleep is essential! To you, it is not big deal to miss out on an hour of sleep. To us, it is the difference between Graciezilla and our angel girl (same for the boys)
- We are messy. Our house. Our clothes. Our lives. We are just messy. You can guarantee that if my house were completely clean and spotless, the kids would turn it back into a mess in less than ten minutes. Also, we let our kids get messy. I let them play with finger paint, goop and their food. Well, the older ones don’t play with the food, but the baby is free to play all he wants.
- It is loud. This is similar to the last one. When kids are happy, there is a lot of excited squealing and talking. When kids are upset, there is a lot of fussing and whining. It is loud in this house. It’s one reason my husband has his fair share of ear plugs.
- We love our messy, loud, chaotic life. We don’t regret having this many children close together and would be so happy for more. Our life is a wonderful, chaotic blessing right now.