Our boys in their sweet little handmade bonnets about a year ago.
Pretty much everyone I know has said at some point in the past year, "I don't know how you do it." By "do it" I assume they mean manage the day-to-day needs of a family of six while still managing to, ocassionally, show up in public wearing clean clothes. One of the ways I've found to cope with the intensity of parenting four children five and under is to step outside of the situation and observe things with a sense of humor or absurdity. This skill provides plenty of facebook fodder and continues to help me get through the nitty gritty of life with two one-year-olds.
In honor of my friends Tom and Sarah who welcomed twin girls on Monday (whoot!), here's a glimpse of my life last fall, when the twins were about two months old. It was a typically intense day and I decided to "enjoy" it by recording how simply absurdly chaotic things were. For the sake of clarity, the twins are Levi and Isaiah, and Solomon was four and Sophia five (and now that you know my children's names, I will probably have to kill you!).
4:21 (am) Wake up and try to think of ways to get John to get up and give Levi a pacifier. Look at the clock and realize the twins have slept 6 hours; I guess we need to feed them. Get up and nurse the babies, change their diapers and nurse them some more. Ask John to set the alarm for 6:30 so I can get up before the kids. Ask John to set the alarm again because I can’t remember if I asked him yet.
6:30 Wake up with the alarm, think I’m hitting snooze and turn it off.
7:00 Wake up to Solomon calling on the monitor. Look for and find glasses. Turn off the monitor.
7:12 Wake up, with glasses in hand, to the sound of fussing babies and hear the older kids calling and banging on their door downstairs. Check on babies – still technically sleeping – then head to Sophia and Solomon’s room. Solomon says he’s sick and demands medicine – a brief fight ensues. Head to the kitchen for coffee and to warm up milk for Solomon. Groggily sit in the living room and beg-off of reading books until the caffeine can hit my system.
7:30 Read a book with the kids, find clothes for Yellow Day (Sophia) and Blue Day (Solomon). Get cereal for Sophia and a cereal bar for Solomon. Run up to check on the babies – give Levi a pacifier.
7:45 Pack Sophia’s lunch, write a note for Solomon’s teacher. Urge the kids to get ready. Remember that I need to take vitamins and cold medicine.
8:00 Grandpa comes to take the kids to school. Make two trips upstairs to bring the babies down. Nurse the babies and change 4 diapers. Find spit-up on my shoulder.
9:30 Try putting Isaiah to sleep in the bouncey seat. Try holding him. Lay him in the cradle (eyes pop open). Lay him in the swing. Change Levi’s diaper. Wrap Levi. Lay him in a boppy. Turn off Isaiah’s swing, so he doesn’t get addicted. Turn it back on because he wakes up.
10:00 Make a bagel for breakfast. Eat a brownie while waiting for the bagel. Scarf down breakfast while checking facebook. Get a shower (don’t forget to lock the front door so no one steals the babies!).
10:30 Hear Isaiah start to fuss. Quickly try to empty dishwasher before they wake up. Remember that I still haven’t taken vitamins and cold medicine.
10:40 Isaiah has one arm out and one eye open. Offer the pacifier. Pacifier is rejected. Quickly finish dishes. Walk around the kitchen looking for the tissue box that’s usually on top of the refrigerator.
10:45 Find tissues on top of refrigerator.
10:52 Finally take medicine while holding Isaiah who drifts back to sleep.
Look on craigslist for a swing with a timer (don’t want to babies getting addicted!).
Marvel at Isaiah’s skin. Watch as his eyes pop open. Converse with Isaiah on the couch while waiting for Levi to wake up. Feed Isaiah who’s mad because I cut his fingernail too short. Wake Levi who’s still sleeping peacefully.
11:30 My friend brings Solmon home from preschool and asks if I need anything from the store. I would LOVE a Diet Coke, but it seems too frivolous to ask for.
11:35 Get into argument with Solomon who comes home from preschool like a bear fresh out of winter hibernation. Change two diapers. Consider beating Solomon – give a stern talk and hug instead.
12:10 Make bagel pizzas with Solomon while running to the living room to reinsert pacifiers.
12:20 Eat mini pizza while holding a gassy Levi. Isaiah is in the swing.
12:24 Wonder why Solomon’s face is red and itchy while I bounce a now awake Levi.
12:36 The sun comes out after about 10 days of rain!
12:42 Swaddle Levi and try to get him into the Baby Bjorn so we can go outside. First have to resize Baby Bjorn and eject Sophia’s teddybear from its straps. Insert Levi who commences to scream like a banshee. Attempt to lay Levi in the swing. His eyes pop open. Insert Levi into the sling (ahhhhhh . . . .) and head outside to pick peppers with Solomon.
12:45 Solomon helps pick peppers for about 3 minutes, then demands to be pushed on the swing. We talk about “when we grow up” and I explain why he can’t marry his sister or his cousins. We walk around the house picking some weeds while I make several trips to peek in the window on Isaiah who’s asleep in the swing.
1:12 Back inside to read for Solomon’s Quiet Time while he eats a pepper. Put sleeping Levi into the bouncey seat. Grab frozen dinner out of freezer to thaw.
1:40 Turn off the swing and send Solomon to his room for Quiet Time. Spend a few minutes on facebook and checking email.
1:46 Levi is awake again and in my lap.1:52 Admire Levi’s bright blue eyes, gummy smile and pretend to eat his sweet baby cheeks.
I'm pretty sure things must've descended into pure chaos at this point, because I stopped writing it down. I do know I called John on his way home from work and asked him to pick up some Diet Coke for me, a girl can only hold out for so long!
All I know is that I don't know how I "did it" either, nor do I know how each of YOU tackles the many things you do each day. I do know that each moment gives us a grace all its own if we're able to open ourselves to it. And, a year from now I'll be tackling raising two two-year-old boys which may well make all of this look like child's play in comparison!
Also celebrating my friend Joni, who welcomed her little girl into the world this morning - can't wait to meet you Maggie!