Some people say that the transition from 2 to 3 kids is the hardest, when you have more kids than hands, more kids than parents. For me, going from 2 to 3 was no big deal. But going from 3 to 4? Yikes, it’s kicking my trash! Aaron and I both agree that 4 kids feels like a lot of kids, whereas 3 felt like we were just a little starter family. And Max is a really good, easy-going baby. Yet adding that one more feels like a lot more. Maybe if I just had to take care of kids and not keep the house even remotely clean I wouldn’t feel like I was just barely staying afloat everyday. Poor Aaron has had a lot of slack to pick up! There just seem to be so many needs. It’s good to feel needed, right? So I should feel really good all the time!
Yesterday was going really well. Aaron was home and working on moving loads of stuff to the new house while the kids and I were doing Saturday cleaning. Hazel and Max both took really long afternoon naps at the same time, so I was getting things organized and truly clean for the first time in way too long. I didn’t quite finish getting the piles of grown-out-of shirts and toys put away when Max needed to eat (it had been 4 1/2 hours since I last fed him so he deserved it!). Then of course Hazel woke up, it was time to make dinner, Elodie came home from the birthday party, Xander needed encouragement to finish his big raking job, the girls needed Saturday night baths, we ate dinner, Max needed to eat again, we had family scripture time, I held Max and tried to get some bills paid on the computer while the big kids were supposedly getting ready for bed, and finally I went back to the kids room to tuck them in. What did I find when I went downstairs? It appeared that everything I had done during my productive afternoon was undone. Oh, the Law of Entropy! It seems especially fast-acting with a one-year-old on the move. And those big kids? They had “forgotten” to brush their teeth and put their clothes away and get ready for bed because they were too busy playing with the things I had been trying to organize and prep for the move. Aaargghh! Those feelings of discouragement, incompetency, frustration, and utter exhaustion tried so hard to take over. Before I knew it, everybody was in tears and I felt like a terrible mother. Everybody except Hazel, that is, who helped me regain perspective with her kisses and general sweetness. Aaron got back and tried to help Max calm down, but to no avail; Max just needed Mom so Aaron tackled the dishes. With some prayer and repentance and forgiveness we all got back on track. I reorganized and finished cleaning and studied scriptures and finished preparing my lesson for Sunday School and fed Max again and went to bed (after 1:00) feeling good about life again.
Yes, mothering four children is kicking my trash so far, but I’ve only been doing it for 8 weeks. This doesn’t make me want to stop having more and more kids or anything. I have hope that I will grow into this responsibility eventually. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said so well, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier - not that the nature of the task has changed, but our ability to do has increased.” I trust that God will strengthen me and increase my ability as He has in the past. Yes, these past few weeks, I have had plenty of moments that have highlighted my weaknesses, but I won’t let that get me down! “And if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (Ether 12:27) I loved the two articles about the strengthening power of Jesus’ grace in the April Ensign that I read while feeding my sweet baby. They were just what I needed to maintain perspective and hope in Christ. “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Phil. 4:13) Phew, good thing I don’t have to do this mothering thing all by myself! I have everything I need.
I feel can totally relate to what Sister Lant said in conference a few years ago, referring to one of her daughters: I am at “a wonderful place in [my] life where [my] greatest blessings are [my] greatest challenges (I have [four] small children).” Bring it on!
Happy Mother’s Day!