We walk into a restaurant.
"How many?" she says.
I stop. I think. How many is it again?
"Five kids, one with a high chair, and two adults."
We systematically create our seating arrangement to keep kids from fighting and so we can all help the littlest ones with their messes, ahem, food. If it's fast food, we get seated and one of us goes to order, usually me because I know what everyone likes and how to get it the cheapest. Then we spend minutes getting straws, napkins, ketchup, utensils, sauce, etc. And trying to keep everyone calm and happy.
Imagine what that's like when Daddywayne is not there. Let's just say Cayle and Alaya are a massive help to me and I'm so thankful for them.
On any given day it looks like this:
Our E girl strolls sleepily into our room as the sun comes up. I hand her the iPhone and she watches Daniel Tiger between Daddywayne and I while we continue to doze. Sometimes Alaya comes next and she'll squeeze between us too. When the boys are up, all bets are off and I get up to put cartoons on for them, or sometimes Alaya will do that for me. Some mornings the big kids do breakfast for everyone (because they want to serve! How blessed am I?!) and some mornings Daddywayne or I do it. Mornings are always sleepy around here because Daddywayne doesn't get home from work until 1:30am and I am not a morning person. But hey, we make it work.
We spend the morning entertaining people, fielding questions, dealing with family business, or running errands. Sometimes Daddy takes the kids on dates, because our mornings are what everyone else does on the weekends. Lunchtime comes. If we're feeling brave we'll let the kids choose what they want, most of the time though we'll pick something easy (read: sandwiches, corn dogs, chicken nuggets, etc.) we can stick in the oven and make enough for everyone. And these kids can EAT, ya'll. Thank the Lord for Sams Club. Then comes naptime. E in her bed, sound machine on, R in his bed, sound machine on, and K in our bed...because he cannot be trusted at age four to consistently nap or consistently not wake his brother up. Daddy gets ready for work and is out the door about 1:45pm. Sometimes E or K require me to enforce naptime by laying down in their respective rooms. This usually gets interesting because one of the following scenerios happens:
1) I lay down, in the dark, with the sound machine on, and get to be still for a few minutes which inevitably makes me sleepy, so I dose off.
2) I get said child to sleep and some big kid busts up in the room and wakes them. Or me. Or some other kid starts screaming at the top of their lungs because they don't want to take a nap.
3) By God's grace I have gotten said child to sleep, slip out of the room, and think I'll get a minute to myself and someone else busts out of their room, having not slept, and I get to start all over again. Thus by the time naptime is really over, it's time to start dinner.
Lord willing naptime goes better than the aforementioned scenerios, the big kids and I do school. School works better at naptime for obvious reasons. It takes them about three hours to get their schoolwork done, sometimes a little longer, and that's usually the amount of time we get from the littles' naps (at least E and R).
Did I mention I'm struggling in the dinnertime department? Gosh I love to cook but standing in front of that stove while trying to break up fights and keep kids out of the toilet (see my friend Leslie's post here. That's legit ya'll.) and not burn the dinner just sounds like a form of torture to me here lately. But, alas, I will survive.
When the kids get up from nap, usually all bets are off. Daddy is now gone (unless he's not, but I don't count those days because they're sorta like vacation. Or something. God bless that man and his days off.) and my villagers wake up with swords in hand and battle armor on.
"MOMMY!! He HIT me!"
"Why did he hit you?"
"Because I hit him!!"
"Mooooooooommmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyy!!!" (Said in the most high pitched, whiny, nails-down-a-chalkboard voice you can imagine)
"I caannnnnnnn'tttttt find my SHOEEEEEEEE!!!
"Mom, E is standing on the piano! On the toilet! Climbing the cabinet! Her nose is running! She pooped! She's riding the dog! She's running down the driveway! MOM!!"
"Mom, I want to go to Mae's."
"Mom I want to go to Chickfila."
"Mom I don't want Daddy to go to work." (He's been gone for four hours already.)
"Mom I want peanut butter and jelly for dinner. And a snack."
(these are all from the same kid and are usually repeated cyclically until I absolutely lose my mind)
"Mom I want to go outside!"
(20 minutes of getting dressed and getting shoes on)
(Five minutes of being outside)
"It's too hot!"
I'm not going to be potty training E anytime soon. I'm just sayin. Aside from the fact that she's not even two and she totally does NOT care when she poops or pees in her diaper, can you honestly see me potty training her in the midst of this chaos? Nope. I'm confident she'll be potty trained eventually, but it sho ain't happening anytime soon. Judge me if you like, but I got five kids and I don't care!
So we survive the afternoon. I get dinner on the table. And when I say dinner I mean, it is on the table completely before they sit down because if it's not I. Will. Lose. My. Mind with the requests and "I wants" and end up yelling and completely ruining my own appetite.
Then, if it's bath night (which I try to do as infrequently as possible both for sanity and to make sure I don't overdry my chocolate babies' hair and skin), I get E in the tub. I take her hair down. This usually takes 10-20 minutes. I clean and wash her hair and body. I get her out. I put cartoons on. I put the little boys in the tub. I clean and wash them. I let them play and start working on E's hair (bathroom is within sight distance of the LR). Get boys out. I used to try to let them watch a show while I fixed her hair, but that stressed me out because hair stresses me out a bit anyway (I don't have a steady hand and I'm dealing with a not quite two year old and trying to do a good job. You do the math there.) and of course they were all putting their hands in hair product and stealing rubberbands and fighting and whining...so no MA'AM, they don't stay up while I do hair anymore. They go to bed. Mmhmm. Good night boys (sigh of relief). Here comes hair time. Usually takes anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours. Not for the faint of heart. One day I'll show you pictures. One day friends.
E's hair gets done and I put her to bed and then hang out with the big kids for about an hour. This is our time. I'm thankful for it. I get big kids tucked in and then I pick up around the house, work on laundry, get my own shower, etc. I'm usually in bed between 11-12 and then it starts all over again.
And you know what's funny? I mean I know my life is chaos and probably sounds exhausting to many of you, but I feel like this life is so much more interesting than my former one used to be. I feel like I can literally laugh at things that used to make me go bonkers (like the whining. While it gets to me, I have found I can laugh at the ridiculousness of it. I can laugh at explodo diapers. At snot covered faces. At screaming tantrums over something as simple as a tv show going off. Or WHO KNOWS WHAT. I can laugh at that.) You know that verse in Proverbs 31 that says, "She can laugh at the days to come." Yeah. That. Having five kids has, at least in some ways, made me feel that way.
I actually laugh at myself and how I used to be so worried if my child would do anything besides smile and behave when we were out in public. Why were my expectations so high? Why did I let others' thoughts of me or my child get to me? I laugh at my friends with only one small child (I don't tell them I'm laughing. It's all on the inside) and how they stress about the things I used to and how they look at me all googly eyed when I walk up with my villagers and how I sit down and have a conversation at the park instead of chasing every one of those villagers every second. I laugh at how they freak out. I used to do that. It's really funny. I promise it is. Don't be offended by it. It's just the perspective and the lens we use. Mine is x5 and yours might only be x1 or x2. I will say, it's really okay mamas to give yourself a break. Give your kids a break. Lower your expectations. Okay good. Now lower them again. This motherhood thing is not about being perfect.
Did you catch that?
Stop trying to be perfect. You never will be. Your child never will be. You aren't that put together, and honestly your other mom friends really love it when you come as you are, in your yoga pants with spit up on your shoulder and bags under your eyes and sit down with a sigh and go, "Man this is HARD." It is hard. So hard. Harder than anything I've ever done. And many days I just suck at this. What I really want is us mamas to build each other up though. Spend time together. Pray for each other. Carry each other's burdens. Let our hair down. Yeah, that. So let's all try that together okay?
Yeah five kids is cray.