Life is hectic. With four kids and three jobs and sports and master’s degrees and goals and plans, it seems that we are always coming or going. There is always a soccer game or a sick kid or a comforter that needs to be washed. We always need coffee creamer and diapers. We are always watching Bluey, falling asleep in different beds with different kids. The phone chargers are never where we put them. The van always needs to be vacuumed. The toothpaste is always in the sink. There are always clothes in the dryer that need to be moved to make room for the clothes in the washer. The dog always has to be fed. The amazon boxes always need to be broken down. There is always some unexpected bill that’s like $600. There is always a covid exposure. The toys are always in every single room. There’s always a random bat man in the shower. Where is the other shoe? Why is there always only one?
Before having kids, you don’t realize all of the moving parts that exist when having a family. The parts that make life grueling but also captivating. It’s like the good times are the most beautiful, joy-filled moments of pure bliss. The bad times… well, all the kids are screaming and yelling while Jack and I look at each other belly laughing, joking about which kids get their stubbornness from me, and signing him up for vasectomy appointments online.
Usually I’m too busy to notice, but once in awhile, I catch people watching us. When we are sitting at breakfast, cutting up sausages, and turning on Niki and Vlad so we can eat a hot meal. When we are holding hands crossing the street to go in a store and resembling The Wringling Brothers Circus. When we are at the park or pushing the stroller through the mall. When we are trying to manage our world and hanging on by a bobby pin. Here and there, I catch people watching us… and they always have a smile. Maybe they’re thinking, “These two are in way above their head.” But, I like to believe that they’re usually recalling fond memories of their children and thinking, “Boy, they have it all.”
Sometimes when we make eye contact with the watchers, they’ll say, “4 boys, huh?” or “Wow, you guys have your hands full!” But often, it is the line is, “Enjoy them. It goes so fast.”
The thing about life is that it all goes in phases. It’s like mountains that turn into valleys, the highs and lows that blur together. By the time you get around to solving a problem you thought you had, that problem solves itself and you’re on to the next thing. What no one tells you about parenting is that you’ll drive yourself crazy to make sure your kids are okay. Happy, safe, healthy, understood. How lucky are we to have a love that is so profound and deep that there is literally nothing we wouldn’t do for our kids? In the same breath, you get caught in this whirlwind of thoughts. It seems your to-do list is never done. You brain can never shut off. I run around tying shoes and filling water bottles and the next thing I know it’s 9 pm.
A few weeks ago, Jack took the boys camping and it was just Leo and me. In 8 hours, I did 5 loads of laundry, put the dishes away, mopped the floor, cleaned out the junk drawer, painted my toe nails, wrote in my journals, and accomplished basically every other to-do that had been on my list for months. When I put Leo to sleep, I ordered take-out and watched Grey’s Anatomy. When I woke up, Leo was still sleeping and it hit me, I didn’t have anything else to do. So you mean to tell me that when my kids grow up and have lives of their own and they pack up and leave, the only time I’m going to be able to fill is roughly 8 hours before I call them and tell them it’s time to come back?
The truth is that time is fleeting, and in the middle of the most hectic moments, when I want to shout in frustration over repeating myself about the toys I’m tripping over, when I’m ushering kids out the door and into the van, when I’m vacuuming up sand from the playground AGAIN… when I’m trying to figure out how I have NO fruit 24 hours after grocery shopping, and I’m logistically trying to work out how I’m going chaperone the trip, get a kid to a friend’s birthday party, and be at two overlapping soccer games. In all of the chaos and crazy, those are also the moments where my joy lives and always will.