Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Why did I do this to myself

Due to comment length restrictions (another way of saying I’m too damned long-winded), I’m going to answer ya here, Mapletree. Question was: I am curious (as one of four children) why you decided to have 4 yourself. And what was the chaos escalation with each new addition?

I wish I had a solid, business-like reason. But I really don’t. In some ways, it’s like trying to say why you prefer green over blue, or chocolate chip to peanut butter. I preferred having four kids to having a lot of other things (like peace and quiet) (or a luxury yacht). Even when I was just a kid myself, I wanted to have a lot of kids. Of course, when I was a kid (to include up to my very early twenties), I wanted the classic Catholic ‘as many as God will bless me with’ lot of kids. Thank God I switched Sprint, with the new rollover minute plan…um…wait…why doesn’t that sound right…?

My husband and I settled on four pretty quickly. Me being the oldest of two, four seemed like a nice big number. My husband being the youngest of seven, four didn’t seem a bit threatening.

Well, actually, it was more of a ‘we’d like at least two and up to four’ agreement. We thought pretty long and hard about each kid before we conceived. Could we handle this new addition emotionally? Physically? Financially? Could we fund two, three, four college funds? Wedding funds? Semesters-abroad-funds? Not to mention preschool, and the possibility that the public school system would get so incredibly bad that we’d end up paying for private schools…what would we do if and in case…?

And after all the thinking and planning and wondering and worrying, each new kid was basically a leap of faith.

I consider my kids to be the greatest gift I have ever been given. There was a while in my life when I thought I wasn’t going to have any kids at all. Payback for a life of crime, so to speak. First of all, I never thought I’d find a man interested in me that wasn’t…uh…let’s see, what’s the term I’m looking for…scary beyond all reason? Yeah, I think that’s it. And let me tell you, it hurt. Going from wanting lots and lots and lots of kids all your life to thinking that it just isn’t ever going to happen? Ouch. So you can imagine how I feel, now that I have all four of my children.

There is not a happier woman in the world. There is nobody more blessed than me. I have everything in the world, and more.

The chaos factor is interesting. You’d think that it would be either a smooth upward trend, or an exponential leap and flatten with each new baby…but it didn’t really work that way. Going from no kids to Eldest was the biggest leap of the Chaos Curve, and it would settle and spike with each new phase. She started toddling and there was this big spike in the curve. AH! The baby! She’s got your soda! AH! AH! AH! Catch her, stop her, grab her…aw, hell! **sigh** OK, you vacuum up the glass, I’ll get her some dry clothes…

It goes up temporarily each time one kid or another hits a new phase. Like when Boo Bug suddenly decided, at three and a little change (and not a bit coincidentally, right around the same time Bacon Bit arrived), to work on her Terrible Two Attitude. Suddenly I’ve got a kid who is arguing with me about Every Damned Thing in her life, from what color shirt she’s going to wear to whether or not she likes apples (you do! I don’t! you DO! I DON’T! You WILL! I WON’T!), and the Chaos Factor takes a big upward tick. But then she decides that overall, it isn’t worth the hassle and it settles back down again…right around the same time Bacon Bit discovers that his feet are made for walkin’, and starts crashing around the house bonking his head on every available surface. I swear, I could bubble-wrap the whole house and he’d still find some way to fall over and bonk his head on something.

As an aside, I’ve observed when visiting other parents’ Dens that whether you have one kid or a dozen, the chaos seems about the same. I mean, the physical logistics are tougher with my four than my friends’ one or two (I’ve got this one, you’ve got that one…who’s got #3 and 4?!), but in terms of mess and noise it seems to be the same whether there’s one or twenty. Weird, huh?

Sometimes it makes me crazy (especially when it involves pain, blood or squabbling…I loathe squabbling), but overall the noise and the mess and the upheaval are part and parcel of the whole ‘mom’ gig. And every day, every mess they make, every shriek and giggle, every accident, every mistake, every inappropriate copping of attitude, takes them one step closer to going out into the world as (hopefully) happy, healthy, well-adjusted grown-ups. Who know that their mother, while admittedly something of a nutcase, loves them hopelessly and thinks they’re pretty damned cool.

I write more about the times when I want to bang my head against the wall than the times when things get schmaltzy. I usually need the therapy more than I do when I’ve spent the day with the Golden Children and am basking in the warmth of their sun-like glow. Besides, it’s hard to write about those times and feelings without sounding like a putz. Seriously. How do you write about the way sometimes you look at your kids when they’re playing some charming little game of their own invention and feel your eyes swelling up with tears because they’re just so damned beautiful, without sounding like you’ve gone not only around the bend, but over the rapids as well, banging your head on the rocks all the way?

Speaking of mess and general noise level… Bacon Bit would like to get up from his nap now, so it’s time for me to quit this, and the girls to quit their ‘art time’. Mess is about to go down as we clean it all up, noise is about to go up, and the Chaos of Snack Time is upon us…


Myownigloo said...

I am so glad you explained all this! I was worried. Really.

It also gladdens me to hear of responsible people who really understand their job as parents who have decided to have more kids. It's gives me confidence in the future of our society. If there weren't parents like you, then only the deadbeats would be having children and gawdelpus!

I just wish you'd feel like writing about the warm and fuzzy moments more often. Then at least I'd have company here around the bend.

Jo Anne

mapletree7 said...


Unknown said...

Thanks for the insight. We're starting to chat over this subject in our own house and it gives me stuff to think about.

I'm not as scared about having kids as I used to be, but there's lots of question marks in my mind still. Of course, I guess you're never really "ready" for it, you just try to hang on for the ride...