I'm not sure when it happened but for as long as I can remember I've wanted four kids. Maybe I knew intuitively that five or more would successfully land me in a mental ward somewhere. Four kids is definitely enough. My hard earned gray hairs tell me so. Well, that and the weird looks from strangers. Not unlike my pregnant stomach over the past seven years, my patience is usually stretched to it's limits. I'm tired. Washing dishes uninterrupted is a true vacation. I've lost the few social skills I once had and since we have only one TV I know my alphabet and how to use the potty way too well. Am I a shell of the woman I once was? Well, I wouldn't go that far. Okay, I guess it depends on the day you ask.
Yes. The reality of four kids has officially sunk in and I'm realizing now more than ever that my natural strengths do NOT lend themselves to caring for miniature humans. It's hard, dirty and outrageously frustrating. Even the most demanding seasons of my life never came close to the grinding challenge of raising my own kids.
So why have I done this to myself? And how the hell am I even writing this blog post right now? Answer: One-handed, in the eye of the storm, nursing a 3 month old. But for all the one-handed-labor-intensive-gray-hair-making-moments there are four beautiful, vulnerable, precious humans that I have the privilege of loving and enjoying for the rest of my life. I am now blessed with life-long, un-replicable, invaluable relationships. While that's also true with one or two kids, from my experience there is an inherent variety, comradery and unpredictability that is nearly impossible to replicate outside of a large family and I so look forward to a limitless supply of grand babies at big family gatherings.
For me four kids is a massive part of my big picture. It's a long-term investment in the joy and growth I want to experience in this life. My hope is to grow old knowing that I raised four people that make life a little better for everyone around them. What more worth-while thing could I do with myself, my time, my resources than give it to them? Part of that (for their own good and mine) is empowering them to become self-reliant, independent team players. No wonder I feel guilty too often as a parent. Those things are NOT easy to instill. It's a conscious effort, every minute. I can't say I don't look forward to the day I can give them room to spread their wings a little more. And I'm not gonna lie, I'm excited to get my own career in full swing, but for now here I am, challenged to cherish every moment with my four tiny, dependent people. And as hard as "today" is I know an even more difficult day is coming. The day I look back at sweet baby pictures and ache to have that again, if only for a moment.
This little people phase is painfully short. I'm trying so hard to enjoy it but it's also super exhausting. I guess that's the pinch. That's the challenge. To savor this transient, beautiful mind-blowingly difficult season of my life. And trust me, I have no delusions that my relationships with these guys will get easier as they get older, but I do believe they'll grow into stages I'm more naturally gifted to contribute to. So for now they'll have to deal with a mom who is right-handed, trying to parent FOUR kids with her left, so to speak. Sorry Chase clan. I'm doing my best. I'll get better with time and because there are four of you I'll get lots of practice. Grow old with me.
Desi (One-Kid-Shy-of-the-Loony-Bin) Chase