There was a time thirty-five years ago, I thought I’d have little ones attached to my leg forever. They favored my left leg, consequently I had one toned, muscular leg.
I could move three children at one time, just by taking a few steps. I was an Uber of an old dimension. During those days going to the mailbox was a feat. Once I escaped and ran free down the driveway. It was May 18th, 1986. How could I forget my one day of short lived freedom?
These were the days when we operated our family business out of our dining room. I answered the phone very professionally while nursing a newborn. The girls stamped “For Deposit Only” like a chair rail design in my dining room/office. They were helping me decorate while I chatted with our largest customer on the phone. With a baby attached to my breast and a phone in the other hand, I couldn’t reach them to swat at them to stop. At least they were quiet decorators. I could paint the room later.
These were also the days when I cried for romance. With five kids there was little time for that, yet I kept getting pregnant. Scratch that first sentence. My days were filled with fighting kids to get dressed, chasing kittens that escaped from their box, answering business calls, and trying to get everyone to eat the same thing. That was a major challenge. One wanted crust; one didn’t. One hated macaroni with cheese and would eat only plain macaroni if she could dip it in cheese. One refused to eat at all. She only nibbled on Cheerios. One only wanted meat to build muscles, while the other ate only pasta.
My mother-in-law often offered advice. “When Scott was a child, I prepared lamb chops for lunch every day. Naturally, he ate every bite. He also took naps. He even stayed in his room at night and never woke me.” She insisted I needed to be more diligent. Once they were well nourished, everything would change for the better. I bought the lamb chops. I even got her recipe and made them with a smile, anticipating my future sleep.
Guess who hates lamb chops? My husband! He made this remark as I served it to the kids for lunch. “If Dad doesn’t like them, I’m not eating them!” Their voices echoed through the kitchen. “But your mom made them for you as a kid. You loved them,” I insisted. “You even took a nap after lunch and slept through the night!” I was whimpering, but I didn’t care. I was desperate for sleep and romance, in that order. The kids stared waiting to see what would happen next. “Who wants ice cream?” he yelled.
He was the good guy. As the kids got older, I stayed the bad guy. Sometimes we would play good cop/ bad cop just to keep them on their toes. It’s good to confuse children. It builds early cognitive skills.
“Covering your brother in peanut butter is a very bad thing,” I scolded.
My husband injected. “Look at those beautiful swirls you made. I think you’re going to be an artist.”
She smiled proudly. I growled. Guess who cleaned up the peanut-buttered-belly kid. “Make sure you totally enjoy those artistic swirls before you wash them off, dear.”
I’m not sure how we managed those years with a house full of kids, their friends, sleepovers, runaway dogs, pregnant cats, and a few lizards who got lost, but it seems we did. Funny how it all seemed so important at the time. The time goes by in a blink of an eye.
Let your kids eat when they’re hungry.
Let them stay up late a night or two.
Enjoy the night time, “Can I sleep in your bed?” at two a.m.
A little peanut butter on the belly never hurt anyone.
Most importantly, forget the lamb chops and have pizza instead.
In a few years, it will all be gone. They will have survived your parenting skills. They may or may not be in therapy. It’s all good. It’s just life.