Some people count down to Christmas. This year, I counted down to the first day of school. I've got a 2nd grader and two pre-schoolers, one half-day and one full-day. That leaves me with the toddler, AJ.
Already today, AJ has taken apart an entire set of window blinds, used said broken window blinds to knock stuff off a wall shelf, then emptied out his older brother's fallen piggy bank and spilled half a gallon of Sunny D on the kitchen floor. All this and we've only made it to lunch time. Maybe spending the majority of the days with this 2-year-old doesn't seem like a vacation, but for me, it most certainly is. I adore my big family. With this summer's intense heat, my incredibly uncomfortable third trimester with Monster # 5 and four active kids who can either get along really well or not at all, my irritability level has been… well… yeah.
"Mommy is our maid"
At one point, when I was nearing my limit on spilled juice clean-ups and cheerios stuck in piano keys, I told the kids I was going to dedicate an entire blog post to one day's worth of their messes. For one day, I'd take a photograph of every single spill, every broken toy, every mega disaster in the playroom that Mom eventually cleaned up. Yeah, I never actually followed through with that one. Needless to say, that would have been a long post. I was going to call it, "Mommy is our maid and the go-to person if we want to whine, complain, scream or tell on someone."
On a more positive note, we accomplished a ton this summer and we had a lot of fun as a family. Hubby started a great new job. We spent a lot of time outdoors, visited relatives, had relatives visit us, explored museums, amusement parks and other attractions. There was summer camp, fishing, beach sports, play groups, lots of reading, a successful surgery for KM, playing with friends, swimming in the creek and friend's pool, planting and picking vegetables, the Olympics, Shark Week and potty training. Well, that all sounds pretty positive. Now that I think about it… maybe the summer wasn't so bad. Or, I've already forgotten the worst of it thanks to pregnancy brain.
We survived! Hallelujah!
Either way, when all the kids were standing at the front door waiting for their buses, I felt super proud. We'd survived another summer together and we were all in one piece. Everyone still loved me and no one had threatened to run away. Now each child was embarking on their own individual journey, each a little older, and they could focus on themselves, in their own classrooms, with their own friends and teachers. Hallelujah!
Summer didn't fail to remind me that big families are an incredible amount of work — emotional, physical and mental work. If I could go back to my weirdo 13-year-old self, proclaiming to the world that one day I would be married to Taylor Hanson and have six kids, I'd say "Oh, shut up." Turns out, I didn't marry Taylor Hanson specifically but I did marry a Marine, which might be better in the long run. We'll soon have five little monsters and will gladly stop at five, thank you very much, 13-year-old self.
This school year, I'm so appreciating the "peaceful" time that the school day provides us extra busy moms of big families. I can write. I can work. I can call customers about their orders without four children whining in the background. I can pretend I have some of my brain cells back. The day is *almost* mine! Who cares if I've got to chase AJ around – big deal – at least it's not four kids all bent on turning my mind to mush every hour of the day!
School is grand. It's good for all of us, not just myself. We realize, in the *almost* quiet, that we are all separate people, who need to grow in different directions and without each other at times, but we'll eventually come back together and join in on the noise, frustrations and joys that define our big family.
During this season, hugs are extra big and kisses are extra dramatic – especially when the bus arrives and all their friends can see. I wish for a successful year of young academics, friend making and of course, individuality. I wish for serenity for myself, at least for part of the day. To all the Moms who cried as they put their kiddos on the bus… BWA HA HA HA. *Continues a maniacal laugh, maniacal laugh.*
EJ Curran is a Delaware mom. This post was adapted from her blog, Four Little Monsters.