Back when Brendan was our only child, I don’t really remember having any concerns about my ability to handle the situation or any trepidation about taking him out in public all by myself. It all seemed to come pretty naturally, and I knew I could handle this whole motherhood thing. Even as he got a little older and began to throw temper tantrums in public, I felt good about my parenting capabilities. Yes, I had to sling him over my shoulder and march him out of a store from time to time, but at least I knew I had the physical strength and capability to do so. Then Cameron came along
I felt a little more confident in the home parenting front with Cameron. I’d done all the bottle feeding and diapering once before, so there wasn’t really anything new there to trip me up. I was feeling a little gun shy after all the developmental delays that Brendan had so I admit I did watch him like a hawk for signs that he too would be developmentally delayed. And when it turned out he was developing right on schedule it felt like we had our very own baby genius in the house.
It took me a while to feel comfortable going out in public with both kids by myself. Brendan was still well known for having the occasional tantrum in the middle of a store and I couldn’t picture how in the world I would manage both a baby carrier and a tantruming 4 year old at the same time. Eventually the time came where I had to take them out for something and Matt wasn’t available to help. I survived the shopping trip and many more after that. And the day did come that I had to figure out how to get screaming Brendan out of the store while managing a baby carrier. It was just as hard as I expected it to be, but I did it. When put into that situation you will find a way.
So when Kaylee came along I figured I had the whole parenting thing down pat. I’d not only managed the whole baby thing twice, but I’d already managed to take out multiple children in public alone, so this baby should be an absolute breeze. Had we waited longer to have Kaylee that might have been the case, but unfortunately I had gotten the ideas into my head that A) having kids 2 years apart would be totally awesome, and that B) being done having kids by the time I was 30 was the way I wanted to go.
I’m still happy with my decision to be done having kids at such a young age. Yes, it means that for a while now we’ve had three very young children, but that also means that by the time Kaylee graduates high school I’ll only be 48 which will be completely awesome. However, having kids that close together was the dumbest idea that ever popped into my head. Cameron was (and still is) a runner. There was more than one occasion when I would go to pick up Brendan from kids net, holding the baby carrier in one hand, and Cameron’s pudgy little fist in the other.
At some point Cameron would wrench his fingers out of mine and take off like a rocket. I would then be left with the decision on whether to set down the baby carrier (leaving the baby behind) and chase through the gym after him, or take the carrier with me which would both slow me down and bounce the baby like crazy as I ran. Stores were a little easier because I just confined both the little ones in the cart and only had to deal with Brendan roaming free. By that age he’d pretty much stopped having tantrums in public and mainly confined those to being a home.
I can honestly say that until Cameron outgrew the whole running away thing it was very rare that I would take just the two little kids out by myself. If I had Brendan with me I could at least feel comfortable having him watch over the baby carrier while I chased his brother, but without him it just wasn’t worth it.
Now that they’re older I have complete confidence in my abilities to handle any situation with the three of them. My biggest issue now is varying speeds. Cameron still rockets ahead of the group like he’s got turbo boosters tied to his shoes, but he’s old enough to know not to get too far ahead and will swing back around for a quick fly by before shooting forward again. Brendan has outgrown any desire to run ahead of the group and hasn’t yet hit the stage where it’s “uncool” to be seen with his parents, so he will usually walk side by side with mommy or daddy. Kaylee, still possessing short little legs and the attention span of a gnat will generally lag behind the group needing constant reminders to keep moving forward.
This weekend Brendan requested to have a sleepover with one of his best friends since it was his birthday and we weren’t having his party for another month. Seeing as it was his birthday I wasn’t really feeling like I could say no very easily. But with Matt out of town I wasn’t sure I could handle an extra child underfoot without any other parental support available. Then factor in that we usually invite his friend’s little brother too so that Cameron will have a playmate as well and I’m suddenly looking at 5 children in my care all aged 10 and under.
I put off the decision for as long as I possibly could before finally deciding to bite the bullet and let him have the sleepover. I figured I would be a complete basket case well before morning, but at least I’d end up as a nominee for Best Mommy in the World. The boys arrived, and chaos prevailed for a little while as they all greeted each other exuberantly (we hadn’t managed to get them together to play since September, so it had been a while) and got the overnight things stored in Brendan’s bedroom.
I shoo’d them all downstairs so I could make dinner and fully expected the constant interruptions that plague me any time I send my kiddos downstairs to play. “Mom, he hit me.” “Mom, she won’t play right.” “Hey! That’s mine!” “Go find another toy to play with, I was here first” and on and on and on. But this time the only shrieks I heard were raucous laughter, the only yells I heard were playful boasting, and the only other sounds I heard were children playing peacefully together.
I saw nothing of them until I was pulling dinner out of the oven when Cameron and his playmate came up to tell me they were getting hungry. After dinner I allowed them to play some video games. I expected a few more fights here as the game they wanted to play was only made for 2 players and there were 4 of them, but Brendan and his friend went to the bedroom and played a round of Battleship while waiting for their turn to play the game, and the two younger 0nes were more than content to sit and watch their older brothers handle the controls when it was time for them to be done playing.
After that I got them all ready for bed. That was about as chaotic as the night got as I figured out who had changed into pajamas, who still needed to brush their teeth, and to make sure we had enough pillows and covers for everyone. But once that was complete I turned on a movie and let the boys settle down for the night with that. They only got wild once or twice and there was a small incident when Cameron tried to kill his playmate by spinning the desk chair that the little boy was standing on top of, but lucky for me no one was hurt and soon after they drifted off to sleep.
The next morning began very early as all the boys were up by 6:30, but they went right back downstairs and took up the game they’d played the night before like it had only been delayed for a few minutes rather than overnight. Too soon for their liking, it was time for the boys to go home. I couldn’t believe it. I’d survived a little over 12 hours with 5 kids in my care and it had not only gone smoothly, but was actually much much easier than it usually is to care for just my three kids. I guess what that means is, with a little experience, you can do anything that you set your mind to.