Saturday, December 06, 2008

A Shout Out to Mothers of Many

Today I'd like to pay homage to an overlooked, underappreciated, undercelebrated and underestimated segment of society - mothers of many. And by many, I mean any more than two, which, when in addition to my husband, seems to me to be plenty difficult, thanks. You see, I have my nieces and nephews over for the day, and I've spent the past few hours doing nothing but putting on socks, taking off socks, making enough organic macaroni and cheese to feed an entire army brigade, gathering snow clothes, putting on snow clothes, taking off snow clothes, adjusting snow clothes, pinning snow clothes so they'll stay on right, pulling snowpants legs over boots, stuffing feet into boots, stuffing hands (finger by finger) into gloves, tying boots, finding hats, zipping coats, finding toys, wiping counters, wiping puddles, and wiping butts. I'm sorry about the butts thing, but it's important enough to mention - trust me on this.

I don't know how mothers of big families do it, I really don't. The utterance of the simplest phrase - like, say, "Loh-wa, I'm hungry" - sets off a series of events that are mind-boggling in their capacity to disable even the most proficient multi-tasker. The inequality between energy output and energy input is rather astounding as well. The kids play their games while waiting for the snack-turned-full-out-meal to be made, but the mother's part of the deal is not as simple as that, oh no it's not. They can't reach the game on the shelf. They can't figure out how to set up the game. And someone didn't want to play that particular game in the first place so he's staging a stand-off. So-and-so went out of turn on the game. And so-and-so got to go first LAST time and it's not fair! Oh, and there's always a butt-wiping session in there somewhere, too. Always there is that. (Honey? Please note the addition of gas mask to my Christmas list.) All the while, the wee ones smile up at me and ask, innocently, "Is the food ready yet?"

Now don't get me wrong - I adore my nieces and nephews. I love having them here. We do all sorts of fun things and they're a joy to have around. I'm not complaining. And while I'm a bit frazzled, it's not in a mean-aunt sort of way. I'm simply amazed that there are mothers who do this day in and day out. And I have a few questions for them. First off, how? In the name of all things holy, how do you manage this every day?

Do you mainline caffeine every morning? Do you channel an inner Artemis, Goddess of Power? Are you some sort of freak of nature? I'm sorry, that didn't come out right. I mean 'freak of nature' in the best possible survival-of-the-fittest, top-of-the-food-chain, you-rock sort of way.

And now, while I'd love to wax on longer about the remarkable strength, patience, and fortitude of women who have more than two children - god/dess knows they deserve it - I have to go.

The kids are ready to come back in after 6.2 nanoseconds of playing in the snow.


Kez said...

ROFLMAO! My SIL has 2 year old triplets - every time I go to visit I leave in awe! (Although having just 1 is very tiring too as he wants me to be his playmate every. second. of. the. day...)

kelli said...

oh my gosh.. the coats, hats, boots, mittens, scarves... I'm having flash backs!! Awww.. but such sweet memories :)

Stephanie S. said...

A lovely tribute!

denise said...

Cute photos~!

In my home growing up the tool to manage many kids in one family was called 'child labor'. I am the oldest, so that meant my role for 15 years of my life was babysitting, cooking, cleaning, babysitting, cooking, cleaning. I even had to take younger siblings on a DATE once because my parents didn't get home on time. ;P He he.

My younger siblings grew up and had no younger ones to take care of though, which explains a lot as adults. Har.

But seriously. Nice post - it is hard having TWO boys who cannot be without mom attention for more than 5 minutes at a time, I can only imagine 3, 4, 5 close in age.

Sissie said...

I spent the morning reading your blog---love it!

Stephanie said...

I have 4 kids and have BTDT for years. As they get older it's not so much, they are 13,10,9 and 6 now.

When we lived in PA we totally did the snow for 5 seconds thing after it takes an hour to get everyone dressed. I don't miss winter weather. It's damn cold here in TN right now but no snow.

I am a freak of nature, HA HA!

I just do what I gotta do, I can't explain it otherwise.

KMDuff said...

Good to see you posting. :) Sounds like you are having fun!

Beverly said...

I have three, which isn't all that much, but the winter clothing is horrible! Thank goodness my oldest could do all his own stuff last year.
About the other stuff, I think kids from big families learn independence pretty young. And they help each other. Somehow it gets done, but yeah, "how" is a good question.

Sissie said...

To answer your question:
My husband went to Ukraine to play music and I insisted that I and my kids get to go too!
So I decided to blog the whole thing for something to do!
I may be in Corvallis now but I was born and raised in OHIO---so I can totally relate to the cornfields!!!
Gotta say it again--Love your blogs:)
thanks for stopping by.....

lori said...

Dude, you have a lot of snow already!

SabrinaT said...

OH, I love all the snow. We have 3 boys, but they are spread out age wise so that helps....

Ren said...

I remember those days all too well! Now that the kids are older, the energy output is SO much less.

When Jalen was a wee one, still nursing and I had the three older one's, I thought I'd never have a moment to myself again. He's seven now and life seems downright EASY most of the time!! Funny how you're suddenly on the other side of all the butt-wiping, constant food/cleanup stuff and scratching your head as to how THAT happened.

It's nice to be able to paint again.:) I thought four kids was a big family, but then I see my friends with 6 or 7 or?? and get totally baffled. It's all relative I guess.

dharmamama said...

My niece has 5 children, ages 7,6,5,3, and 2.

When they visit, it's like a mini-tornado. I truly don't know how she does it - she's a single mama, too! I am in awe of her parenting calm.