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.