I have been doing this mom of four thing for almost 9 months now, so I feel like I am finally starting to get my feet under me. That means I can reasonably formulate articulate sentences again—at least after I’ve had my coffee! To be honest, the baby brain fog didn’t even start to clear until about 6 months after my youngest daughter was born. (Sorry Boss—I went back to work after 7 weeks!) And I am finally starting to feel and think like a human again. So, what is like to be the mother of four littles and work full time outside the home?
Here’s how it looks for me. It is:
We are always rushing, always late to everything, school, work, church.
We have to pick up and drop off at 4 locations right now and I work 45 minutes away. If the logistics weren’t hard enough, I struggle some days knowing I don’t get to see all their firsts: crawling, walking, trying scrambled eggs… I am also operating at the whim of the daycare, like when I’m in a meeting with clients and they call at 3 pm to tell me, “Your baby has a fever of 100.5. She’s been excluded for 24 hours and you need to come pick her up now.” Or they close with no warning and I am suddenly looking for coveted, vacant, infant-room spots.
There is never a dull moment in our house.
Cute sayings, funny jokes, even the most typical activity is peppered with comical little tidbits. Like when I’m making breakfast. My 4 year old asks if she can help “hatch the eggs.” Then, without missing a beat, my 7 year old jumps in and asks me, “Why did the chicken do jumping jacks?” I respond, “I don’t know, why?” And already chuckling to himself he answers, “So she would have “scrambled eggs.” “Haha, do you get it Mom?”
As hard as it can be to come back to work from maternity leave, I love my job.
I am blessed to work as a public servant and truly feel the work that I do has purpose. It helps me to push through late nights and working from home, juggling kid schedules and work trips, or bringing the baby to the office when all else fails. I know that one day I will look back at this time in my life and be proud that I fought through the hard times and showed my children what passion, grit and dedication can look like.
All of the things I used to take for granted are exponentially more orchestrated now than they were before we reached our full saturation level.
Getting dressed in the morning or bathing the kids at night requires mad mom skills! It seems like someone’s nails are always too long, and someone’s shoes are always missing. I simultaneously finger-comb my daughter’s hair in the pew at church while fixing the baby a bottle and passing the toddler Cheerios. Sometimes the “snack fairy” forgets to throw an applesauce packet in the school-agers backpack. Or the “Toothfairy” doesn’t deliver until 5:00 am, when she wakes up in a panic. The thought, “what’s for dinner” rarely enters my brain before 6:15 each night.
I fail someone everyday.
You know that point during a birthday party when all the kids are running around like a sugared up pack of hyenas, right before an epic meltdown occurs? That is my house basically All. The. Time.
Well duh. I am sure that is obvious.
I have 3 kids in full time daycare and one in after school care. Financially, it is a challenge. I spend about $3300 a month on daycare alone. I love my children dearly and I firmly believe I am doing what is best for them in the long run. But when I cut checks on the first of the month, this mother of four sometimes daydreams about other things I could be spending money on. Fiji anyone?
My husband and I are a team.
Some periods of our marriage have been less idyllic then others. But knowing we have each other’s backs in this whole parenting chaos thing makes us stronger and more certain in each other now than when we first came together. Being able to share the silly moments, the hard truths, the “I’m stuck in traffic and am going to be late for pickup—How far out are you?” panic, makes our version of love all the more inspiring.
Thank God for my husband.
If not for the ability to tag team, I don’t know how this mother of four would survive this season of life. God Bless all the single parents and military spouses. My hat’s off to you. If I have to work late, my husband picks up the kids and does the bedtime routine alone and vice versa. If he has an early meeting, I stay up with the sick kid and call the doctor to schedule an appointment that he can get them to after his meeting ends.
We rotate who gets up at dawn on Saturday and starts breakfast with the early risers and who stays in bed with a clingy/snuggly toddler to “catch up” on sleep. My second born didn’t sleep through the night until she was two and a half due to a metabolic disorder. I never would have guessed how much life you can do on 4 hours of sleep.
Four little people means four times the snuggles, four times the laughs, four times the fun.
Once you adapt to your new normal, like running around to more activities, buying a bigger car or moving to a bigger house, everything becomes that much more thrilling. We always have classes to take, things to learn, places to go, work to be done. We never say we are bored or have nothing to do. Right now, there is always a friend to play with, a task to complete or an obligation to meet. I go to bed every night feeling like we squeezed every morsel of energy out of our day.
We remind each other often that someday when our home looks more like an empty nest than a rats nest, we’ll miss the noise and bustle. But until that day comes, we embrace the chaos. We do our best at work, enjoy each other and every moment the best way we know how: frazzled and joyous.