A Day in the Life

“Wow! You’ve got your hands full!”

I smile and nod as I manuever my way through the waiting room, lugging the infant carrier, trying not to knock the people I pass in the head or shoulder. I watch as the older three attack the play area, praying that there’s no fights or trips to the potty in the near future.

“How do you do it?”

Laughing away the question I make my way through Target. Ezra is in the shopping cart seat, Cora is in the cart itself and Eli pushes Silas in the stroller next to me. I try to get our necessities before Silas starts crying or Cora stands up in the cart, prompting a comment from someone about the danger of standing up in a cart (as if I wasn’t aware — they’re quick when your back is turned).

::

Daily I get curious remarks about life with four small children. People look at us in awe (and fear) when we enter a store, office or restaurant. We never got that response with three children…it’s like having the one more tipped us over the edge into looneyville and people don’t know how to relate to us anymore.

A rare picture of the four together...

I know I have a lot of children. I wanted a lot of children (and for those of you who knew me in 2007 when my opinion was slightly different, I beg you would stay silent). These are the children God had for us.

I think that I try to make it look easier than it is. There are many motives behind this:

  1. People already think I’m crazy, so it would be nice to trick them into thinking I’m handling this with ease.
  2. If I let people know what’s really going on there’s the fear that they would run screaming or call the authorities (not really).
  3. I’m prideful.

Yup, #3 is the kicker. I want to appear capable and in control. But, in the spirit of being transparent (something us Christians really like — in others), I thought I’d let you in on what my days as a SAHM of four children really look like.

::

Right now Silas is waking up at midnight, 2 AM and 5 AM. Frequently I wake up to nurse him and then fall asleep in our chair in the living room, which means that I wake up in time to put him back in bed, crawl in my own bed and sleep horizontally for 45 minutes before he’s awake again. This does not result in a restful night’s sleep.

By the time I wake up in the morning all three older children are awake. Eli, at 6-years-old, is able to get cereal for himself and, if he’s in a generous mood, he might get some for his siblings. Picture half a box of Cheerios strewn about the kitchen table and floor.

My secret mommy weapon right now is Phineas and Ferb. I’ll confess, my kids watch a lot of TV. During this nursing, newborn stage it’s hard for them not to. I’m trapped in a chair in the living room and if they’re watching TV I know they’re not causing trouble. We tried coloring, games, books and playing in their rooms — all of which ended in fighting, making messes and hurting each other. TV is safe and quiet. I like safe and quiet.

Lunchtime. We pretty much have three choices: PB&J, chicken nuggets or leftovers. These are my options too. Because if I try to make something else for myself the kids will immediately drop whatever food I’ve just prepared for them and loudly explain to me that they really wanted my food but didn’t know we had it. So I eat a lot of PB&Js.

After lunch is nap time, every parents favorite time of day. I explain to them that they’re not to get out of bed or talk or sing or play with Barbies or make a tent with the sheets or get up to go to the bathroom every 15 minutes or any of the other crazy things they come up with not to sleep. But they’re creative and I can’t always cover everything.

Have you noticed at this point that I have yet to take a shower or get ready for the day? Because that usually happens around 2:30 or 3 pm. As I write this I haven’t put in my contacts, I haven’t taken a shower and my blinds are still closed. What do the blinds have to do with anything? Well, I live at a church that has a daycare downstairs. I don’t want the daycare teachers to see that everyday my children and myself remain in our pajamas until 1 pm…because what’s the point in dressing them if we’re just going to be in the house? That would mean more laundry and my laundry machines are downstairs in the garage and they cost me money.

After I’ve showered and gotten properly dressed, I open the blinds and tackle the previous night’s dishes in the sink and PB&J confetti on the kitchen floor that Ezra makes instead of eating. The afternoon is spent in restoring the house to some sort of order. If the kids’ rooms have started to spill out into the hallway I’ll tell them to clean their rooms.

Another moment of honesty: Sometimes I just need a break. These breaks include hiding in the bathroom, hiding in my bedroom or sending them to their rooms to clean (because I know it will take them awhile).

I try to have dinner started before Josh gets home…this happens about 45% of the time. Silas has decided that 5:30 is when he’s hungriest, so I’m usually nursing when Josh walks in the door. What a wonderful husband I have, he comes home and helps me with dinner and the kids as soon as he gets here!

After dinner Josh has been taking the older three downstairs to play while I clean up the kitchen and/or nurse the baby again. Then it is back upstairs for everyone as we brush teeth, put on PJs and say prayers. By 8:30 or 9 PM the older three are in bed and Josh and I are finally able to spend some time together.

I relish that evening time and it goes by so quickly. Before I know it the clock reads 11 PM and I sense the futility of getting in bed just to be awoken in an hour by Silas.

::

So here’s the truth. I do have my hands full. And I don’t do it all.

My house in constantly in shambles. My children are usually in different stages of dress (or undress). I wish I could say I walk with them to the park each day for a picnic lunch after we’ve had our morning devotional and worship time. But…this is my life right now. I’m not particularly happy about the TV and crazy schedules, but it’s working for us.

Eli starts kindergarten in three weeks and then life will require more of a routine. I like routine, so I think this will be a good thing for us.

And my response to the question, “How do I do it?”

By the grace of God alone…

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain…

I Corinthians 15:10a

Sign up to get this blog by email or subscribe in a Reader
About these ads

23 thoughts on “A Day in the Life

  1. Oh Melissa! This sounds just like my day (only with one less little)! I loved what you said about Christians liking transperancy.. In others.. So true! I can relate to everything you wrote about your day (as can most moms.. If they are being honest) ;)

    Here are some of my honest confessions:

    1)most days I never get around to showering, sometimes I don’t even get my teeth brushed! Yikes!!

    2)I use the tv as a babysitter too when I need to
    get something done cause it’s free and won’t judge us for still wearing pajamas at noon! (or three!)

    3) chicken nuggets and corn dogs are the most common lunch at our house.. Lunch is so predictable around here that my kids ask at breakfast if “we get corn dogs or nuggets today?” :)

    4) I am not perfect!! my biggest mommy pitfall is my lack of patience! God is still working on me..
    Thank you for this blog post today! Was honest,
    and refreshing! It made me laugh too!

    (and funny that the fourth child is what put you into the “comments from strangers” category! We get that a lot with 3 kids!!)

    • The reason I did this is because I think a lot more mom’s are this way than like to admit it and I get so overwhelmed when I see the Facebook status updates about the activities other mom’s are doing. I just logistically can’t take my kids to the zoo, aquarium, park or museum by myself. It would result in a ruined day because I know I’d lose patience with my kids. If I lived around other SAHMs or my family it would be different (I think?) but for now I’m doing the best that I can. I love your honest confessions because I am right there with you on all of them. It’s 4:30 and we’re all still in pajamas. :) Haha!

      Oh, and I got those comments with three kids…it’s just that “you’re crazy” look that I get now with 4. :)

  2. Thanks for your honesty Melissa! Even though I’m only getting ready to have my first, I alone wonder how I’m going to do it with one more life that I’m responsible let alone 4. Thanks for sharing! God Bless

    • I’m so excited for you guys, Melinda! And I know you’re going to do great. I think that there is this perfect Christian mommy personae that gets put out there and sometimes social media makes it worse. There are wonderful days where we do get to the park and we celebrate life together. But those days where you’ve yelled too loud, forgotten to make breakfast and broke down crying usually don’t get promoted. It’s an ebb & flow, but it’s always worth it. Looking forward to seeing pics of your Lil One! :)

  3. Melissa, I so understand! I am also grateful, for a very loving & helpful partner in parenthood, my husband Garett! As always thank you for sharing your life! Your blog always makes me smile & tear up a lil’ knowing that I am not the only one that God is working on in so many similar areas. Life would be sorta’ boring with out the challenges of being a mother… but, I am so happy to be a woman, wife, mother and I know you are too! I think you are a super mom & I am glad I know you ;-) Be blessed my friend. (ps. the first few weeks of school may be difficult but, it’s worth it… hang in there)

    • “Your blog always makes me smile & tear up a lil’ knowing that I am not the only one that God is working on in so many similar areas.”

      Best complement ever! That is why I do this. Love ya, Janel!!

    • Thanks Sandra! I would probably spend a lot more time at McDonalds if it didn’t mean I had to get the kids all dressed and out the door. In a few months when I’ve got this “mother of four” thing down better I’m sure we’ll end up there. :)

  4. I can laugh at this now because my 3 oldest have only just recently finished the transition from the “Making everyone lunch and taking them all to the store” stage to “You’re on your own, kids. Oh, and do the dishes before I get back.” But, confession time! I still don’t get dressed until absolutely necessary, sometimes not until I get ready for work at 4pm, and Jorja is naked more often than not when we are at home. She also has her own TV that is always tuned in to PBS Sprout. Luckily she is too active a child to actually sit and watch it for long, so I don’t have to feel too guilty. The point is, you do what you have to to get by, and know that it will get easier as they get older and more self-sufficient. And then they’ll be teenagers! *stares into the middle-distance, hyperventilating*

    • And this is why I love you. You crack me up! Why is it we (and our children) prefer to live our lives half-dressed? Haha! I’m glad you have to deal with teenagers first. That way I can learn from your mistakes. (Is that mean mean or funny mean?)

      As Ezra says, “La loo!”

  5. Haha… this was a fun read! :)

    Hey, I come from a family of six. Wouldn’t change it for the word. Christmas is SO MUCH FUN with SO MANY GIFTS!

    Okay, I know. Wrong reasons.

    But seriously, big families have a lot of fun.

    • I don’t think I could handle six kids. God bless your mother! :) I did grow up with a large number of cousins though, and Christmas was always great!! Thanks for the comment. And I don’t know about the Retweet button. I thought I added it. I’ll check it out. :)

  6. Great post, Melissa. Right now, we are foster parents to two and parents to three (technically we’re parents to all of them but you understand the distinction). Adding these two makes life interesting to say the least. We hesitate to go anywhere and we know people hesitate to invite us! :)

    Also this part needs to be on a T-shirt,

    Transparency: Something us Christians really like–in others

    That’s perfect. :)

    • Wow! That’s so cool of you guys to take on those additional two kids. And what a difference you’re making in their lives. Another added bonus is that your children are seeing you live out your faith in a very real way. I know people who grew up with foster kids in their home and now as adults they are fostering kids.

      And I forgot to talk about the lack of invitation thing. :) We definitely get invited over to people’s houses for dinner less now. Haha! Good thing I like to host.

  7. Oh how I remember those days. Enjoy that precious nursing baby. It’s the only part of raising infants I truly miss. (Though I’ll admit it was far more pleasurable once I read Dr. Sears and gave myself permission to put nursing babies in bed with me so I could sleep through the night while they nursed.)

    My husband said he wanted two and I said I wanted three so the Lord gave us five. God-math, LOL. The truth is we had such a large family because I was content to have however many the Lord had in mind for me. I came to the place where I couldn’t bear to think that I was meant to have a child to whom I said “no.”

    Mine are presently ages 5 thru 17. It doesn’t get less crazy, but I do get showers before noon now. ;D

    I’m glad Jason sent me your way, Melissa.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Anne! I can’t imagine what life will be like when my youngest is 5! No diapers, no midnight feedings, everyone able to walk & talk! I’m sure there’s a whole new set of challenges that will occur then. :) For now I’m really trying to take it a day at a time and I am so grateful for each of my kids. They’re each a blessing & I can’t imagine life without them.

      By the way, I really enjoyed your One Word Blog Carnival Post. I’m grateful Jason pointed it out. I haven’t been able to participate in the blog carnival the last few times. Hopefully I catch the next one. :) Glad to meet you!

  8. Pingback: Light Friday Hit List: 8/13/10 « Connecting to Impact

  9. Wow. That sounds alot like my life, and I only have 3 kids! It’s so refreshing to know we’re not alone. I see other mothers with more than 2 kids and they seem like they have it so together, but I don’t see what goes on behind the scene, just as they don’t see my daily life. It’s easy to feel discouraged thinking everyone just has it more together than I do. Great post, and I’ve enjoyed reading and will definitely be back :)

    • Yeah! I’m glad to remove the illusion. :) I laugh inside when people say that I handle it so patiently and do so much with them. But it also spurs me on to acheive the level of patience and grace that I exhibit outside the home when we’re home by ourselves. I want my children to see me the same in public and private. That’s difficult!

  10. Pingback: Eight Ways to Keep Your Marriage {and Children} Alive | Melissa Brotherton

Comments are closed.