They’re Baaaaaack

And what a hell of a reentry that was.

They came bearing packages, bags of laundry, and lots of noise.  All of which happened to coincide with the whine of chainsaws and segments of tree thudding to the ground as we removed two more trees from our property.

The yard looks like a tornado came through, which I would think was totally fitting, if I wasn’t the one swirling around in its center.

Apparently there are findings that show people experience depression upon returning to their routine schedules after vacation.  This weekend felt like the ultimate vacation.  I was calm.  I was peaceful.  I was not done.

The moment they walked back in – in fact, even as I rushed around trying to finish things I knew I wouldn’t be able to when they came home – my stress level ratcheted up.

We showered them early because they had run around sticking to the tree sap and I looked at my husband at 6:13 PM and said, do we really have to wait over an hour to put them to bed?  Whatever reserves I had built up over the weekend had been depleted in a few short hours.

One validating point: my father-in-law, when recounting how the weekend had gone, looked at me and said,

“I don’t know how you keep up with the three of them all day.”

Yes, it was a shallow victory because it just confirms how life-sucking they are.  BUT – and this is a very big BUT – it means that there is not something wrong with me to find it challenging.  It’s a normal, natural response that many people have apparently.

That doesn’t make it any easier to deal with on a day-to-day basis . . . but at least I know I’m not some freak of nature.

So, the take-away.

  • I like alone time.
  • I crave uninterrupted creative time.
  • I respond well to long, drawn-out, meandering shopping trips.
  • I thrill in the perfect flea market find for my home décor.
  • I eat like a pig who has found the trough for the first time when I can do so without distraction.
  • A new dress does a girl good.
  • Certain physical endeavors provide good stress relief 😉
  • I suck at carrying over these lessons to the everyday; reality, if you will.

But I have to figure something out.  As I said when I lay in bed last night, in an exhausted stupor, ‘I love them.  I need to find a way to like being with them.’

Whether it’s situational depression or what, that’s not something a mother is supposed to say.

Why three is the most stressful number of children to have – BUT mothers of four are MORE relaxed | Mail Online

Why three is the most stressful number of children to have – BUT mothers of four are MORE relaxed | Mail Online.

Third time’s a charm.  1,2,3 – GO!  The three amigos.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Celery, carrots, and onions.  Huey, Duey, and Louey.  The Three Little Pigs.  Even the tri-cornered hat.  Three is a magic number!

Unless you have three children.  Then, apparently, it drives you out of your gourd.

My husband sent me the link to the article above in an e-mail one day with the subject line, “interesting article . . .”  Well, the ellipses said everything.

The article, though, doesn’t give any specific reasons why, I thought – at least none I hadn’t already known.  My husband and I had already joked that we’d  moved from man-on-man defense to zone defense once we had three.  I already told people that the only thing that helped going from two to three was that you already knew how to keep multiple balls in the air – but that, now, there was always a ball in the air.  The woman quoted who said it was easy going from one to two?  Yeah, no.  I swear my second is still a light sleeper because I was constantly shrieking at her sister to stay away from her as a newborn (can you say undiagnosed case of some sort of postpartum something?  No wonder the $#*% the fan with the third).

As far as the benefits of having four, I already reap some of those now with three.  A Dr. Taylor in the article says about perfectionism that “‘there’s just not enough space in your head’ once you have at least four children.”  There is no available space in my brain.  Burn photos or video to a DVD?  I knew how to do that once.  That knowledge oozed out my ear during one of the twenty minute periods of sleep of some child’s infancy.  And forget head space – what of physical or mental energy?  Once upon a time I hung sheetrock at Habitat for Humanity home sites, after scoring and snapping it myself.  I fought vehemently to do things around the house my way.  Now if the home improvement fairy comes and takes care of things, I don’t really care as long as it gets done (with the possible exception of painting/decorating).  Something’s gotta give.

And that’s where I do agree with something Dr. Taylor says.  “The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities. You have to let go.”  There is confidence in repetition, practice.  I didn’t worry about ‘breaking’ my baby after countless diaper changes and pulling little arms through tiny shirt sleeves.  I didn’t freak out as much over breast feeding and whether they were getting enough to eat.  But did I worry if I was doing enough?  Not doing the damage that would land my kids in their own form of therapy someday?  Heck, yeah.  That didn’t change with multiple kiddos.  That increased.  Still, for self-preservation – and really, theirs too – you do have to let go.

A dear friend, who had her three children three steps ahead of mine, and therefore in the as-cool-as-a-cucumber phase while I was just entering the anal-retentive, told me when I had my third, that I was much more relaxed.  When I relayed the story to my father-in-law, hinting that she’d called me anal-retentive, he agreed!  I hadn’t seen what everyone else had.  People laugh now because I’m so laissez-faire with everyday concerns.  When my impatient five year-old says she wants a snack so emphatically that it sounds like she’s gone without food for days, I say, ‘That’s nice.”  After the thud, I wait for the scream or wail.  If my child wants to go to school looking like it’s mismatch day everyday of year, more power to her.

I could be accused of being lax.  I could be accused of swinging the pendulum so far away from anal-retentive, it’s a tad too much.  But somedays I feel like I’m living inside an episode of The Three Stooges.

At least my kids are cuter

At least my kids are cuter

I can’t be all things to everyone.  I sure as hell can’t be perfect.  And I’m not going to try for a fourth to test this article’s theories!

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