If you had told my younger self I’d one day have four children, I would have laughed at you. No way, I would have said. That’s just insane and also impossible. One of my mama friends said to me the other day, “I shouldn’t complain, if you can do with this with four, I can do it with one!” And I immediately thought — and said to her — but one is just as hard. While I often reminisce about the days when I had one, or even two, children — the reality is, looking back to then and then staring four hungry kids in the face at dinner time now — the number of kids doesn’t matter. It is all hard.
Whenever I think, my goodness I miss those days with one baby when I could sit and watch TV while she napped, I have to remind myself that I was actually folding laundry and doing dishes then, or researching reflux or ways to make stubborn toddlers eat things besides goldfish crackers. When I think about having just two carseats in the back and how much easier that was to clean, I remember that sippy cups full of milk still get found under the seats months later whether I have two or four kids. When the clock strikes five and all hell breaks loose, I remember the time my older son at the age of 2 screamed for 45 minutes because I wouldn’t let him wear his shoes in the bathtub, just the same as how the twins howl when I take their cups away as they dump water on the bathroom floor today.
When I had one child, my oldest, she was all we had for almost five years. And she filled every second of my time and took all of my attention, energy and love. She had the same tantrums, threw food on the same walls, screamed in the same church and refused to sleep just as much as all the other three have. I spent all my time figuring out how to raise a single little being that drank the bath water it had just peed in. And it was hard.
There’s not much I can do about physically creating more hours in the day now with three more kids, but somehow it all works out with four kids, just as it did with one. (Believe me, I’m just as tired with four as I was with one.) Sure there are accommodations; there have to be. My attention isn’t on one child — it’s on four now — mostly the almost-2-year-old twins, who like to face plant off the couch and dump yogurt on their heads. The older kids, who no longer need to be watched while they climb the stairs or play in the playroom, understand this. While I chase down the twins to wrestle them into clothes for school, the older two are able to get their own shoes and socks on and find their coats. Getting a toddler buckled into a car seat while they have meltdown was just as hard then as it is now with their three siblings watching me. Getting four kids out the door requires all the strategic planning of invading a small country — and in exactly the same way I used to plan outings with a single newborn. (I think I’m just better at it now after nine years of experience!)
Having four kids adds chaos and logistical issues, but it’s still just as hard being a mom now as it was when I had one child. And I opened just as many bottles of wine and took just as many trips to Target then as I do now. When I was expecting our second child I told someone I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough love to go around. They wisely told me that the love doesn’t half, it doubles. And that’s what I can say is different about having four kids vs. one or two. It’s all hard. But the love. There is always enough love to go around. Quadruple, actually.