I get asked this a lot. I guess having four children, and especially since the oldest is only five, kind of begs the question. I don’t mind when people I know inquire–I figure since they’ve seen how, um, *active* my children are, they’re probably wondering how it is that I haven’t been institutionalized or started drinking in the morning. It really irks me, though, when perfect strangers come up to me (Target seems to be a favorite location for this conversation) and ask how I manage, or comment on how many children I have, or let me know that I have my hands full (thanks for the news bulletin!).
I guess people are just naturally curious, but they really make me feel like some kind of circus side show–why do complete strangers feel the need to comment on my family, or ask personal questions that are none of their business? It’s getting to the point where my children are starting to notice the commentary and ask why people always say that–and I imagine they’re getting used to being stared at about as much as I am. (My personal favorite, though, was one day when I was at the hospital for the baby’s well child exam, and someone asked if they were all mine. Really, you think I’d drag four children through the very busy hospital because it’s so much fun? Does it look like some kind of game trying to make sure the double stroller and the two older children all make it into the elevator before the doors close? Some people need some kind of screening device between their brains and mouths!)
Anyway, as to how I do it…how do I not do it? Really, what choice do I have? The house and children need to be cared for, and as that is my responsibility, I just do it. I can’t even remember what it was like to have only one child; can barely remember only having two. Frankly, adding children three and four were much easier than adding child two, because by the time I had baby three, I knew what to expect, and knew how to divide my time more efficiently.
This question always reminds me of a conversation I had with my doctor after baby three arrived. I had a c-section, just I have with all my other deliveries, and I was talking to him about how I was going to care for my older two children once I got home from the hospital, because I knew I’d have even less help this time around than I did with the first two. I flat out told him that I knew I’d be lifting at least my 16 month old sometimes, if not the two and half year old as well. I said this knowing full well that is not what doctors advise following a section–they always tell you not to lift anything heavier than the baby. But my doctor just looked at me and said “you do what you have to do.” He understood. He didn’t try to make me feel guilty for breaking the “rules,” rather, he set me free to parent the way I knew I needed to do, and to do what I felt was best for me and my children.
That’s how I feel about having four so young and so close in age–I do what I have to do. Sure, there are some mornings when I can barely drag myself out of bed, and there are some nights when I fall back into it in exhaustion, and there are many, many days when I tire of mediating disputes over toys, books and games, but this is the job God has given me to do. No matter how difficult it may be at times, it is what I have always wanted, and I can’t imagine doing it any differently. I’m doing what I have to do, because it’s there for me to do, and it needs to be done, and done well.