I never held any illusions about having 4 kidlets. I didn’t expect it to be easy, I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, & I anticipated the years of being tied down to breastfeeding, diapers, & crying. I entered in to this with a willing spirit & a joyful heart. As they headed off to school, one by one, & that glorious day came when The Boy was old enough to take the babysitting course & allow me the freedom to grocery shop ALONE, I honest to God, no word of a lie, thought I had made it through the worst, & after a decade of babies, had come out the other end still standing…& still smiling..albeit standing slightly stooped, & smiling slightly crooked. But I had done it! And better yet, I had been right…the rewards had far outweighed what I had known the difficulties would be. But alas, I am a foolish woman. And no one ever told me…
- That no sooner would I gain my freedom from diapers & breastfeeding, then my kidlets would discover their own social lives, & ALL my brats would have the audacity to wanna “do stuff”, like go to parties & join teams
- That my new-found live-in babysitter would get a life of his own, & wind up not being very useful after all
- That the logistics of having 4 young children, who are virtually housebound with their entire world revolving around you, was absolutely nothing compared to the logistics of having 4 older children, who now need to be in four different places at once & no longer give a crap about you…beyond your ability to drive them places to “do stuff”
- That having 4 rug rats in year round competitive sports would cost the equivalent of their post-secondary educations, thus turning me in to one of those parents, pushing my kids relentlessly to ensure they earn scholarships if they ever want a shot at said post secondary education
- That having all 4 of them in school now costs the same per month as a car payment…for pictures, fun lunches, trips, events, fundraising, & the myriad of school supplies that schools used to just give us…ya know, like frikkin’ pencils & paper…ah, the good ol’ days when one pair of shoes was all we needed ’cause janitors actually cleaned the floors.
- That I could be enjoying a quiet, uneventful day at home, working away on my laptop with no makeup on, my hair in a pony, & my comfy Hannah Montana fleece jammies on, only to have a hockey game spontaneously erupt in my driveway with no less than 10 kids suddenly in & out of my house for 4 straight hours. That was just today…& I was suitably annoyed to have to “make myself decent” to go out & move the car. I’d have done it in my Hannah jammies, but The Boy is practically a teenager, I figured he didn’t need the grief…besides, I’ll have lots of opportunities to ruin his life.
- That my weekends would become a mind numbing whirlwind of hockey rinks, cheer practices, competitions, sleepovers, & birthday parties. This weekend alone, Friday night involves The Boy at the rink, The One I Butt Heads With at cheer, & The Diva at a birthday party. These 3 activities are pretty much running simultaneously…’cause, ya know, being in 3 places at once is one of my super powers. Then the 3 of them all have to get home again, & the one at cheer hustled off to a sleepover birthday for HER BFF, MY BFF’s daughter! Saturday, it’s a hockey game for The Boy, & a birthday celebration for MY friends that night. Sunday, it’s off to the cheer gym for 9 a.m. with The Baby & for 10 a.m. with The Diva.Pick her up at 11:30, & I have now made 3 trips to the cheer gym…every Sunday morning. Then The Boy has hockey practice at 12:30, & The Baby was invited to her very first birthday party for a school friend, from 1:00 until 3. In case you’ve lost count, that’s 3 trips back & forth to cheer, 3 trips back & forth to hockey rinks, & a grand total of 4 parties involving FIVE birthday’s, & FIVE gifts…in one weekend.
- That Christmas shopping would be infinitely more difficult now that I can’t simply buy a butt load of Barbies, dolls, & Legos & be done with it. With the 2 little ones, the house is already stuffed to the rafters with toys, we simply don’t need anymore…plus, neither of them is overly inclined to that stuff, both of them tending to be “older” than their age. The 2 big kids already have iPods & all 4 of them have DS’s, what else is left? Everyone has a bike, there’s SIX computers in this house (when The Dad’s company closed up shop, he brought the old desk tops home…he already had a laptop, he has a work laptop, & I have a work laptop…we only actually bought one computer ourselves!), we have an X-Box, 2 cats & a guinea pig, The Boy has a cell phone & the rest aren’t old enough, honest to God, how spoiled are they that’s there’s nothing left to get them??!! And all the things they do want are far more costly than Barbies…like a flat screen in their bedroom. Are they kidding me? MY bedroom TV is still an old console! Ain’t happenin’ dudes.
And no one ever told me. I spent years defending my decision to have 4 kids. I threw myself in to it, handled it with style & grace, & loved every second. I assumed the cost of diapers, baby supplies, & keeping growing children in clothes would be difficult, thus I ensured my toddler was trained before the next arrived, only ever having one in diapers, & utilized hand-me-downs for years. I learned to maintain a structured, routined environment to make the household run smoothly. I ensured that money was saved for birthdays & Christmas to keep my kids in bikes & video games & the more expensive items their friends all had. In doing so, I taught them delayed gratification & the value of saving. And when I just couldn’t give them the things their friends from smaller families with 2 working parents had, I gave them my time, my energy, my creativity. But no one ever told me. That 4 kids would be the least of my worries when spontaneous hockey games break out & half the neighbourhood shows up on a whim. That being the “stay-at-home” mom would make my house the drop-in center. That it would only cost more & more to clothe & feed them, as they grow at a much faster pace when they get older. That hand-me-downs would not work as well, with them wearing stuff out, their different body shapes, & their different styles & tastes. That I’d need different footwear for inside, outside, cheer, hockey, & soccer, & be replacing them constantly with their ever growing monster feet…since April, I have bought 17 different pairs of shoes/boots/skates. I honestly believed that nothing could go through clothes, shoes, & food faster than a baby on the grow. I was wrong. I honestly believed that having my kids get older & more independent would make my job easier, free up my time. I was wrong. I honestly believed that having them out grow the constant demand for new toys would make shopping for them easier & cheaper. I was wrong. I honestly believed that having the 2 older ones ready to babysit would give me some semblance of freedom. I was wrong. I honestly believed that having them all in school would ease my stress & daily workload. I was wrong. But no on ever told me. And as it turns out, the easiest parenting years have passed me by already. It was those glorious 2 years, when they were 1, 3, 6, & 8 to this year, when they turned 4, 7, 10, & 12. The in-between years…past the diapers & breastfeeding & crying, but not yet at the friends, & sports, & social lives. Old enough to be fairly independent, to take out & about, to not need constant hands-on care, but still young enough to be at home, playing with their toys, hanging out with Mommy. No one ever told me…so I’m telling you.
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