The time change seems to have stolen what remained of my sanity.
I used to be able to get up at least 20 minutes before everyone else. Those few minutes of quiet, even if they were doing work, helped prepare me for the craziness to come.
But we're now almost one week out from the time change, and a new routine has set in for the boys. One that involves them waking up long before 6. Which not only makes it very difficult for me to wake up earlier than they do since I'm holding their baby brother most of the night, but also means that The Dude is losing what little sense he has by mid-day.
This was his first week attending preschool 5 days a week, and all the lofty ideals I had about the things I would be able to accomplish, and then be available to give him face to face attention for the 2 hours before we pick up his brother at school...crumbled.
Monday and Tuesday I worked.
Wednesday I dropped both boys off at school, dropped Greystoke off at Grandma's, and then spent the next 2 hours in the dentist chair.
Ahhhh dental work. The spa of the lower middle class mom. One of the few times I have to force myself to farm off the kids, sit down in a chair and let someone do something for me.
It was delightful.
But since I doubt I'll ever be getting my nails done, and I haven't had a haircut in 6 months, I'll take what I can get.
Thursday was Greystoke's 6 month checkup. The flu and RSV are apparently everywhere per my pediatrician, and for that reason I was grateful that The Dude was at least at the mild germ factory of preschool, and not at the doctor's office with us.
When the doctor walked in he checked behind all the doors and inside the cupboards for the other 2, then laughed and said this must be like a vacation.
Greystoke is as healthy as a horse. On the small side of average (HOW? That child never stops eating. Apparently I make skim milk).
He sits alone, rolls both ways, and babbles MAMA and BABA.
He has mild hypotonia in his shoulders. When the doctor picked him up under the arms he just slipped right through. I laughed.
He's my squishy.
The doctor said it's very common, just give him more tummy time.
For about 30 seconds, I felt guilty.
For 30 more seconds, I felt a little concerned,
Then I went home and switched out his 3-6 month clothes for 6-9 and lay him on his tummy, and he did a big pushup once, then lay his head happily and contentedly down on the blanket and watched me.
And I realized that if my 3rd little boy doesn't crawl early like other 2, it will be just fine, and I will count my blessings!
At 10:53, I remembered that I had told Aquaman that I'd come have lunch with him at school- at 11.
So I threw a bag of cheerios and a bag of pineapple into a Publix bag and got to school just as his class was filing out. He pretended not to be excited, but I could tell he felt very important.
I need to do that more often.
Then there was just enough time to make a list for the store before time to pick up The Dude.
No housework done. No moment to collect my thoughts.
We went grocery shopping and then it was time to pick up Aquaman.
We spent the whole afternoon cleaning the ridiculously messy house.
I'm not trying to make things beautiful. Just safe and sanitary.
The thing about The Dude is that if you don't make it a power struggle and a competition that he has to win- if you stay upbeat and positive and convince him to work with you, then he can be manageable.
But when you have 30 other things to get done and you are completely worn out, sometimes that's just too complicated.
It gives me an appreciation for the school age years.
Aquaman can be reasoned with, he can be talked to like a person without all the exhausting mind games.
He mopped the entire house for me, and it looked amazing.
Greystoke woke up at 10:30 pm burning with fever from his shots.
It was 103 under his arm, meaning it was more like 104. He spit out the motrin and tylenol I gave him. I finally felt ok to put him back in bed 2 hours later when it was down to 102.
He screamed the whole 40 minute drive. Then, though I knew he was exhausted, he wouldn't go to sleep.
I nursed him in the car for a total of an hour. I played with him to see if he'd perk up. I took him for a walk in the stroller. But he was miserable, and I couldn't take him to work like that. So we broke up the drive home with a trip to Target. He finally fell asleep nursing in the Target parking lot, but woke up when I shut the car door, He howled all the way back to preschool, and I cried a little too.
Because I wished I had stayed home in bed all morning just nursing and cuddling my baby.
But life isn't like that.
Sometimes, every now and then, you get a morning to just snuggle up in bed, but most of the time you have to go out into the world and remember that life isn't all about you or even all about your kids. There's a lot more,
This is my littlest baby, my youngest son.
And maybe I don't have as much time just to sit and snuggle. Maybe there isn't as much time to sit at home and make crafts.
With every child and with every year that passes, I become a little different of a mother.
But I am the mother that he needs me to be, not by my own strength, but by the grace and the intricate planning of God.
He gave him to me at just the right time.
There's a lot of talk about which stage of parenting is the hardest, and I take it all with a grain of salt, because the fact is, it's all hard. And even though you think you do, you don't REALLY remember the last stage of parenting very clearly.
I know because every now and then Greystoke will have a moment of fussiness and I will flash back to the sweaty nightmare that was The Dude's infancy, and dealing with the strong willed Aquaman all while JT was gone all the time at work and fire academy.
Or I will see a new mother and remember how I struggled with making mom friendships, and how I always wondered if I was doing the right thing with my baby, and if I was going to ruin him forever.
And in some ways, those were simpler times. With less running around from here to there, with less laundry, and less dishes. We had more time for just playing at home or taking long walks exploring the neighborhood.
Right now, things feel really crazy. There's school and preschool and all the different dynamics of having 3 totally different ages in the house. The older two are always fighting. And though Greystoke is, as the pediatrician put it when he gagged him with the tongue depressor, and Greystoke proceeded to reward him with a slightly furrowed brow and then a big grin, "extraordinarily good natured", he is still an infant. He is an infant who sometimes only sleeps for 5 minutes, and never sleeps longer than 30, and only takes those 5-30 minute naps 3 times a day, and the rest of that time I have to be in hypervigilant mom-of-baby mode, especially with 2 other big boys around.
And most nights he ends up sleeping in bed with me for at least 50% of the night, though at least he doesn't nurse all night like the other two did.
But while I technically do have 3 boys, and the first two are not just any boys, kind of extreme boys...the kind that never stop moving or talking, Greystoke hardly counts as a boy yet, considering that he can't really get around yet.
So the chaos of 3 boys hasn't really hit yet.
But in the end, there's no "hardest" stage of parenting, and no "best" stage either. It's all hard, and it's all the best. And with each stage we grow and mature, so for me, I 've found that, really, today is the easiest stage yet, and harder than those to come.
But there'll always be bad days, and bad weeks. And this might have been one of them for me. And that's ok. There's grace for that too.
Yesterday I picked up The Dude while he was still eating lunch, because Greystoke just needed to go home, and the guilt of having him go to preschool 2 more days a week faded, as I realized that he had a much better morning than I did.
We showed up 15 minutes early to pick up Aquaman because one of the other little brothers of a boy in his class always brings an extra truck for The Dude and they play, and their mom and I share laughter about what our boys did that day, and we sit our 6 month olds on the picnic table, one in blue and the other who is always in a dress, and I smile at her, and then smile down at my bald little man, and don't feel even a trace jealous.
And Aquaman came racing out of his classroom with his Jog a thon t-shirt on, and told me that he ran, at full speed, 14 laps, which was 3 more than any other kid in his class.
He went to bed in that tshirt last night.
And as they fall asleep each night, I've been sitting in my rocking chair, reading from my "big Bible" to Aquaman. And he asks lots of questions. Good questions. And sometimes I ask him if I'm boring him, and he says "no. If you were reading about airplanes or something, I might start to get bored, but this is God's Word."
One night, he told me, "I believe in all of this. But I don't understand it all. Why does Jesus's blood make us clean? Why were Joseph's brothers so mean to him?"
And we pray together that God would open his eyes and reveal Himself to Aquaman. And I tell him that it's ok and good to ask questions, and that God will answer many of them. But that part of faith is believing even when you don't get all of it in your mind. And he's ok with that.
We're studying missionaries this week in his Awana. Up until this week, Aquaman wasn't sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but this week he knows. A missionary. But maybe not too far away. "And could you be there too, mom?"
JT is working all weekend because his parents are out of town and he's watching the boys next week while I work. Of course he got mandatory overtime on Monday, which always happens when he's supposed to watch the kids and I have clinic, so he's working a half day while the big boys are at school.
So I guess we're doing pretty well really. Even after a bad week.
And now it's Saturday. And maybe I'll get the bathrooms clean, and maybe the laundry will get caught up, and definitely we'll get Aquaman's turkey disguised for school.
And this year, we're going to have thanksgiving right here in our little house for the first time ever. We'll have to find some chairs, I think. And I doubt the fare will be gourmet.
But I also doubt there'll be a mother who is much more thankful this year.