This week, I realized that I just can't do it. Three kids is too much for me.
They move so fast, they take so many risks. They don't even seem to realize they are risks.
Work is crazy, home is crazy. There is never 5 minutes to sit down and think about what needs to be done. I just hit the floor and start running. And nothing ever feels done.
Plus, I used to imagine that I would be able to help JT out a lot financially, but the fact is...3 kids kind of complicates that matter, unless you think cheap daycare is the answer....and we don't.
I also used to think once they were all in school it would be no big deal to work more, but the fact is...though it is simpler, the problem still exists. Older kids still need a lot when they're not in school.
I found myself thinking...how do people do that? I am not doing much of anything "adventurous" right now. We're not missionaries in Africa. But every day I wake up feeling completely incapable on my own. I know that I can do all things through Christ...but I know that I will totally screw it up without Him. And I do...every day....when I forget to depend on Him.
The first night, JT went to a meeting, and the boys and I went swimming and then headed to Target to get some food, and continue our tradition of buying monster trucks to play with on the beach.
We were in vacation mode. We didn't have much to buy. Greystoke hates to sit in regular carts (that don't have steering wheels), and I have been trying not to carry him so much, so I put him in the basket of the cart where he was standing up happily. I remember thinking...I better drive carefully or he's going to fly out. But there is just no keeping up with 3 little boys. Aquaman tripped and fell in front of the cart, which caused it to stop suddenly, which caused....in slow motion...Greystoke to fly head first off the front of the cart. I tried to make it around, but I couldn't even see how he landed, though I knew it was head first on the hard ground.
Aquaman saw it happen, but couldn't tell me exactly how he landed. There was a red mark on his forehead but no lump. He cried for a while, then lay his head down on my shoulder and got sleepy. I tried to put him down so he could walk but he wasn't interested, which was crazy because he loves to run around stores and get into everything, and he shouldn't have been sleepy...he took a long nap late in the afternoon. But he just kept whimpering and laying his head on my shoulder.
We had passed the local hospital on our way to Target, and I took note of it because we ended up at the ER last year with JT who got heat exhaustion.
I was still up in the air about going there, but as soon as I strapped Greystoke up in the carseat, he started falling asleep, so we pulled in.
They were great. Tiny little hospital, but run by a bigger one. I explained what happened....while Aquaman added: "my mom SHOULD have been more careful!!"
They rushed us right back and took care of us. I couldn't reach JT for an hour and a half since McVickers aren't known for their cell phone skills. Finally I reached his mom who found him at the hotel. Greystoke nursed and slept for almost an hour. At one point he fell asleep with his fist clenched and I felt this surge of panic imagining that he was posturing. But I woke him and unclenched it.
I took him back for a CT while the nurses fed the big boys candy.
Within about an hour he suddenly woke up, smiled, and asked to get out of my lap...to get into everything.
His eye was partially swollen. But I knew then that he was ok.
God spared my baby.
I don't know why he spared my baby, and sometimes babies fall on their heads and they are not ok.
It was my fault, but I am not mad at myself, though I know it would be harder if something terrible had happened to him.
From now on, if I have all the boys, he's going back in the front pack for shopping. And if it's just us, he will be strapped into the seat or carried. I should have been more careful with my precious little sunshine.And if he ends up with learning disabilities, I will probably always trace it back to this.
But the thing is...I am doing the best that I can with my 3 boys. And I am human. Sometimes my best is not enough.
And since 3 kids is officially too much for me to handle...triggered by the shopping cart fall, the vacation tantrums, and the few minutes I spent helping out in our behavior clinic at work...we're making a plan.
I have the benefit of compassion. Of knowing that it is not their fault, and of using resources to help compensate for these weaknesses.
Still, I am not going to lie...it's hard.
But this week, just yesterday in fact, we had a major breakthrough. We made CHARTS.
Because, the thing is, I can't handle 3 kids. Not the way that I have been doing things. Because with 2 kids I could do most things for them. I had enough hands and enough time and enough energy. With 3, we have to get more organized, and they have to start doing things for themselves. So with 3 weeks left in summer...we made morning and evening routine charts.
We printed pictures, we bought poster board, and my little gluer, who glues legos to the table, and food to the floor, put his gluing skills to use.
We made morning and evening routine charts...which started small, but are going to grow a little each week to include putting away laundry and then, when school starts, to remembering lunches, water bottles, and homework.
I don't know why I didn't do this sooner, except that I have just been overwhelmed with a baby and lack of sleep and 2 jobs and vacations and laundry. Oh yeah, that's why.
But the kids are so excited, it is ridiculous. This morning...The Dude jumped in my bed at 6:30 am and the child was fully dressed including underwear because he woke right up, saw his chart, and knew what to do. He brushed his teeth without any complaints. None of these things may sound very exciting to people whose kids remember to do these things without 20 reminders...but for me, they are life changing. I am probably just going to go crazy and start pinning up charts all over this house.
Since I started writing today, there were some major temper tantrums. Like getting on the phone or taking a shower, my kids act like total animals when I try to write something.
There were some time outs.
We went to swimming lessons, which the boys totally LOVE this year, and are really getting into.
Every day I thank God for this townhouse that we moved into 5 years ago. Sometimes it is a little tight, and sometimes I really wouldn't mind a fenced in yard, but ALL of the time I am so glad we didn't give up and buy a house on the mainland. This town is where we belong. We love the parks and the pool and neighborhood and the school and the beach. I think we even love being all crammed up against each other all of the time.
I am so grateful that I get to take my kids to swim lessons. That I have these slow summer memories with them instead of centering my memories around vacations and rushing them off to summer camp so that I can work.
The boys are eating lunch now. Greystoke is sleeping. When we got home he found a book and insisted that I read it to him, and then I put him to bed. He loves books right now. He sits very quietly and listens, like Aquaman used to do and The Dude never has. He is saying multiple new words every day, and doing new things. Yesterday he said "nana" (banana) and today he said "pool!" at swim lessons and "door" on the porch. He shakes his head "no" when he doesn't want something. He says "yeah!" when he does. He says "uh, uh, uh" and points to his eyes when he wants me to wipe them in the bath or the pool. Then gets so excited that I understood what he was telling me that he signs "more" over and over again with a big grin on his face.
I love him so much. I am so thankful that he has survived the chaos of this family so far with only a minor concussion and seemingly no lasting effects.
The tv is on. I gave up. Their brains will survive a few Clifford episodes. But now it is time for them to practice their writing and reading.
Then go to the store. And melt chocolate onto frozen bananas.
Yes, that is one of our priorities today.
My joints hurt again. One knee is having trouble bending. I am putting off the bloodwork until school starts because....just because. It's summer. 3 more weeks to enjoy being together before the routine of regular life starts up again.
3 kids...I can't handle them.
I can't imagine life without them.