from one to four || the evolution

May 6, 2015

the look of a very tired college student, cramming for finals. me not Ace, clearly he is wide awake!

I think lately the biggest question I have gotten is, what was the hardest transition? Was it going from one to two kids? Adding in three? Or what about the fourth? Maybe it was bringing home the first. I think it might be different for every mom. A part of me wants to say bringing home Ace was pretty difficult, but then the circumstances of bringing him home probably only made it seem that much more difficult. Chris and I were both full time students, not to mention I was pretty fresh to this whole staying at home thing. Chris left for a month two weeks after Ace was born, so I kind of got a sink or swim course on parenting. I don't think bringing home Ace was too hard as far as Chris and Is relationship was concerned. I think as parents you are in such a euphoric state with that very first baby, that newborn smell, the hilarity of changing diapers and not knowing what you are doing. You really don't feel like you are missing out on date nights, or gatherings with friends, at least we didn't. 
taking Pierce to his one week check-up, Ace clearly not happy about it.

Going from one to two kids was probably my biggest shock. For 19 months Ace had been my whole world. I had never been away from him. We did every single thing together. Chris ended up leaving for OCS (officer candidate school) when I was eight months pregnant with Pierce. This left Ace and I to get even closer. I had all these emotions going on that I just poured every ounce of energy into those last few weeks of it just being him and I. Chris ended up missing Pierce's birth, so I didn't have him there as a buffer to ease the transition with Ace. Chris was gone for another two months before coming home. I would say that was the hardest on him. Not only was he coming home to a new baby, but he was coming home to the craziness of two children. Reintegration is hard enough on military families, that was just a little sprinkle on top. With two kids you don't feel completely outnumbered, yet, so you try and be super mom. If one is crying you try to tend to them immediately, but what if the other one wants you? You work yourself overtime just trying to make sure that your first born doesn't feel overshadowed by the baby. But you yourself want to soak up this baby stage as well. It's difficult to know where to draw the line.


Adding in a third was not necessarily crazy....at first. I might be alone in this, but I don't really think the newborn stage is too difficult. This could also be because I have had pretty easy babies (knock on wood). I haven't had a colicky baby, or a particularly fussy one, or even a sick one. Trust me, I count my blessings for this. So I always felt the newborn stage was pretty easy when adding it into the mix of the other kids. Yes it takes longer to get out of the house. Yes you have to pack much more in your diaper bag. And yes the baby will limit some of the activities you are used to doing with the older kids. But, the transition was not as hard with Avalon as it was with Pierce. The more children you add the lower your standards drop. You really genuinely don't care about the house being in tip top shape. At least I don't. Toys can be thrown everywhere, dishes can pile up, laundry can be an endless pit, but there are three kids now. That's three places my head and my heart need to attend to everyday. I usually save the cleaning for after the kids go to bed. I used to try and pick up as the day went on, but if my children see a full basket of anything they feel it is their divine right....or more like their inherent duty to dump it out. I used to get so frustrated!! Then one day Chris pointed out the fact that I was getting upset over nothing. They are toys...and these are kids. So I Elsa-ed my ass up and let it go! I have learned that is what you have to do if you want to hang on to even an ounce of sanity. The same goes for going out in public with one, two, three, or more. You can only control what you can control, and unfortunately you cannot always control a tantrum brewing inside your child. You can try to prevent it, you can even try and bribe them while it is happening, but if it is going to happen then let the beast come out and move on. This too I used to get so upset over. I would play the oh woe is me card. How can my children act this way? Then I had three and I was completely outnumbered, my husband was gone more often than not, and if I wanted to get errands done we had to battle through the public meltdowns. So lower and lower those expectations go!
Avalon's face says it all....

Odette being added in has made no difference as far as our routine goes, and how the kids are. She fit into it all seamlessly, thank goodness! Now, we are only seven weeks into this. It will get more difficult when she is mobile, her naps become less frequent, and we add in the oh so fun teething time. But I have learned that including the older kids in everything the baby does is the only way to make sure everyone feels that sense of mommy attention. Diaper changes, I always let one kid grab the diaper, one grab the wipes, one "baby sits" (they just sit and talk to her while it all happens). It is kind of a long process, but if they want to be included I let them. Same goes for baths, tummy time, whatever. I don't ever want them to resent the baby and all the attention she gets from me, so I make sure they know she is their baby too. It doesn't always work. There are still so many fights during the day, but just like my standards have lowered in other areas, they have in the "break up every battle and attend to every boo boo" department. I can only tell the kids to keep their hands to themselves so many times. Sometimes they are just going to have to wrestle for a minute while I feed the baby. Sometimes the baby is just going to have to cry while I get the older kids dressed and fed on a chaotic school morning. But that is okay! It's all okay!
I don't know if I have any super intuitive advice to offer. I feel like I am still figuring it all out myself. What I can say is, don't take on too much. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Go at your own pace. Leave the house when you are comfortable. Don't compare yourself to other moms (as hard as it may be). We all have our own threshold when it comes to child wrangling, and I don't care if you have one or twenty, all children are work. All of us are dealing with different situations on top of taking care of kids, so give yourself time to adjust. Ask for help, or take help when it is offered to you. I wish I had more of this is my life. We live so far from family and friends that visits are few and far between. We are used to it at this point, me just taking care of the bulk of things and Chris helping when he can. But you better believe the second a family member wants to come see the kids, I am all for it. I have yet to deal with my babysitter issues, as in I have never used one. I know that Chris and I could use the break, but my comfort level hasn't reached that point....yet.
So, this huge long post with probably little to no actual insight....story of my life. I guess for me I just take it day by day. I make a ton of lists with very little pressure of actually crossing things off. I go with the flow of the kids, while still keeping them on some kind of schedule. As Chris would say "it is controlled chaos" in this house, and I couldn't think of a more accurate way to describe it! All I know is that I am grateful for it. I love the non-stop activity, watching them interact (when not fighting), and if anything I have learned more about myself thanks to these four little people. The best piece of advice I can give on the transition is just to do you! Don't let the opinions of others determine your way of thinking or parenting. Who cares about all the people that give you a weird look as you are trying to corral four kids through Target. Who cares about the employee that is rude and visibly frustrated that your child knocked over an entire shelf of olive oil. Who the hell cares about family, friends, perfect strangers who think "you have too many kids". At the end of the day it is how you deal with it all. The only approval should be from yourself and your kids. Having big families isn't for everyone, for tons of different reasons. At the end of the day if you can tuck each one of them into bed, go downstairs, bask in the silence of the house with maybe a little vino in hand, and still be thinking about them....even missing them although you had an insane day where you swore you were going to melon ball your eyes out if you had to witness one more tantrum. I'd say you got it all figured out.

8 comments:

  1. Well here here! What a great post! And you hit the nail on the proverbial head. You just have to do you and yours. Whatever works is the right thing to do. Annnnd you've kinda been sainted in my opinion. Two months with no daddy? Yowza.

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  2. Whatever to survive, right! Good for you girl!
    The Lady Lawyer

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  3. The picture of the boys laying next to each other is adorable. And you rock it, mama! I too am with you with the newborn age being easy. Loved this especially the do you part. So true!

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  4. I love these photos, it's fun to see the progression.

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  5. I really love this even as a singleton parent, because right now my standards are super high on home cleanliness and I often whine/complain/bitch at night that I have to do ALL THIS WORK picking up the house... and really, is it that important? No. :)

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    1. Trust me, I was the same way! Even with two I would stay up so late because "it just had to be done" but I only got frustrated more. Once I came to terms with the fact that my life was like ground hogs day...it got easier. hahaha! :)

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  6. I think adding number three was hardest for me. My hubby had just returned from Afghanistan and my mind was not prepared to get knocked up! Lol but baby number 4 was a much better transition ;)

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  7. This is fantastic! I'm all for big families and kind of want one of my own. If I didn't actually have to physically give birth to them I don't think I'd ever stop!

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