It's Been Hard
I was on a walk with the boys one afternoon and ran into a dad with 3 kids on their way home from school. "You have three little ones pretty close in age just like we do," he said. "Yeah," I replied over David's screaming. "It looks like you are a little further down the path than we are. It must get easier, right?" I asked. "Not really," he replied, to my chagrin. "We're pretty much losing our minds." We had a nice chat about our neighborhood school, but wrapped things up as his 2 year old bit him in the arm and my 2 year old started flailing and throwing things out of the stroller.
Well that's discouraging.
I thought back to earlier that morning and what a disaster it had been. I naively thought it would be a good idea, efficient even, to schedule back-to-back appointments for my 2 year old and newborn. Nope. Not a good idea and so not worth saving the time. It may, as in my case, end with you leaving the doctor's office carrying a screaming baby and your 2 year old in nothing but a diaper, his diarrhea covered clothing contained in a neon orange bio-hazard bag. People staring at you with pity as you rush by. It's pretty much the mom version of the walk of shame. It was after this incident that I realized this whole 3 kid thing was going to be a challenge.
It's not that I expected having 3 kids to be easy necessarily, it's just that I didn't expect that it would be quite this hard. Some days it feels like the joys of my life are sucking the joy out of my life. My patience is often already worn thin by breakfast time. It's not just the fact that there are three kids relatively close in age and one of them is trying to slowly kill me through sleep deprivation, but also that one of them has special needs. In most ways Noah is a typical 2 year old. His hobbies include dunking his bath toys in the toilet, pulling things out of drawers and cupboards, mimicking whatever his big brother does, smothering his little brother with hugs (body slams), and wanting to do everything himself. Yet I can't deny that his extra chromosome adds a layer of difficulty at times. Sometimes in the form of additional medical or therapy appointments, but mainly it's the communication piece. His receptive language (comprehension) is so good, but he struggles with his expressive language (speech). It's like he has all the thoughts and desires of a 2 (almost 3) year old, but the communication skills of a 12-18 month old. That combination equals frustration for all parties involved. Noah has a pretty extensive sign language vocabulary of about 100 signs and is learning new ones every day, but only a handful of people understand those and there are so many more things he wants to communicate than he knows how to. It's challenging because his frustration often manifests itself in behavior issues, namely throwing things, yelling, taking it out on his brothers, and generally not listening.
I know it's just a season. I know everyone says it goes by too quickly. I know that as the country song laments "someday I'll miss this".
But meanwhile it's 9pm. The older boys are finally in bed and the kitchen is decently clean. Cameron's off at a soccer game and I am pacing on the back patio with a screaming newborn in the Ergo while keeping an eye on the baby monitor. I'm trying not to think about all the laundry that needs to be done, the cleaning that I haven't gotten to, the bills that need to be paid and the insurance phone call I've been putting off, when all I really want to do is climb into bed and sleep for longer than 2 hours at a time.
Some days are just hard. And they are hard in ways that I'm not used to. Not like a work problem to be solved, or a task that can be completed and moved on from. Hard in a way that requires impossible patience. Hard in a way that repeats itself day after day. Hard in a way that makes your heart, and often your back, hurt. Hard in a way that requires you to put the needs of three little ones ahead of your own. Admitting that it is hard doesn't mean I love this stage of life any less. And I don't mean to complain because there have been amazing moments too. Ones that make all of the sleepless nights and chaos worth it. But when people ask how things have been going lately...honestly?
It's been hard.
Hard to be so exhausted that you find your cell phone in the fridge and your keys in the recycle bin.
Hard to admit to your doctor that your toddler's favorite snack is cat food and, let's face it, at this point he eats more of that than any type of vegetable.
Hard to maintain a connection in your marriage when the days are filled with work, preschool, therapy appointments, cleaning, laundry, cooking, and a million other little things. While nights are filled with midnight feedings, soothing a crying newborn, and attending to nightmares and scary monsters.
Hard to stay sane when you've been asked "why" for the hundredth time and you really just don't know why snails leave a trail of slime behind them.
Hard to spend what precious little free time you have reading books about IEPs and scheduling appointments.
Hard to battle a stomach flu that hits when your baby is only 3 weeks old and you're up the entire night either vomiting or nursing. (Yeah, that was a pretty rough couple days.)
Hard to maintain your sense of identity as an adult, a woman, a spouse, when you find yourself saying things like "don't put your hand in your diaper, there's poop in there" and "stop licking your brother" and "NO, don't put the cat's hairball in your mouth!" Oh the joys of having boys.
Hard to feel confident in the decisions you make for your children when there are so many options and so many variables.
Hard to ask for help, even when you really need it.
Hard to have to choose between either a shower or breakfast as you are rushing out the door.
Hard to find yourself yelling at your newborn to stop crying and finally waking up your husband at 4am to take a turn when you just can't handle it anymore.
Hard to feel like you can't meet everyone's needs all the time. And it's hard to allow yourself the grace in recognizing that you don't have to.
It all feels so incredibly overwhelming, but then...
A sweet bedtime conversation and prayer with my big boy.
A good night hug and smile from my middle boy.
A snuggle with my precious baby as he drifts off to sleep.
My heart is full and the stresses of the day wash away. I love them and am loved by them, and at the end of the day that's all I can really ask for.