The Struggle Is Real

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

I sat proudly with other parents at Evie’s school while each child in the 3rd grade class took turns giving presentations on their countries of origin.  Only after the adorable Indian boy started passing around books about his country and another kid shared a native snack did I got that sick, sinking feeling.  That one where I realized that I had not even thought to ask Evie to rehearse with me.  She exudes confidence and never asked for help and (gulp)….I’m pretty sure she didn’t have anything to pass around and why didnt her mother send in mini-American flags or make chocolate chip cookies to pass out?  My nervousness culminated with the power point slide Evie confidently presented about American presidents in which she listed (….wait for it…..)

George Washington
Abraham Lincoln
Mark Twain!!

I didnt know whether to laugh or cry.  Poor girl had worked so hard on her own and where was I while the other mommies were guiding their 3rd graders oh-so-brilliantly and creatively?
Where was I?
The question I ask when I lay my weary body down every night.
Where was I?
Did I really see their needs and hear their hearts or just put out fires?

The over-stimulus that drives every moment of every day for a mother-of-multiples is indicator either that she possesses the coordination of an air-traffic controller, the thought process of a genius and the skills of a brain surgeon….or that she is a complete bona fide flake.

I believe I fall into the later category most days.

The rate at which questions, comments, suggestions and complaints are hurled at me would be enough to send even the most weathered Navy seal into retreat!  My brain actually hurts sometimes from the bombardment.

My best laid plans for afternoon homemade cookies served warm from the oven to contented children harmoniously doing their homework quickly dissolve into the chaotic reality of the “Valley of the Shadow Hour”….that “glazed over” zombie-like state from 4:00pm onwards when the honey is coming in from work, the kids are hungry, math homework has gotten the best of you and dinner prep is running late and all you want to do is hide…..or go to the bathroom by yourself.

Actually, that’s what I wanted to do 3 hours ago.  I realize it when I sit down to feed Eden again.  I had to pee last time I sat down to feed him and haven’t yet gotten a chance.

He finishes nursing and starts sneezing snot bubbles.  (darned teething)

I interrupt Britain who is reading me her book-report to yell at Evie to bring me toilet paper to wipe the snot rocket that is now smeared on my shoulder.  As I try to turn my attention back to Britain, Evie yells back that there is no toilet paper which ensues an argument about who should have to climb up to the the supply closet and restock the bathroom with toilet paper.
Meanwhile, he’s now wiped his own nose with the back of his hand and rubbed it all over his cheek.  “Just get me a washcloth” I beg Evie.

A hairbrush is waving in my face as I try to prod Britain to carry on — Gigi needs the tangles brushed out of her hair after her shower.  I start brushing only to realize there are actual globs of conditioner she hasn’t rinsed out.  Back to the shower I send her along with instructions to use a “quarter sized amount” next time….not three pumps full!

Simultaneously, Izzy is turning cartwheels and asking for feedback on her form.  She knocks Eden over with her shenanigans.  There are tears and wails.  The phone rings.  Tristan is calling to tell me he’s on his way home from soccer practice but I can barely hear him over the pounding of piano keys.  Abi’s practicing Beethoven’s 5th.

Izzy, who has taken a break from somersaulting through the living room, wants to talk about making birthday plans (mind you, her birthday isn’t for another 5 months) and then tells me she needs help with her math homework. (groan…this punishment inflicted on parents is barbaric!)  Being the mature adult that I am, I bribe Britain with chocolate if she’ll assist with the 5th grade math homework.

I go to get her a truffle from my hidden stash only to realize upon walking into the kitchen that I forgot about the granola I had put in the oven an hour ago.

Extra crunchy it’ll be!

Evie follows me into the kitchen with “that look” on her face.  The one that says I really need to sit and hear about her day and mean girls that say they don’t want to be her friend.  Mama bear is really stirred up now!

Conversation is cut short by Tristan who needs a bandaid.  Izzy cant find a clean uniform.  And Eden, I discover, is meticulously and thoroughly unfolding the laundry piece by piece and scattering it through the living room.  He needs a diaper change.  (Are we down to the last diaper again?)

Dinner is promising tho — I made potato soup at Gigi’s request so Im guaranteed there will be no dispute with our picky eater.


She meant “tomato” not potato.

She whines.  Tristan asks for more.  Eden spills his cup.  Someone farts.  Laughter erupts.  Not exactly the serenity pictured in magazines of family mealtime.

C is my hero when he takes the kids upstairs after dinner so I can clear the table all. by. my. self!!

I still have to pee….and when I finally close myself in the bathroom all by my blessed self and exhale, I realize…there is still no toilet paper!

I go to sleep tempted to feel like a failure – again.  Did any of my kids get the answers they wanted or the time they needed with me?

My mom’s words of advice from a quick phone conversation last week echo in my ears…..“You’ll never regret spending yourself on your children

Your time, your energy, your sanity mommas — there is no better investment.  We will each do it imperfectly, of that we can be sure.  But over the course of hours and days and weeks and months and years, those crazy, chaotic, loud and noisy, fun, frenzied afternoons will comprise memories for our littles of their momma doing what she does best…..wiping snotty noses and slapping on bandaids and passing out hugs.
And I want to remember too….because someday it’ll be quiet and there will be time for uninterrupted conversations and completed thoughts and creative outlets.
And when there is always toilet paper on the roll and my dinner is hot and my laundry only gets folded once….I will undoubtedly miss this too!

  • Lydia Long Honken says:

    Thank you, Mandy! We have 5 girls and 2 boys and this made me teary because…yes. All of it is encouraging and true. And God’s kindness is abundant, His mercy new every morning, and strength made perfect in our weakness.

  • Belinda Cress says:

    Yes….as one Mom who only had 2, independent, living 30 and 7 hours away, respectively, with their now own families, you will never regret the time. Yours will come one day….then, you will get to start all over with GRANDCHILDREN, the second blessing! Your stories make me smile and thank God, Mandy.

  • Candice Warby says:

    Oh Mandy. So funny. I was just looking at your amazing pictures and how often you post, and how gorgeous you are and wondering how you can possibly have it all so together while I can barely function with only 4 kids. I appreciate your sincerity and honesty in this post, and for reminding me that it is worth it. It often feels otherwise. You are such a wonderful lady, and I am so grateful I was able to get to know you, if only for a short season. It is so fun to check in on you every once in a while and see how you guys are doing. Thank you for sharing your light with everyone around you. You are truly amazing.

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