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October 14, 2004


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People used to lokk at me like I was a nutcase when I told them that a large family is actually easier in many ways than a small one. And I sometimes wonder how competent someone with few sibs and only a couple kids ever feels at the mom thing. I don't mean that they aren't competent - I mean that you get that feeling that you've figured out something like "It's all temporary".

Thanks for reminding me to get some Frances books! I drew all over mine when I was a kid.

That's so sweet about your oldest's reaction to his second brother. I would guess that's about how 31-month-old DS1 feels about 7-week-old DS2 judging from his behavior. (Though I don't really enjoy fending him off when it turns into a grab for "Mine! My baby!" out of my arms or the carseat.)

I hear ya sister, about the housework aspect. I was thinking about it today, as I hauled and scrubbed and cooked and played and dropped off and picked up and so on. I was thinking "This is exhausting, but at least I don't have to wash our clothes by hand!" Anyway, you have a great way of expressing the every day life and making it interesting to see in a broader way.

Alicia--My mother was the oldest of two (brother only two years younger), and to hear my dad (#4 of 8) tell it, the first few months weren't easy on her. However, she got the hang of things eventually, and though she was never super-mom like my aunt (who carried around snacks and complete changes of clothes for three children in her Mary Poppins-like purse), she's pretty awesome. Of course, she did only have one to look after, and I was apparently disgustingly well-behaved.
I'm nearly 20, and still uncomfortable around babies, never having had any at my house, but now that some of my friends are starting to get married and have kids, it doesn't seem quite so scary.

I've gotten far enough into mothering to see the wisdom you've written. It never quite gets easier, but it has consistently gotten more fun.

Only one thing did truly make parenting easier, so far, and that was when my son nightweaned and started sleeping through the night at nearly 14 months. Sleep makes life so much easier. However, now that I've lost my tolerance for sleep deprivation, just one rotten night has the power to turn me into a miserable heap. At least I always now have the hope of a better night to come.

Summer, I just read your post about sleep woes. It's really hard when they seem to lose ground temporarily. Hang in there -- wishing you a speedy return to peaceful nights.

Thanks for such an honest posting. It really is true that everything is only temporary. In the long run, unfortunately, even their childhoods are temporary.

The hardest adjustment I had to make to motherhood was how there are no end markers, no progress reports, and no short-term goals. There's no yearly review, no report card, and no grading system. In the absence of any tangible feedback, it's really easy for me personally to get awash in all the daily things and to feel adrift and pointless.

Ironically, one of the things I found that helped me to have a sense that I was actually achieving something was switching to cloth diapers. It felt better for me to have "something to show" at the end of the day, in the form of a stack of clean fluffy diapers warm from the dryer. The food would be eaten. The beds would be rumpled again. The toys would be scattered everywhere. But at least I had my diapers back again.

Thanks again... (Oh, and I hear you about that annoying noise they make for about a month of their infancy...sheesh!)

Loved this post and all the comments.

Jamie, like you, I am a mothe of 3 and I love it so much. I agree that loneliness was a big factor when I had my first baby, but it rarely gets a look in any more. I enjoy the way Molly (5) and Sally (3) become more and more helpful as the months go by, and I've been feeling very wistful about the idea of a fourth child (the fact that you are pregnant with number 4 is of great interest to me -- I'll read about it all avidly).

Overwhelmingly, I love the laughs of having a family of 3 children. I watch their personalities and relationships develop, and there is so much warmth and joy. It's unusual for a day to be grey and grumpy from start to finish.

Thanks for a great mantra too -- everything is temporary! (way more positive than my begrudging "this too will pass")

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