I recently called a hotel to book a room. The receptionist asked all the questions, including “How many people?” When I said, “Six,” I had to count on my fingers to see if that was really correct. Though I am aware I have four children, and I know that Mike and I are an additional two, it seems impossible that I am part of a family that has become so large. And it seems impossible that we should want to go places and stay overnight in a hotel with them. I can’t decide if we are fearless or just plain senseless.
While standing at the bar at the hotel, a husband made a joke to his wife about all the drinks being for him. I wondered aloud why Mike and I weren’t also jockeying for all the drinks. The husband pointed out his three boys and said something like, “You should try spending the night in a hotel with those three.” I pointed out my own crew and said, “Oh yeah, we have four!” He let me go in front of him. With my two pairs, it’s like I’ve got the best hand and will win in any “woe-is-me” parental competition.
On another occasion at the hotel, someone approached Mike and asked, “What’s it like staying in a hotel with four kids?” In the retelling, Mike quipped, “It’s a lot like being home with four kids. Nuts.”
Speaking of nuts…we were lucky enough to stumble upon a Five Guys Burgers and Fries while we were away. Because kids are weirdos and can’t appreciate the sumptuousness of a fat-laden, double patty smothered in cheese and grilled onions, they only eat the peanuts at this delectable burger joint. Nadia, upon cracking open a classic, figure-eight-shaped peanut shell exclaimed, “Three nuts in a two-holder!!!!! Can you believe it?!?!?” with all the excitement her five-year-old brain could convey (if you’re having trouble keeping up with me here, she expected to find two nuts inside the shell, but there were actually three). A moment or two later, she followed this amazing discovery with the random question, “Can we have a yard sale this weekend?”
And this sums up our life quite well. Our daily adventures are characterized by the same disarray of a five-year-old brain processing a wealth of thoughts and information and emotion. Like Nadia’s thoughts, we move fast and the motion is perpetual. Topics are broad and varied and it is hard to keep up and sometimes impossible to make sense of. A lot of the time, we laugh…some of the laughter from the sheer hilarity of living a life in a big family full of unique personalities (I showed Grace a picture of Queen Elizabeth and asked her if she knew who it was. She thought it was Angela Lansbury), and some of it borders on manic, mingled with a twitch. Like I said…a lot of the time I can’t decide if we are telling the joke, laughing at the joke, or if we just are the joke.
Adapting to life with four kids has been…seamless, I guess. Because there’s no time to “adapt.” There’s no evolution when a family is so large. Nothing is slow or gradual. To sit back and reflect needs to be a multi-tasking event, combined with some kind of chore or errand, or three or four of them. Like Nadia’s random thoughts, it’s almost impossible to keep up with anything that’s going on, much less everything that’s going on.
And that’s where the mottos come in handy. Because I know that this is what it is, and all this craziness will pass, and that it will pass one day a time. And during those days, sometime’s we’ll conquer that bear, but some days we don’t. And some days we will laugh at the great fun we’re having, and some days we will have to laugh simply because it beats crying.