I had four children yesterday.
Well, I didn't *have* four children yesterday, as in I didn't unexpectedly give birth to quadruplets, but I did have two extra girls. And I am now bowing down to those of you who have four or more children. Or three, for that matter. I am not worthy (heh, I just typed wrong and wrote: I am not warty. Well, I'm not warty either, but I'm definitely not worthy.) You have greater stamina, patience, organizational skills, and perhaps access to stronger stimulants than I do. I am in awe.
I've had children over before, loads of them, loads of times. But this time I needed to get the groceries done, and, well, it was an afternoon the staff at Brown's Independent isn't going to forget in a hurry.
It all started when I was picking up Leah from a sleepover at her friend Ellie's. I was running late, and said to Heather, Ellie's mom, "Am I the last one?". She said, "No, Alora's still here." Alora's mom, Londia, is the wonderful person who took my girls overnight last weekend when my ex cancelled at the last minute, allowing me to go to a St. Paddy's Day party and have way too much to drink and swear off whiskey forever. As Heather and I were chatting, Londia showed up. She looked horrible. Her skin was grey and her eyes were sunken. My first thought was 'that's the worst hangover I've ever seen' (judging others by my own actions, you see), but she cracked open the door and said, "I'm so sick. I have the stomach flu. I'm just going to wait out here. Could you send Alora out?" We walked our girls out to the cars and I watched her trying to buckle Alora into her booster. "Is Ben home?", I asked. "No, he's out of town", she said.
"OK", I said, "Let me take the girls for you this afternoon. Go home and sleep." She argued with me for a couple of seconds and then unbuckled Lynona, who was in the truck, and we got them into my car. So there we were -- two seven-year-olds, two four-year-olds and me. "OK girls, we're going on an adventure. I have to go to the grocery store, but it'll be quick. A lightning strike. If you can all behave nicely at the grocery store, I'll buy you all treats for a snack." That oughta work, right??
Imagine, if you will, the Huns invading wherever it is that Huns generally invade. Laying waste and pillaging. Well this was the same, on a slightly smaller scale. With less pillaging. But more shrieking, giggling, running in circles around the cart, and hiding behind other shoppers' carts and bakery displays. The cart was piled high with discarded winter jackets, which made me think, oh yeah, I let Rachel dress herself this morning. There's three inches of fresh snow on the ground and she's in a turquoise tank top.
So I was trying to shop without a list and keep track of four little girls that were practicing guerilla warfare in the aisles around me -- hiding from me, jumping out and yelling at each other. Now these are all normally pretty good kids for listening, but some kind of critical mass was achieved with the four of them together and it was total anarchy and I was helpless in its presence. Apparently I am not an effective parent for more than two children at a time.
They calmed down somewhat, but then the whining began. I swear, I'd rather listen to country music than children whining (apologies to a few whom I know read my blog and are country fans, but I just can't help the dysfunctionality of my musical taste. ;-) ) Alora opined that this was taking pretty long for a 'lightning strike', which, to be fair, it was. Rachel pronounced herself bored. Leah had to pee. And Lynona was thirsty. And Mom? Well, Mom wanted to be on a beach in Mexico somewhere, with margaritas and cabana boys. But there we were in the grocery store in Stittsville.
Back at home, they settled down to play really well together -- some complicated game that required that all the bedding and pillows and stuffed animals and the Disney Princess play tents from both girls' bedrooms be brought into the living room and used to build forts. I hid in the kitchen and made cookies for the Huns. They ate pretty well at dinner and then a much-improved Londia showed up to pick up her girls.
They had a pretty good time together. I was exhausted. How do you do it, you moms of >2? Maybe I was just hampered by the fact that two weren't mine and couldn't read the 'Mom's about to blow' signs that my girls know so well. All I know is that I thank God every day for my two girls. And from now on, I'm going to thank God that that's all I have.