As the mother of four children, including (surprise!) twins at the end, I have come to the conclusion that life with more children than arms is a wee bit frustrating.
When I had one to two children, I read lots of parenting books and magazine articles. I tried to treat everyone with respect and kindness and I took the time to explain everything. But alas, life was more manageable back in the old days. The car seat situation was a lot more manageable, but that's a different story.
There are times when I open the van door and quickly gasp at the horror. Am I really taking all of these people shopping? Am I crazy? OMG, I think to myself, be brave! Be brave! Be brave! Channel those little green army guys from "Toy Story" and get these troops in order! Let's go! Move it, move it, move it!
Yep, that's me yelling in the Target parking lot. Barking orders, arm up in the air, snapping my fingers. I am calling my company to attention. "Line up, Mitchells!"
I know I frighten some of the other moms out there. I see the fear in their eyes before they quickly look away from the scene. Some of them giggle and say "You sure do have your hands full, don'tcha?"
"Yes, I do." I reply. Smile and nod, smile and nod.
It wasn't that long ago that I was one of those moms. But that was before the frenzy of four.
These days I frequently catch myself doing and saying things that give family counselors a reason to write self-help books. I have been known to use donuts as behavior rewards and local playground time as a weapon. I am a rebel.
Recently, one evening at the Mitchell house, two little boys were taking a soothing bubble bath. Their loving mother sat on the little blue and green plastic footstool to supervise.
Suddenly, breaking the sound barrier, was a little girl screech. It was my 3-year-old daughter from somewhere down the hall. I could tell right away that it wasn't a "real" injury (we all know what those sound like), but she was screaming so I had to acknowledge her. The shriek was so loud, you'd think someone was gouging out her eyeballs with toothpicks. So, naturally, I lean over and yell down the hall, "Is someone gouging out your eyeballs with toothpicks, or what?!"
"Noooooo, the dog stepped on my fooooot!" she blubbered. This was followed by another ear-piercing scream.
Well, of course, my 5-year-old Junior Marine Biologist uses this moment in time to test his "shark skills." I then hear what can only be called the alarming sound of silence sitting in the air around the bathtub. I turn back around and scream: "STOP TRYING TO BREATHE UNDERWATER!"
Up pops a super-cute grinning child. I am not amused. Brother rewards him with a high-five and some annoying finger gun noises.
Once again, I have loudly put my foot in my mouth. I can't believe I was just screaming about eyeballs and breathing underwater. Geez, did the neighbors hear me? And more importantly, if they call the cops, I wonder if they would be willing to take me overnight? Hmmmm.
Anyway, the story ends wonderfully. Nobody drowned, nobody's eyeballs fell out and almost everyone got clean, for a little while. Yaaaaay Mom!
Although being part of our family is overwhelming at times, I have to keep light of the situation and continue to laugh every day.
You see, I have also come to the conclusion that laughter is what really keeps us moms going. And an occasional run to the donut shop.
Someday, you may hear me in the drive-thru line:
"If you want a donut, then zip it!!!!"
- Heather Mitchell is a sleep-deprived yet loving wife, mother of four, healthcare professional and writer. She spends her spare time playing at her local parks and playgrounds.