Stretched: Spreading Myself Among the Kids



baby sleeping

Sometimes there just doesn’t seem to be enough of me to go around.

Right from the day when I heard those fateful words, “Definitely two babies,” I knew that there would be tough times to come. Times when I just couldn’t give both children what they needed right when they needed it. Of course, since then I’ve doubled that problem, and now I am stretching my resources between four small people. Sometimes I have reinforcements, but often it is just me and them.

Over the last seven years I’ve learnt ways to make myself go further.

I know how to make my lap appear big enough for two or three or all four if need be. I know how to do lots of two handed jobs with one or even half a hand. I know how to balance a baby, just so, while I tie shoes, make pony tails, or kiss things better. And I know how to use my ears so that my children believe that I really do have eyes in the back of my head.

Most of the time I manage to balance things. Most of the time everyone gets what they need at least close to the time that they need it, even if it isn’t always in a way that totally satisfies them.

But the balance is precarious at best. Sometimes one little thing will tilt -- just a little -- in an unexpected direction, and then everything comes crashing down around me.

Then the baby cries and the three-year-old howls. The big girls bicker and demand that I make a judgment and then scowl and yell when it doesn’t go their way. There are no clean undies for anyone and dinner is burning in the oven while the dishes pile ever higher in the sink. (Why can no one put their dirty dishes IN the dishwasher?).

Then I have to choose who, or what, waits. I have to choose who, or what, misses out.

Those are the times when I am stretched.

Those are times when I am stretched so thin that I feel almost transparent.
Like nobody can see me.
Like I don’t exist.
Like nothing I do makes even a little dint on huge list of tasks that lay before me.

Those are the times when I wonder if we’ve made the right choices.
I wonder if I really can do this.
I wonder if all the strangers who gasp and say “How do you manage four kids?  I can’t even manage two” really mean that I can’t manage four and should have stopped at two.
I wonder if they are right.

But it’s too late to wonder.
We didn’t stop at two, even if we should have.
We have four wonderful, demanding, fabulous children… and I just need to keep stretching as best I can.

So I stretch a little further than I thought possible, and I keep going, and eventually things ease off a little.

Eventually the baby sleeps, the big girls sit and read to their brother, the fan goes on before the smoke alarm does, and the dishwasher gets stacked.
Eventually the color comes back to me, and I feel like I exist again.

I know I’ll be stretched again another day. I know I’ll be faced with the tough decisions, and I know I’ll question our choices again.

I just need to remind myself that if I just keep going, if I just stretch that little bit more, it will all work out in the end. There really is enough of me to go around, because I am sure my stretchiness is based on love -- and I know I have plenty of that.


I'm Kate and I blog at --  about life on the Pickle Farm in rural Australia, art and activities for kids, cooking, gardening, the craziness of four small children and more!


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