someone's gonna lose

I've been a mother to three small ones for six weeks now. This week, I seem to have kind of hit a wall. I'm so, so tired, The adrenaline has worn off, and the energy is waning. But the part that is really most frustrating to me is how little I am able to get done right now. For a type-A mama, ending the day with just as many items on the to-do list as I started with is NOT a great feeling. I'd been advised by lots of well-meaning friends to just stop trying to get things done. But truly, my bar is so low right now and some things just need to be completed. Like the preschool application that has been sitting on the kitchen table for a month now. Or the intern evaluation that I was supposed to mail back before my maternity leave, that is still on the counter because I haven't had time to buy a freaking stamp.

And let's not even talk about my toenails and how those look.

It sort of feels like survival mode right now. That's a little hard for me because I am someone who really likes to do things the right way. But with three kids this small, there is no right way. It is just managing chaos. Every man for himself. He (or she) who cries loudest, wins.

I am convinced that every baby book ever written, was written by someone with only one child. Advice like "sleep when the baby sleeps" or "put your child on a sleep-eat-play" schedule do not really apply when you have three running around. I would seriously love to see the advice book for parenting multiple small ones. It could have helpful tips like "how to pee while holding a baby" or "managing a toddler's time-out while breastfeeding in a different room".

I spend a good portion of my day strategizing how to be efficient and stay on top of things. I realize this is a little insane, because no amount of planning can make order of my life right now. But I'm always trying to figure out how I can outsmart these odds. Because dude, I am outnumbered.

I have said several times: I don't get how stupid people do this.

I have come to the conclusion that until some of these kids mature a little bit, someone in this house is always going to lose. There is no possible way for all of us to have our way all of the time. In an ideal world, my day would include a shower and makeup application, three healthy meals, a good walk/run, time to check email/facebook/blogs, time to read, a quality conversation with a friend, a clean house, a couple cycles of laundry completed and a few errands run. Surprisingly, none of these things are on the priority list for my kids. Karis's ideal day involves breastfeeding, sitting in my arms during a milk-coma, sitting in my arms while she sleeps, and sitting in my arms while we make googly faces at each other. Again, not exactly items Jafta or India are really thrilled about. Poor Karis just loves to be held, and her favorite activity is what I call the "afterglow" - that moment just after nursing where she cuddles down and sighs with contentment. But she rarely gets this moment because as soon as she is done eating I am usually ripping her off because we are late to pick up Jafta, or India needs a diaper change, or my assistance is required in breaking up a screaming match over who gets to play with the Lightning McQueen car.

The one time of the day when everyone is happy is our evening cuddle time. It's my favorite part of the day (and not just because it means bedtime is next, but that helps). After the kids have their baths we all crawl into my bed and sing some songs, and say prayers with the kids. Mark and I used to "divide and conquer" and do this alone with each kid but once Karis came along, again, we were outnumbered and had to adjust. We decided to do it all together out of necessity but it turned out to be such a sweet family time. After all the chaos, it's a nice reminder to me that it is all worth it. The kids are really enjoying loving on Karis and singing to her at the end of the day, and Karis seems to be enjoying it, too.

Most of the time.

To elaborate the "you just can't win" theory, here is the ending to my grocery cart dilemma. I did what most of you said you would do: I left the kids strapped and locked in the car while I crossed the street to get a cart. I've tried crossing the street with all three of them and it is a nightmare - India refuses to hold hands and if forced, often takes to laying down in the middle of the street. She is kind of a safety liability, and I am a wee bit sensitive to car stuff since Mark was actually hit by one. On this particular occasion, I was strategizing how to get into the store as safely as possible, so I intentionally parked as close as I could to the bigger cart, and rushed across the street and back to the car to fetch the kids. There was a woman standing nearby and she watched the entire thing. As I walked by her with all three kids in tow, she started screaming at me. She said she couldn't believe I would leave three small kids in the car, started going off about how unsafe it was, called me lazy, and threatened to call the police.

The irony, of course, is that I though my choice was the safer choice. But when you have someone threatening to call the cops on your parenting, it certainly makes you question yourself. I would love to say that I handled this altercation maturely. Alas, I did not. I got extremely defensive, and a wee bit loud. As Mark would say, I "got a little Kissimmee" on her. (This is in reference to the loud, confrontational style of most folks who live in my hometown in Florida. Mark likes to make fun of me for that). I tried to explain myself, and when that didn't work, I made fun of her for smoking and then mockingly suggested she be my parenting mentor since she looked like she had it all together (which she did not).

I am the pinnacle of self-control.

But the story doesn't end there. I shopped for my groceries, and then unloaded them into my car. After the Great Confrontation, I was not about to leave my kids in the car again, so I just parked the cart right next to my car. And as I was getting in my car, an employee walked by, rolled his eyes at me, and huffily took the cart back o the front of the store.

Sometimes, you just can't win.


  1. ooh, my heart is racing at the thought of that woman screaming at you. i would have probably lost it!

    hang in there! that new photo banner is so cute, i can't stand it!!

  2. Amber9:18 PM

    Well, I thought that I had it all planned out and made sure that my first child was out of diapers before the next one was born. (they are 3 years apart) It made for an easier early childhood, I'm sure. But now that they are older, I realize that I wish that I hadn't been so short-sighted because they will never have the same school schedule, really never. I'm always having to juggle them and they never go to school or get out of school at the same time. What was I thinking? Anyway, I know that you are going crazy right now with three small children, but maybe someday you will be happy that they are closer in age. Oh, and I never had it all together when my babies were just 6 wks old. Try to give yourself a break!

  3. I would like to say that it gets easier, but the craziness just changes disguises. Now we are in the car ALL THE TIME going to this event, or this party, or this ball game, or this golf match, or this social function, Scouts, etc., etc. There is no time to get the laundry done, dishes, etc. By the time you get home, the thought of doing any household chore is overwhelming and its crazy sounding but true. Being a taxi driver is hard work !! I literally mark off one day every couple of weeks on my calendar "as busy" just so we can regroup. Too funny, we are having a good time though and nobody realy cares if the house is clean, the kids will remember that their parents were at their ballgames, took them to Scouts, were the cool parents that took them out exploring, etc.

  4. Are you serious??
    She really yelled at you???
    No freakin way.
    Oh, and for the are so due for a 'good' day where you'll get a ton done....
    Then go back to reality :)

  5. I can't believe someone yelled at you! Sheesh. It IS the safer choice.

  6. The baby books were either written by parents of only children or by men.

    Juggling more than one or two kids is hard but you will find your groove, it may just take awhile. When we brought our third home I had to readjust everything and try and be happy with the accomplishment of showering. By the time I got to number five I was just happy that my brainstem functioned on it's own and I did not have to consciously tell myself to breathe.

  7. I only have 2 and I can't do life either most of the time. Ick. I'm praying for you during this rough section of parenting. And hoping that you'll have those momentary times of peace and "getting-it-done" enough to get you through.
    I kinda wish I would've been there to hear you make fun of her smoking.

  8. I have learned over the years that with 3 kids under the age of 6 and one on the way, that sometimes I am going to do something that someone else might question. When it comes to grocery shopping, I too have left all 3 of my kids, in the car, buckled, while going to hunt down the biggest, meanest cart that the store holds. I have gotten stares, looks of BAD MOM, and the gambit that other people can say without really saying anything. But as a mom, you have to do what is right and comfortable for you. I am almost positive that those who give you a mean glare are the ones who to do something society would say is "INAPPROPRIATE". Because I don't have family, friends or anyone who lives close, I have to take all my kiddos shopping, errand running and such. I have learned to let the looks slide and relay on what God gave me....MOMMY INSTINCT its the best out their.

    Faithful reader
    Kiley R.
    Rhode Island

  9. Kristen - I could have written your first 5 paragraphs - you took the words RIGHT out of my mouth. And I only have two. Not only am I saying 'How do stupid people do this', but am also saying 'How do people do three?' The serious drop in productivity has really cramped my style. And today Mason took only bottle, not breast - hello, isn't it supposed to be the other way around? PLUS I have someone who HELPS me a couple of days a week. Can I help you? Can I at least drop off some stamps? I have a weird fetish with the Post Office (true), and love the drive along Harbor Blvd (not true) so it wouldn't be an inconvenience AT ALL...

  10. Good for you that you let her have it. You even had a smart come back! Maybe not your brightest shining moment of maturity, but hey, that's how it goes. I probably would have just yelled "F you!" and then cried later.

  11. booo to that nasty woman, who should have gotten the cart for you, instead of waiting for you to make the "wrong" choice and then pouncing on you like the gestapo.

    it will never be perfect, but you'll find your rhythm. hang in there!

  12. That lady lives in your pre-schools neighborhood. I'm certain!

  13. The only other thing I can think of is putting the baby in a sling instead of the carrier, so you'd have both hands free. But that doesn't solve the issue of India wanting to sit down in the middle of the street. (My 18 month old is totally in that stage right now.)

    You did what you could. End of story. It's too bad that you have to cross a street to get to that place.

  14. Grocery cart dilemma: I wish some people would just mind their own business. Assholes. Sorry, but they are.

    And, then having the employee roll his eyes at you. Geesh.

    Well... I think you're an amazing and courageous woman and mother. Your family is truly blessed to have you.

    Big squeeze,

  15. as a mama to three under three for only three weeks, I totally hear & understand your heart.

    I truly wouldn't change out setup at all, for anything, but it is a challenge that most people really couldn't understand.

    For the past few weeks, I've kept a running list of things challenges/obstacles that I need to find a solution for:
    - how do I get them to really understand that I mean do NOT go up the stairs while I'm nursing?
    - how do I get my two year old boy to stop pretend nursing the baby?
    - how do I grow sixteen arms, quick?

    A friend and I got together last week and she has three under three as well and as the two of us tried to wrangle in all six of them - she said the same thing you did: HOW do stupid people do this? Our conclusion was that they do it really poorly. And we're doing it semi-ok. People with nannies or live in grandmas do it well, I guess:)

  16. I just found your blog, and I hear ya' lady! Thanks for the laughter and commiseration, and that lady deserved everything you said! It is a major concern of mine that my son is going to run out into traffic while I am juggling the baby. I try everything!

  17. You will look back and laugh...someday...not for a long time...but someday...:) I had a can of sodas rip opne under my cart in the middle of the drive in front of the store...and people just watched as I chased all those cans, with a baby in a sling, one in the cart and holding the hands of two others...I laugh now, I cried then.

  18. Jacci in Ohio8:05 AM

    I've been really enjoying your blog. You are honest, real, and you get at the heart of things. Those are GREAT things to find in a blog. I've lived this post.

    I think your question - "How do stupid people do this?" - depends on if you mean "stupid people that love Christ and are seeking to obey Him" or just plain "stupid people" who don't have the strength and grace of Christ Jesus. If you meant "stupid people that love Christ and choose to obey Him" - I'd say they do it the same way you do - by God's grace and *only* by His grace. I'm a bright, intelligent mom of 4 born in 6 years, but my brains only get me so far. Definitely not far enough.

  19. I mean, I feel ya girlfriend. I am a mom of a 3.5 year old and an 11 month old and still have momentary anxiety attacks when I know I will be alone & outnumbered with them. Thank you for your refreshing honesty and humor. I have been gently (and not so gently) humbled often by God and reminded not to judge other moms. They, like me, are often doing the best they can, operating in survival mode.


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