Yesterday and Monday, I had the unusual experience of being transported back in time. Sort of. I suddenly found myself mother to four kids five and under, rather than six kids eight and under. And oh what a different life it was!
Knowing that it wasn’t going to be the same, I had very low expectations of myself. No grandiose plans to create sourdough muffins or finish reupholstering the couch. I merely wanted to get the house straightened up, put away some already-clean laundry, and, you know, feed everyone a few times.
I don’t even know what all happened, but I know what didn’t, and the not-done list looked quite a bit (exactly?) like my to-do list. When poor Dave walked in slightly past our normal dinnertime, I looked at him helplessly and said, “Um, there’s no dinner. I did defrost some meat, but that’s as far as I got.”
For some reason, Agnes and Christina got into way more trouble without the big girls around. They kept pilfering more of my new school supplies that I hadn’t put up yet, and as the crayons got scattered about, they couldn’t be bothered to pick them up, so they would just take a new box. And grab some index cards while they were at it and recreate a ticker tape parade. I was too busy trying to clean up from their breakfast-cleanup attempts to go supervise their picking everything up. Somehow a puddle of glue got on the laundry room floor, which Dave discovered as he stepped in it, and at the same time noticed a can of anchovies half-opened and spilled everywhere by the dryer. And various other exploits which I will probably not discover all at once, but which will likely manifest themselves like petals of a fetid flower.
Soren did do lots of helpfulish things, like cleaning his room (and he did a great job, Dave said) and vacuuming the stairs, but to me that was like polishing brass on a sinking ship… The kids hadn’t even USED dishes for their first two meals (which mainly consisted of leftover rolls from the previous night’s dinner and leftover waffles I’d frozen a while back) and yet I was being overtaken by dishes piling up the sink and counters. There was a beautiful clear and polished 2′ x 2′ spot on the floor which the three and four year old had done quite a thorough job of cleaning, and myopia certainly would have been a nice problem for me to have, since the wide angle view showed the chairs and table still covered in yogurt and who knows what else.
The big girls were not due to come back until tonight, but last night I got a message that Miriam was ill with a cold and was coming home, and though I tried not to be glad she was sick, I certainly was glad to see her again. Somehow I think even a languishing eight year old on the couch with a pair of responsible eyes will be an improvement on just me in a sea of messmakers and mini-scoundrels. 🙂
And this is a lesson to me: there’s no substitute for having older children.
Oh, and for goodness’ sake I must not neglect to teach the younger kids some better chore skills, pronto.