A friend texted to see if I was going to the neighborhood chili cook-off this weekend, and while for a split second I thought I might go because I wouldn't have to cook dinner, the thought of chasing after four kids alone in a mob of people brought me back to my senses.
Then I feel bad that my kids might be missing out on fun things, like playing with kids they always play with anyway.
But worse, I start to feel a little envious of my friends with two kids.
Oh the sweet dinner I had with Liz and her two lovely girls when I was briefly in New York last week. The only thing they did loudly was slurp their soup and tell ridiculously adorable jokes.
And the 2-kids neighbors with their overnight babysitting co-op where they trade children for sleepovers on some weekends so they have the house to themselves. Makes me well up just thinking about it.
This feeling I get doesn't mean that I want to give up two of my children or wish I had stopped having babies after Drew, mind you.
But I am a little jealous of the quiet. And the freedom that allows my 2-kids friends the ability to get up and go places without a ridiculous amount of fore thought and packing and handwipes.
Most of the time I just suck it up and go, and then render myself either completely and utterly exhausted or frustrated, or a fun combination of the two.
Other times, like this weekend, I realize my kids will be okay without the chili and just do what I can to get through the night without completely losing my shit.
Even those expectations seem too high.
It's completely my own problem, of course, because as much as I tell people that with big families you have accept the chaos, it's so much more easily said than done. Not just because you're so freaking tired but because it's very counterintuitive, at least for me, anyway, to just let stuff go. And because when all you see around you is families with two kids it's hard to not feel like you're completely falling apart at the seams.
There's still part of me that likes things "just so" or really "just not all over the floor please so help me God."
But when it's one against four, or heck, even two against four, there's only so much you can humanly do before losing it. And then you have to decide whether it's better for the kids to remember you as a raging lunatic with a relatively clean floor and organized Tupperware cabinets, or as a relatively happy mom with a fair bit of disorder.
For now, I'm aiming for somewhere in the middle. I am a keeper upper after all. An annoying high achiever. And I hate having to tell myself "but you have four kids, Kristen" because I AM WOMAN HEAR ME ROARohgodwhopouredoutallthecerealonthefloor.
I'm reminding myself that double the kids means double the work. And double the joy. In small bits now, but in big wonderful chunks later on.
This I know.
Until then, I'm doing my best to create our own normal. A new normal.
It may involve breakfast for dinner instead chili cook-outs, but last time I checked, sanity tastes good any time of day.