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The thing about being pregnant and having four kids is that people stare at me all the time.

I sort of get it because every time I see a mom with three or more kids, I’m like, “Whoa, that’s a serious handful” and then I suddenly remember that I’m in the same crazy boat.

But still, I hate people staring at me.

Like over school vacation, I took my four kids to Trader Joe’s. The one near us is pretty small and therefore quite manageable with my whole crew. Plus they have free mini coffee samples which I really enjoy. (Although my 2-year-old let it slip to my husband that I let her have a few sips of coffee so she’s now cut off.)

Now some customers seem very irritated by my presence in the store. Like a woman who was trying to get to the apples. But at that very moment, each child was placing a few apples into his or her own bag and completely blocking the aisle. I wanted them to move for this woman. I really did. But I just couldn’t orchestrate it in a timely manner. She finally huffed away angry and appleless.

But then other people seem almost envious.

Like an older woman came up to me on the same shopping excursion and said, “Your kids are so cute. All my children are grown now and all over the country. I used to buy so much at the grocery store and now I only need a few items.”

I felt so sorry for this woman I wanted to cry right there between the breakfast bars and the sea salt brownie petites.

And then she went on, “This is the best time of your life. Enjoy it.”

Oh man, not that again! Lady, I had four years at Tulane University that I KNOW were better than this.

It’s not that I don’t love my kids.

2-year-old Chase kisses me on the cheek 40 times a day and says, “I love you mommy. You are so pretty and so nice.” I don’t know where he learned it but it’s the sweetest thing EVER.

2-year-old Harlowe has the cutest tushy shake in the universe.

6-year-old Summer has the tightest bear hugs and the most sparkling smile I’ve ever seen.

And 8-year-old Dylan is so loving and sweet with all her younger siblings that sometimes I just stare at her with so much love and pride that I feel like my heart is going to explode.

My point is – I really adore my kids but this phase of my life is grueling. There are no days off. I barely shut my eyes at night and someone is calling me because they have to go to the bathroom, they want to be tucked in or their blanket is folded wrong.

I barely open my eyes in the morning and someone is fighting over something with somebody else. There are lunches to be made, days to organize and constant clean up.  I squeeze in time for my husband, writing, exercise and friendships but mostly this time of my life is all about taking care of these little people.

So please please please don’t tell me this is the best time of my life. An amazing, crazy, chaotic, rewarding time? Absolutely. The best? Did I mention how much fun I had in college?!

But I don’t say any of this to the woman between the breakfast bars and the seat salt brownie petites.

I simply say, “Yes, I’m lucky to have all these wonderful children. I feel very grateful.”

These kids are loud and crazy and prevent good Americans from buying apples.

And I love them because they are mine.

26 Responses to this life of mine

  • April says:

    And I can almost guarantee that when they’re all off to college and their own lives, you’re going to look back and really believe it was the best time of your life. And then you might find yourself in the grocery store one day telling some lady with children scattered about that she should enjoy this because it’s far too fleeting.

  • Oh absolutely. I had an internal mini-meltdown on some or other day because I just felt like I do EVERYTHING! And I do… but I was better able to cope with it after a good long soak in the tub (out of which I was dragged because, “you promised to read me a story” got in the way) and a sleep.

  • Chris says:

    I remember feeling the exact same way. My mother would tell me to treasure every moment, it goes by so fast. I didn’t believe her. Now I am facing my oldest leaving for college and I would do anything to go back in time.

  • Jordana says:

    Love this!! And completely agree. I highly recommend Ayelet Waldman’s book Tthe.Bad Mother. She speaks about this same issue also with humor. One of the most-relatable books about motherhood I’ve read.

  • Sara says:

    I love your honesty here K, and I totally agree. I love my monkeys but really really had a fine time traveling the world playing soccer and clubbing post college too.

  • bitsy says:

    In parenthood the days are long but the years are oh so short. My grandmother used to tell me that those were the best days of my life. Now that my oldest is gone and the youngest is a short-timer here I wish I had had more children and I realize how wonderful those days were. Grueling and exhausting, but marvelous, too.

  • I feel like I was reading about my life! And I only have 3. But I think the 2 year old twins thing definitely feels like we are carting round a nursery class. Sometimes you can almost feel the glares burning into your back! It is what it is though and to be honest, the fact that we get of of the house in the first place deserves some sort of respect! I hear you, it is completely wonderful and rewarding but down right hard and tiring and sometimes just sitting down with a cup of coffee, a magazine and your feet up would feel like winning the lottery.

  • Autumn says:

    I enjoyed reading this post this morning. I REALLY get what you are saying because it’s so similar to my situation. With a 5 year, 3 year, 2 year and 7 month baby I typically get the same looks and comments. My line that I hear most frequently is “wow you really have your hands full, are they all yours?” When I hear this sometimes I want to say something back with a little more kick but I usually just say “yes”.
    So I feel your pain at the grocery store Kelcey.

  • Maybe this can be the SECOND most best time in your life. College ruins it for the rest of our lives.
    p.s. Chase… too much. Those boys. I’m telling you. My son (who is almost 13!) still kisses me and says he loves me so much.

  • Meg D says:

    Beautifully put! I appreciate the reminder to stop and be grateful but also realistic. This parenting thing is not easy but it’s great.

  • Steph says:

    Why didn’t you tell the wistful lady that she was using her natural defense mechanism of suppressing the hard part of parenting like you wisely counseled at the Mouthy Housewives?? I loved that–it is a perfect description of what we do as mamas. I also loved your description of “angry and appleless.”

  • Ohhhhhhhhhh! Yes. You have described my life. And I don’t even stay with my kids because I have work and have business travel and my husband does the bulk of the corralling.

    My favorite moment at the grocery store with all five kids is this: Oldest stepdaughter has one baby twin, one of my stepsons has other baby twin and other stepson is getting the cart situated for placement of baby twins. A woman comes up to us and asks, “Are these ALL YOURS?” in that judgemental tone of negativity. I didn’t want to explain the nuances of two sets of twins and three stepchildren and was debating if I could really make a snarky response when my stepson chimes in with the biggest lie ever, “Nope. These aren’t ALL of my mom’s kids. We have one more at home with my dad!” He winked at me and the woman hugged away in disgust as my stepdaughter called after her, “He’s just joking!” Ha!

    I think I totally missed out in college. I was too busy studying and being involved in five dozen extracurricular activities and working and building my resume to have any fun. I think I went to the re-release of ET. Wow. I was so super cool.

    It’s so hard to savor, isn’t it? But, still, I fear these may be the best years of my life…I envison everyone moving away and my older husband dying and me being all alone…but, then, I am a little melodramatic these days after losing out baby…so perhaps it won’t be all that bad and I can enjoy a cleanly scrubbed kitchen floor without stickiness being there ten seconds after I finish washing it…

  • I feel ya! My daughter is 5 and some days I say “only 13 more years on my sentence”, longing for the day she moves out. Other days I don’t want to end b/c things are awesome and amazing. Such is life my friend. But basically I am a pansy b/c I only have one kid and I feel your pain. Clearly I am nt cut out for a gaggle of kids, but it is fun to read about yours 😉

  • Kristina Dorfman says:

    Best line ever: So please please please don’t tell me this is the best time of my life. An amazing, crazy, chaotic, rewarding time? Absolutely. The best? Did I mention how much fun I had in college?!

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kelcey kintner