"It's Like You're Drowning, and Someone Hands You a Baby"
Sep 8, 2014
This is how Jim Gaffigan describes what it's like having four children.
Before I had four children of my own, I thought it was funny. Hilarious even.
Now I know there's nothing funny about it, but it's spot on, 100%, absolutely true.
It runs through my head multiple times a day.
Like when I'm scrambling to get lunch for three hungry kiddos. I'm rushing around, whipping out bread, slicing up fruit, wiping up milk, and then . . . Clark realizes he hasn't eaten in three hours. If he doesn't get something in him right this second, he will surely die of starvation. And he screams and cries and wails because he knows it's true.
Or like when Aaron needs help with math homework, Max needs help making his bed, and Bradley needs help in the bathroom, all at the same time. No one will be patient. No one will be satisfied unless I'm at their side right now. And then . . . Clark realizes he's the only one not receiving any attention, and he cries twice as loud as everyone else to make up for it.
Or like when Bradley is playing with a toy, and Max decides it would be great fun to tease him by stealing said toy. Bradley begins screaming and chasing Max. Then Aaron, using his six-year-old authority, decides to take control of the situation and begins bossing them both around, while joining in the chase, of course. I'm trying to separate the three of them into separate rooms . . . and then, the whole commotion wakes up Clark, and he didn't really want to wake up yet, so he wails in protest, and nothing will satisfy him until he's rocked back to sleep.
Or like when I'm finally getting some work done. I'm washing the dishes while rocking Clark's car seat with one foot. The boys are, somewhat miraculously, playing quietly together, and I'm afraid to even breathe for fear of disrupting this precarious balance. I work for a blessed half hour before I decide to check on them. I walk into the backyard where I can see they've been quite busy with dirt, sand, water, sticks, and bugs. I wish I hadn't looked . . . and then Clark realizes he's no longer being rocked and decides to make his displeasure known.
Or like when I'm trying to write a blog post, and Bradley says he needs breakfast. I get him breakfast and go back to writing. Then Aaron says he can't find the shirt he wants to wear. I find him his shirt and go back to writing. Then Maxwell needs my full attention in order to tell me all about lemon sharks. I listen and then go back to writing. . . . Then Clark wakes up for the day with a soggy diaper and a bright-eyed smile, and I decide to give up in favor of kissing his soft cheeks.
I have lots of people ask me, "So . . . how's it going with four kids?" Some of them ask this tentatively--they only have three kids but are thinking of having a fourth, and they're scared of the answer. Some of them ask it with a smirk--they have two older kids and no intention of having any more, and they seem to realize their life must look pretty good. Some of them ask it with an empathetic hug--they're the empty nesters with four or five . . . or nine children who well remember what it's like being in the trenches.
To all of them, I give the one description that seems to perfectly describe my situation:
"Well, it's like I'm drowning . . . and someone hands me a baby."