Skip to main content

My life as a drill sargeant...

So, I mentioned in my last post about having many comments flung my way about "all the kids" while out shopping the other day.

I'm not really used to it, to be honest. Usually my status as a mother of four boys is hidden to most of the public because most of the time the older boys are at school, or Dave and I have a natural tendency to split them up for errands. This is easier for several reasons:

  1. We don't take up as much space when there are only 3 or 4 of us out at once... I'm quite aware of the "causing a road block" phenomenon a family of 5 or 6 can create when walking down footpaths or through shopping centres as a group.
  2. I don't have to keep track of as many people. Even those of my friends with two kids will know that there's always ONE who wants to lag behind, or "go look over there, just for a second"... Constantly having to turn around to keep track of three walking kids is a pain in the neck.
  3. It's quieter. Seriously. Less people talking to me at once while I try to remember the errands in my head. And believe they ALL seem to think what they have to say is immediately relevant and important, so they all talk in a stream of conscious, at once!
  4. We don't get as many stares and comments.
I had a giggle to myself today as I struggled through Safeway with a doona, a pillow, covers, 2L of milk, 2L of soda water, and 2 loaves of bread that NO ONE told me I had my hands full (which I most certainly did). But yesterday, when I had a baby in a pram, being pushed by the 8 year old, and the 10 year old giving the 4 year old a piggy back, and NOTHING in my hands, I had more than one comment about having my hands full...



One check out lady - who told me she'd had four of her own (!) - asked me how I manage, LOL, and before I knew quite what I was saying I told her I'm a benevolent drill sargeant. Over the years, I've stopped suggesting, asking, begging, nagging, and bargaining with the kids. Now I just tell them what I expect of them in any given moment, and sometimes, when I feel they're distracted I tell them in a voice that carries, not because it's yelling (though admittedly, sometimes it is) but because it's deep and booming and with that edge of "don't mess with me"...

But honestly I don't find it hard to "manage" anymore. I just don't. I think, once Bryn was born, I found it got easier. Maybe because my oldest two were 6 and 4 by then, but maybe because I'd figured out what works. Knowing exactly what you want to see happen works. Knowing not to say anything you're not willing to follow through on, works! Knowing that sometimes doing things that AREN'T the most convenient for you (like turning off the tv and engaging the kids in an activity) works better in the long run...

After having Ari, I have to say having four has been a breeze. We have so much more fun these days and enjoying each others company so much more than we did when there was just one or two children (and not because those children weren't fun and lovely to spend time with but because I sucked so much more as a parent back then, rofl)...

Today Erik and I played five games of Yatzee together, just the two of us, while Luey was next door playing with a friend who had been playing over here a bit earlier.

There were stresses throughout the day... Luey smacked his face on the tiled floor in the hallway when he slipped over while mucking around with some balloons. He screamed blue murder and hypoventilated and I had to hold him on my lap with my hand over his eyes because he didn't want to see all the blood runnung down his shirt front and shorts from his split lip (which is now the size of the GoodYear Blimp)... Bryn had a couple of meltdowns over not being invited over to the girl next door's place with Luey - a trauma which has caused him to wake four times this evening and night and reject, then scream for his new doona and pillow... Ari fell over, while trying to run, on two occassions and jammed his fingers in the door (AGAIN - the third time this week), then collapse into an exhausted sleep at 7pm, only to wake at 8pm, and stay up until 12am...

But on the other hand. Bryn, who had earlier in the week asked if he was too old to still be having a breastfeed before bed (to which I replied by asking him if he thought he was, to which he said he did), who had last night said he didn't want to feed before bed, and taken himself off to bed pleased as punch with himself, came to me tonight and asked for his feed - which he got... He's growing up and he's getting ready to wean fully, but it's an ebb and flow sort of thing. I could just say, "That's it, no more", but I strongly believe that there would be no benefit to either of us at this point to create contention where it is not necessary.

And it's so fullfilling seeing Ari mill about the house. At the moment he doesn't stop until he literally drops. It's a constantly cycle of checking out familiar haunts and discovering new ones. He's facinated with the laundry because he doesn't get to investigate in there often. He just seems to disappear and reappear every so often in the crowd of bodies that is always in motion around our house.

So, yep, that's my life as a drill sargeant. I LOVE it! I wouldn't have it any other way! I have to be firm and on duty all the time with so many people to keep track of and order to keep in the house and on outings for all our safety and well being, but none of that occupies nearly as much of my conscious thinking now that it's just par for the course as it did when I had less people to manage, and simultaneously, I enjoy the chaos of it all so much more than when there wasn't so much chaos but my parenting was much more chaotic...

Comments

Stitch Sista said…
I totally get that.
katef said…
benevolent drill sargeant ... rofl... I love it!
Oh and the number of people who discover we are having a fourth and then say 'how will you cope????' always makes me laugh. I figure I'll cope exactly the same way I do now... glad to hear I am not far wrong!
Sif said…
I'm going to ask the mums in a large family forum about this... I know differents ages bring different challenges, but for some reason i've found parenting get easier with each subsequent child, after two... I really didn't cope well when i just had two, and i think my younger two aren't necessarily easier but that i've figured out how best to cope so as not to escalate trying situations. Also, there are more hands on deck now, rather than Me always being the go to person...

So more isn't exponentially more work, the large family dynamic is different! I don't think people get that until they experience it...
Stitch Sista said…
I think one of the key things is that parents with more children than hands *have* to get their children doing stuff for themselves and around the house, whereas often parents with one or two kids end up doing absolutely everything right down to dressing them until they're 10 lol (ok perhaps I exagerate).

Even though my family isn't so big I have always tried to encourage the kids to do whatever they are able...I don't want to be a slave to them. I am contstantly surprised by what parents continue to do for their quite capable children...
Nic said…
I just gotta say that picture is adorable. I love that all the boys are helping each other out, awww.
Joy Johnston said…
Sif I think you have discovered stuff about being a mother that many mothers have never experienced.

Popular posts from this blog

12 Things Happy People Do Differently - a self-reflection...

A few days ago a Facebook friend posted the above poster on her wall. I believe she got these points from this blog which she enjoys reading, and the bloggers on the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog derived their discussion of these points from this book, available on Amazon - you're welcome! I have to admit, I haven't read the blog or the book I've just mentioned but wanted my readers to have access to the sources of the poster for their own reflective purposes.
The New Year will be upon us in but a few days and I thought this a great opportunity to do a little personal assessment on how I'm playing the happy game. I'm often not very happy at all - I don't need to be happy all the time, let me just say that up front - I personally believe that life is a balancing act and those who seek euphoria often will also often feel desolation because in all things there must be balance. The great riches of the few on this planet come at the personal cost of the many as is …

The symbolism of elephants...

Just recently I've been seeing and noticing elephants everywhere!

A few weeks ago I saw the Samsung Elephant Ad, and watching that led me to watching a video with an elephant painting (seriously, you have to watch it to believe it!).

Then last night the boys told me they were having a free dress day at school to raise money for 'Mali the Elephant' - who turned out to be a paper maché statue which the children will paint and then show around the council before it comes back to the school to stand outside the performing arts room.

Then this morning I followed a link from Twitter to Toushka Lee's blog and read this post about an elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka.

This morning the Grumpy Old Man did another driving test and unfortunately didn't pass. We've booked his next test and are looking forward to that now. About ten minutes before he walked in the door I saw this poster on Facebook...


At the time, I didn't know if the Grumpy Old Man had been successful or …

Alone... And Stuff...

Do you ever just need to be alone?



As the boys are growing up, we have more times when the house is quiet. The youngest will be asleep. One will be reading, one will be playing on his computer with headphones on, one will be painting and there is stillness.

Sometimes, even that is not enough.

Sometimes I crave being alone, with no possibility of someone suddenly realising they have to tell me something important or ask me a question or even just crash about in the kitchen.

Sometimes I crave S P A C E, lots and lots of space, being able to walk from room to room without encountering another soul.

This is how I felt when I woke up this morning, so instead of getting ready for work, I decided to stay home. Get up, but not go anywhere, no hear the sound of my own voice, or anyone else's.

I think this might just be part of getting older. After a lifetime of chasing after other people and trying not to be alone, my mind and body is full of thoughts, experiences, feelings, and busy-ness …