Last week was half-term.
It's a double-edged sword.
During school half-term it's a time much needed for our kids. They get a little spent after 5-6 weeks of school week-in and week-out.
It's tiring for the little ones!
They love half-term because, well, duh.
Sometimes I put them in a day camp. Sometimes we go away.
Either way, for me, it's always tiring.
It always throws me off.
Different schedules and routines spin my head.
Last week we went to Paris to visit my sister.
She just had her second baby and my kids wanted to meet their new cousin.
We all couldn't wait to see each other. My sister kept telling me how much she was looking forward to my kids to play with her two-year-old, which would almost completely relieve her from him clinging all over her.
And she also knew that she'd hardly ever need to hold her newborn because I'd be hogging him since, as many of you know, I simply adore holding them newborns.
She was so looking forward to this 'vacation' with us visiting.
The minute we arrived, it was a like the circus was in town. My three kiddies pounced on their little cousins, playing constantly with the two-year-old, and then taking turns holding their newborn cousin. And since I was there for the week, my sister planned to take care of some important errands while I stayed at the apartment and babysat her kids.
But I wasn't actually just babysitting her kids.
I had to deal with my own too.
At first I thought, yeah, this is no problem. Easy-peasy. But I didn't actually know what I was talking about. The weather wasn't very good outside, so we were a bit cooped up in the small apartment. Things got pretty nuts, so my 11-year-old was like, "Right! We're all going to the park!"
Do you know how long it takes to round up five children to get out of the house?
Ages. It takes ages.
Put on your socks!
Where's your jacket?
Put on your shoes!
And, inevitably, there's always one of them I can't find and when I do they have no clue what's happening. They're in their own world.
"What are you doing?"
"Uhhmmmm, I'm looking for something to eat," as I watch them open the fridge staring at nothing specific.
"C'mon! What are you doing? Let's GO! Shut the fridge! We're LEAVING!"
And then as I head back towards the door I notice that the room I just tidied up is destroyed again because they kids forgot what we were doing (because I took my eyes off them) and they decided to wrestle and play with the pillows to wack each other.
"What the hell is going on?! Let's GOOOO!"
I'm completely ignored.
"Ok, bye! I'm leaving!"
I know. This is not what the new-age parents would recommend.
I'm not perfect.
But my tactic worked. And I have to conserve my sanity and my energy.
With my three monsters, my sister's toddler in the stroller, and her newborn in the mile-long baby sling wrapped around my body a thousand times, we finally set off.
The great thing about my sister's apartment is that it's in a great location in Paris. You can walk to anything and it's all there. Anything and everything within walking distance.
As we were walking, I suddenly realized that I had five kids with me. And they all looked like they were mine.
My tall 11-year-old.
My much younger 2-year-old in the stroller.
And my brand spanking new newborn.
How does a mother of five DO IT?
Even my 11-year-old noticed.
"Mommy. We could all be yours. You could have five children. Cool. Oh look. Everyone's staring at you."
Yup. As I looked at the people walking around us, the men, women, and children we watching and staring at my clan.
Some of them even pointed.
I don't know exactly what they were thinking. But I can bet you some of them thought I was crazy.
Actually, at first, I thought to myself, "What the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this to myself?"
But then I started thinking, "Hell yeah. I AM SUPERWOMAN. Damn right I have five friggin' kids. I am a freakin' awesome mom. And stare all you want people. Look at how happy we are!"
I even did live Instagram video while we were out.
It was super fun!
But boy, was it a learning experience.
Just because my kids are older doesn't mean they won't continue to exhaust me. My mommy-beam is on ALL THE DAMN TIME.
It doesn't shut off.
I kept finding myself count every one of them.
One. Two. Three.
Um. Where's Four and Five?
Bionic eyes scan super fast.
Toooot toooot toooot tooot.
Ooph. There they are. Up on the highest goddamn branch.
(Please don't fall. Please don't fall.)
And I start counting again.
There's One (the baby glued into the sling on me).
Shit. Where's Three?
She was just here.
Oh there she is.
Then I turn back to Two (that's my sister's toddler).
Where'd he go?
Oh, phew, there he is.
The messed up thing is, as long as I have her kids in sight and they're safe, it's much less stressful. God forbid I have to call my sister to tell her that I have lost her child.
Very very bad.
Somehow I know that my kids will eventually show up. I trust them to run out and find me.
So, how did it end?
My score was 100%.
All five. Happy, safe, and alive.
The whole week basically continued like that and thank goodness everyone had a wonderful, fun, and safe time together.
What I discovered is that part of being a mom is that I'm always learning, always alert, and always wanting to push my limits to stretch more and more.
This might not be what every mother wants, but for me, at this point in my life, I want to continue to create these crazy and fun moments, and to share them with my family, and to never look back regretting that I didn't do this.
Oh. And I also drank a lot of wine.
— Dr MaryAnne