If you ever wonder what it’s like for a mom with five small kids to make it somewhere on time, I’d love to tell you.
Wednesday night, I was scrambling to get my kids ready to make it to church on time. I’d played the “Eat Your Health Food, Please” Game too many times this week. I was over it. I quickly threw Star Wars mac and cheese, and nitrates (I mean hot dogs), and broccoli their way. Hey, at least there was broccoli, right?
I unsuccessfully try to keep the kitchen clean as they are eating. But in my experience with kids, it’s two steps forward, a zillion back. By the end of the meal, the dinner table looks like instead of admonishing them to lean over their plates, they had heard, “Lean over the table.” The floor’s fate? The same. After they request to be excused, I scurry them outside to play while I finish up, because after all, they were ready to go to church. I’m just tidying up.
I glance at the clock. I now have 30 minutes to be out the door before we are officially late. In short order, Pierson comes back inside to tattle that Thatcher, my four-year old, had messed his pants. Apparently, he is trying to ‘poop in a hole’ somewhere in our backyard but had poor aim. I send Thatcher and his mess to the shower to get cleaned up and scold him for not answering the call of duty appropriately.
I let the twins down from their chair, but they look more like a casserole, flecks of broccoli and noodles crusting in their hair. They, too, need a bath. At this point, I think, “Save the Earth” and make a split-second decision to let them go to church in their pajamas. Truth be told, I don’t really care about the mantra, less laundry is my driving motivation. The twins receive the fastest splash-and-dash bath I can muster and are set down to roam while I assist Sterling.
Sterling has pottied and needs help wiping. Her shorts are backwards and thankfully, she’s changed into her brother’s shoes, which is a slight improvement over the other two-sizes-too-big shoes she had been wearing earlier (in which she’d gone out in public). It’s a battle I will not fight. I told her she looked nice. But her hair! How does a ponytail just disappear? Her tousled hair looks more like she has walked herself through a car wash several times. And it has already been fixed once today. She adamantly requests a ‘back ponytail’. I oblige.
Meanwhile, Merritt enters the bathroom with a yellow crayon completely chewed to bits. I perform the finger swipe. I’m a certified professional–Maybe I need to add it to my resume?!?! Or do a YouTube instructional video. I’m that good.
Pierson returns to inform me that water got on him somehow. According to him, he was minding his own business and it just happened. Like the heavens opened up and water dumped right onto his shirt and shorts. I instruct him to go and change and he is back in a jiffy, wearing too-small shorts and a belly shirt. The kid is growing so fast, his clothes look more he dressed himself with the twins’ clothes. This is a battle I deem worth fighting. He receives instructions to go change into something that actually fits. Bravery is encouraged as he begrudgingly heads back to the basement to slay the lurking basement monsters for new clothes.
I walk to my room and notice that Anders is mid-stream in the process of peeing on my carpet, with two nearby landmines. He’s currently planting another when I holler to stop. I scoop him up, still pooping, for a second splash-and-dash bath. After a quick clean-up on aisle one, and having learned my lesson, I complete the twin’s diaper and jammie changes (Merritt flailing, Anders obliging).
I hurriedly hustle to get myself ready to go; It feels good to look clean every now and then. And for today’s vanity option, I choose makeup over hair-no time for both. I rush to apply makeup in hopes that tonight I don’t get asked the same question I received last Sunday, “What happened to your face!?”
Anders mouth is bulging. Finger swipe #2 reveals a crumbly dark brown crayon. I question why I even feed them food from a plate anyway. They get all their essential nutrition, both food and non-food, from the floor anyway. Why do I try so hard? And have I mentioned I’m a mouth-swipin’ professional?
I run downstairs to grab a shirt for myself. If cleanliness is next to godliness at least my shirt will be godly tonight. The window in the basement is right by the deck, where the older three are outside playing. I could hear a spraying noise coming from outside as well as the smell of sunscreen. No joke–The smell of sunscreen is oozing its way inside my house, through the dryer vent, I suppose. I throw on my godly shirt and scramble upstairs to see the last little bit of the new aerosol SPF 50 sunscreen being emptied out onto greasy bodies, the picnic table, deck, and siblings. A whole bottle of spray sunscreen gone in a 60-second mist, now liquid polka dots decorating my deck. The smell of the sunscreen is overpowering, but no time for more baths. It’s church time!
I usher all the kids to the van, drenched in copious amounts of excess sunscreen,their bodies shimmering in greasiness. But hey, even though it’s 6:55pm, if the sun shines again on this fine day, we all be (literally) covered. We have five minutes to be there.
Is it bedtime yet?
And because all good stories have a point, if you’d like my wisdom for how to make it work to be somewhere with 5 small kids, here’s the moral of the story, if you will…
If you’re trying to get 5 kids out the door here are my three steps to success:
#1 Lower your expectations or have none. Then you won’t be disappointed.
#2 If you want to be early, get a babysitter. The kids can stay home.
#3 If kids are left alone with a bottle of sunscreen, your deck will receive a lifetime coverage protection from the sun.
And if you don’t have kids and are looking for a moral of the story,
#4 Don’t ask a mom of young kids what’s wrong with her face. Chances are her kids brought on early-onset aging.