Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Raising three 2 year olds and a 4 year old (while being an introvert, without caffeine)

So there are 1 1/2 months where the three youngest girls are the same age.  Isla is only 10 1/2 months older than the twins.  She is also the same size as them and she is still in diapers.  She has a speech delay so although her cognitive and social skills are older than theirs she still sounds a lot like they do when you listen to them.  So, today I have three 2 year olds and a 4 year old.  And they are all girls.  Which means emotions run high around here.  More likely or not someone will be crying at any given time due to their feelings being hurt more than anything else.  Or they will be yelling at each other in 2 year old speak about who knows what.  Dinner is anything but a quiet affair.  It is amazing how fast they can get emotional, yelling and crying about a perceived hurt another inflicted upon them (and they are only two and four!).

Isla, Mia, and Ellie

They also really love each other.  They are each other's best friends, they stick up for each other, they defend each other and they ferociously protect each other.   They kiss, hug, and cuddle with each other constantly.  The littlest of the bunch, in age and size, is Mia.  Mia loves loves loves hair.  She loves to suck her finger and stick her other hand in my hair and cuddle.  My hair or Isla's hair.  You will often hear her say, "I want Isla's hair" and Isla patiently says "okay, Mia" and lets her cuddle with her.  I really don't think that my three younger brothers and I showed each other affection in the same way (hardly!), so it's quite amazing to me.

Keeping Ellie company as she gets her neb treatment.  

From my view of life, as the mommy of this cute bunch, I alternate b/w laughing and smiling at their sweetness, to wanting to scream when the needs of taking care of so many children under 5 overwhelm me.  There is one certain little miss of the bunch who loves to hang on my legs and has a very faithful and persistent whine.  I am so thankful for the ergo wrap because I can put her on my back for an hour or two and she is happy.  But when there is more than one craving my touch and crying at my feet I often run out of patience and dream of escaping!  I have tried the good old escape to the bathroom, but it isn't really a refuge when little people are dramatically throwing themselves at the door, trying to peek under the door, generally yelling at one another about where mommy went, or puddled in a pool of tears crying like I have left them forever.  I have given up and leave the door open.

I recently went to the doctor and was told that I had to give up caffeine (as I was having too many funky heart rhythms).  I blissfully (and foolishly) replied, "no problem, I just drink tea" (it's not like I drink coffee).  What's that saying?  Pride goes before the fall.  Yes, that is what has happened to me.  It seems that one of the major ways I get through my days at home with the kids is my two lovely cups of Kenyan Black Tea.  And when I stopped those two lovely cups of tea...well, let's just say I wanted to go hide under the table with a blanket over my head and cry all day!  It hasn't been pretty.  I want to tell you, I love caffeine and I despise the fact that I can't drink it!  How does one take care of 3 two year olds and a four year old without caffeine?  I don't know.  (Oh, and I'm about to tackle potty training them all at once :)!

Natalie and Ellie

The last little tidbit I want to share is that it's hard to parent little ones as an introvert.  Just like I crave caffeine, I crave time totally alone without anyone talking to me, touch me, needing me, or crying for me.  I love my kids, but I also need time to myself to find energy and joy to take care of them well.  Our younger two girls spent the first 5 months of their lives in a crib and were rarely held.  They desperately seek out physical touch.  Which is a great thing!  Their little love tanks need constant refilling.  So they want to be held and cuddled as much as possible.  When I sit on the floor, they rarely want to play with toys, they just want to sit on me (any body part they can get) and will often push and shove each other to make sure they have an equal share.  I'm very grateful for this need of theirs, it shows they are attached to me and are seeking me out for affection and love.  I also struggle with being so needed all day long.  At night I stay up too late because it is quiet and I can get the alone time I need.

Parenting little ones is beautiful, because they are lovely, sweet kids and it is also really hard.  I'm thankful for them and I'm thankful they are in my life.  I have never been stretched so much before to be a more loving, kind, patient, gracious person.  I am trying to not have unrealistic expectations for myself.  We keep life simple.  We rarely go out (we last about 10 minutes anywhere and the two youngest are not great about staying by me in areas where there are cars) and most often stick close to home.  It works for now.  And since we know so few people here we have few demands on our time, so we can spend most of our time with each other.  I'm grateful for this.  Meanwhile I am trying to learn how to take care of two year old triplets and a four year old.  Without caffeine.  And as an introvert.

(P.S.  Great, thought provoking blog post here.)


Katie said...

So crazy that you posted this today. It just barely hit me a few days ago that possibly the reason I have been struggling since bringing my 2nd kiddo home is that I am such a true introvert and I never have any time to myself anymore. My baby is with me at all times and my kids want to be with me every second. I am so grateful for their love, but it is hard for me at the same time. Thanks for making it seem like I am not alone.

Holly said...

Hey Katie,

Yeah, it hit me recently too. I realize that when I most feel on edge and impatient is when I haven't had the time alone. And it's hard to get that time when they are so little! Thanks for commenting. It IS good to know that we are not alone! I think there are some really special challenges that come with parenting very young children. Some special joy too.

Shauna said...

Praying for you, Holly! I have "quit" caffeine (which for me is green or black tea) 3 times already this year. And now I'm addicted again. Ugh! It isn't pretty. I'm less patient when I am hooked on caffeine, but sometimes it is the only thing that will take away one of my migraines.

The hardest part of parenting for me also has been the lack of alone time and the constant need kids have for attention and companionship. Parenting while introverted! It is certainly challenging and draining. One of my super extroverted friends says that parenting little ones has even made her crave time alone!

Jodie said...

I totally get the introvert thing, I love the kisses, hugs and cuddles, but there are times were you just have to head to the grocery store and leave papa in charge just to be alone for a half an hour, the littles that wern't held much as children love so intensly, when there is someone there to love on that it can be a lot!

Jess said...

I have similar feelings to the neediness of our kids as well. We have 5, and 3 of them are under 16 months. The constant needs of touch for them can sometimes overwhelm me and I am an extrovert, albeit one who happens to not really be a touch person. I call this our "hermit" stage. It is exhausting to go anywhere, and pretty much not worth the effort. Except I generally thrive off of being with others and love hustle and bustle. Just not with 3 babies freaking out which is what usually happens when we go anywhere. I guess I need to remember the quote from Evan Almighty where he says (summarizing here) "when you ask for patience, does God give you patience, or opportunities to be patient?" Let me tell you, I have been given opportunities aplenty!!