This is the hardest job I've ever done.
And no, it is very unlikely that you DO understand. This is not just the "parenting is the hardest job ever" kind of thing...this is "raising twins and triplets who are 2.5 years apart is THEE. HARDEST. THING. I'VE. EVER. DONE." kind of thing. And barring any horrific catastrophes, it's the hardest thing I will EVER do.
Time to just lay it all out there like it is. For almost 6 years, I've had countless people tell me that I am a "supermom." They say things like, "You are amazing. I could never do that." Or, "You are SUCH a patient person." You want to know the truth? I'm NOT a supermom. I am NOT patient. And I CAN'T do this. At least not well. Every day is a struggle. I work my BUTT off to keep everyone alive. If I am awake for 5 minutes without wanting to scream, yell, and throw a tantrum myself, I'd consider the day a shining success. I am a very average person, who has been given an insanely difficult task. A task that is so monumentally larger than my abilities it is mind-boggling.
If you have twins...you don't know what my daily life is like. If you have triplets, you don't know what my daily life is like. If you have higher order multiples, you don't know what my day is like. If you have multiple sets of multiples who are spaced farther apart, you don't know what my day is like. If you work in childcare and are the only teacher in the room, you still don't know what my day is like. If you have grandchildren who are multiples, you don't know what my day is like. Unless you have multiple multiples who are 2.5 years apart or less, you do not know what my day is like. (If you do, I'd like to meet you.) And that's just the truth. For a long time, I believed that my daily existence wasn't that much different from that of other mothers. Parenting IS the hardest job. And I do not discount that in any way. But the fact is, this particular situation I have is different. And it's intensity cannot be accurately described. It daily breaks me down, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It pushes me to bounds I didn't know existed.
At this point in my life I can not shower, go to the bathroom, or take my kids ANYWHERE without another adult available. If I want to stay on top of the laundry, cleaning up after meals, and keeping the toys relatively picked up during the day, I do not have ONE. SINGLE. MINUTE. of time to myself. Nap time is irrelevant. It is spent either doing these things, or paying for the day I DIDN'T do those things. At the end of the day, I just want to sleep, but there is often other things to be done. I have no time to decompress. To regain composure. I have been away from my children on vacation for up to 10 days. That wasn't long enough. I have little to no time to focus on the things I know will make me a better mother...like the gospel.
In my church, we try to have Family Home Evening once a week, family and personal prayer morning and night, daily personal and family scripture study, and regular temple attendance. These are things I NEED to keep myself going. And they are things my children need in order to keep them on the right path. But guess what? I am unable to do most of these things regularly. We're good on family prayer, and getting better at family scripture study, but all the others are up for debate. And you might ask, why, if these things are so very important and crucial, don't you simply MAKE the time to do them? Because I need every second of sleep I get. And to do those things, I would have to sacrifice sleep. That's why.
I am up and moving all the time. Putting out upwards of 3 fires at a time. If someone gets hurt, I KNOW that while I am attending to that person, something else is going to happen. Maybe Luke will convince his siblings to climb the fence and escape the back yard. Or the triplets will dump the contents of the refrigerator on the floor. Or someone will pee in their pants... or on the floor...or on me...or all three. I cannot leave the house because it is literally unsafe to take them all out at once by myself. I cannot keep an eye on all of them at once. The volume level in our home is so many decibels louder than any rock concert I've ever been to, that I am amazed that I am not deaf. I can't think of one thing in our house that hasn't been (or is currently) broken. That includes walls. Which means I am stuck in an environment that is too small, messy, dirty, and entirely lacking in anything I want to look at. I cannot grocery shop, menu plan, or prepare a dinner. My kids have survived on water, and various snack foods too many times to count simply because I can't get to the store.
The twins are NOT "great helpers," like so many people seem to think. They are 5 year olds who have ADD. They love their siblings, but when they don't love them, they hate them. And if they don't hate their siblings, they hate ME. They want to help out only with those things that THEY suggest, which is usually more trouble than help. And when I ask for help, they scream and throw a tantrum...they probably learned it from me.
Every day, I struggle to be kind, to be positive, to be a good example. Every day, I cry. Every day, I hear two words ringing in my brain on a repetitious loop..."help me." On many occasions, those words are interspersed with other words that I try not to say...especially around the children. My brain swears like a sailor. Around 4 pm, I've reached my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual limit. I pray that I can make it through till bedtime without wounding my children's psyche or self-esteem. That I can hold it all in a little. bit. longer.
And that's just my day at home. I also have church responsibilities, and I try to contribute where possible to our business. I am infinitely grateful for a husband who bears most of that burden, but who supports the efforts I can make. Because those few precious moments of outside contact are EVERYTHING to me. I may be considered a Facebook junkie. But that's only because I'm a PEOPLE junkie...and that's the main way I interact with them. I HAVE to know that life is going on out there. That there is more than this little world I stay in. Because it's a HARD place to be.
I love my children endlessly and deeply. I would not change this life. I have learned so many Abby-changing things from my children, and from simply mothering them. I think I have grown some. But more so, I think I have found many weaknesses I didn't know were there. And I often wonder, why my Father in Heaven chose to subject my precious children to my incredible inadequacies as a parent, just so I could get better. And I pray, every moment of every day, that the multitude of things I do wrong will not negatively affect them in the future. Because my goal in this way-too-tiny house, is to help these children understand their greatness and their abilities. Their VALUE. To help them develop into phenomenal leaders, people, and children of God. To get them BACK to that PERFECT Father in Heaven who first created them, and does this parenting thing so much better. And it is unfathomable to me, that all of that can come from a mother such as I.
And in that, I guess we aren't so different after all.