messy. crazy. amazing. joyful.

We're not all officially ADHD. Dad's unofficial. Our ten-year-old twins have ADHD. Our seven-year old wants to have it because everyone is always talking about it. Our three year old has ADHD--just because she's three. And me, Mom, I think it's contagious. Who can remain untouched in a house where shoes seem to be lost every morning, instructions are routinely thrown aside, and fights erupt over which continent capybaras come from?

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Ode to Baby

Once upon a time, I was the mother of three children under two and a half—twins and a newborn. I was so busy for the next few years, with the little guy and two extra-“spirited” kids, the thought of having another didn’t even flash through my brain. But as my first three grew, I kept thinking about having another baby. I told myself I was crazy. I told myself it was a bad idea. I told myself I was lucky to have any kids, let alone three, so I should not push it. I told myself I could hardly handle the kids I had, so why even consider having another.

I went to my husband with the idea. He replied the way he might reply if I asked him if he wanted another lemonade, “Sure.” That would not do for the woman who considers everything one million gajillion times before making a decision. I walked away. The next day I pressed him. I asked all my questions. I waited for debate. But all I really got was more “yes,” a confident “yes,” a “yes” with that same faith he seems to have in everything in life: that everything will work out. He felt there was one more child for our family. That “yes” made me so mad because I didn’t think he was taking me seriously; I didn’t think he weighed how much work it would be and how much it would cost. But I also knew that he would say “yes” now and mean it, and I would probably say “yes” after thinking and pondering and evaluating for infinity hours, and it really would all work out in the end anyway.

So we tried for another baby but were not getting results. After a couple of years I gave up and sold every crib, stroller, backpack, and swing we owned. And that’s a lot when you have twins. The next month I was pregnant.  In September 2008, baby Annie was born.

My husband and I were overjoyed, and to my surprise, so were the kids. I was ready for them to scratch, bite, and beat her, but they mostly just loved her. They held her, sang to her, and laughed at her funny faces. They were protective and sweet. I was exhausted, of course, but I somehow managed to get enough (note: not “everything” but “enough”) done every day. She was definitely worth the extra effort.

Now she is almost two. I am so glad we have her. She has a funny, engaging little personality, and we all love her. She adds so much to our family. Yes, the kids do tease her, but I am generally impressed with how good they are with her. Even though we are busier than ever, she somehow brings our family together even more, too.

Toilet-dip hair.

And she is a great reminder of how I should treat the other kids. When she dips her hair in the toilet, I laugh and give her a stern “no, no.” Why should I be less patient when my older kids spread mud on the trampoline? When she is stubborn and doesn’t want to go to bed, I snuggle for a little while longer and then try again. Why should I get exasperated when the older kids whine about having to go to bed? We are all learning at our own pace and deserve patience and kindness. Caring for a toddler reminds me that an eight year old is really just a beginner in life too and will grow out of a lot of things, will catch on to a lot of things, and will make a lot of mistakes and messes. I’m not saying we don’t have to have high expectations for our kids, even those who struggle with ADHD issues, but they deserve love, hugs, and patience instead of yelling (which I am prone to do at those low moments). As the grandparents say, one day we will miss the mud on the trampoline. And even though my husband may not appreciate all my work and struggles as much as I want him to, as in a daily, “You work so hard and are so amazing and the best wife and mother in the whole world,” he really was right. It all works out in the end.