The hardest part about being a mom. . .and especially as a mom of multiples. . .is that my children seem to talk to me at the same time. This phenomena is very similar to when you watch someone check their phone and almost instinctively you have to check yours as well. Or maybe like a yawn. . .talking for them is contagious. Once they hear or sense (because they could be in a totally different part of the house) someone talking to me they also have something to say that cannot wait.
Usually (okay, every day) the scene unfolds like this: Child #1 starts talking and right when he is at a complicated part (because none of these stories are easy) then Child #2 begins his story. This almost becomes like a musical round except it is not the same song started in different places.
Child #2 completely disregards that I’m making eye contact with his brother AND nodding my head. But, I unconsciously break eye contact with the Child #1 because I have to make Child #2 stop so I can hear Child #1. Child #1, though, has become indignant because I’m not listening AND looking at him and starts yelling, MOM! YOU AREN’T LISTENING TO ME! and I have to turn and apologize but I never finished telling Child#2 that Child#1 was talking and so Child #2 continues even while Child #1 is now yelling at me.
OH MY GOODNESS I COULD LOSE MY MIND.
But, wait, there is more. A third child arrives on the scene and I’m trying to listen to Child #1 while saying, “Just a minute, let him finish. . .” to Child #2. Child #3 starts chanting “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom” while tapping me on the arm with his pointer finger.
Oh. . .you know that I have two more children don’t you?
I actually do okay with this scene right when they come home from school because I’ve had some quiet time and I’m ready for the Hoover Dam of words to break through. But, by the time bedtime arrives, I honestly can’t listen any longer. Please.Don’t.Talk.To.Me.Just.Go.To.Sleep.
At this point in the bedtime routine I’m trying to do something, like give medication to one child, while I listen to another child explain why we need “a sandbox that actually sinks underground but has these tube things that sand can pulsate from under the box and that then go around and then back down. . .” (And, that my friends is the actual transcript from one of tonight’s conversations. . .or rather monologues because usually they just want to tell me something and it really isn’t a conversation per say, as in “Hey, how was your day, Mom?”–and then wait for me to answer.)
As mom’s we develop coping skills. I once watched a comedian who has Asperger’s Syndrome explain that he could look like he was following a conversation if he just repeated back the last three words that a speaker spoke. I’ve adopted this method and it works like a charm.
Dylan: And. . then when I’m a firefighter and I’m driving the pumper truck and I’m visiting a school to tell the kids about fire safety and let them climb in my firetruck but only if they listened and were good and only the adult would get to use the blue chemicals to put out the fire. (Pause for air.)
Me: (hearing a break) To put out the fire? (Okay, that was five words but you get my drift.)
Dylan: Yeah. The blue chemicals they use. (No, I have no idea what he is talking about. . . but it doesn’t matter and no, I don’t think I should be worried that the word “chemical” was used)
By the end of the bedtime routine. . .when it looks like they are all tucked in AND QUIET. . .Scott and I venture downstairs. We don’t talk. It is as if we pull the quietness around us like a blanket.
Really I do try to appreciate that it won’t always be like this. That during the teenage years I might forget the sound of their voices as they withdraw into their own teenage worlds. Or, when earbuds will be constantly tucked into the pockets of their ears. I will probably yearn for the sandbox invention explanation or the firefighter-presenting-at-preschool description.
And, really, maybe THAT is the hardest thing about motherhood. So often it is all. . .or nothing.