It’s been two months since Emmanuel’s birth, and I am still trying to get a grip on mothering four young children. It is especially challenging to head out with the kids as I am already outnumbered and outside the safety of our 5-room flat, I need to be more alert and in control. We rarely go out in full force (4 kids and 2 parents), but when we do, we do so in a rather flamboyant fashion – Think two little kids clowning around with an annoyed big sister trying to keep them from running wild, sloppy mum with “I am so tired” written across her face and a tiny baby in her arms, and a dad looking like a camel with two big bags and three water bottles… yay, you got it- we are pretty much a kampong on our own.
Over the past 2 months, I’ve got many queries (or maybe more like exclaims) to the likes of “I don’t know how you do it! Just how you manage them all?!” and “Four?! Wah. How you cope?!” I don’t really know how to answer them, because frankly I do not know. I live moment by moment not knowing what shocks and surprises are in stored. With little children at home, one just can’t be too sure all the time – what’s brewing in the kitchen, behind my back and under the bed… I like to think it’s an adventure, I do – I just need to work harder on convincing myself. lolc
I try (though often with little success) to do better, scream lesser, be nicer, smile more and worry less, while constantly hoping that the kids would grant me some mercy, somehow behave themselves and do what they need to, and eventually grow up well.
I often tell myself that the hubs and I together have four arms, hence we should be able to bring up four kids well. But sometimes (ok, perhaps more often than that), my doubt “Am I really mum enough” seems louder. It is especially so when I feel overwhelmed with too many actions, reactions and situations happening at the same moment – Think baby crying on the background (argh!) while Nat and Renee fight over toys(seriously?!!), and Shanice asking for help for a maths sum (now? O, please). While I very much want to settle everyone’s problem at one go, I am only one mum to four kids and I can only do so much at one time. Yes, as you can see, I often feel that I am not enough a mum to be shared with four children and that makes me feel horrible. It doesn’t help having people around me echoing my doubt – that my choice of having four would mean that they get less.
A fellow mom once said in my face, “My kid doesn’t need to tough it out, I only have one. ” and she nodded with empathy (or sympathy, I don’t know) as if saying “But, I understand why you let your baby cry.” To elaborate, we were chatting on our style of parenting.
Huh? I never judged any mom by the number of children they have or plan to have. I have no issues with parents having one child or many children (Why should I? I do not work for the Population and Talent Management Agency). So, why are some people so bothered about the size of my family?
Well, I knew that it would be tough having 4 children and went ahead. Was I expecting a bed of roses (for the kids and I) ahead? Do you believe I was that naive?
Yes, we lead a more frugal lifestyle than before. And yes, the kids fight, they scream at each other, and they share almost everything from the food on the table to the shampoo in the toilet. And yes again, I am not able to give each of them the same amount of attention an only child can enjoy. But these do not make any of them lesser a child to me than an only child. It shouldn’t cos I couldn’t have one and forsake the others. A parent’s love isn’t a fixed pie that has to be shared among her children, it is a garden that abounds with more with the birth of every child. I may have more kids but I do not have any lesser of each.
It takes more effort and time to care for a brood of four. The children may have only one mom but they also have each other. My heart swells with pride when I see the tenderness my elder three show towards Emmanuel.
Shanice, my eldest would shower the littlest with boundless hugs and kisses. She is the most efficient diaper fetcher. She is also able to carry Emmanuel, and that helps to relieve my tired arms a little.
Renee, the little sis is a big fan of her littlest brother. She would fight with Shanice to cuddle the baby. She is perhaps the best baby entertainer as she could talk and sing to the baby continuously without running out of topic (or breath).
Nat, the big gorgor prides himself to be the hero of the baby. He would run into the room when the baby cries and proclaim “Don’t cry, don’t cry, gorgor is here!”
All in all, everyone’s pretty excited about having a new addition. They are not worried about having a smaller slice of their birthday cakes or having to share the air in the house with another human. Right now, they are more concerned about who would be Emmanuel’s favourite buddy, while I am on my toes trying to crowd control and prevent the overly enthusiastic siblings from overwhelming the baby.
As for the road ahead, I am bracing myself for more chaos, more noise, another round of growing trials and many many many more love in the house.