Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Living With Five

This is a quote I pulled from a post I never finished, months back:

"Just a little while ago we welcomed Samuel Albert into our home, and now we are five. A family with three small children is not the circus I was expecting, at least not yet. Sammy is the sweetest, most easygoing baby. Sleeping through the night by 6 weeks, napping every three hours like clockwork, he has only added joy and sweetness to our days."

Sammy at 11months is still like clockwork, just not as convenient. His most alert period in a day falls between 8pm and midnight. He will wake up 1-3 times after that to nurse which is not solid sleep for me but still easier than when the other two were nursing at night. During the day I can count on my little man for smiles and cuddles and adorable attempts at mimicking the rest of us.
As far as the circus goes, I have mixed thoughts on this. When Erin was smaller and Oliver not quite walking/talking our days consisted of quiet reading, quiet table activities, quiet floor play, quiet and careful helping mommy with chores, and taking tiny little walks around the apartment complex. Also sending daddy out to get snacks from the grocery store around the corner.

...typing it out makes me laugh!

NOW we live in rural Seabeck, 25 minutes from the nearest actual store. A general store is close by, but we try to use it only for emergencies. Everything is very overpriced and the selection is far from natural. That said, I love that little place with it's wood stove heat, familiar community faces, and stubborn refusal of any check not addressed from Seabeck. They stay open when the power is out, which is...all winter. We could always go buy organic frozen pies from our friendly neighbors, but real grocery shopping is far less convenient than it used to be. I'm not great at it under city circumstances, so I feel like I spend most of the week fretting about shopping, failing at shopping, and then wishing I had done a better job.

Oliver's toddlerhood is so, so different from his sister's. Somehow table activities become acrobatic. Food is war paint. Chore helping is ooooh so helpful. Outside play is getting all of the outside on all of the clothes. Sleep is...unnecessary?? And putting two extremely different toddlers in a small space for months on end will make the topic of conflict resolution feel like life and death necessity.

Add in mommy adjusting to her postpartum self, planning/budgeting for a cross country move and the various alternative healthy choices we try to make on a daily basis and I would say that life has gotten much more complicated.

With Sammy in the mix, though, everything just feels right. I don't know what it is, but looking at my group (yes, group) of children they seem complete. Sammy is supposed to be sitting there, watching his brother and sister play. When I notice Erin or Oliver have some tiny interaction with 'the baby' I feel content deep down inside, where motherhood is. I'm not convinced I experienced that, before Sammy. He's the kind of little guy you miss if he happens to sleep through an evening instead of sitting with Ben and I where he belongs. We don't mind him being up with us.

And complicated isn't so bad. As parents we've never been allowed to get too comfortable in our ideals and practices. We've been challenged with each child to reevaluate, tweak and sometimes completely alter our approach to life, parenting, relationships and even our faith. The sleep deprivation combined with busyness from basic life necessities that we are currently experiencing is really great for slimming down the program to what actually works, and what is actually possible.

Some fun projects I have in mind for the near future:

  • Going mattress free, or exploring healthier alternatives! At the moment we have Japanese Futons in mind and either slatted frames or tatami mats.
  • Herb and Flower container gardening. When we move to a rental we will need to use containers for gardening, most likely.
  • Supporting eye function/sight naturally. Oliver is slightly farsighted, and I want to see how different herbs might help him out. Just a fun experiment.
  • Minimalist housekeeping! I am getting rid of /everything/. Beds, small appliances, art. We are starting over! It's been fun to change my thinking in little ways that have big advantages, like going from a filing cabinet down to an expandable file folder or three bookshelves down to...two bookshelves. We still have a lot of books. Probably always will. 

Life with five is good. It's hard. It's fun. Feels like constant and rapid transition. Feels like running without a water bottle. But the scenery is nice, as long as I keep looking right at it.