mommy math

images-3I have a confession to make: although I purport to be this harried mother-of-four – making a sandwich with one hand while blogging with the other — the truth is that over the last nine months two of those kiddos have been far away at school.

The brother and sister are back-to-back grade-wise so he graduated and left for college in 2011 and she followed suit the next year.

And do you know what I’ve learned in that time?

That basically I was a fucking asshole for carrying on the way I did way back when about NEEDING four children. Seriously, ask my former husband, I cried.

Having two kids is AMAZING. Seriously, hats off to all of you who had the good sense to stop at a pair. It’s easy street.

There’s just less of everything: laundry, shoes scattered in the mudroom, food crumbs in the pantry, plastic water bottles in the recycling and definitely a reduction in personalities. That right there is worth the cost of two college tuitions.

So I read with interest a newly-released survey by the geniuses at the Today Show this week reporting that parents with three children are seemingly more stressed out than parents with four or more children.

“Call it the Duggar effect,” the article on proclaims. “Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.”

Please, somebody, help me do that math. Because as far as I’m concerned, it’s a numbers game, people. And even though I majored in English and couldn’t convert a fraction to decimals if you paid me, I clearly understand that 2 children + 2 children = more of everything.

Like, get in a cage with three monkeys and throw another one in and it just compounds the amount of poop, screaming and jumping around you have to put up with.

Here’s the kind of math I understand: Remember Schoolhouse Rock’s Four-Legged Zoo? Just like the animals in that cartoon zoo, all those feet (that need expensive sneakers), mouths (that need palate expanders and braces) and ears (that don’t hear a fucking word you say) just multiply with the more children that you add.

And things get dangerous (usually for the children) the more you have if,  like me, you tend to leave one behind every now and then.

Like once I drove off in our minivan and about 10 minutes into the drive told the oldest (probably 7 at that time) to sit up in his seat way in the back, only to hear his sister say, “He’s not here.”

Another time I took the two girls to Petco to stock up on dog food and we loaded the giant bag into the car and my older daughter and I got in and I started to drive away. We drove right past the other sister, who had gone to return the shopping cart. She just stood there, watching us drive.

“I was kidding!” I assured her as she climbed in the car teary-eyed. I could tell by her face she wasn’t buying it.

But the fourth kid is the one who always seems to be slipping through the cracks. To date, I have left him alone in a neighbor’s basement while we all went out to deliver Thanksgiving dinners to the needy (he said he alternated his time between watching television and going outside to bounce on the trampoline). And two years ago we dropped him off for baseball practice only to discover two hours later when I picked him up that there had been no practice (he spent some time at the playground, apparently).

So, do I regret having four children? Don’t be silly. Being their mom has made me a better person and my life feels full and blessed with them in it.

But do I enjoy only having to cook for two kids every night and clean up our little end of the kitchen island that we can now comfortably fit around?

Well, you know what they say: Three is a magic number.





9 thoughts on “mommy math

  1. Amy this was so great! When I told my tales of unintentional child abandonment and neglect to certain friends they looked horrified and seemed completely unable to relate, making me wish I had bitten my lip. I’m sure I came close to being reported to child services. (I had to learn to carefully choose who to confide in!) I lost each of my kids at least once, and some more often. One in particular is the all time winner of being left behind, and I am happy to report that he’s now 25 and still loves me! it’s so great to read your stories seasoned with expletives, so very real life relatable! As far as the math goes, the number of kids increases exponentially 2-4-6, whatever. And scientifically it’s a whole different chemical composition with the addition or subtraction of even one child, requiring the adult in charge to completely reorganize the laboratory. The women I know who have the most kids are damn resourceful and almost always fun to hang out with!

  2. So refreshing to hear such flat out tell-it-like-it-is honesty! I have four, too and can remember always counting them in the rearview mirror! I, too, am guilty of losing count once or twice! I think it’s contributed to their independence!

    • Tricia … this is a relief. I was afraid I was the only one. Glad to know there’s good company in my boat!

  3. I was laughing at that idea that mothers of three are more stressed than mothers of four or more and imagining all the mothers of four or more rolling their eyes in declaration of what a load of crap that idea is.

  4. I will say it is bliss to have only one. All the Moms and Dads of 3 or more always comment of the silence in our house. Not sure what hubby and i will do when he goes away though!

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