8 Truths About Raising 4 Kids

by Molly DeFrank
Originally Published: 
Parents playing with their 4 kids in a living room
Hoxton/Sam Edwards

Over six and a half years and four pregnancies, I’ve grown in several areas: 1) Physically: I’ve gained and lost a total of 140 pounds, 35-ish per pregnancy, give or take, as some pregnancies required more chocolate/nachos than others. 2) Vanity: I ditched any remaining shred of coolness when we bought a minivan, which I had vowed to never do because only nerds drive minivans. 3) Control: I largely stopped dressing my children in coordinated outfits. Ain’t nobody got time for that. 4) MacGyver-ability quotient: I have grown entirely more adaptable in situations previously deemed too hard or totally despair-worthy, like broken legs (we’ve had three so far), newborn baby colds (stopped counting at a dozen), forgetting to bring a Pack ‘n Play on an overnight trip. NBD, man. Life will go on.

Here is what to expect when you have four kids, if you are considering doing such a thing.

1. When you take your whole family around town, people act kind of weird, like you have seven heads.

I took the kids to the doctor’s for a checkup the other day, and within an hour, four different people stopped me to ask if all four kids belonged to me. One lady even stopped her car and rolled down her window to ask. Yes, you sweet bystander. This freak show is all mine. Here is a sampling of unsolicited comments I regularly hear (like multiple times a day) while running errands: “Whoa, that’s a lot of kids!” “Are they all yours?” “You have your hands full!” “Did you plan this?” “Better you than me!”

2. Your day-to-day becomes a real-life version of the movie ‘Memento’.

Do you remember that movie? It’s about a guy who can only remember 15-minute increments before he forgets everything that happened leading up to it. Super suspenseful and stressful, but I don’t really remember much else about it because, like I said, wait, what was I just saying? No, but seriously. I’m the Steph Curry of forgetfulness.

The reason is basically that your brain is like an internet browser (this is a real science fact that I pulled from my vast knowledge of science-y things). Moms of four children have approximately 462 browser tabs open at any given time. Did I pay the phone bill? Is today Wednesday? Wednesday is early pickup. When did the baby nurse last? On which side? We need solar panels. Why does child No. 2 have his outfit on entirely backwards? Why do I not care? Has child No. 3 consumed any vegetables today — yesterday — the last three days?

Meanwhile, four of the tabs (the children) are talking to you like those video popup ads that come out of nowhere, yelling about who the heck knows what. So, for reasons you can imagine, some things are just forgotten: jackets, backpacks, sending your mom the Mother’s Day card that has been sitting on your desk for a month, texting people back, dropping off the dry cleaning, ordering Nespresso pod refills.

3. Getting out of the house every morning is basically like living in the movie ‘Jumanji.”

I’ve been doing this four kids thang every day for the last nine months, so the chaos has become my “normal.” A few weeks ago I had a doctor’s appointment in the morning, so David had to get all of the kids ready, fed and out the door by 8:30. David is very hands-on when it comes to the dad-stuff. Diapers, feeding, dressing, you name it, he seriously does it all. But until this day, he hadn’t done a full morning with all four kids on his own. He met up with me to switch cars at 8:45. All the children were fed, dressed and even had shoes on. When I asked him how it went, he calmly responded, “Yeah, that was wild.”

I guess it is: It’s the baby crying because the 3-year-old is sitting on her while you try to brush the eldest’s tangled hair into a ponytail; it’s the 5-year-old, unable to decipher the English words you are speaking when you tell him for the eleventieth time to PUT ON THE SHOES, ONTO THE FEET THAT ARE YOURS, THAT BELONG TO YOUR LEGS, AT THE BOTTOM OF THE LEGS, JUST BEYOND THE ANKLES, EACH FOOT GETS ONE SHOE, AND PLEASE PUT THEM ON NOW BEFORE MY HEAD EXPLODES. NOW. NOW. NOW. NOW. And then you get a miffed response, “OK!” Like, “Sheesh!” Like, “Omigosh, Mom, you need to calm down.” Yes, because clearly I am the unreasonable one.

4. After you take a shower and clip your nails, and then clip your kids’ nails, by the time you are done, you have just clipped 100 nails.

One hundred nails. (Also I just realized that could be a great name for the band I will start with my children. We will figure out how to play instruments at some point after we have mastered the putting on of the shoes. First things first.)

5. Speaking of showers, any tiny moment of privacy is now long gone.

I took literally three minutes to shower off the stickiness from making breakfast the other morning. All the while, one little darling stood outside asking if I was done yet because they needed to show me a trick. “How about now? Are you done now?” “I will be done in two minutes, you precious angel from my womb!” (I said either that or something like that…-ish) “OK…” (seven seconds later) “How about now? Has it been two minutes?” So I just canceled the tiny remaining shower I thought I was entitled to. I was rushed through my drying-off process and over to the “trick,” which turned out to be a child who had spread a small blanket on the floor…and then jumped over it.

6. One fun thing about having four kids is the opportunity to cook for multiple picky eaters at once.

When cooking for four tiny food critics, you are pretty much guaranteed to never make a meal that every person will enjoy or even say positive things about. This is why I am working on training up my children in the way they should go. And, here, that means don’t critique mom’s meal choice and hard work, lest you skip dinner and have to wait for breakfast. I’m trying to implement a rule that when they ask what’s for dinner and I describe a lovely, nutritious meal, they may respond in one of two ways: 1) “Yay! Thanks, Mom!” or 2) “OK!” If I did not ask for your opinion on the meal, then you can just keep those words in your head, mmkay?

7. You will probably bathe your four children less often than you bathed your kids when you had one or two.

Not necessarily saying that I do this, but I’ve heard some totally reasonable moms of four kids say that they will go multiple days between kid baths. If I did know a mom who said that, I’d be like, “Hey, you seem like a pretty cool lady with great taste in music and Netflix shows. I trust your discretion when it comes to your kids’ bath frequency.” A hypothetical mom might space baths a few days apart when it’s necessary for her sanity, like when she needs bedtime to happen now, and not like in 45 minutes after lathering, rinsing, and repeating on four separate bodies. But that’s just what I’ve heard, for some people, sometimes, or maybe a lot of times. (You don’t know my life.)

8. Even though…

…strangers regularly comment on your reproductive schedule and gawk at you, and even though the day is bursting at the seams with chaos and unreasonable behavior and dishes and crumbs and dirty cars, and even though walking through a buffet line with a 9-month-old in an Ergo is like wearing an octopus, and even though the laundry situation is so dire that you have considered starting a nudist colony, and even though, wait…what was I saying?

Oh, yeah. OK, even though all of these things make life hard and complicated and sometimes your head almost explodes, each time you bring home yet another baby, you are blown away that you can love something as individually and tenderly as all the other babies, who you thought took up every last morsel of your love capacity. And at the end of the day, when all the precious angels are asleep, and you are enjoying a glass of sauv blanc and a bag of Orville Redenbacher, Netflix binging alongside your husband, you marvel at your lives together and the babies entrusted to you. You wouldn’t have planned it any other way. (Except maybe if the other way meant you could have a free maid and chef, then yes, definitely I would have planned it that way.)

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