Adelaide's school dismissed early that day, the first day of school, so part of the day I just had three kids, and part of it I had four.
First of all, J is, so far, a pretty easy baby. He's happy, he's cute, he's cuddly; he's a baby! Even the first day in to this whole experience, however, I had a couple revelations.
Number one: I can understand why people keep having kids as their first ones get older. Atticus and Caedmon were relatively helpful- as helpful as two- and four-year-old boys can be- but when Adelaide got home, it was a completely different situation. Granted, J is still a novelty, but she kept asking if I could lie him down on the floor so she could play with him (yes), if she could feed him (no), if she could carry him around and show him "what the life of a cheetah is like" (no), and if she could teach him things like "patty-cake" and "itsby-bitsy spider" (yes). I felt a little bit like Super Woman that day (minus the fancy spangled cape, although that would no doubt make laundry and 10 straight games of Memory feel a little more festive) because I was able to get all kinds of chores done with four kids in the house, but the truth is, without Adelaide, I would have accomplished very little. Just playing with him for five minutes at a time allowed me to do extravagant things like use the bathroom and wash the boys' perennially smelly sheets (SERIOUSLY, BOYS. I realize that males practically come out of the womb peeing all over everything, but I feel like I need to get "JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN DOESN'T MEAN YOU SHOULD" tattooed on some highly visible place on both of them.)
Revelation number two: Before Adelaide came home from school, when I just had the three boys in the house, it was uncannily like going back in time about two years, to a time when I had (for those whose brains can't do the math) a four year old, a two year old, and a newborn.
Can I just ask a favor of you? If you know someone in that stage of life- someone with two or three or God help them four little ones- go out of your way to do something nice for them. I'm talking small stuff: take them a cup of coffee (or buy it for them, it'll get them out of the coffee shop faster anyway, benefiting everyone!), smile at them when the spectacle that is their family careens through the grocery store, make comforting noises when the mom bursts into tears mid-conversation. Yes, it's a short, often sweet stage of life and you should "cherish these years" (I cannot even tell you how stabby that phrase still makes me feel), but it's also desperate and exhausting.
It's incredible how just two little years later how much easier our everyday life is. All of our kids can buckle themselves into their carseats. They're all capable of small chores and being pseudo-helpful. You can kind of reason with them. Let me tell you what, taking care of J caused quite the wash of memories to overtake my brain, and although I'm still in the throes of preschool- tantrum- fun and am just beginning the crazed can-you-fill-this-out and do-we-have-twenty-photos-of-me-that-I-can-cut-up-because-this-is-due-tomorrow and but-I-DO-want-to-do-cheer-clinic-again-even-though-I-hated-it-last-year, it is so much easier than life was only 24 months ago.