I wish I had known

‘No one ever told us it was going to be so hard’ said my friend Sofia. She has 3 kids too.  Her sentence has been resonating since.  I also thought about all the people who, as they look at me trying to pick up my three kids (it can be done, one on each hip and the third on the foot…you just have to come to terms with the fact that you will not go very far), finally admit: ‘I cannot even start imagining the life you have’. I wondered what I could say to get people imagine what it is really like.  I could tell them that I wished I had known that  I would only have one hand to myself (aka my ‘free’ hand) to do things like cooking, writing my CV or calling my mum to beg her to retire so she could become my slave. Note: this request has so far been met with either silence or a frozen smile when she is on Skype.

Yes, if I had known that my other hand (aka ‘the babies’ hand’) would always be busy feeding a baby, pulling a tot away from an electrical plug or wiping a nose, I would have worked really hard to become ambidextrous. Even better I would have trained my toes to grab stuff like wipes, teething rings, my cell phone etc.  because my hands are almost always busy changing a diaper full of poop. And since people have been asking. 18. Yes, we are using an average of 18 diapers a day because my kids have a very quick metabolism. ‘Yeah!!!’ because it will help them control their weight gain when they are older but also ‘what the fuck!!!’ because at the moment it is ruining my life.  It is 18 diapers a day!!!!! To put things in perspective, it is also 6750 diapers a year.

Another thing people might want to know about a 3 kids family is that transportation becomes a true nightmare and a military operation. Based on the time we are expected to arrive, we do a reverse plan so we know when to start getting ready (usually a good 3 hours before Expected Time of Arrival). Here’s a short list of what we usually think about and plan for:

– Who showers first, and who gets ready when? It seems trivial but if you mess that part, nobody gets to leave the house. EVER.

– How many strollers? Will we need our four hands? If yes, then perhaps we should take a baby carrier? But, what if the 3 of them need to sleep?

– Do we need milk? Snacks (the two types: ‘I am a good mum and I want you to have a healthy diet’ snacks i.e. dry fruits, veggies pouches and the ‘will you shut up and stop screaming in the train’ snacks i.e. raisins cookies, chocolate cookies, butter cookies)? Formula?

– Count the number of diapers and extra sets of clothes. When you have 3 kids, there is always one leaking. Always.

– Open the window while putting their jackets on otherwise it is meltdown central before we get to leave the apartment. Close the window. Obviously.

 – Check the Handicap accessible stations and plan your journey. Of course, when the elevators are not working we have to find a good soul to watch the first batch of kids at the bottom of the stairs while DH goes up and down to bring down the second stroller. TIP: usually they are of the female species with two kids themselves. Isn’t it pathetic?

– Before the train stops, you have already chosen the car ( least busy obviously and the one that does not have another stroller inside) you are going to get into and you have visualized how you were going to maneuver  your monster carts in there without blocking the freaking doors. You have to do this fast because in New York you will end up being sandwiched between the train doors. There is no pity for folks like you. Preferably you choose to sit next to potentially kids-obsessed passengers who will entertain your monsters during the ride. TIP: grandpa and grandma styles or groups of girls in their early twenties.

– If we have to go to the airport, it takes hours to think of options that do not cost $400 (cost of hired driver with a van and car seats): two cabs but then what do we with our car seats? Trains but then what do we do with our luggage?  Once we are at the airport, we need to eat and pee before boarding because after…IT IS NOT HAPPENING.  If you don’t have the choice, you have to resort using the aircraft restrooms carrying a baby. I spare you the details of the gymnastics that take place in that little cubicle; I’ll just say this: Cirque du fucking Soleil.

All this probably explains why when being told ‘I cannot imagine your life’, I usually blank out because I have no clue what to say and where to begin. I did not plan for three children. I did not plan for spending some of my nights on the sofa with three hyper active vampires. But I am learning. On the first day of 2013, we had a building party to go to but no one was showered. One  baby was starting to nap, another was eating my slipper and the third one was spreading my hand cream on the floor. DH and I looked at each other and silently agreed. We were not going to plan or wish anything today.

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