Last week, my sister and I both found ourselves home alone with kids while our husbands were out of town. She came over to visit one afternoon, for a much-needed afternoon nap and dinner. I had it all perfectly planned: I’d get the kids lunch, and the excitement of seeing their beloved auntie and cousin would wear them out enough to take a good nap, freeing up a good hour of my time to babysit my niece while my sister napped in my bed.
As predicted, the girls were ecstatic to see their 7-week-old cousin again, thrilled by her open-mouth full gum smiles. I had to rein them in a few times, reminding them not to scream, grab the baby’s hands, or shove each other around as they leaned over the baby. They had lunch and, assured that their cousin would still be there when they woke up, consented to head up to nap. My sister nursed the baby, handed her off, and went up to nap herself.
We had a few quiet minutes before I heard one of my girls crying in her room, quickly growing louder. The baby was almost asleep in my arms, but I knew if I put her down, she’d start to cry, which would wake her mother, so I took her with me to see what was going on.
I opened my 4-year-old’s door to find her holding a dirty diaper in her hand, with a huge ball of poop on the floor between her feet. I kicked into crisis mode. I hushed my daughter, swaddled the baby tighter and put her in my daughter’s bed, with the Ariel pillow propped up for visual stimulation while I sent the pooper to sit on the toilet. I cleaned up the mess on the floor, then my daughter, all while keeping both kids quiet enough not to wake the 2-year-old napping next door, or my sister asleep down the hall. I got the baby up, the 4-year-old back into bed, and managed to make it all the way downstairs before the baby cried. And, miraculously, neither napper woke up, and the 4-year-old soon drifted off to sleep. All in all, a successful afternoon, but those few stressful minutes exhausted me.
If anything has ever solidified my decision not to have any more kids, it was that moment. I remember those games with my two girls, where you’d get one to sleep only to have the other one act up, exhausting yourself trying to keep her from waking up the first one. It was an exhausting time of scrambling to entertain a toddler while run-down on a baby’s ceaseless needs. How do mothers of three possibly do it? You ladies have my utmost respect. You’re stronger women than I am.