| LifeTakes |

Mazel Tov! It’s a Fourth!

“He’ll be so upset when he’s older and sees the pictures and realizes what you did to him”

You know it’s your fourth when…

… you find yourself saying, far too often: “Stop coloring on the baby!”

… you need to ask questions like: “Hey, who took the baby’s pants off?” and “How on earth am I going to get them down from on top of the air-conditioner?”

… you find yourself begging your toddler repeatedly: “Please, darling, move your dollies out of the baby’s crib. I need to put him down there! It’s his crib!” You win: The dollies are now in the baby’s rocker, car seat, and in your bed. No, you can’t move them, on pain of a tantrum. Spare yourself, and just sleep on the couch for the foreseeable future.

… your oldest shakes her head disapprovingly, saying: “I can’t believe you only dress the baby in hand-me-downs, he’ll be so upset when he’s older and sees the pictures and realizes what you did to him.”

… sleep-deprived you walks around in circles, laundry basket tucked in the crook of one arm, panicking: “Where’s the baby? Where’s the baby? Where did I put the baby? I can hear him, I can smell him — oh,” sheepishly, to the circle of upturned faces, watching their mad mommy curiously. “Oh… he’s under my other arm. Guys, why didn’t you say something?”

… you write a list of goals, starting and ending with: “Childproof the baby.” You chew your pen: bubble wrap? Dangerous. Baby-sized body armor? Er… no. Astronaut suit? Hmm… Maybe you’re on to something (or just sleep-deprived?).

… you develop an asymmetrical body-builder-type bicep on your right arm, where the baby is slung for most of the day.

… you begin eating only foods that can be inhaled, sans arms. Like coffee, and coffee, and… coffee. At least if you overfill the cup enough.

… you lock yourself in the bathroom and cry your eyes out when the baby smiles repeatedly at your husband, but not at you. “It’s because he knows he’ll get fed if he cries for you, so it’s worth it,” husband explains logically. “And he loves his daddy, right?” The two share a smile. What a beautiful moment! (Really, Baby?)

… for the first time in weeks, there’s a moment of surprising quiet. The older kids are happily entertaining themselves on the porch. Your husband catches your eye with a look that can only mean one thing: “Ice cream!” You get to work, dishing up two dessert plates full of the stuff and pouring a healthy sprinkling of chocolate liquor over the lot. Question: Where to eat it? Thankfully, your husband has found the perfect place. Together, the two of you crouch on the floor, shielded by the spare-room high-riser, baby gurgling on your lap. The moment you make a brachah, the inevitable happens: “Mo-mmy! Da-ddy! Where are they? Where are they? They’re hiding! Hey — why are you sitting on the floor there? What’s that behind your back?” Oops. Caught in the act. Again.

… you glance up from your magazine, aware that the baby hasn’t cried for the past two minutes. A quick glance shows that your husband has the baby’s belly balanced on the palm of his hand, which he’s holding up to the ceiling. Baby-airplane is dive-bombing the other kids happily — and you don’t experience even a flicker of anxiety. You just go back to reading your magazine.

… instead of experiencing just the exhaustion and confusion that comes with new mommyhood, you find yourself sitting on the couch, gazing at your kids. The oldest is putting the tris up and down as the third child dangles off it. Your second child is climbing up the bookcase in an attempt to get at your glass candlesticks. The baby is looking all around the room, kicking his legs. You know he can’t wait to get involved.

You know it’s your fourth child because instead of panicking, or seeing the mess, or even attempting to salvage anything, you just sigh happily. Your kids are amazing, and you finally know it


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 809)

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