My youngest child was in junior high when we took on Little 1, and just starting high school with Little 2. We had already done the potty training, temper tantrums, constant supervision, and everything else that went along with babies and toddlers. Heck – we were in our 40’s. Life was going to get easier. I was going to be able to read and sew and travel with my husband.
We have a joke – my husband and I – where we tell each other “Two more years…” Anyone who is not in on the joke would not understand, but the idea is, wait two years and it will get easier. I have been waiting four now, and I think we may be getting there.
There are so many dilemmas that come up with you start over again with kids, especially when you are still raising kids. Right now, we have a senior in high school and a first grader, along with a preschooler. That alone is mind-boggling, but then take into consideration all the little extras. Family outings are never easy, because you have to take the age group into consideration. Even going out to dinner can be a major event if you do not have the right mindset. And trust me when I tell you, Little 2 does not have the right mindset – for anything!
Big 3 is a runner. He has been a part of his school’s running teams since junior high. I love to go and watch him run. However, high school track meets are long. As in hours long. Cross country is a little better – his group runs at a certain time and you are done. Track, on the other hand, as many events, and he participates in several. So, he could be competing at 10 in the morning, 2 pm, and 6pm. Let’s not forget, they are not just down the street. They can be 20 or 30 miles from home – or more. So it’s not like to you can go, leave, and come back later. Yesterday, we spent about four hours at the meet. In Arizona…in the sun. We had no one to watch Little 2, so it was either don’t go see our senior boy in his last year of high school competition, or pack snacks and head out. The first hour wasn’t bad, but by the end of hour two, the heat and boredom were setting it. Our saving grace was that Big 3 decided he was going to scratch his last race after medaling in two events we did get to see. I can’t say I was disappointed he was not going to run, but at the same time I felt bad for being glad I was going to get out of there and take the little guy home.
This is just one example of juggling the older and younger crowd. Every day there is a constant balancing act of time and effort that must be maintained. School work, extra activities and daily chores all have to be scheduled and rotated to keep everything moving forward. In the middle of all of this are unexpected doctor’s appointments (in the last month there have been about 2 a week), school assignments and classes, home projects, you name it. The list goes on and on. While handing all the regular and extra stuff that comes with two small kids with special needs, we are also trying to register and prepare Big 3 for college and help Big 2 with her life. Stuff we should just be able to focus on without having to tell them just a minute – I have to fill this sippy cup and get some goldfishies.
The fact is, I feel like a juggler most days. Each child is a ball I am throwing in the air and trying to keep moving in the circle. Then there is my husband, my job, my house…and the never ending supply of balls that get thrown in whether I ask for them or not. You might be wondering about the “me” ball. It’s normally on the ground, where I am trying not to step on it. Most days I feel like I am doing all I can to not to let the kids down. It doesn’t work the majority of the time – I am usually left feeling like I could have done more. I used to be able to handle being the rescue mom. Now, with two extra kids and a full time job, it’s all I can do to just keep juggling.
I don’t want to discourage anyone who might be thinking about taking on relative placement. It is a wonderful thing to do, and it provides at least SOME sense of stability to the kids. I love my little kiddos – every one of them – and I would not give up for anything. That is what keeps me going. That, and the times when we do get to stop and breathe. They are not as often as I would like, but they do happen. Which leads me back to our words of hope…just two more years…