“Just keep them alive, Shannon…just keep them alive. That is all you have to do.”
That is what my boss told me, back in 2014, as time was getting shorter. I was in her office, knowing my days of working there were quickly coming to an end. And my days of being home with three little kids, two of which were going to be brand new babies, were right around the corner. I was panicking.
I remembered being home with my oldest two. I stayed home with them when they were very little. And the days were sometimes long. And I often felt like I was not being a “productive member of society”. Not that I didn’t fully enjoy my boys and love them to death. Because I did. But it is so easy to lose yourself when you become a mom. If you aren’t careful, your whole identity can get wrapped up in “mother of two boys” (or in my case now, “mother of six boys”!).
This scared me. My boss though, always had a way of putting things in to perspective. “Shannon,” she said, “you are doing something wonderful for society. You,” she always paused for effect, “are raising fine young men for our girls to marry!” I laughed. She always did know how to lighten the mood and bring me back to reality.
“Seriously, though,” she said, “your only job is to keep them alive. That’s all you have to do. If you get a shower in, bonus! If you fold a load of clothes, you rock! If you manage to get some supper made, you are a super star! But just keep them alive.”
I laughed at the time, thinking she was nuts. I definitely wanted to strive higher than just keeping them alive! These were my babies we were talking about. They had emotional needs that needed tending to too, not just physical. I had to be the best mom I could be.
Fast forward to a month after I brought the twins home.
The two year old was in the living room, watching his fifth or sixth movie of the day. It was nearing lunch time and he was hungry. And bored.
The twins were in my bedroom, in their bassinette. They were both screaming. They were both hungry. I hadn’t quite figured out yet how to give them both a bottle at the same time. I nursed my babies, all of them, including the twins. But I wasn’t producing enough milk for the both of them and had to supplement with a bottle. But no one showed me how to give a bottle to two babies at once. So I had them on their backs, in the bassinette, leaning so far over it I was barely keeping from falling in, and trying to give them both a bottle. I was watching the clock.
Just keep them alive ’til grandma gets here. Just keep them alive ’til grandma gets here.
Where was that grandma, anyway?
When she finally arrived, she walked in to total chaos. The two year old was hollering for lunch. The twins were still crying because I was not so good at managing two bottles just yet. She just chuckled (she had seven kids of her own, the last three very close in age), grabbed a baby, and asked if I would like some help. Yes! I say, so very, very grateful.
And that is how my days were spent that first year. Just keeping my kids alive. On good days, I had a chance to worry some about their emotional needs. 🙂 On bad days, I didn’t get to eat until two, didn’t brush my teeth until noon, and didn’t get a shower in. At all.
But I kept them alive. And my days were so jam packed that they never felt long. And honestly, I didn’t have time to care about the rest of society. And whether or not I was being a productive member. I had all I could handle. Keeping the kids alive. 🙂