Learning Swahili and force feeding beets: lessons in motherhood

There are days where Andy and I look at each other and think, four kids????  There are other days where we wonder, How expensive is boarding school?  But nine times out of ten, we look at the four kids, dog, cat, messy house, and stack of bills and think, this feels right.  It is crazy, but it is true.  We love our life – the crazy, the stress, the loud, the chaotic, and the wonderful.

How did we end up with four children?  It has taken some time.  Obviously, we did not create them overnight, or you would have read about my miraculous quadruplet birth in the news.  To be honest, I did not want any children when I met Andy.  I was the oldest of five children myself, and I was only sixteen (almost seventeen, as he likes to point out) when I met him.  I had ambitions of living in New York City and struggling as a fashion designer.  However, my views changed rapidly as I fell in love with my now husband.  We had Anya, then waited nearly four years to bring Lorelei into the world.  Addison was a surprise at nineteen month later.  Since Andy was gone very frequently, including fifteen long months to South Korea, when Addie was a baby, I was finished.  Three children was more than enough for me, and Addie was a challenge by herself.  Andy pushed for just one more, and I resisted for years.  How could we handle one more child?  After several years of talking and discussion, we decided to have just one more.  Leonard entered our family this past June, and we are done.  REALLY.  I just said to Andy the other night that while I never thought I would have four children, our family seems complete.

So here we are:  family of six, plus a dog and an a-hole cat.  I feel like I know it all – between my siblings and my children, I have this parenthood thing down.  Yet, it throws me for a loop at times.  Today, I debated if you could mail a dead person a letter, since they would be either dead or a ghost that has no skeleton and possesses no way to hold and read a letter.  Yesterday, I learned that simba is Swahili for “lion” and that Swahili words are fun to pronounce (we read a book that taught us the basics of the language).  The Lion King now makes much more sense.  I discovered that teenagers can decide to be anti-pasta or anti-meat overnight, and I discovered that babies will eat nearly anything (even beets) if you put a smile on your face while serving it.  Also,, shredded zucchini in a pasta sauce is a genius way to sneak veggies in (thanks Meredith!).  In summary, after over eleven years of parenting and sisterhood, I am still learning.  STILL.  I love being the authority on all things motherhood, but to be honest, there will always be more to learn.

So no matter if you are on child one or child ten, the learning curve never ends.  I feel fortunate that my kids have such a rich life to learn and experience.   We often count our M&M colors in multiple languages and say good night in German.  We have adapted behaviors and patterns to our own hectic lives.  Waffles and bacon for dinner are perfectly acceptable.   No skill or sport is off limits – from computer club to soccer, from musicals to cheerleading camp.  The most important thing I can hope to provide is a well-balanced, happy, and healthy life – not one of indulgence, total fulfillment, success, or complete happiness.  If it does not pan out perfectly, that is okay.  As long as they are learning Swahili and eating/trying beets, I feel successful.

***Anyone have any other tricks for sneaking in veggies to meals?  I do the shredded spinach and zucchini, and I have added pumpkin to spaghtetti sauce.  Anything else?  I will take any suggestion.  However, the cauliflower in macaroni does not work with Ms. Addie!****

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