There are days when I stay home with all four kids and think about how lucky I am to have a job that lets me be home when they're home. And then there are days when I am there with all four kids and I think how unlucky they are to have a Mom who is home when they are. Usually this line of thinking is precipitated by the waking of one baby by her three older siblings. Such was the unfortunate sequence of events this past Saturday, which started with my silly need for a shower and ended with me losing it.
As a rule, my children have not been good sleepers. I blame their father, who is a terrible sleeper. (I, on the other hand, fall asleep the minute my head hits the pillow and always have. It's the least disturbing way in which I am like my mother.) He likes to blame me because I'm too lazy and soft-hearted to "sleep train" my children and prefer to use the magical boob for this and most other tasks involving the care of infants. Anyway, Genevieve is not terrible, but she is partial to the super-refreshing ten-minute nap, so once I get her to sleep I can be a little aggressive about trying to keep her that way. On days when we're home, the main two things I try to do while she's asleep are eat and shower. The main two things my three older children like to do while she's asleep are yell and hurl their bodies off anything they can climb, including each other, in order to land on the wood floors with the loudest possible thud.
On the day in question, I got the baby to sleep in my room, shut the door, and then hissed my customary command of "Ok, be quiet. DO NOT wake the baby!" followed by the variant "I'm going to get in the shower. PLEASE be quiet and DO NOT wake the baby!" And then I went into the bathroom and shut the door, full of the certaintly that they would, in fact, wake the baby. Not long after stepping under the water, I heard sounds of bodies hitting the floor and Somerset screaming her shrill four-year-old scream. "Somerset!" I called her into the bathroom. She cracked the door and showed her impish little face. "Stop all that yelling. Y'all need to be quiet, you're going to wake the baby!" She grinned and nodded in a way that assured me she was going right out to resume the yelling and climbing and thudding. Sure enough, the noise not only resumed, but increased about thirty seconds after she shut the door. Take me seriously when I say that the only thing that kept me from bursting from the bathroom naked and dripping to snatch up children amid a barrage of profanities was the absolute certainty that my nine-year-old son would one day sit on a therapist's couch and explain how his fear and loathing of the female body could be traced to that very incident. I washed and rinsed as quickly as possible while wondering aloud what the hell they can they be DOING out there, until said nine year old came to the door to say meekly "Uh, mom..."
So then I pretty much enacted the scene of dread that I had imagined Calvin relating to his therapist, except that I did manage to grab a towel and stay mostly covered with it while ranting uselessly about how all I wanted to do was take a shower, and didn't I tell them not to wake the baby up, and what in god's name could they have possibly been doing?! "We were just playing" Calvin replied meekly before bursting into tears. And I wish I could say that at that point, the sight of my sensitive son crying pitifully under my wrath was enough to make me get a grip, but it wasn't. I continued to yell for a few more minutes about how I did not know what was wrong with them that they couldn't even do a simple thing like be quiet for ten minutes, and so on. My mind was telling me to shut up, but my mouth kept yelling. Finally I brought it to a close by demanding that they clean up their rooms before storming off to cuddle and coo at the baby and feel guilty but helpless.
After a few minutes, I called a halt to the "cleaning" and told them all to put their shoes on for the previously planned outing to grandma's. And in the car, I apologized for yelling and did a fair job of restraining myself from adding phrases starting with "but." I guess I just need to resign myself to the fact that this baby is never going to get a decent nap while her siblings are around, and I'm never going to get a shower.