First of all, let me thank my neighbor Kathy, who doesn't read this blog because she doesn't even know us well enough to realize it exists, but who brought my family dinner tonight just to be kind. She brought us dinner a couple months ago, too, but she wanted to do it again since, as she said, the help usually dies down once the babies aren't so new anymore. And so I thank Kathy publicly for her ham, cheesy hash brown potatoes and spinach and strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing dinner (plus side of chopped fruit for the boys) not only to let the world know what a thoughtful neighbor she is but so you can all see how I keep my sunny disposition: I NEVER deny help. That is survival strategy number one.
Survival Strategy Number 1: Never deny help.
I keep my cheerful demeanor, my peaceful attitude, my steely resolve amidst chaos by allowing and requesting help anytime it is available. I realized recently that it is rare that I am holding a baby when I have visitors. I will dump one or both babies on my guest's shoulders and go about chit chatting or doing whatever needs doing. With two babies I clock a lot of hours holding, soothing, making faces to and feeding babies. I can always afford a break. Plus, I have two other children to feed, clean, soothe and engage with. This is a lot of other people's needs to attend to and therefor I NEVER DENY HELP.
Also with help usually comes some kind of companionship, even if it's just for the 20 minutes someone is over dropping something off. Which leads me to my next survival strategy:
Survival Strategy Number 2: Get a witness.
I tell you, a horrible, hard-as-hell day alone with all these kids can really make me crack. I'll be one the phone to my mom or husband by 1pm crying about how this baby or that baby won't nap, or how this boy or that boy keeps screaming, but if someone is around watching it all go down somehow it makes things less stressful. Perhaps that's because that person is usually around to help out (see Survival Strategy Number 1) but really, even if that other person is just sitting on a couch drinking tea I feel a relief just knowing I'm not alone, and by alone I mean alone physically - there is another person there. And perhaps more importantly I'm getting a witness, a person who can really see why I'm starting to crack. Why does that make a girl feel better, even empowered, just knowing someone understands? I don't know. But it does.
So, this is kind of fun to think of these survival strategies and put them down in writing. I may do some more. But if you have ever been either a helper or witness in my daily life here I hope this lets you know how meaningful it is to me and my family. Your efforts, no matter how tiny, reap loving and beautiful rewards. Thank you, thank you!