About a month ago I successfully got four kids on the bus and was taking the fifth one to preschool, feeling as accomplished as I always do when I manage to get five kids fed, dressed, cleaned, packed and out the door on time. As I pulled in to the preschool parking lot my precocious three year old announced, “I have my bra on.”
Why, you may ask, does a three year old have a bra? Well it’s
sort of all my fault. My thirteen year old got a big bag of
hand-me-downs, which had a bunch of training bras in it. Three year old was
very interested and we (as in the thirteen year old and I, since that’s my
apparent maturity level) thought it’d be funny to put one on her. We did and
she LOVED it. Wore it all day, wore it all night. I told her she could keep it
but there’d be some rules: mainly no wearing it out of the house.
So in her defense, she did the right thing by telling me. We went to the bathroom when we got to school and removed it, surprisingly with no crying or struggle. I walked away from preschool that morning with a training bra in my pocket and thinking to myself, “Well THERE’S something that never would have happened with my first kid!”
I’ve seen a few humorous articles online where parents compare raising of the first kid to the raising of the second or third (hm, I almost never see anything comparing the first kid to the fifth kid though.) You know, the high ideals one holds for their first child loosens up as the years go on and the children keep coming.
Some of the jokes I can’t relate to, those ones that say something like: “First kid: designer duds! Third kid: hand-me-downs!” because we’ve been rocking hand-me-downs since day one (thanks cousins!) or “First kid: You carefully wash, iron and fold baby’s clothes. Third kid: Boys can wear pink, right?” because we never use an iron on anybody’s clothes here (the iron is purely a craft tool) and boys have always been allowed to wear pink.
Some of them I don’t relate to because I’m one of those annoying people that kept at cloth diapers and homemade baby food for all five kids. We still don’t buy juice boxes or packaged snacks. We still don’t use store bought Valentines. (Sorry. But you should know I don’t do these sort of things to make you feel bad. I do them to make me feel good.)
Others I can relate to. First baby got infant massage class with Mommy; fifth baby got four big siblings to manhandle her. First two children were not exposed to characters that Mommy deemed unacceptable, third and fourth child were given the choice of Power Ranger or Ninja Turtle pillowcases for their beds. First kids watched “Families From Around the World” DVDs from the library for screen time, last kids fight for turns on the computer and watch “Adventure Time” and “Dr. Who” with their older siblings. First weren’t allowed toy weapons, fifth has a wooden sword and she knows how to use it. (But they know the rules: I don’t like to play that I’m being shot at or stabbed so I won’t play that. I also don’t want to hear about anyone killing anyone else and try to insist on “I’ll GET you” instead of "I'll shoot/kill you".)
I can’t expect things to stay the same from when we were a one or two child household to now when we’re a five-child household. I rejoice more when preschool’s open now than I did before. I have no guilt about asking friends, family, neighbors or even teachers for help. I am not the first one to raise my hand to volunteer for being class mom (though I do still get suckered in sometimes). I'd love to remember the names of all the kids in my kids' classes but I can't keep up anymore.
But the more some things change, the more others stay the same. We do still grow food together in our garden. We eat dinner as a family most nights. We still enjoy family adventures on the weekend with all five kids. As long as these ideals are upheld, these ones that are really important to me as a parent, I think I am going to feel okay about the corners that are cut, like having a three year old wear inappropriate undergarments to school.