Comfortable with Chaos
Jeff and I come from two very different families. I am the eighth of nine children, he is the second of four. I have, lets see.... twenty five nieces and nephews and Jeff has zilch. Jeff's family is fun-loving and mellow and mine is loud, super intense, and it is not at all unusual for someone or multiple someone's to break into spontaneous song and/or dance while jogging in place and perhaps trying to write a witty essay.
The first time Jeff came to a family party and the kids blew through the house like an amorphous pack of wildebeasts. His eyes got a bit wide as he realized how different my family was from his. Clearly this in no way resembled the quiet Sunday evenings at his house (I must add he's adjusted quite well).
Growing up in a big family, it seems you get used to chaos. Someone's playing on the piano while someone else is making farting noises with their armpit, and someone else is recruiting you for their latest stage venture "Men with tall hats do a dance". It was like being back stage at a variety show with a little less talent, but definitely the same enthusiasm.
Somewhere in my adulthood I lost a little bit of that ability to manage/cope with that much going on at once.
Yesterday, I babysat for some friends who where heading down to D.C. to run the National Marathon. I was very excited for them, and totally willing to babysit their three adorable little girls. Then the little one was clingy and wanted to be held. Then my little one got jealous and wanted to be held. Then the two older girls wanted to go outside. Go outside? A seemingly innocent and easy task. Right. After ten minutes getting shoes, changing diapers, getting coats on, with a baby in each arm, I lasted 15 minutes before we headed in (I thought about letting the girls stay out in the back yard while I watched them from the window, but figured it would be just my luck that they would up and get snatched by troll people and wouldn't that be embarassing to try to explain). That isn't saying much to many of you pros out there, but it was a little chaotic. A lot chaotic. I was a stressed out. I thought to my self "maybe I'm fine with having Bean being an only child."
Then, they all went down for naps. I had a few moments to recharge. I made a plan, I got out the baby bjorn (so I could wear one baby and hold the other - TOTALLY worked), I gave myself a little pep talk. The afternoon went much better. I was actually a little sad to go when the next babysitter came to take my place. So the answer to my own question on how people do it with multiple children? You just do it. Somehow it all works out, and you end up liking it. Remind me that I said all this when we decide to have another baby.