It's a rainy grey Monday and I'm home from the morning school rush. The baby is fast asleep and I'm sitting here with a piece of toast and a glass of ice water looking through some of of my photos from the weekend wondering when I will really learn how to take the type of family photo that I can envision in my head but can never bring to life on my memory card. And I know, I know all the mistakes I made with our "shoot" this weekend. I know what went wrong, what I should have done differently and so that's a good thing, right? Except at this very moment those mistake just sound like excuses in my head and it's quite frustrating to know the mistakes you might be prone to and then make them anyways. Interestingly enough I have been feeling really good about photography lately and noticing all this progress like I'm going through a growth spurt or something, but honestly attempting to take a more formal shot of all 9 kids just made me realize that no matter how far I've come there is still a long way to travel. And so much more to learn.
Next year I'm hiring someone else to do it.
But, back to the morning rush....Oisín is up at 5:56am on the dot pretty much every single day. Unless it's daylight savings in which case he will get up at 4am for nearly a week until you finally put your foot down because the idea of getting up at 4am every single day has sent you into a mid-life crisis one decade ahead of schedule. I'm so happy we've adjusted back to 5:56am. He doesn't really cry when he wakes up, he just calls for me to let me know that he's ready. I pull him back into bed and we curl up and cuddle together while he nurses. Sometimes if I'm lucky he'll drift back to sleep for a little while, but usually by 6:30am he is ready to get up and Brendan is on baby duty at this point.
Finn and Micah are the first of the big kids to get up in the morning, usually by 6:10am I can hear them shuffling around upstairs. Micah's bus picks him up at the front door at 6:32am and Finn has to leave by around 6:45am. Meanwhile Nuala is up at around 6am every day while Oscar and Saoirse prefer sleeping in. Saoirse especially loves to stay tucked under her covers for as long as possible each morning. If I'm having an organized week I will remember to lay out their clothes each night so that they are ready to go first thing in the morning. I wish I could say this happens a lot, but as I type this there are 2 clean loads of laundry laying in baskets on the floor of their bedroom and I'm pretty sure kids were digging through them this morning trying to find clothes to wear. It happens. Saoirse is adamant about picking out her own clothing each day and is very particular about what she chooses. I can't tell you how many times we've already wasted precious minutes each morning arguing about her wardrobe. And I've learned over the years to pick my battles, I'm not a crazed wardrobe control freak (like I once was), but she just really likes to push the limits somedays. Most of it was due to the change of the seasons and the fact that I took my sweet time going through her closet and removing the summer dresses, which in turn meant bickering about sleeveless dresses on cold autumn mornings. Lesson learned.
Maija is usually up by 6:35am, while Ruari and Sidhe don't need to get up until about 7:10am. All of the older kids, including Micah, have their own alarm clocks and are responsible for getting up in the mornings. But I am pretty in tune with their movements and so I listen to make sure they are up and at em. I can't believe how familiar I am with the sounds of the house and the way our family comes to life in the morning. I think it will be strange one day to have a quiet house.
Brendan ushers the little kids through the morning routine and let's me sleep in a little bit. This made sense when the baby was still getting up multiple times a night, but now that he's sleeping through again I feel like I should probably start pitching in a little bit more each morning. Once I do get up, I have to pack lunches for the little kids and usually help throw a few things together for the older girls as well. Then Oisín get's changed/prepped for the car ride and it's time to head out. My goal used to be a 7:30am departure, but nowadays I'm lucky if we're pulling out of the drive way by 7:45am. Getting 4 little kids into the car each morning seems to be the black hole where we lose time off the clock each day. It doesn't make sense even! I mean they are fed, dressed, brushed by 7:15am every single day. So what exactly is happening for the next half hour? Where does the time go? Seriously, I need to know......
Luckily we live very close to their school and if we hit the lights just right we can get there in less than 5 minutes. I love driving them to school. I love being in their hallways every day and seeing their teachers and friends and all the other parents. I love being welcomed into their classrooms every single morning. This was a huge factor when I was debating whether or not to send them to Micah's school a few years ago. I love Micah's school too, I think it is absolutely fabulous, but it is sooooo far away you guys, it would be impossible for me to drive them there every morning. When I have to go pick Micah up from after school activities is takes me no less than 70 minutes round trip. It is simply too far. Micah didn't start there until 2nd grade and even then it was a big adjustment to put him on a bus each morning. I can't imagine little Saoirse commuting that way right now. Anyways there's always a trade off, and I want to stress that I love Micah's school so much and think it's the perfect fit for him, and even though he has a long commute each morning there are so many other wonderful things about his school that more than make up for it. But. I just knew I wasn't ready for the little kids to have a commute yet and I'm glad I listened to my instincts. Dear moms everywhere, do not be afraid to listen to yourself, to listen to that little voice inside of you, even if it doesn't make sense or seem logical. Your instincts will not steer you in the wrong direction, so trust them and trust yourself. I wish I could do that more often, but I'm still learning too and I love to second guess myself and agonize over every little thing and lay awake at night wondering if I made the right choice or what I should have done instead. Let it go. Your instincts will carry you through.
Maija rides with us in the mornings, and walks the twins to their room while I take Saoirse over to her class. She had a rough adjustment at the beginning of the school year, with too many changes in a short period of time, and still has a rough time in the mornings once in while when I'm dropping her off. She is so sweet though and just needs a few extra hugs and kisses usually. Some mornings I'm a bit rushed and going through the motions. "Oh, okay, fine, one more kiss, one more, okay now get into your class child" but then I'm reminded just how fast she will grow and how she won't always want to kiss me one more time, or even just one time, as we say our morning farewells. I have teenagers, I have learned this the hard way. But right now? Right now, this little blue eyed four year old pretty much thinks I am her whole world and she loves me unconditionally and she doesn't want me to leave her because she is going to actually miss me and so she wants ONE MORE KISS DAMNIT. And wow, that is pretty much a freaking honor if you ask me and I sort of want to cry a little bit just thinking about it, remembering that one day last week when I was rushing and getting annoyed and didn't have the time to stay one second longer and so I impatiently passed her off to her teacher and didn't look back. One day soon she'll be the one brushing me off and I'll be the one left wanting just one kiss. And, cue pregnancy hormones. Phew. 18 weeks already?!
Once Saoirse is settled, I walk around the corner to Miss Susan's classroom where the twins are transitioning into their day. Maija has overseen the hanging of the coats, the unpacking of the book bags and has usually signed them in as well. She greets me and Oisín in the hall, takes him from me and heads downstairs where we'll meet by the coffee cart in a few minutes. I get to spend a few moments in their classroom where they are either having a second breakfast or deciding what work to get out. This morning Nuala was pulling out rugs and setting up the 5 chain, while Oscar was pondering what he might like to start on. Miss Susan came over to him with an idea she had over the weekend and of course he was intrigued and with that I was off. Dropped Maija at her high school, which is about 4 blocks away from their school, and was back home by 8:20am.
Okay, well, happy Monday. The baby just woke up and wants to read some books. He's currently obsessed with The Wheels On The Bus. Dogs are sooo yesterday, it's all about buses now. And in a few minutes we'll be heading out to go pick little Miss Saoirse from school so that she can have a quick lunch and then get ready to go to her other school for the afternoon. It's sort of a long story and definitely deserves a post of it's own. We sure are asking a lot of her this year, but so far she seems to be handling it very well, even if it means one more kiss again and again and again.