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No time left for arguments

May 22, 2014 - By Clair McFarland

With four kids in the stroller, time is too precious

It has been pointed out to me that I must be very busy -- by nearly everyone I've encountered within the past four months who has had a moment to realize the quantity of small children in my care.

And I am busy. I don't drink coffee, I inhale it. I don't go potty, I employ rapid ejection.

What is surprising to me, however, is one side of our culture wherein the state of my own frenzy is pointed out to me in tones of pity, as though having four children, ages 4 and under, is a misfortune from which I need rescuing.

And, while I acknowledge that mass-motherhood is the hardest thing I've ever attempted, including canoe-jousting and giving The Husband a pedicure, I am in no way prepared to bemoan this blossoming life as a mother of four.

Having a heap of children, like being very pregnant or having a stressed bladder, or both, is one of those life endeavors that brings out a wider range of human character than one would normally witness. Some people encounter my circus cart at the store and keep their distance, but others flock to engage in five minutes of toddler-talk. Rarely is society lukewarm toward a quantity of children as large as mine. (When I go to the store without the children, I find it a cold and quiet place.)

Usually the children are a magnet for warm conversations, but every so often they attract loving commiseration as well, as in "you must be so exhausted."

I do not mind this at all, because, compared to those of you who read yourselves to sleep at a decent hour and wake in the morning to sounds that do not portend infant hunger, I am a bit fatigued.

These tidbits of empathy are signs of understanding from those of you who are merely considering the lifestyle tweaks that come with mass motherhood.

However, there is a tendency in our culture to cast too much light on the less-than-favorable changes that accompany family influx, thereby undermining the glow with which children fill a mama's life.

The piteous perception of the baby-ridden housewife appears more in movies and other entertainment than in daily life, but the image of busy moms as life-weary zombies is bleeding down into our world and evoking a few "you poor thing" reactions to what is easily the coolest time of my life.

Small children are a good and perfect gift, and one I am grateful for from the bottom of my heart.

Let me note that I am busy, but who isn't? I have yet to meet someone who hasn't professed a busy schedule at some point. "Busy" must be the most relative term in our language.

I look back at the "poor me" of my past, who was simply swamped by school and work, and I know now how idle that girl was. It makes me wonder if I'll ever reflect on my current, lightning-pace days and see them as lazy and slow. (Doubtful, but who knows?)

More importantly, being too busy to cook myself a quesadilla translates to a few positive changes in my life and character:

Wherever discord, frustration, or grudges may have occurred in my life in the past, they struggle to exist now. As it turns out, disagreement is inefficient and therefore unwelcome. The fiery conversations and the endless debate that once marked my interactions with The Husband and with family and friends now seem like a waste of energy.

I need energy. I have a four-seat stroller to push, the impossible task of pretending to be Lois Lane all day, and more than 100 makes and models of Matchbox cars to catalog mentally.

In my life, agreement, forgiveness, and appreciation are revealing themselves as efficient habits. It's these habits that keep one working happily, preserve needed connections with loved ones, and enable the housewife to move on -- from task to task to task.

I'm not saying I'm the most amiable person in the world, simply that I don't have time or energy for argument right now. And there is nothing to be pitied about that.

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