Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Remember that old song "Father Abraham" that you sang in Sunday School, VBS or Girl Scouts when the sponsors had nothing else planned for the last 10min of the meeting?

"Father Abraham, had many sons! Many sons had Faaather Abraham,
I am one of them, and so are you! So let's all praise the lord,
Right arm, Left arm, Right foot, Left foot, nod your head..."

You know. And every time you sang another verse, another weird body spasm was added, until you all looked like a bunch of drunken soldiers on ecstasy?

Parenting more than one child is a little like singing Father Abraham. Here is how:

With child #1, everything is new. Every new age comes with a different set of challenges, and as soon as you accomplish the tricks of successfully (or something akin to success, anyway) parenting that age with that specific child, they move on to another phase.

You've just mastered breastfeeding and reflux, and discovered that green poo doesn't mean instant death, eh? On to teeth and solids! You've finally baby-proofed the house? Try *toddler* proofing, my friend. You've noticed that distraction is stellar for re-directing your one year old? Have you had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of staunchly undeterred TWO? Parenting requires massive amounts of fluidity and flexibility, and has the amazing effect of teaching you to dance on your toes with grace.

Adding child number two to the mix requires you to shift quickly between two different mindsets simultaneously. Right arm, Left arm, Right Foot, Left Foot. Bounce the baby, offer choices to your two year old, swaddle the newborn snugly, encourage budding independence in your toddler. Eventually, it becomes a funny, coordinated, practiced dance. They grow, and so does your ability to parent on two different age planes.

Just when you're thinking, "Hey, I don't look too silly...I'm actually pretty GOOD at this!", child number three is introduced to the boogie. Number one is now four years old, and requires great amounts of stimulation, serious and silly conversation, encouragement, insight, patience and tolerance. Number two is two years old, and requires ample doses of reassurance, opportunity to be "big", choices, snuggles, and sensory play. Number three needs what every baby needs: constant care, contact, feeding, interaction and energy. Nod your head, Turn Around.

That is where we're currently at in the dance.

Our song is currently something like:

Nate and Ashley,
Had many girls,
Many girls had Nate and Ash VO,
Eva's one of them,
Ess and Noni, too,
So let's all praise the lord:

Burp the tummy,
Establish boundaries,
Tickle her soundly,
Feed the grumpy,
Change the Diaper,
Teach her to read,
Offer choices,
Provide tactile play,
Sling her lots,
Read silly books,
Give responsibility,
Throw her in the air,
Potty Train,
Praise creative thought,
Give clear instructions,
Breastfeed often,
Hide and Seek,
Run in the yard,
Brush their teeth,
Comb their hair,
Cuddle them all....


It's exhausting to read. It's exhausting to do. It's slam packed with tears and laughter and frustration and jaw-dropping awe over the beautiful creatures who have somehow been entrusted in our care. We forget the steps we once knew, and have to remind ourselves that our 2yo is not yet 4, our 4yo is not still 2, and that sometimes, they ALL need to be snuggled like a newborn. We get dizzy from the crazy dance, and sometimes we marvel at how easy/hard it is to keep moving.

Someday, it will include algebra, boys, training bras, soccer, board games, orthodontists, hormones, pets, faith, and the Big Questions.

If we're lucky, we either fall to the ground proud of the end of each day, congratulating ourselves for our amazing coordination...

...or we fall on our duffs repeatedly, and have enough good sense to laugh about it and help each other up in the process. And remind ourselves that, eventually, it will become muscle memory. And that we'll never really tire of the joy of doing the crazy dance together.

That's the beauty of the song. <3


  1. That was fantastic! I love it. Keep nodding and turning and flinging your limbs! :)

  2. you, and this post, just rocked my face off! your girls (not to mention nate ;) ) are soooo fortunate to have you as their mama!!!

  3. Happy Birthday my beautiful daughter. Now here is the fun part (must be sung to the melody of the puppet version we did when you were little) Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, Happy Happy Birthday To YOU! I love you!