We all know what you’re supposed to do when life gives you lemons. But what if life gives you artichokes, instead? Not inherently bad. Quite enjoyable if prepared correctly (hey, butter makes just about anything edible). But so totally out of sync with what you expected that you feel like there should be a balloon bubble over your head with one word in it: “Huh?” If there’s one thing that unites all mothers – other than our love for our babies – it has to be the fact that motherhood is never, ever exactly what we expected.
The first clue that I may have unwittingly filled my grocery cart with artichokes was when I had three babies in under three years. Because here’s the thing. I like quiet. I don’t even listen to music when I work out. I listen to talk shows or audiobooks. Soothing and rather monotonous. I am a list addict and have quite a collection of to-do apps. I’ve been known to put an unexpected accomplishment on my list just so I can cross it off. I’m organized. I make the week’s school lunches on Sunday afternoon and start every summer with a freezer full of pre-assembled meals so that I don’t have to cook with the kids underfoot. See where I’m going with this?
I was supposed to have quiet, orderly kids. Sedate, even. Bookworms. Not! Let’s introduce the cast of characters. My youngest is a 7-year-old girl we’ll call The Easy One. She comes closest to the lemonade I expected. Sweet, scary smart, sometimes drama queen….just your typical little girl. If she had been my first, there’s no telling how many I might have. Her irish twin (11 months older) is an 8-year-old boy we’ll call The Exuberant One. Because that’s what pops into my head every time he tears into a room screaming/laughing/singing at the top of his lungs, only to throw himself on the floor and slide into home base (my feet). He told me once he was born to make noise. I think there’s just no way to contain that much personality in such a small body, so it leaks out all over the place. And then there is my oldest, a 10-year-old boy we’ll call The Challenging One. He is as handsome as they come and amazingly creative. He has a wicked sense of humor. He takes after his daddy in his mechanical ability: When he was 5, he asked for a wrench, took his training wheels off his bike, and rode away. It’s hard not to laugh when he’s laughing. And, yet, he challenges me every day. He was not blessed with the gift of contentment, and he often seems uncomfortable in his own skin. But when he’s happy, his grin is impossibly contagious.
So you’re invited to come along for the ride while I figure out how to make my peace with chaos while raising artichokes. I hope to offer you a few laughs and hopefully some useful information!