Today I took my Miss 11.75 for her first pedicure. I was down to a 50% kid load with 2 of my other ones away from home so we waited for the baby to finish her feed, loaded up the car with nappy bag and pram and set off for the nail salon. As I was sitting there, it suddenly dawned on me all the multi-age-tasking I have been doing lately, and the difference this little lady has brought to our routine. As I spend a significant amount of time these days attending to the needs of the infant, I find the ability to switch between her and the adolescent to be almost amusingly award-winning. If there was a prize for swapping from being able to give boy advice to giving a baby bath, I would be writing my acceptance speech!
I’ve always prided myself on being able to ‘zone in’ on the different stages my kids are at. My kids ages range from a hormonal pre-teen almost 12 year old daughter, down to my brand new, not-yet-corrupted-by-the-world 12 week old baby girl. I knew that when I recently had my third daughter that things would be different this time around. I had just gotten used to buying pimple creams and pads, now I am back to trawling the chemist aisles for rash cream and nappies!
People usually have their kids reasonably close together, and I did that with the first two. Born exactly two years to the day apart, my daughter and son’s early years were a blur of Snugglers, formula tins and milestones hastily written down in baby books. Even when my third child came along three and a half years after her brother, we were still in toddler mode with only one at school, so the introduction of a new little person who needed their bum wiped and boogers retrieved was not such an adjustment. But after over 4 years of everyone in our house wearing non-disposable underwear and sleeping through the night (most of the time), our newest little lady has brought us crashing back to square one. And it’s true, you don’t forget how to ‘have’ a baby, I am just learning how to have pre-adolescents and pre-schoolers at the same time!
The irony is not lost on me when I wipe a tiny bum on one side and turn around to be asked to fix a bra strap. Or when I’m up late at night waiting for one to be dropped home from a school leavers disco and simultaneously eagerly awaiting the baby’s sleep time to commence so I can finally get to bed. The doozy is when both are screaming at me; one because she cannot communicate any other way and the other because she feels like she’s not being heard when she tells me just how important her Ipod is to her existence.
But that’s not to say there isn’t a few things completely awesome about having a much older daughter. She loves her little sister, and doesn’t mind when we have to take her along to the movies or shopping as long as I buy her stuff and top it off with hot chips for lunch. I’ve not yet had to take the baby into the toilet to pee or into the bathroom to shower because Miss 11.75 is always willing to watch her. And, if I start collecting iTunes cards now, I reckon I’ll have myself a pretty cheap babysitter in a few years time.
I never thought I would be filling formula bottles whilst filling out high school admissions forms, but I’m pretty proud of the way I’m adapting. My husband and I cringe when we think if the next 15 subsequent years of puberty hormones (as one finishes the next one will start) but I just love that I’ve got myself a lifetime of girls to join me in a pedicure!