Everyday seems so much the same to me.

Wake up. Cuddle a child. Go to the bathroom. Exercise. Call for Mya to get dressed. Hop in the shower. Skip washing my hair. Lather up. Rinse off. Towel dry. Call again for Mya to get dressed. Listen to her million excuses. Wait patiently--errr...not so patiently--at the bottom of the stairs. Start a load of laundry. Hear the thump, thump, thump of her feet trample down the stairs. Pour her cereal. Listen to her read a school book. Throw her folder and lunch into her much too small backpack. Call for the other girls to come downstairs. Zip up sweaters over pajamas. Race to the car. Drive Mya to school. Say a prayer. Unlock her door. Hug her. Wave goodbye. Come home. Switch laundry to the dryer. Start new load. Pour cereal for the other girls. Sweep the floor. Unload the dishwasher. Load the dishwasher. Pour Birdie's milk. Zap her oatmeal. Trudge upstairs with toddlers on my legs. Wake up Birdie. Give her milk. Walk downstairs. Change a very full diaper. Strap her into her high chair. Pour myself a bowl of cereal. Sit down next to Birdie. Shovel cereal into mouth while simultaneously feeding Birdie. Wipe oatmeal off her cheeks and chin. Unstrap her from the high chair. Hand her to V. Watch V struggle up the stairs with her. Listen to her fuss for a minute. Wait for whining to stop and laughter to start. Clean downstairs bathrooms quickly. Sweep the floor. Mop if it's Thursday. Take clothes out of the dryer. Switch the laundry again. Fold dry clothes. Check the clock on the microwave. Ask V if she can watch Birdie for a minute more. Wipe down the table and counters. Run upstairs. Build some towers. Knock over towers. Build them again. Play at the pretend kitchen. Rest my head on the wall. Close my eyes. Listen to the girls practice gymnastics. Feel chubby hands climb up my legs. Open my eyes. Find Birdie's one-tooth smile staring at me. Smile back. Play some more. Head downstairs. Take the dog on a walk. Come home. Make lunch--usually grilled cheese and pb&j for the kids and salad for me. Cuddle Birdie as we walk upstairs. Read her a book. Sing her a song. Lay her down in her crib for nap time. Run downstairs. Join the girls for lunch. Watch them spill water on the floor. Clean it up. Load dishwasher again. Listen to them giggle outside on the trampoline. Prepare lesson for learning activity of the day. Teach a letter and a number. Read 4 books. Give them an hour of quiet time. Work. Fall asleep. Wake up to Elle breathing on my face. Check the clock. Head out front. Wait for the big, yellow school bus. Watch Mya hop down the stairs and race across the street. Give her a hug. Tell her I missed her. Listen to her day. Get the girls 2 snacks. Go on  another walk. Come home. Start dinner. Ask the girls not to argue. Hug crying child. Finish dinner. Tim comes home. Kiss him. Set the table. Eat dinner. Watch water spill again. Dry it up--this time a little less patiently. Pray. Ask the girls to eat maybe 20 times. Feed Birdie. Load dishwasher. Start dishwasher. Wash the pots and pans. Wipe down counters. Head to my room. Sit on my bed. Close my eyes. Abruptly open them to crying child. Talk to child (usually Elle). Hug her. Start to work. Listen for Tim's bedtime cues. Head upstairs. Read 2 books with each girl. Sing "I'll love you forever." Sing "You are my Sunshine." Sing the third verse of "Teach me to walk." Sing "I love to see the temple." Kiss cheeks. Watch Tim take the girls to their rooms. Start to work again. 

Everyday goes something like that. The chores change daily, but there's usually a load of laundry to be washed, and there are always dishes to be loaded and unloaded. My kids are builders so we generally stick with building towers or houses, which is nice because it's something I can do easily. My imagination isn't as big as it use to be, and I have a harder time playing pretend with the kids so I'm glad they do that on their own.

Routines--they remain pretty much the same until something changes--Like a new baby is born. Or another child starts school. Or the oldest child stops wanting to turn around and wave goodbye at school drop off. Or tastebuds change. Or summer happens. Or Christmas break happens. Or dad has to stay longer at work. Or dinner fails miserably. Or mom forgot to buy more milk the night before and now no one can eat cereal.

Something always kinks my routines. And depending on how big the kink or how hard it is to fix it, my routine is suddenly thrown into an alternate universe where I must learn to start over. Being a mother is all about learning to start over again and again and again. No one taught me how to care for an infant, but I've done it 4 times now. No one taught me how to potty train a 2 year old, but somehow I coerced 3 of my girls out of diapers and onto the porcelain throne, even if accidents still happen from time to time. No one taught me how to deal with my aching heart as I watch my girls grow up, but I'm figuring it out day by day.

Truthfully, adapting to growing children is the biggest kink to my routines because it forces me to be on my toes at all times. I constantly have to ask myself, "Did you listen to them today? Do you understand them?" I read this Humans of New York post this evening, and it spoke to my aching heart. The man was right when he said, "There's an unexpected sadness to getting your life back. It's like your getting laid off slowly from an equally grueling but joyful job."

On my hardest days, I secretly wish for my life back, but then I wonder what is my life anyways without these girls. I don't actually know who I am anymore without them. They are a part of me. Essentially, they are my routine. They are why I do what I do everyday--to make them more comfortable, to see them smile a little more, to hear them laugh without worry. And so as much as having a day full of chores and diapers and water spills can frazzle my weary mind, the idea of not having them strikes fear to my little heart. Perhaps that's why I've continued to have babies. No. That's not the reason at all. But you know, I'll take my daily routines in stride, even if they exhaust me because I happen to love the stage I am in right now.

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