The adjustment on the way up from 1 kid to 5 was over the course of years…for us it was 8 years. I only had one child for 18 months before we gave her a baby brother. I have watched other people with only children and seen the intensity that goes into parenting an only child, especially when they are younger. As the parents you are their constant playmate and entertainment. You are there to fill all their needs. As a mom of 5, there is a lot of time when the kids are playing happily together and really only need to check in with me to report any violations of the made up rules for the game they are playing or to ask for snacks. The oldest kids are big enough to run the littles to the bathroom if need be. They help get younger kids dressed for church or find their shoes. There are more kids so naturally there are more needs, but I get to share them. But I have to tell you a secret. Having just one kid for a few days, after having 5 kids, especially when that one kid is a 10 year old, is sort of magical.
Yesterday Lucas and I started the day pretty early, he woke up as I was finishing my workout, and our day of fun could begin. (Any Friends lovers? Do you remember “Joey and Janice’s Day of FUN!”? I have been singing it as “Mommy and Lukey’s Day of FUN!” so often that it’s caught on and even Lucas says it now. Success!) Lucas asked what we were having for breakfast. He loves waffles…not all of the other kids do. So we made waffles…and he even made a cinnamon apple syrup to go with them. Delish. When it was time to get dressed for church the house was quiet and we both got ready. I didn’t have to tell people they couldn’t wear a fur vest over their sundress in June. I didn’t have to locate misplaced shoes or braid hairstyles and break up fights over who gets to wear which necklace. I didn’t have to pack a bag of coloring books and crayons for little people to occupy their hands during mass. We just walked out the door when we were ready.
We got to church a full 15 minutes earlier than normal. And we didn’t need a whole pew…we could sit wherever we wanted!! I even heard the sermon yesterday! After church we decided to play a round of mini golf. I love an active outing, and with 5 kids we are too big a group to golf all together normally. Plus, it’s $$$ so we usually opt for a park or something along those lines. But just me and Lucas? We finished 18 holes in less time than it took to pick out our putters. Now as a child, I have one very clear memory of a Putt Putt trip that ended with my father vowing to never take me again. I did not have a glowing attitude as I started to slip into the triple digits for strokes. In mini golf. But yesterday I was able to occassionally hit a 2 and even had a hole in one. And Lucas was good from the beginning (not surprisingly). I thought he had escaped the curse. But we hit the 17th hole and it took him 7. So he asked for a do-over. It was a day of fun so I said yes. It took him 8. He asked for a do-over. 7. He told me he hated putt putt. Do over. 8. He get frustrated at me for “laughing”. Eventually, after many do-overs, he got a 3, and we moved on with our lives. Maybe Putt Putt is not for us after all.
When we entered the arcade area I was out of my element. I don’t like gambling, which is what those games feel like these days. We were apparently on a mission to earn tickets. I would have played ski ball and pop-a-shot and called it a day. Not Lucas. He was there to win! And win he did. He caught the elusive King Crab in a fishing game and won 1000 tickets. We traded in our 1300 tickets for maybe $3 worth of prizes, but he felt like a champion. So it’s all okay.
With just one kid we could eat lunch wherever he chose. (Panera) I could say “yes” to a cookie and lemonade. I asked what he wanted to do for dinner and his one request was that he wanted to cook. So we went to buy groceries for steak fajitas. When he wanted to go to the pool: yes! When he wanted me to play catch and play in the water: yes! I got to just be there during his baseball practice. I could say “yes” to staying later to watch the other team play without worrying about other kids’ bedtime needs. I could say “yes” when he was ready to leave without disappointing someone else. We made dinner together and laughed and ate peacefully while we monitored the results of the Little League game we left. We grabbed popsicles and watched the rest of our movie from the night before. We played a quick game of Life before bed. We read 6 chapters in our book together rather than the usual 1-2. And it was a beautiful day. It was awesome.
I know the reality is that days like that can’t exist for moms of one on a regular basis either. There are real life needs. There are chores to accomplish. Dropping $15 at the arcade couldn’t be a daily occurance. But for that one shining day…we could make it happen. And to be honest, he probably appreciated it more because it was so rare. But I noticed that every time we finished doing something fun he wanted to FaceTime the rest of the family to tell them about it. He wanted to see pictures of what the kids were doing. He recapped his entire baseball game for my friend Wendy as we stood in the pool. He missed his people…and so do I.
Today has been a little more like reality. We ate breakfast together and then headed to get his allergy shots. We ran to try to get his sister’s glasses fixed and then stopped into Academy Sports to pick up a couple things. I put away laundry…and he wandered out to find some friends to play with. And now the house is quiet and what should probably be peaceful has left me feeling a little antsy. We head back over to the ball fields this evening and hope that the game goes well and the tournament ends on a high note, and we are able to steal away for a day at the beach. But I know the memory of this weekend will stick with me and with Lucas for a long time. After he’s done playing youth sports, after my kids are big and out in the world, I will be able to remember “Mommy and Lukey’s Day Of Fun!”