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Feb 5 2014

Having Five Kids in a Two-Kid World

By at 10:05 am

Having five kids in a two-kid world.

I am a freak.

Arguably, this was true anyway. But by having a fifth kid (on purpose!) I have pushed myself into the realm of the unfathomable…at least, in the environment where I live.

I live in an area of suburban New Jersey primarily known to most for its mall. It is a bedroom community of Manhattan. It’s where I grew up, and arguably continue to grow up. It’s a well-to-do place where people–to generalize–tend to focus on status symbols like fancy cars and fancy college stickers for said cars. It’s a secular place where, with the exception of attending a friend’s bar or bat mitzvah, people are more likely to be at spin class Saturday morning than Shabbat services.

Having five kids around here is not normal.

I’m not sure what it is about the number five that makes it so different from four. I can name a handful of local peers who have four kids–hey, I was one of them until not so long ago. But for some reason, “five” tips the scales. When people ask you how many kids you have and you say “five,” it’s prone to produce wide eyes and a “Wow!” or “Yikes!” That never happened when I answered “four.”

The fact of the matter is, if you’re not in a religious community in America, more often than not, you live in a one, two, or three kid world. I’m fine with being different, but my experience thus far has made me start to see the ways in which the secular world is not hospitable to families like mine. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 20 2014

After Three Kids in Three Years, Getting Back to the Gym is Going to Be Hard

By at 1:55 pm

shutta

“I’m going to a really hard exercise class today,” I told my husband as I poured my fourth cup of coffee. “And I’m scared.”

“Why are you scared?” he asked.

“Because I might die,” I reasonably replied.

“Well, on the plus side, if you die, you don’t have to go back to the class,” he responded.

I have five kids. And in the past three years alone–over 28 months, to be exact–I’ve had three babies. They are now 2.5, almost 15 months, and almost 3 months. It’s been a wild ride, and one for which I am grateful.

But I’m not going to lie: it’s been hard. Pregnancy is tiring. Kids are tiring. The older we get, the more interesting and tiring life gets. And my body shows the tiring part. And I want to take control again, both of my fatigue and my tired, sagging self. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 3 2013

A Day in the Life: Jordana Horn, Work-from-Home (Pregnant) Mother of Four

By at 2:37 pm

kids being kidsEver wonder how other parents handle (or try to handle) the day-to-day grind of raising young kids? We were, which is why we started this series. Here’s a day in the life of Kveller contributing editor, Jordana Horn.

I’ve been scared of doing this project because it means coming face to face with the insanity that is my life–and this is before kid #5 is born. But here goes nothing: a day in the life of a work-from-home mom with four kids, 34 weeks pregnant with kid five.

5:30 a.m.: “DADDY! DADDY!” This is not an alarm clock. This is the 2- year-old girl. She yells “Daddy,” I’ve decided, every morning, because she knows there is no way that I will go to her when the sun has not even thrown a hint of its light over the horizon. She also knows she has Daddy wrapped around her little little finger. I yell back, “G, it’s still nighttime! Go back to sleep!” She issues one more halfhearted “Daddy?” before there is silence again. And murmurings from the 11-month-old baby, who has had to live with her older sister, the self-appointed alarm clock, all her life. The one time the baby slept far away from the 2-year-old, we had to wake her at 8 a.m. Poor baby.

5:50 a.m.: “DADDY! DADDY!” At 5:50, there is really no point in struggling anymore. Jon the Wonder Husband gets out of bed to go get the girls. I hit the shower, where I wash as best I can. Afterwards, I brush my hair and teeth without looking in the mirror so as to not contemplate my uncanny resemblance to the Goodyear Blimp. Read the rest of this entry →

May 23 2013

I Minivan, Therefore I Am… Depressed

By at 2:40 pm

row of minivansI’m not upset about turning 40; I’m upset about getting a minivan.

My age will change in a few weeks. I’ll leave the insane decade of my 30s–had two kids, had horrible divorce, had bizarre experience dating and moving back in with my parents and said two kids, met love of my life, got married, had two more kids–and move into the unknown terrain of the 40s. Read the rest of this entry →

May 9 2013

No Matter How Many Kids You Have, You’ll Be Stressed

By at 4:14 pm

three kids in car“Apparently I picked the wrong number of kids to have,” a friend and mother of three kids posted on my Facebook wall the other day. “Maybe you are onto something?”

She–and every other mom of three kids I know–was referencing the recent survey by TODAY Moms (full disclosure, for which I’m a contributor). The survey came up with the unexpected finding that the moms who have it hardest are moms of three kids:

Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels, according to an exclusive TODAYMoms.com survey of more than 7,000 U.S.mothers released Monday. Call it the Duggar effect: Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.

Let me let you in on a secret that you probably already know: this is bullshit. Sorry. But here are the reasons: Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 5 2012

Hormone Insanity

By at 8:57 am

Friday Night LightsJust to give you a bit of context: I’m at home, parenting two kids–one who’s 3, the other who was just born. And I’m typing this post on my phone. While breastfeeding. While my older child watches TV. So please forgive the sentence fragments.

I just wanted to say a few things about being a mom of two:

1) 1+1≠2. Though that’s what you were taught your whole life in math class, it’s not true when it comes to parenting. Because even when you’ve got two parents home caring for the kids (and maybe even a grandparent or two), your kids might both need mommy at the same time. My baby has cried more in his first four weeks of life than his sister did in her first four months–because I could almost always pick her up right away. It’s a little bit heartbreaking. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 25 2012

Pregnant Again, and Not Completely Happy

By at 10:36 am

positive pregnancy testThis past winter I was late. And later. And even later still. I knew it was likely a miscalculation on my part–been there, done that–but, I still felt obligated to buy a test just to be sure. Obviously, I was overreacting and there is no way I could possibly be pregnant. I mean just look at where we live, and how little time I have for a newborn, and how busy we are with our other kids… and how specifically *not* busy our small business is at the moment. Clearly it would be impossible to have a baby right now. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 2 2011

Really, Your Kid Isn’t That Special

By at 2:18 pm

I get it. Kids are special. But I’ve met some mamas on this kibbutz who I am pretty sure think their child is the Messiah. Lest you think I’m exaggerating,  I offer the following snippets of conversation as evidence:

1. “You should have seen what my son did yesterday!  He pooped three times in the potty! Such strength, that one. Such endurance!”

2. “Look how Avinoam holds his crayon! He’s a genius!”

3. “My daughter, she ate potatoes!”

(Halle-frikking-lujah)

Some of these imas are young. Others, not so much. Some are new immigrants. Others come from families that trace their lineage in Israel to Judah the Maccabee. Ashkenazi, Sephardi, Mizrahi–doesn’t matter. Some wear sweat pants. Others, skinny jeans.

But there is one thing these mom’s have in common: They all have one child.

When I had one child, I’m pretty sure that I may have thought my kid had messianic tendencies, too. After all, was there anyone else in the whole wide world that had poop as fragrant as my daughter’s? (Really! It smells like a mixture of yogurt and honey! See? Just give it a sniff? Come on!) Was there another baby who had learned how to pick his nose and eat his boogers by only seven months? (Pure genius!) Look!  She laughed! (Call the newspaper!)

But within a week of bringing Little Homie home from the hospital and watching M. try to strangle him, it crossed my mind that maybeeeee she wasn’t perfect. And in fact, that dump she took in her diaper a few minutes later in fact smelled like… shit.

From my experience, it was a lot harder to obsess about my daughter after my son was born. And in fact, when my pregnant-for-the-second-time-around mama friends ask me what it’s like having two kids instead of one, I tell them the truth:

It’s easier.

Ok, let me qualify that. The physical demands are draining. There is nothing like playing whac-a-mole with a colicky infant and sick toddler in the middle of the night to make you dizzy with exhaustion. But, psychologically it’s easier. Emotionally it’s easier. Because while all babies are different, you are more likely to realize this when you have a second or third or fourth kid, and take it all in stride.

At least that’s how it happened for me.

When M. didn’t walk until she was–gasp!–14  months, I called her pediatrician with daily updates (“She stood for 8.5 seconds, and sat down again! Do I need a referral for a physical therapist?”). And by the time she did start walking, I wanted to put bumper pads on her precious tush, lest she fall down. But when Little Homie didn’t walk until just shy of 15 months, we weren’t worried. Instead, we clapped and cheered and enjoyed the moment. When he fell down, we picked him up, kissed the bump on his knee and told him to keep on going. This isn’t because we love him less. It isn’t because he’s a boy and we’re giving into some misguided gender stereotype that boys should be rough and tumble. It’s because he’s the second, and we’ve come to the earth shattering conclusion that it takes more to break a baby than a bump on the butt.

Now, this isn’t to say that all parents of only children will see their kid as the harbinger of the Messianic age. Nor is this to say that parents with a softball team of kids will not see one as more special than the others.  And of course, none of this is exclusive to the Kibbutz or Israel, or Jews in general. But I know this to be true: A second child helped me realize that I am the imperfect mama of imperfect children. And while I hope I am raising my children to be mentsches, in between the ups and downs, lost in the laundry list of things I’ve forgotten to do, I’ve reached a mental space (somewhere between Nervous Breakdown and Zen) where I take my kids–and myself–less seriously.

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