From the looks of the photo, we’ve got it all under control. Happy kids. Happy dad. Happy mom holding the camera. But it’s totally deceptive. 

I took this picture a few days ago, just after my first attempt to corral all three kids by myself from 5:00-6:00 in the evening. Up until then, I hadn’t tackled the challenge of offering dinner to Penny and William while keeping Marilee content at the same time. It didn’t go well. 
William wailed because Penny was touching his chair with her foot. Then he spilled soup all over his shirt (thus the batman pajama top in the photo). Penny wailed because William started touching her chair with his foot. Then she spilled milk all over her jeans (thus the bare legs in the photo). Marilee just wailed. For whatever reason. (“Babies cry to tell us something, Mom,” Penny and William both informed me. But I couldn’t understand what she was telling me at that moment.) And I, sleep-deprived and with an aching back and a sink overflowing with dishes, I could have started to wail too. Instead, I poured a glass of wine. 

Since then, things have gotten better. Meals are easier when Marilee is in the sling instead of in my arms. Penny and William aren’t bugging each other quite as much. I’ve taken a few walks outside and the nights have been easier (although I still find myself on the verge of tears every few days, a physical reminder that I’m close to some emotional limit). I haven’t ventured outside the walls of our home with all three of them, but at least I don’t panic at the thought of caring for them within those walls anymore.
In the past few days, Marilee has developed her first case of baby acne. And much as I want to wipe her face clean of those obnoxious white pimples, I’ve also been grateful for them. They serve as a visible reminder that this baby is just as much a creature as the rest of us, that there is no such thing as perfection, if perfection means looking like you belong in a magazine all the time.
I love our family. I love our new addition. I even love the disruption she has caused in our lives. But don’t let the cute photos deceive you–we’re as fragile and flawed as they come. 
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