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10/12/2018 09:04 EDT | Updated 10/12/2018 09:04 EDT

Raising 5 Kids Can Be Chaotic, But I'm Living The Dream

Over the years, I'd had to let my "type-A-ness" slide, accepting that I simply will not have the time I need to put things "right"

Jessica Sultan

When I returned to work after the birth of my eldest of now five kids, and came home to this kind of mess and work awaiting me, (you'll note the counters with every spare surface strewn; bins of laundry to be folded; the dishwasher waiting to be emptied, and then refilled, and refilled and refilled; a family to feed; kids to wash, etc.) I was overwhelmed, and became cranky and stressed.

Fast forward to 12 years later – it really doesn't phase me now. One more thing to do? Add it to the list!

Over the years, I'd had to let my 'type-A-ness' slide, accepting that I simply will not have the time I need to put things 'right', arranged just how I want them, for the next, oh, 15 years or so.

There's gum stuck to my kitchen floor, and though the seasons are now changing once again, I haven't yet managed to properly sort, fold and store the kids' clothing from last winter's use. Though now that I think of it, this will, in fact, make the transition back to warm-clothes much simpler – I'll just grab what we need from the piles on the dresser. #lifehack . #winning .

Somehow over time, I've managed to let the details go, and to focus on what matters to me.

It was picture day, but I didn't force my kids to sport new outfits that I shopped for weeks ago, taking time to craft just the right look, as I once would have. I let them pick whatever they wanted, which for my youngest included striped tights and a wildly flower-patterned dress, and for #2 a pair of red shorts with pineapples on them, matched with a neon orange button up. They looked like themselves – the kids I adore – so why would I stress over trying to change that?

I might not remember exactly which child's homework is due when, and you'll definitely see me shopping at Toys R Us five minutes before your kid's birthday party because I forgot to buy a gift in advance, but I do remember the critical stuff.

I got a note home from #4's teacher the other day, reporting that his oral presentation, which I had been practicing with him daily for at least three weeks, pulling out every trick I know to get him to concentrate, was incredible, and that he had everyone in the class in stitches with his stories about our family. The note also mentioned that he'd slapped another student because the child called my #3 fat. Meh. Slapping isn't good but I'm glad he stood up for his brother. I call this a win.

My baseboards are filthy. I think I maybe (possibly?) fed the fish this morning. I'm really not sure. It could have been yesterday. Or last week.

I'm ignoring the precarious piles of unopened mail and school-crafts that surround me as I sit and write, and that feels like a win too. I can hear two kids laughing together upstairs as they pack for a week at the cottage with my parents, and my husband and oldest son watching hockey happily in the next room.

I might not remember exactly which child's homework is due when, and you'll definitely see me shopping at Toys R Us five minutes before your kid's birthday party because I forgot to buy a gift in advance, but I do remember the critical stuff. Like that my sensitive middle guy needs extra snuggles and to be reminded often how special he is to us, and that although my oldest son comes across as smart and confident, he's actually very unsure of himself and needs to be supported in a way unique to him. That my eldest child, my older daughter, needs lots of one on one time to ask me the kinds of questions all 12-year-olds have as they try to navigate the trickiness of changing peer relationships. I know that my youngest son loves to snuggle me in 'teddy bear pose' when he has a bad dream, and that trying to convince my younger daughter that she needs to wait until she's older to do any of the things the big kids can already do is just never going to work.

It is from this world of noise and chaos; of clutter and mess; that I can confidently call my life what it is – success. The glamour is real, my friends. I'm living the dream!

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