My sister tagged me in a picture on Facebook. It was a picture of a sign that read, “The average 4 year old asks 437 questions a day.”
400 and what?! A day??? No wonder I’m going crazy.
A bit of Googling revealed that 437 was a bit high. Most research suggests that the number lies somewhere between 144 – 300, with 4 year old girls ranking highest in total questions asked. Which is great because we have THREE girls. This was all so intriguing to me that I decided to count how many questions my 4 and 2 year old asked me in a day.
The next morning my 4 year old woke up first, and within the first 20 minutes she asked me 20 questions. That’s right folks–she was already averaging a question a minute and I hadn’t even had my coffee yet! I know for a fact that there were questions that I forgot to count throughout the day, because my husband would catch some in a group conversation (if you can call it that; more like an interrogation with all those damn questions) that I had completely missed. I’m so used to the constant battalion of questions that I had to really focus to even realize they were asking another one. I most definitely lost count while we were grocery shopping because there was just too much going on: trying to stick to my list, keeping the older girls off the shelves/out of other shoppers’ way, keeping the baby entertained, and answering the questions that were being fired off at me what felt like every second as they found something new to quiz me on. But of the questions I caught, I counted 417 in one day.
417 questions every. day.
This experiment was so fascinating to me that the next day I decided to count how many times they called for me. Around 6:30 pm I completely lost count and wasn’t able to finish tracking the last 3-4 hours of our day (or 5 hours, if they decided to really put up a good fight against their most evil adversary, Bedtime). But as of 6:30 that night, I had counted to 230.
So every. single. day. I get asked approximately 417 questions a day, get called for somewhere in the vicinity of 230 times a day, help the 2 year old go potty about 10 times a day, and change around 8-10 diapers.
NO WONDER I’M GOING CRAZY!!!
My temper is a constant struggle. I always feel guilty when I snap at my kids, or don’t have enough patience to teach their inquisitive little minds. By the end of the day, all of their questions are met with a sigh and usually answered with some sort of variation of, “Because that’s just how it is”. Then after they go to bed and I’ve had an hour to decompress I look back at those crappy Mom moments and wish I had had more patience so that I could Mary Poppins my way through the whole day.
But after doing this little experiment, I realize that I need to give myself a bit of a break. I always knew my kids required a lot from me, but now that I have numbers to put to that requirement I am astounded at just how much they need me right now. I doubt any other job requires an employee to answer over 400 questions in a shift; maybe the President answers that many questions every day, but I doubt it. That alone is enough to make anyone’s brain short circuit. Add to that being called for over 200 times a day, and all the other demands and needs that a mom has to fulfill every day, and it becomes completely normal and even healthy for me to be done at the end of the day. Mind you, I’m not advocating for moms to snap at their kids all the time. Of course, if we can summon the patience from deep within, then we need to always strive to do that.
What I am saying is this: if you are like me, and struggle with guilt over not being able to Mary Poppins your way through motherhood, give yourself a break! Your job is hard. No one is perfect. 417 questions is a lot. You are allowed to be human and be tired out by that. Just because you are tired and short tempered towards the end of the day doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom. You are still a great mom. Your job just asks a lot of you.
If all else fails, just get a magic umbrella and peace out like Mary.
But if you can’t find a magic umbrella, a glass of wine should do the trick.
Hang in there mamas! You are more remarkable than you know.