Teri Vance: Domestic bliss not all it’s cracked up to be

My sister Casandra had her fifth baby this week. The baby is beautiful and sweet and so far seems to be easy going with a high tolerance for chaos — which is good because, like I said, she’s the fifth.

And if anyone can attest to the chaos she’s coming home to, it’s me.

I stayed with the other four kids while my sister and brother-in-law — and my mom — were in the hospital.

Let me just preface this by saying I love all my nieces and nephews. And I think they love me, too. In fact, when my sister told the kids she was going into the hospital, her 4-year-old asked, “Can you call my best aunt, Teri?”

I appreciate being a best aunt, but there’s a secret to it. The key is quality over quantity. I can be the best aunt in the world when I’m with them for a set amount of time. And I defer all discipline to their parents.

My role is to laugh at their antics and let their parents worry about turning them into good people.

But that dynamic changed when it was just them and me. Four versus one.

My first plan was to take my laptop and write while I babysat.

It was impossible. Whenever I sat down with my computer, there was either a dog or a child vying for space on my lap — usually both.

There was a constant call for my attention. Someone broke something, or spilled something or did something inexcusable to someone else, like took a bite out of their sandwich.

Even nature conspired against me. I thought one of the boys threw a big dirt clot at the window when I heard a loud bang and a swirl of gray. I realized it was a kamikaze pigeon from the smear of feathers and guts it left on the window.

Owen, the 4-year-old, kept insisting it was his pet bird and we needed to get it to the pet hospital.

“It only has a broken neck,” he diagnosed after inspecting it.

It wasn’t great for my self-esteem, either. Putting them to bed, the 7-year-old asked, “Do you never clip your fingernails?”

“Not really,” I said.

“I think that’s why you can’t get a date,” he reasoned.

The baby was a little jaundiced, so they had to stay in the hospital longer than normal. I saw my sister just before they got released. She was exhausted and ready to leave. She and her husband had spent two long nights in the hospital without much sleep.

“I can’t wait to get home and just get some rest,” she told me.

Good luck with that …

And welcome to the world Baby Maggie.


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