"I don't know how you do it!"
I get this a lot. When people find out that I have 4 children under 6, one of whom is still feeding and not sleeping through the night, two dogs who require walking, two cats who invariably vomit a mouse up just where I want to put the baby down and then guinea pigs and fish who, although they are very little hassle, still need feeding, watering and cleaning out - a sort of horror dawns on their face and then they say, "I don't know how you do it".
The thing is, that unless you count "it" as existing in a perpetual state of near chaos, desperately trying to hold onto my sanity whilst trying (and mainly failing) to keep spinning plates in the air (who all have a mind of their own and a tendency to take off in different directions), then I don't think that I do "do it".
I certainly don't parent to the standard that I would like to. I shout more that I'd like to admit, I lose my temper more frequently than I am proud of (the school run is a particular flash point).
I don't do enough messy play. I don't take the children on as many outings as I would like to. I don't play "dogs" as frequently as I am begged to by The Eldest.
I don't spend enough time training my dogs (and hence now have a pair of semi-professional deer hunters) and walking them is often falls to The Husband to do in the evenings. I don't spend enough time handling the (feral) guinea pigs and I don't clean them out as frequently as I should. I don't clean out the fish as often as I should and I sometimes forget to feed them. I don't spend enough time cuddling the cats, although I DO spend copious amounts of time clearing up their vomit. I don't have enough time to look after my horse and so my sister is looking after him for me.
I don't do as much exercise or eat as healthily as I should (and hence am nowhere near losing the weight that I put on whilst pregnant with The Baby). I don't spend enough time looking after myself and so normally look haggard and a mess.
All in all, I would say that this adds up to NOT "doing it".
On the other hand, I do make sure that the children are clean, tidy and on time to school. I do feed them a (mostly) healthy and varied diet. I do read with them every day and I try to make sure that I sit down with them to play something, be it dolls, puzzles, trains or bouncing on the trampoline. Our messy dog walks are legendary.
Most importantly, I tell them how much I love them and that I love them even when I am angry, or when they are angry with me or when things haven't gone right.
I cuddle them and kiss them and hold them tight and count my blessings.