I don’t know if anyone has filled you in on this little tidbit yet, but “one plus one does not equal two” when it comes to children.

With two little ones, I’m fully exhausted by the time we get out the door to go anywhere or do anything. It is a bona fide miracle when all four of us in the family get out the door in clean clothes and on time. (Just kidding, the on time thing never happens.)

On Easter, for example, we planned to leave for church at 9 a.m. I started getting myself and the kids ready at 7 a.m. We left the house at 9:10.

Why? Because we are in the circus season.

With a 3-year-old and a 7-month-old, someone is bound to be having an off morning. One is hungry while the other is throwing a fit. The baby blows out a diaper at the same time that the 3-year-old spills milk down her shirt. The baby needs to nurse, again, and the toddler doesn’t want to brush her teeth.

There’s. Always. Something.

The deceiving thing is that my children are, for the most part, really well behaved in public. So when we walked into church yesterday morning, we had the appearance of being very put-together people. The boy cooed in his carrier. My daughter walked sweetly by my side.

I felt the glances of strangers as we walked by. Eyes that reflected their own happy memories. Smiles that spoke of sweet moments with small children.

And I felt like a bit of a fraud.

While I so appreciate those looks, because they remind me of how fleeting this season is, yesterday so much of me wanted to scream, “You don’t know what we went through to get here!”

My daughter’s shoes hurt her feet and she battled me for at least 10 minutes about a band-aid. The baby started to spit up the moment I got him dressed in his special Easter outfit and as a reflex I leaned him forward… So the spit-up went all over me instead. My daughter was extra clingy and insisted on joining me in the shower. I could go on for an entire post with our morning hijinks.

Needless to say, I was totally frazzled—and that was before we walked through the doors of our crowded church.

So by the time we made it to our go-to breakfast spot afterwards, I was exhausted. Our favorite waitress came over to take our order and asked how we were.

“Oh, just a circus as usual!” I laughed.

Because in so many ways, I feel like a ringmaster. On any given day I’m walking the tightrope of managing threenager feelings, making funny clown faces to make the baby giggle and juggling ALL the things just to keep our lives moving.

The line between circus side-show and mother of small children is so blurred. And maybe it never ends–this circus season. The acts may change, but life may not ever be calm and carefree until these babies are all grown up.

And, when that happens, I’ll miss this crazy circus season.