I read this post this evening and had such a long response that I thought I should put it on my blog. It ties in perfectly with what I wanted to type about tonight. Here is what my sister had to say.......
We had just gotten done with our terrarium, and filling it with various bugs - I'll write later on it on olm (be warned, Secret Agent, five spiders!), and then came in the house and the children wanted to play with the tangrams, so we did that, Maddie starts um... asking for Pooh in a way that sort of set my teeth on edge, can't find it, Trev finishes his robot and wants its picture taken, and wants me to finish my tangram design that looks like a robot (not what I was going for, but that's fine), Maddie wants food NOW! all of a sudden, "When are we going to the store to get the plaster of paris and the skittles and the baking soda and vinegar for volcanoes?" "Uh, food first, Maddie is hungry." "Come on little batrachotomus, Mom, look, the batrachotomus is climbing up the wall again. Can we get skittles for the batrachotomus?" "No, there were not skittles in the times of the dinosaurs of course, it would make him sick." "But, I told you that I saw them when I went back in time. Hey, where are Shaggy and Scooby, anyway, I haven't seen them in a long time." "Well, a time traveler must have left them there. Maybe they're sleeping, after a big lunch." What's super-quick?.. "Bagel, Maddie?" "No."Eyes darting everywhere, starting to feel closed in.... "Peanut butter sandwich?" "Yeah." Phew. "Chicken noodle soup, Trev?" "So can we get some skittles for batrachotomus, too?" I'n hungry!" "I'm fixing it, Maddie. Trev, really, Bub, I can't play pretend right now. After lunch, okay? I'm starting to freak a little. Let me feed all of us.... I really need to regroup for a few minutes..." He asked me something, I dunno, bzz, bzz, bzz-zap, bzz.... "Here you go, Maddie, can't have grilled cheese with it bub, we need to get some butter at the store..." Okay, I'm going outside for a sec while the soup heats up....Sigh.I start (practically running) for the backdoor"Mom, can we play again in a little while?" following me."Yeah Bub, but no more questions right now, okay? I'm feeling sort of stressed out, and my brain is zzzipping and zzzzapping, and I'm sort of freakin' on the inside.""You mean like bees?" (Which is an interesting question - I took a quiz that Melissia posted about "What does your name mean?" and my answer was "full of bees". Ha! (though evidently it changes every time did it it today to get it exactly right, and was two completely different answers.)"Actually, more like I'm electrocuting...."Now we've had lunch and the tot is sleeping out here on the patio sofa, Trev is playing in the sandbox, and I am type-type-typing away.(deep sigh.)
This sort of thing happens often around here.Eric asked the other night when we were throat deep in the same "What do people with a lot of kids do? How many does your sister have? Six? Four?""Five.""Do all of them go at once? What do they do? Do people just get used to it?"A few minutes later (like now) the chaos had subsided, and all was quiet and still."I think that when it's just two, eventually you get quiet, like now, and get a chance to regroup. But I don't think you get that if you have loads of them."(shudder.) The poor souls.
I love, love, love this post! Especially the "out of time out" comment. So cute.
Why don't you tell Eric that he is invited to stay a week or so at our house, then when he goes home he will feel like he has it easy breezy. I remember a couple years ago when Robyn came (she only had Megan and Nat then, and I only had four) after she left I said "I will never again think that four kids is alot." And HOLY MOLY....this time when she comes there will be eight kids under one roof for a whole two weeks. Imagine the chaos!! I won't blame Robyn if she decides to escape to a hotel for a break. Just to let you know, us Moms with five look at others with seven and think..."How do they do it?" But I've learned something over the years, which is why I would be willing to have more if I could....and that is the more you have, the better you get at...... (searching for an all encompassing word) ....juggling. Your heart, your talents, your wisdom, your patience, your know-how, your keen sense of hearing just increases with every kid. I always say it is one of the tender mercies that the Lord grants us for being willing to take on the challenge of Motherhood. I know that you are better about letting your kids be "free" than I am. Lundi came home and reported that she liked it at Aunt Stephanie's house because there are no rules. The only rules are "be safe and have fun." And she said this in response to my request that she pick up her clothes and put them in the hamper. For a split second I thought about canceling all of our rules and just adopting those two. But you know, the only way that this house can run is with organization and contribution from every single one of us. Maybe we have too much structure....but I feel like I am "freaking out on the inside" if I have it any other way. I hate that feeling. So I traded my kids "freedom" for inner peace and a happy Mama. So, at our house everyone gets the same lunch (I take votes, this is a democracy) , same dinner, clothes washed on the same day, same bed time (except for Caleb who stays down in his room until he goes to sleep...he loves the alone time), same routine for pretty much every one most of the time. In my experience, a big family demands routine and structure. For us, it works. I have needs, too. A big one is time to myself. The only way I can get that is to have everyone on the same schedule. (I am not among those "poor souls" you mentioned). Am I robbing them of something? Is it unfair? Maybe, but I pray the Lord will compensate for my shortcomings and in the meantime I will work hard to overcome them. We are a happy family. I am a happy, joyful Mother and I honestly enjoy my children.
The other thing is....I don't even like to call them "rules" because that makes it sound like they are being "good" for me. I call them principles. "Rules" to me says...."Someone else controls my behavior. I am externally controlled by rules." "Principles" to me says: "I understand the value in making good choices and I want to please God, above all." So when we institute a new principle in our house, we try really hard to keep this in mind. I've heard it said like this..."The key to freedom is obedience" and I love that. I want my children to embrace this truth.
No for the tie in.........I told you that I wanted to post about this Motherhood thing, so here we go (finally)....
In this area, five (six when Mattea is with us) children is considered a huge family. EVERYWHERE we go people want to know...(who we are, so we tell them...we are the Angels, the mighty, mighty Angels....a song for Steph)....... "Are they all yours? (And with Mattea I can say "No, I only have five...hehehehe). How close together are they? Boy, you have your hands full. Better you than me. I can't even handle the (insert small number) that I have. I bet you are happy when they go back to school. Are you going to have any more?' On and on and on. And in response to the "you have your hands full" I always say, "And my heart." and I mean that. Today we went to another homeschooling family's house to try to get a group started. It was great fun. Anyway, the comments about my many children were not spared. They weren't rude, just the "I admire you" variety. I am not trying to brag, just thinking this through....bear with me. It got me thinking...why am I so different than the Moms with one or two? Am I really crazy? Is the sacrifice too great? What makes me more equipped and capable of raising so many kids? Do I have something different? Am I depriving myself too much? I don't think that I am deprived at all...I feel so blessed, but their comments make me think that they think that I have lost myself in Motherhood and shame on me. Like why have I settled for something so.....demanding, unimportant and thankless? I almost feel like I should feel sorry for myself because they feel sorry for me. Am I missing out on something really great in life because I have so many children? Is it just going to hit me one day and I am going to look at my life and say..."What was I thinking? What have I done?" You see, these comments wear on me after a while.
Granted, I am not a perfect Mother. I do not claim to have it all figured out. I am still learning and I make plenty of mistakes, just ask my kids. But you know, I really like my BIG family. I believe there is nobility in Motherhood and I want to be a better one. It is my quest, my ambition and my focus. (Looked down upon as it may be). I pray every day to be a better Mother. I know that the reason that I can "handle it" is because Heavenly Father helps me so much. I could not do it without Him. A favorite scripture comes to mind..."For I will not boast of myself. I will boast of my God. In His strength I can do all things. Many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise His name forever." So you see, after all, it is not me. I am not due the credit. The Lord is always there for me. It is only when I try to do it on my own that I start to believe that maybe I really am crazy for having all of these kids. No need to shudder about me. I love you Steph. Thanks for the inspiration to think all of this out. I am reminded once again how very blessed we are to be Mothers....whether it be of one or ten!
Now I'm off to bed so that I don't wake up to be a grumpy Mama.
PS....I got my new (and improved) Sony CyberShot. We got a really good price from Dell.