Sunday, January 10, 2010
A big family-
I am home from church with Crew and Wyndham this morning as they are both just a bit under-the-weather today. I decided now is a good time to answer a few questions that some have posted in my comment section here and others of you may be asking in your own minds. Questions about how "we do it as a big family"- how do we love enough and meet needs enough and just fit it all in.
My first response is to say, "We're far from perfect". Just look at that family photo. I have come to accept that we may never take a "perfect" family picture- one where we're all looking and smiling at the same time. I have come to accept that I will never be the perfect mom who has it all together either, and you know what? That's okay in this fallen world in which we live. What is more important than perfection though is trying your best and leaning on God to meet the needs you can't fill and trusting Him when you fall short.
Some days it is daunting to think of the huge responsibility that Chip and I have in our care every single day. With another baby on the way it might seem that we would ready to throw in the towel at times and say we've had enough. But the surprising thing is that sometimes the more demands we have in life- the more we "step it up" and better we "become". Let me explain what I mean. When I think back to when I had just one baby in our house I recall being so overwhelmed and exhausted. So tired and afraid of doing things wrong that I found myself frozen on my couch not doing anything for hours at a time some days. I was so proud of myself when Teagan was 3 weeks old that I made Jell-o for dinner. I even called Chip at work to tell him what I had done! Now that I have several kids I find it hilarious that I felt I had accomplished something so "big"! I thank God and credit Him for giving me the energy I often need to keep up with the demands of more kids. I now have days where I do more work around the house before breakfast than I did in a whole week when I had just one baby. My perspective has changed and I while I still wish I had a maid or housekeeper to help me out, I also know that it is a privilege to be able to care for my kids and meet their growing needs. I feel lucky that I can be their mom and show love to them by taking care of them in our home.
The other day Chip was telling the kids that some things will change when we have another baby at our house. One of the changes will be that we have to buy a different vehicle. Ava shouted out, "How 'bout we get a limo?!". We all laughed with her and along with her- I didn't even know she knew what a limo was! I guess she thought she would look cool getting dropped off at school each morning in a limo. =)
That little story sort of sums up a lot of dynamics of having a large family. One such thing is that we do a lot of things together. We eat meals together (we miss Chip when he works really long hours in the summer, but appreciate all his cooking and being with him in the off-season at dinnertime), we go to church together, we play games and puzzles and do crafts and tell jokes and watch dvd's and sometimes we even have sleepovers in the living room. We find that being a large family doesn't mean that we don't have time for one another, but that we just have to be more creative with how we spend our time than certain smaller families might have to do. Do our kids feel neglected or unloved or left out? I guess you'd have to individually ask them that, but I have no doubt that they would answer a resounding, "no". They all know that they are loved very much. They are cared for the best that Chip and I know how to care for them. They are fed and bathed and wear clean clothes and even go to the dentist at least twice a year. Are we perfect? No. I'll say that again and again.
I don't feel I have to defend my love and care for my kids, but I do want to erase any doubt someone might have of my kids having their needs met and more. I live most of my life caring for my kids and making sure they know they are loved. I have a heightened awareness after losing a child that makes this even more of a priority of mine than ever before. I stay home with my kids 24/7- with the exception of an occasional trip for groceries or errands at Target almost 365 days a year. Chip and I have made our kids the focus of our days and sometimes I wonder if we even go the the opposite extreme and "overdo" it with them. I've blogged about how we have only taken one overnight "vacation" from our kids together once in the past 5 years. One of us picks them up from school each day and we drop them off too. I know a lot of families that have kids come home to an empty house for a couple of hours each weekday until they get home from work. I feel lucky, again, that I can be there for my kids and listen to what has happened during their day and help them with their homework for the coming day and get the after-school snacks and just spend time with them everyday. I know other people who because of divorced family situations, they only have limited time with their kids- some only see their kids every other week or others that see their kids a few weeks out of the whole year.
Would those kids say that their needs aren't being met? I hardly think so. I am not here to judge who is being most loved and cared for, but since the questions were raised and they certainly struck a chord with me, then I felt compelled to share my thoughts on the matter with all of you. Chip and I would also tell you that some days we do better than others and sometimes we have stretches where we're really on top of things and others where we wonder if we'll ever get it right again. Some days it means we wake the kids earlier and take them out for breakfast and spend special time with them before the day fully starts. Other times we take one or two of the kids on special outings- like to open skate or to a basketball game. Chip has been bundling up and been sledding with the kids and having snowfights and even making snow angels with the kids the past couple of weeks as the weather has been perfect for those kinds of things. Have our kids been to Disney World together? Besides Brock and Wyndham, the answer is no. Do we have furniture that's 10 years old and carpet that could be updated? Yes. I could go on and on, but hopefully those who questioned can now see that parenting- whether it's one or 20 kids, is a job that requires sacrifice and love. It demands the very best from the parents and makes you feel as though you'll never measure up- all at the same time somedays. It is a Joy and a gift to have kids and even though this next baby DOES come as an unexpected surprise to our family (imagine that you have one chance to win the lottery and then you actually do...that's sort of what happened here), we find ourselves excited and thanking God that He is going to gift another child to us. We do not take our roles as parents lightly and while a big family is more than we ever dreamed we would have, we are humbled and grateful to God for each one of the children He has sent our way. Our hopes for our children as they learn and grow is that they will not expect us to be perfect, but that more importantly they will know they are loved by us and God.
I have to close by saying how thankful I am to have a supportive, involved husband and some really wonderful friends who help meet our needs when they arise too. Most importantly I credit our faith and trust in God for keeping our family in His care and always providing us with the grace and comfort to survive what comes our way- good and bad. We know we cannot fail with God as the Head of our Home. He is our Rock, our Peace and everything we need. Chip and I fail all the time, but thankfully God never does!!
Whether you have big family or no family, that's the most important thing of all!
Thanks to the overwhelming love and support that you all have shown to our family. Your kindness is appreciated too!