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!

30 comments:

Southern Gal said...

Big families that were once so commonplace now are questioned when there are more than two children. The mindset is so different now than it was in times gone by. What a huge blessing to have a huge family! If the Lord had willed it I would have five or six or more children. Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of Lights. Every child is a good and perfect gift from the Father. You go, girl!

Rosie said...

Big families are fabulous-hard work yes, but full of joy and blessings--if you can see them.

I don't know when but I wrote something down that you wrote. Perhaps you should be reminded of your wise words.

"The perspective needed to guide and shape my parenting is this-

When I begin to see the day to day as a delight, rather than drudgery...
When serving my children is seen as a privilege, rather than a chore...
Knowing that my actions are slowly and through repetition shaping them for the rest of their lives...
Then it [parenting] becomes a task of enormous and lasting consequence.
It becomes a 'higher calling' and the reality sinks in that
giving it my all, demanding my best and expressing love in ALL that I do, is the least I can offer to those who mean the most to me."

Jody Ferlaak
Keep plugging away and congrats on the new baby.

Jessica said...

I'll chip in as well to cheer for large families and agree wholeheartedly with you. The quality of life in a large family is so much better, I think, because we are INTENTIONAL about what we do. Unless we are, things just fall apart so we are more aware than some other families are. So many people, looking from the outside in, pity my children... until they get to know them. Then, they wonder why there aren't more families like ours! I agree: a larger family makes for a larger life, larger blessings and so much meaningful growth on the part of EVERYONE. Blessings to you and yours, and a merry little jig here for the newest addition!
Jessica

Erika said...

you are an inspiration to me, jodi! from how you remember and honor teagan, how you care for wyndham, and how you give all your kids so much love and care. i am so glad that i know you through your blog. :-)

becca said...

Your family is beautiful and so joyful. Your kids are very lucky.

Heather said...

I love you AND your big family. God only blessed us with 1 child(so far) and each day I pray that he gives us more.We pray and beg God for a huge family. I love that you take not 1 day for granted. You adore your children. That is evident in your blogs and in your real life. I've seen your face when you speak of your children and it lights up.
You are amazing my friend!!

Anonymous said...

I always wanted a big family, but my husband did not. We ended up with a boy and a girl, so I feel blessed...but if I was married to a man who was as loving and kind and helpful, like Chip, I would have had a houseful, too!! You are a wonderful mom, you guys obviously have the means to clothe and feed your children and take excellent care of them...what anyone else thinks is their world...Yours is full of love and happiness!!!!

Lauren Kelly said...

Just beautiful....

Amy said...

Jodi,
Thanks for being real with your readers. We follow your blog because we can relate. We are trying to walk in our perfect Heavenly Father's footsteps in this broken world. Keep shining HIS light and be encouraged. Many blessings on you and your family.
Amy

Laura (vanmama on 2Peas) said...

I love to read your blog...your family is beautiful and your life is REAL!

Shame on anyone who feels the need to comment on the size of your family. I guess it's nobody else's business, at least until it infringes on them! It doesn't look like we, the taxpayers, are supporting you...!!!

Congratulations on your new bundle of joy! Babies are a blessing!

Red Door said...

I say hooray for large families! I can't wait to see how many we end up with...

Gina said...

Congratulations on #7! I'm 3 months pregnant with #3. Children are a blessing from God. You are extremely blessed!!!!!

Anonymous said...

My Mom trained as a nurse back in the 1940s. She says they would call for a psych consult if a woman wanted to stop at two children. As she neared the end of her career, she said the pendulum had swung the opposite way and anyone wanting four or more children was now subject to said psych consult - to see if they were prepared for the "burden" of so many children. In the end, it is no-one's business but yours and Chip's.
Don't forget that no matter what you do, people are going to feel they have the right to say those things. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, we were blessed with one child (some get none). I wished and prayed for more but it was not in His plan. Just as painful as people questioning your skills and motivation in having another child were the people who questioned our selfishness and motivations to only have one. "You need more children" they would say. Didn't they even think once that that might have been my greatest joy? Sorry for the rant. All this should be in the past, but that scar still burns some days.
God Bless you and Chip and your entire crew. Enjoy every minute of thise great life.

deb8able said...

Congratulations on the new baby! I don't think it's anyone's business whether you believe in birth control or decide to have 10 babies. People overstep the boundaries of acceptable behavior on the internet. Don't let it get you down!!

Jennifer said...

thanks for sharing! it makes me smile since right now i feel overwhelmed to have to leave my house with just 3! you guys do a great job! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you Jody for this entry! I'm coming in as a granma and not even from the perspective of large families. My husband came from a fam of 6 kids and I from one of 4--but we only had 2 ourselves, though I'd have loved MORE! From our perspective, we did without with raising our kiddos and our furniture was 20 years old before I got to go shopping for new...the first time!! It was another nearly 20 when I got new again (we've been married 45 years). Many of my peers had MORE than we did and did the fancy vacations etc. We didn't really vacation until our children were grown and out of the house. We couldn't afford it before then! Our kids now (and they're married) say they knew they were loved and have many stories about their "deprivations" now---and do it with laughter. The "entitlement" of the upcoming generation isn't one to emmulate. I LOVE Jody how you share your faith and so much more! Your blog is so re-freshing for me to read as a MOPS Mentor!!! :-) Blessings to you and your family. Congratulations on your new addition as well!
WSL

MiMi said...

Hey Jodi, I have not been reading your blog much lately and was so happy to read it tonight and see you are expecting #7. HOORAY! I will be more faithful in reading now, I loved following the lead up to Crew's arrival. Going by this "A big family" blog someone must have said something negative. Why don't you just delete any and ALL negative comments. IT IS YOUR BLOG afterall. Love and good pregnancy vibes to you. I hope you find the time to post often. Mimi in Alabama

Anonymous said...

I came from a family of 6 kids and my older sister had to practically raise my youngest brother because my Mom was so stressed out. We never got the attention we needed either. My parents didn't really know how to communicate positively and individually. But it seems like you are taking everything in stride, and compared to what you've already been through, this is puppy chow. God bless your family

Jennifer said...

Having seven children myself (ages 23 to 7) I have found that the hardest part was dealing with judgment from "the world". Thankfully God is our judge. Your post is beautiful, your family is beautiful and NO family is perfect. I was telling someone last night that when I had just one (which was yesterday, right?!)that I could NOT imagine loving another like I loved her but when my second came along my love was not divided, it was increased.

God has SO many children and He doesn't sacrifice love for one to give to another. He loves us all and HE is all of our Father. I hope that makes sense but it describes so well what happens in a loving Christ-centered home. God reigns and your quiver is filling and you are and will be blessed!

Anonymous said...

I have to wonder what the people critical of you having baby #7 think of the Duggars?

sheesh, some people are rude

Pam said...

Congratulations on the next little one! I never imagined I would have 4 kids, which to me seems huge compared to those around me. I pray that they see each other as friends for life. I can't wait to read the joy that this little one will add to your life and your family's!

Adrienne said...

Jody,

I am so not surprised that God has gifted you with another miracle. I believe He will not give us more than we can handle. I wish your growing family much love! If I lived closer I'd love to drop by with Starbucks for some baby cuddles and scrapbook fun!

Anonymous said...

You put a knife in the heart of those parents who must work, who may need their kids to be home alone in the afternoon for 1 or 2 hours, and are doing the best they can because THEY HAVE NO OTHER CHOICE. No one has had the nerve to say it outloud so I will: You and Chip were blessed with these children and ALSO with the great monetary resources to do all the things you speak of. Please stop your off handed critiques of those who cannot be home with their kids as you are for financial reasons and keeping a home and family intact. It really hurts.

Jody said...

Dear Anonymous~
It is not my intention to stick a knife in the heart of anyone. In fact, my point is just the opposite. When I wrote this:
"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,"
it was NOT to glorify myself and my family and drag others to, but to point out that everyone has a different situation and I am not here to judge who is doing it "right or wrong", but rather that most parents are doing the best they can with their given situation.
If you felt that I was intentionally causing people hurt, I sincerely apologize for any pain I caused. In regards to our monetary situation, I would also like to say that our family is blessed to have employment, but also we strive to be very conscientoious of our resources and our spending too. I tried to make it clear that I feel very LUCKY to stay home with our kids and one of the reasons I can do that is because we make sacrifices and give up certain things in order for us to financially make it work. I understand completely that there are a lot of people who have to work and do everything they can to make ends meet. I hope that I can continue to stay home with my kids and know that anything I "give up for them" like vacations or going to movies or buying new furniture or carpet will be worth it in the end.
Again, I just want to say my deepest apologies if you felt hurt by what I wrote. I thank you for voicing that and really hope that you can here my voice as sincere as it is meant to be. My best to you and your situation... Jody

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Jodi! Such an exciting time for you and your family. I wish you all the best. Thanks to Rosie for pulling your quote too...I have printed it off, because as great as all of our different blessings and challenges are it always helps to get a little pep talk now and then. :)

~Rhonda :)

pakosta said...

you are one of the best mothers I have ever seen! God is good to give you more! you deserve the blessings! lots of love,
tara

pakosta said...

Jodi, if anyone knows YOU, they KNOW you didn't mean a thing by that comment and that you just meant you were grateful to be there for your kids! tara

Anonymous said...

You and your incredible family has touched and blessed so many people.. including mine. Thank you for the privledge of sharing in your joys, sorrows, hopes and dreams via FB, your blog, and snippits in person. God Bless you all and thank you again! Kim Mecomber Marcotte

GretaB said...

Jody, I'm behind the times here and just catching up, but I wanted to say congratulations and best wishes for your growing family. I loved your post and coming from a large family, I can relate in many ways. I wouldn't trade growing up in a big family for anything.

Jen said...

:0) Beautiful family and encouraging post. Thank you and congratulations on the baby on the way!