Friday, December 19, 2008

It's a Mom Thing

The headline read Duggar Family Welcomes 18th Child. The Duggar family, in case you weren't aware of it, is a Christian family in Arkansas that has become rather famous for no other reason than they have a lot of kids. From all I've read about them, they seem like a lovely Christian family. Every time I hear about Michelle Duggar having another baby however, all my Mommy Vibes get a little twinge.

I think most moms know that those are. You know when you're out in a public place and you hear someone say "mom?" It doesn't matter if you have your kids with you or not, you automatically turn to the sound of that voice to answer. Even if it didn't sound anything like your kid, you still turn toward the sound of that voice. Isn't it funny when that happens? Those are Mommy Vibes. Mine tend to twinge a little when I hear about another baby in the Duggar family for the simple reason that I know a little bit about what it's like to have a house full of kids. While I jokingly say that I have 900 kids, I really only have 7, and it only feels like 900 when either it's a particularly stressful, hectic or busy time, or if one or more of them is acting up, or going through a trial themselves. If 7 feels like 900, I can't even imagine what 18 feels like.

Quite a few folks have asked over the years what it's like to have that many kids. I've lost count of the times folks have said to me "I don't know how you do it!" The reality of it however, is that it's really not that difficult. As the mom, you just do the same things you do as a mom with less kids, you just do a lot more of it, and prepare for spending a lot more time doing it. When you hear that being a mom is a 24 hour a day job without time off, it's certainly true of moms with lots of kids, especially when they're still small.

By the time my youngest was born, my oldest had already moved out, so technically I never had all 7 of my kids in one house at the same time. When the youngest was born, the ages of the kids still at home were 17, 13, 6, 4 and 3. So I had teenage girls to help (and they did, tons!) and a kindergartener, a pre-k, and a toddler. Rachel, who was 4 at the time, is very much like her oldest sister - very helpful, resourceful and independant, so even though she was only 4, she was a huge help too. I remember someone calling on the phone the day we brought Ruth home from the hospital and I was called away from making dinner to come to the phone. "You're making fried chicken!? Are you nuts, you just had a baby!!" they said. So? There have been women for 6000 years who have babies and get up and get back to work within hours. Making fried chicken the day after having a child is hardly that big of a deal. Besides, I did have lots of help and that makes all the difference in the world. With the Duggar family having so many older kids to help out, I'm sure it's really not that big of a deal either, for Mrs. Duggar to get right back into the Mommy routine after having yet another child. The very same day I had my 9 year old, I came home from the hospital and made pizza then went online to chat with friends after all the kids were in bed for the night. Delivery in the morning, cafe mocha and chat in the evening! w00t, now that's organized.

Yes, you spend more time doing things than other moms. You either stay up later, or get up earlier. Often, it's both. You don't do laundry once a week, you do it at least once a day, sometimes several loads a day. You don't get to buy a lot of pre-packaged foods, you make a lot of things from scratch, and they almost always taste better than ready-made anyway. You don't get away with making a few pieces of fried chicken, you can plan on making at least 16-20 pieces every time you make it, and your crispy coating is your own homemade recipe. You learn how to budget every last dime, and do your level best to find the best deals in town on clothes, shoes, bikes, household items, and just about everything else.

It's a bit different than having only 2 or 3 kids, but in most ways it's exactly the same, just more of it. Truth be told, you make a lot of mistakes as you're growing up and learning how to be a mom the same time your kids are growing up, and quite honestly, the way you do things with your older kids is quite often not the way you do things with the younger ones. You learn what works, what doesn't, what's helpful, what's a waste of time and what kind of advice to ignore. I can say that I'm a much different kind of mom at 44, than I was at 24. The good news is, my older girls still like me! :-)

Moms of lots and lots of kids are tired a lot, it's part of the territory. They almost never get enough sleep, and they tend to look older quite often, than they really are. You know what never, ever, ever helps? Hearing someone say "you look tired". Gee, YA THINK? If there was one thing I wish folks would never say, it's that one right there. You just don't have a lot of time for yourself - to sleep or to do much of anything else, really. Unless of course you finish all the laundry, fold it and put it away then on your way back through the kitchen wash the left over dishes after dinner, take out the trash, let the dog out, wipe down the bathroom sink, clean the cat box, let the dog back in, dust in the game room, then sit down and realize it's 1:45 am and you still need to make a "to do" list for tomorrow... then make the decision to stay up for another 30 minutes to have some "me time" making that to do list that has nothing to do with you, but everything to do with taking care of your family. While you're making that list, you're likely doing something else too, at the same time. Sound like anyone you know? Me too! So yeah, we look tired because we are tired, but we do what we do because the Lord gives us these precious people to look after.

Then, you just get up and do it all again tomorrow. If you're an organized freak, you might even get some blogging time in, talking to a friend on the phone, stoking the fire, listening to a great sermon, and making a batch of fudge for Christmas. Or, shovelling the driveway for the billionth time.

(Upon opening my blogger dashboard I noticed this is my 901st post, since I switched to the new format. One blog post for each kid!)

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