Thursday, August 19, 2010

Always watching...

My youngest and my oldest.
Nearly six years apart but head-over-heels in love with one another.
Anna can get Mary laughing like nobody else.
And her patience is unending with her sweet baby sister.

I can't help but think that Anna is getting some great mama-training, having a baby in the house--I imagine that children soak up a lot of life experience based on what's going on in the home.  My older kids--each one of them--is learning about patience, sacrifice, and the sheer joy of adding a little one to the family.  Those are good life skills to have.

Just the other day, as we trekked into WalMart, Kaitlyn looked around and aggressively earnestly asked, "Can we get some more kids?  Because this is all the kids we have" (gesturing around at the baby snug agaisnt my chest in the Ergo, and the three big kids swirling around my cart.  Oh and at herself of course.)  I burst out laughing, finding the irony in her nothing-if-not-direct question.  More kids?  We already have more kids than probably 80% of US couples.  Apparently she thinks the more, the merrier.  And that is good to hear, considering the fact that she was the one dethroned as the "baby" when Mary Lu came along.  She didn't seem to mind losing that status, and welcomed her new sister with open arms. 

More and more I'm realizing that children are like sponges, and they begin absorbing your values and attitudes very early on.  What's another sibling added to the mix?  More fun and more love, basically.  That's what my kids think (even though I've never, ever explicitly taught them this) and it's what we think, too.

Sometimes I wonder if people think I see the world through rose-colored lenses, if I'm a glutton for punishment, or if I belong on that show about hoarders.  Hopefully the actual answer to each of those questions is "no".  :)  Raising children is hard work.  Some days I want to stay in bed with the covers pulled up over my head.  And ignore all the demands requests and questions and meal prep and housework.  Occasionally I daydream about the simple, quiet life where my house doesn't get messy in under thirty seconds and where I don't need a special kind of car to transport my family around.

But if you couldn't tell, I don't really think that's what my life is supposed to be about.  (As nice and luxurious as it all sounds.)  I can say that because all you have to do is look at someone's life, and see what they're doing, to get a small idea of what they value and what they aspire to and how they believe they ought to be living.  So me saying that isn't big news at all.  I'm stating the obvious.    

It would seem that my children too are picking up on some themes in our life and internalizing those.  They may not always hold those values, but for now, they do.  They love their siblings, they love the addition of new siblings, and they assume that moms stay home with kids, and dads go to work and empty the dishwasher and do blessings at bed-time.  It's funny (and a little scary) to think of how our kids are being shaped by our homes.  Without us saying a word.  I recently had to explain to my children what daycare is when they heard about it in a movie.  I've had to tell them that not all families have adopted children.  I've also had to tell them that not all families have four or five children, and that it's rude to ask people "Why do you only have _____ kids?"  I generally have a live and let live attitude, but my kids still take their greatest cues from what they see in our family.  Anything outside of what we do is a foreign concept to them.  It's interesting.  And a bit unnerving, because our family is far from perfect.  Not to mention, there is no one-size-fits all formula to follow.

Funny thing is, my kids don't make value judgements about other people.  When they ask why so-and-so doesn't have any Ethiopian children, they're simply genuinely curious.  If you DON'T have adopted children, YOUR children may one day ask why our family has kids from across the globe--or why we have so MANY kids.  (Don't worry, I won't be the least bit offended.  But please don't tell them that I see the world through rose-colored lenses, that I'm a glutton for punishment, or that I'm a hoarder.  :) )

While sometimes this stuff can make for awkward moments, mostly I love that my kids are learning from our family's dynamic and lifestyle.  Truly.  I think it's how it's supposed to be.  When I see my growing-up-ever-so-quickly eldest daughter holding her baby sister, cooing and making her laugh and entertaining her, when she feeds her baby food or changes the occasional diaper or patiently waits for something or other while I try to get a fussy baby calmed down, I think about what a great mama she will make one day.  God is forming her heart and shaping her values and teaching her a whole lot about baby care, right here in her own home.

It's beautiful to watch.

And I love my front row seat.


Rachel said...

Okay, I don't get how someone could assume you are a hoarder. Are you hoarding kids? Enlighten me, I can't make the connection on that one.

Cute picture of Mary and Anna too.

Brianna Heldt said...

ha, just supposed to be a joke about hoarding kids, like the octomom. :)

Monica said...

LOVE this post. I almost spit coffee laughing out loud at Kaitlyn's comment about kids, and your kids asking other people why they don't have more children. LOVE IT!!


Jennifer said...

I love this! We're hoping for a pregnancy soon and look forward to the adventures that parenthood brings.


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