I get asked this question a lot.
People really are genuinely curious when they see our family at the store, or when I mention that we have five children and are in the process of adding two more.
They want to know how we manage.
How we survive.
Being the socially awkward introvert that I am, I generally try to sidestep the questions and get out of there as quickly as possible. :) I know some of you genuinely love meeting new people and making new friends at Costco or Target, but that just does not come naturally to me. And NOT because I'm a mean or closed-off person. It's just uncomfortable.
But I'm trying.
I'm trying to be a bit more open and honest about motherhood when people talk to me about it. Recently our small group was discussing ways we can be better at living in community with one another. Something that came up was spurring one another on to love and good deeds. In thinking about encouraging others, I thought about how all too often, motherhood is looked at as something to endure or as a drudgery. I remembered a conversation at my moms' group where a friend spoke about how sad it is that so many times, moms just complain, complain, complain about their role as a mother.
I have found this to be true as well. I too have noticed that it has become the hip, cool thing to not be TOO into this whole motherhood gig. To lament our lack of adult conversation during the day, to decry the fact that our brains have turned to mush, to live for date nights and "uninterrupted time" with our spouse.
Now don't get me wrong. Being a mom is hard. It just is. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you're the mom. There's no getting around it.
And it hardly matters how many children you have. Whether it's two or five, you're still responsible for a smattering of small, needy people who embarrass you on a regular basis.
So I've decided I want to do a better job of encouraging other moms. When people take notice of us or engage me in conversation, I want to talk about what a joy it is to mother my little ones. What an honor it is to be a mommy. How we rejoice at the addition of each new child and how we wouldn't trade this life for anything in the world. (In the name of being balanced, I'm also happy to share about various things my kids have done to make me mad. But those things pale in comparison.)
I must tell you that sometimes, when people ask me how I do it, the conversation evolves into something where they tell me THEY could never do this, THEY could never raise five children, and I must have the right personality for it.
That's funny. Completely and utterly LAUGHABLE.
I do NOT, I repeat, do NOT, have the type of personality that just naturally goes with having a gaggle of kids. Really. Because my personality could be described, in part, as follows:
enjoy being by myself
Granted I'm laid back and optimistic and flexible too, and those come in mighty handy, but I'm also super uptight about certain things. And horribly impatient.
All of this to say that I do what I do because God gives me the grace to do it. He equips. I don't think some couples are automatically "lots of kids" couples and some are "only a few kids" couples. I really don't. I think many of us "moms to many" would say that we are so not cut out for this, but that God shows up and gives us the strength for the task. If I can do it, TRUST ME, you could do it.
In the interest of full disclosure I must say that my views are a direct result of what we believe about families, marriage, and children--as taught by the Catholic Church. This is really a whole other blogpost, but yes, we do follow the Church's teachings on this stuff. Even though we are not currently Catholic. Yes, another
can of worms blogpost indeed.
I really do love my life, and all of the blessings God has given me. I love having a large-ish family, I love all the chattering and hugs and giggling that happen around here every.single.day. I want people to know that I do it the same way THEY do: day by day, or more like moment by moment. And, really, I've come to grips with the fact that we are a walking, talking, sometimes crying circus act anytime we go somewhere...we're GOING to get asked questions...so why not capitalize on that? Why not talk about what a blessing it is to be generally open to life, to welcome new children when they come, to adopt little ones needing a home? Why not mention that some things are EASIER--yes, easier--when there are several children in the family?
Sure I have specific things I do to make life somewhat manageable around here. Maybe I'll share some another time. (You know, right after I tell you all about how we came to be influenced by Theology of the Body and Pope John Paul II.) But mostly, when people ask us "how do you do it?", I think they're really asking the general question "how are you surviving with that many children?" And some days I survive better than others. Some days I just want to give up. But it's good. Really, really good.
Because when something is part of God's plan, when something is designed to draw you closer to Jesus and closer together as a family...well...God makes a way. And while it's certainly not always easy, it's sure to be blessed.
So that I guess is how we do it.
And I am learning how to share that with the people I meet at Target. :)