Thursday, December 15, 2011

When 7 kids is too much

I know, the title of this blogpost is perhaps a bit surprising coming from me: enthusiastic promoter of openness to life, advocate for waiting-child adoption, and now a card-carrying Catholic

But I'll be honest and say there ARE times when seven children feel like a LOT.
When my home feels really FULL.

When life is literally speeding along and it's all just a bit too much...or so it seems.

About a month ago our two new daughters, both born with Down syndrome, underwent heart surgery...on the same day.  We were at the hospital by 6 am, I'd only gotten a few hours of sleep the night before, and while they allowed us to go home the same day, it was still completely exhausting and draining. 

A dear friend had our other five kids at her house that afternoon.  So when I brought Mekdes and Tigist home from the hospital early that evening, Kevin headed over to collect our other children.

The minute the girls and I hit the door, the exhaustion set in.  Probably the most tired and depleted I'd felt in a long time.  All I could think about was putting on pajamas and crawling into bed--too bad it was only 5 pm.  But at least the house was quiet, and calm, with just the three of us in it.  The girls were pretty subdued after the day they'd had.

But eventually, Kevin and the other five showed up.  Which meant noise.  And lots of it.  It meant five kids excitedly jockeying to see who got to give Mekdes and Tigist hugs first, it meant Anna playing the piano, Kaitlyn playing games with the two heart patients, my boys racing around talking about all the fun they'd had at our friends' house, and Mary Lu babbling away and giving me hugs.

Oh, and the questions.  "How did the surgeries go?"  "Are Mekdes and Tigist okay, mom?"  "Are they going to be okay?"

To say I was overstimulated by this point would be more than a bit of an understatement.  :)

Because I had nothing.left. at the end of that oh-so-long day, but of course my kids weren't deterred by that in the least.  It was one of those times where I look around wondering, "How do we do this every day?  How on EARTH are we surviving?  How am I going to make it until bedtime...much less until the day they turn 18?!"

And yes, I was even feeling a little sorry for myself.  Which I really hate to admit, but it's true.

But at some point, in the midst of the questions and the noise and the chaos, I looked over at Mekdes and Tigist. 

And they were smiling.  And happy.  And coming alive after a horribly traumatic day.

That's when I realized that all the NOISE was really just LIFE. 

That's when I realized that even on hard days when I want to hole up and hide and just take a time-out, life marches on in its imperfect, messy, over-the-top-loud sort of way.

And this was actually healing for my daughters!

And it continues to be healing for my daughters, who had no family, no home, for years on end.  Now, they have five extra siblings who adore them and cheer them on and pray for them and hold them during Mass.

Suddenly a day spent in the Cath Lab at Children's Hospital with surgeons and anasthesiologists isn't so scary when it ends the way most days end: big sister practicing the piano, big brothers roughhousing with each other, other big sister making up fun games to include you in, and little sister being her usual feisty self. 

Normalcy.  Boring everyday stuff, but it's apparently the mundane where healing and love and life and grace happen.

As I look back I find myself GRATEFUL for all the noise, all the people, all the life.  It is what my little girls needed, and I have to wonder if it's actually what I needed too.

It's a common belief that kids in big families have to sacrifice way more than kids in small families.

And that may very well be true, but in the long-run?  They're getting a whole lot too.

I may have been overstimulated, but an entire fan club showed up to welcome Mekdes and Tigist home like they were total heroes.

I may have wanted to call it a day at 4:45 in the afternoon, but my kids made sure that our family returned to normal first, ate a meal together, and that Mekdes and Tigist were really okay.

So, heck yeah, sometimes seven kids IS too much!

And it's honestly a really, really, really good thing. 


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