Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A serious question

This is a question for all of you mothers of more than three. I know not many of you read my little bloglet, but hopefully some. And yes, Lisa, these are the same questions I asked you, with some new ones, and I value your advice.

When I was young and childless, I made this very foolish bargain with God. I told him that if I could just have good pregnancies and deliveries- no morning sickness and regular birth- then I would have lots of kids. This was stupid on many levels. First, why did I assume that he would want me to have lots of kids? Second, why did I assume that the pregnancy and the delivery would be the hardest part? I have to aske these questions now, because I did have very easy pregnancies and deliveries with both of my children. Yes, I thanked God over and over, and still thank him. That wasn't the hard part. It's raising the children after they're already here that's the hard part! I should have known that. Why was I so stupid? Why?

Ok, that's the background. Here's my question for you super-mommies out there. How do you do it? How do you ever sleep? When the new babies come, where do you put them? I really do like the idea of having several children, but several babies. . . I just can't hardly fathom the idea. I love my children fiercely, as all mommies do, but I won't pretend that I enjoyed things like nursing and midnight feedings and tantrums and weaning from the bottle. . you get the idea. It's no fun taking care of one child with a virus. How do you handle four, seven or nine?!? The thought is absolutely overwhelming.

Also, how do you handle the physical changes to your own body? Without going into details I'll just say that even my two little babies changed my body considerably. I don't have trouble with weight, thank the Lord, but there are a lot of other things that are definitely factors. How do you deal with that?

I'm not good at cleaning. I'm a messy. My husband likes things to be clean and uncluttered, and goodness knows I try, but I'm just not good at it. He is a tremendous help with the house and kids. I can't imagine a husband being a better partner. But still, with two kids under three it's been tough; how on earth do you do it with more? Does there just have to be a few miserable years until you get enough kids through the pre-school years when they can't help much yet or are there special coping strategies that you've discovered?

So many of you out there do everything. I read your blogs and think, "Wow! How on earth can they possibly get all that done in one day!" You homeschool, bake your own bread, keep your house clean, raise animals and vegetables. . . how do you do it? I'd love to have a little advice.


Mike said...

I'm a dad. So I may not be the person you have in mind.

But some answers?

How do you sleep? If it's your kids naptime, take a nap, too.

Where do they sleep? I have no problem with co-sleeping. As long as I know they are safe.

Midnight feeding and tantrums? I hate them, too. But it helps me if I remind myself that, when I become a grandfather, I would have lots of stories to tell my grandchildren.


Kili @ Live Each Moment said...

You need to visit the blog of Mary (owlhaven). She is on my Mommy Blogs list. She is one of the mom's I read all the time with tons of kids. I know more too if you want I can email. I don't have the answer, so um that's all I can say.


A Serious Answer:

Truthfully, I look back on the years when they were preschool as the easier ones, when compared to later phases, but that may be because time and memory soften the harsher edges of our past realities. lol

I will say that training them now to do little things will add up to big results later. In part I know this from my successes, but in larger part, I lament it because of my own failures to fully take advantage of those teachable/trainable years to instill good habits.

I think that every age has its own challenges, the biggest of which is tackling the right issues at the right times. Try to focus on the development milestones of the moment for each child, instead of feeling the weight of responsibility for the milestones of years to come.

BTW...you will always lose the comparison game...either to feelings of inadequacy or of superiority. Either way, you lose. Recognize that no one else has your exact situation, kids, background, ability, stamina, calling, or giftings. Rely upon your strengths, improve upon your weakness, and trust in a God who knows and loves you in spite of both of them.

Jenny said...

My sentiments, exactly! Wow! I'm not the only one out there who would like more children but would like to bypass the whole infancy experience or at least discover some magic secret method from an amazing-Christian-wife-mommy of many on how to deal with it all.

An Iowa Mom said...

Hi there!

I have 4 kiddos, ages 8, 6, 3 and 1. I won't lie and say it's great all of the time, because it isn't. It's hard. But it's wonderful too! The more the merrier, right? :)

Sleep ... I am on a schedule where I don't nap in the day, because my 3 year old no longer naps, but I do go to bed rather early at night. All the kids are in bed by 8:30 and more times than not, I'm only behind them by about an hour or so. Always in bed and fast asleep by 10:30. LOL!

As far as where we put the new babies? We were lucky enough to have 2 older boys and two younger girls. The boys share a room ... as do the girls. They don't know any different, because it's been that way forever. They don't complain about sharing the room, but they do complain when one is at a sleepover and is not there. I feel it makes them closer.

A lot of times it probably looks on the outside like I manage everything without skipping a beat, however, on the inside a lot of times I'm panicing on how I'm going to get it all done.

It always comes together and works. It just does. And it's always worth every minute of the not so great times ... to have the "wouldn't give it up for anything" times.

Best of luck to you!

holly said...

Short answer: You grow into it. :)

I'll be back later tonight once my little guys are down to answer a little better. :)

Holly said...

Okay, I'm back.

How do you do it? Prioritize now, when your children are little. Yes, it does get easier in time, but how do you cope NOW?

Don't try to do everything. You only need to do...what God would have you do. If having a clean house is REALLY important to your husband, and if it will cause marital discord...then love him and care for your littles, and that's it. :) If he is willing to give a little on the house, to have gourmet meals or home-made bread...do that.

Seek and find ways to simplify. Do only the basics - and leave more time for enjoyment.

Cut out things - to enjoy your kids and build relationships with them as they grow.

At times, I've had to give up crafts, or extra reading, or the i-net...whatever it takes...but be sure and take this before God, and see what HE says He wants you to be doing.

I haven't had times to do loads of Bible Studies with other women. I will someday - but for now I am pleased when I can sit through a church service and benefit from phone calls and/or friendships formed on line. That's just one adaptation.

Does anyone like tantrums? Or weaning? Or stomach flu? No. :) But - that is how you grow. You don't have to like it. You just have to cling on to Jesus and ask Him to help you grow through those moments, and find love and grace there. THIS is one of the places you find Jesus, Babystepper! :)

Find joy where you can. Don't mourn what you can't have right now - at least not for long. :)

I'm not saying it is a life of deprivation - although sometimes it is...rather I find that if I submit to this time in my life - and lay down myself for my husband and children...that HE will give so much back to me. Things that are just for me.

I'm at an interesting place with seven kids now. The baby doesn't want me all the time. He dotes on his big brother. I don't have to clean up supper. My big guys do that. The same with laundry, vacuuming, cooking...EVERYTHING.

Don't freak out about tomorrow - how you will cope of handle it all. None of us could have handled it well all at once. It's as i said above...you grow into the mothering thing. I couldn't have imagined what it would be like as they grew, and neither can you...I'd guess. :) I think I thought I'd always be cutting EVERYONE'S meat into little bits...even if I had seven, I'd have to cut ALL of their food. Well...That became unnecessary after the age of 5 or so. :)

My secret is...I didn't like mothering until my fourth child. Then God began to do a work in my heart that made me so tender toward them. It was like I had begrudged them for taking so much from me...as if it was intentional. He let me see that I was filled up with thoughts of "me." I thought I was the important one...but He whispered..."What if your purpose IS to be their mother? What if I have called them, and your job is to prepare them!" See, I thought they were keeping me from living life so full - when in reality i should have been seeing the people that were "becoming" right in front of me!

And I still have so far to go. I'm still learning to love my kids like God wants me too.

It's all Baby Steps, just as you say.

I've rambled on...but thanks for asking.

Much, much, much love - Baby Stepper. I know you are a great wife and mommy!

In Jesus -


Jenny said...

What beautiful, sweet, gentle, practical advice Holly gave. Thank you. Such inspiration.

Holly said...

Yes, I'm Holly from Seeking Faithfulness. Sorry to be unclear!

I've also worried through the night that perhaps I hurt your feelings - I'm not saying you are selfish...I'm saying *I* was...and God had to work on my heart.

I'm also saying that *I'm* not *there* yet. I'm STILL learning to love them properly...not just the mushy feelings, because I've got that. I'm still learning to love them sacrificially and practically!

Babystepper said...

I knew that's what you meant. It's okay. =) I just really needed to hear that. I loved what you wrote and will continue to look back on everything that people have come by and said. Jenny's right. You were gentle and practical in your advice, and I will treasure it. Any mommy of 7 who takes time out of her precious evening to talk to me is priceless!! =)

Leigh Ann said...

I just can here from Holly's blog, and I just wanted to say that I can feel your pain and frustration because I am sort of at that place right now. Know that you are not alone, and that others are baby stepping along with you. I am so glad that you wrote this so that Holly responded. I needed to hear that today. I think I need to copy it and place it in my Bible. So thank you for your honesty (I don't feel so alone now.) and thank you, Holly, for your encouragement.

(Jim &) Brandy Brow said...

I read your post yesterday after you asked me to read it. I didn't have time then to respond, but I kept it in my heart, praying for God to show me what to say and when. I so wanted to comment because I relate to how you feel. I've surely been there. Now I'm glad I waited to respond because I see clearly that God chose to speak through Holly.

Indeed, her words are true, and spoken with a gentle spirit; the Holy Spirit. And my own testimony bears witness to them for she described not only her journey, but mine as well.

The hardest years were when I had four kids ages newborn, 2, 4, and 6, two of them strong rebellious boys. I was full of selfishness. It was hard mostly because I ignored my kids (not intentionally) and resented them for getting in the way of what I knew God wanted me to do--write. I didn't understand until later that God did indeed want me to write, just not yet. He wanted to train me first in a few things.

Right then I needed to give my kids and husband my best. That meant I had to learn to let go of my desires and submit to God's will.

It was a long process. And hard. Super hard. I felt like I was in prison and hated it, but I hated even more being out of God's will and being distant from Him. It took practice bending the knee, but I kept doing it over and over again hoping my heart would eventually follow.

It did.

My load lightened when my kids grew older because then they could help one another and me. By then, I had received a lot of character and writing training, and genuine time to write--enough of all three to begin pursuing publication regularly with character stabilty to support any rejection or success.

More later to talk about your other questions. Otherwise this comment will get waaaaay too long. (Already is!)

Hang in there. God is your strong anchor. :)

Brandy of The Building Brows

(Jim &) Brandy Brow said...

It took me a bit to get back, but here I am.

You asked a lot of tough questions, but to most of them, I can say that only in those difficult moments will God give you the grace to make it through--not before and not after. It will be there when you need it. But if you go through life trying to have the answers before the questions arise, you'll panic when you inevitably won't have them.

That's part of walking out our faith, daily relying upon God. If we knew all we needed to know before the time came, when would we turn to rely upon God in pure faith? How would we grow if our security never periodically shakes?

I'm the original panicker--I used to have to know where I was going and what was going to happen before I got there in order for me to go anywhere. I hated going anyplace alone, I was so insecure. You can imagine I went very few places.

When I realized God was with me, behind me, and where I was already going, and he knew what would happen along the way and when I got there even when I didn't, and that He loved me and took care of me 24x7, it freed me to let go of trying to control everything out of fear.

You probably won't have seven babies at one time, and if two or more kids vomit repeatedly at the same time, God will help, and it won't last many days. Whatever you will encounter, one thing you can always bank on: God is there and will bring you through.

So lean upon Him. That's what He wants you to do. And when you lean, you will find him solid rock.

In the mean time, let go of anxieties of tomorrow that may never arrive. Sufficient for the day is today's trouble. And in them God is already there ready to walk you through. Focus on them, and let God take care of your tomorrows. Live in today. That, with your eyes fixed on Jesus, you can do.

Love in Christ,

Brandy of The Building Brows

(Jim &) Brandy Brow said...

One more thing. You said: So many of you out there do everything. I read your blogs and think, "Wow! How on earth can they possibly get all that done in one day!" You homeschool, bake your own bread, keep your house clean, raise animals and vegetables. . . how do you do it? I'd love to have a little advice.

People often look like they are doing many things a day, looking like some kind of superhero moms and dads. If you could look past the exterior image and talk, however, you would probably find that many of the superparents are failing in what matters most.

People these days think that success comes by prestige, social status, and wealth and they pursue outward causes. But how is home life really? I suspect far too many parents are busy achieving outside their home unaware that they are failing in the one place that counts them as a success: family relationships.

We all have the same amount of time. Anything beyond my family I do sacrifices something from my family which is the real measure of a person's success, for whether or not people realize it, life is about relationships, with the chief relationship being between man and God Almighty.

I used to try to do it all. I wound up neglecting my family. Sometimes I still do when my focus is off. I then fix my eyes back on God, stop trying to do it all, and connect back with my family. Every time I do, inner peace springs to life within me.


So I guess the short answer to "how do you do it?" is:

I don't. I can't. I can only do what God shows me to do, and when I slip, repent and get back on track.

Keep doing what God sets before you. We don't measure up to one another anyway. In the end, we're all going to be measured up to God and what He asked of us alone.


Brandy of The Building Brows

Lady G~ said...

Holly shared some excellent words of wisdom. I have to say I agree with her on all counts. It has worked for us.

I'm a homeschooling mom who is blessed with five children. By the time we had our third daughter, I had three under the age of three.

Our children are now 19,18,17, 13 & 10 1/2. We were blessed with girls first then blessed with the boys.

I remember taking naps when my children were napping too. Including them in the picking up, cleaning, helping with the younger ones. Yep, even my three year old would help with her baby sisters.

For as long as I can remember all I ever wanted was to be a wife and a mom. My grandma always told me, the house will always be there, but your children grow up. Spending time with your husband and children is a treasure. Sounds better in Spanish. (lol) I've always held on to that.

I don't believe there is such a thing as supermoms. That' something the media/society has made up. We are and should be what God calls us to be and what He created us for... to be a help meet and to be fruitful and multiply. :o) What a blessing that is!

There is a time for everything. When my children were younger, I tried not to over commit myself or my family. As they grew older, we got more involved with church, sports activities, bible studies etc.

In 2003 I was diagnosed with a brain disorder. I ended up having two brain surgeries (2003 & 2004). It was time to limit commitments again. Re-prioritize my life and my families life.

God is good... ALL the time. We have been incredibly blessed. I can no longer do some of what I use to do, but I lead a full life. I just have to rest more. :o)

I guess I'm sharing all that we are harvesting what we have reaped. The fruits of our labors have been and are so sweet. All the glory goes to God. \o/

Oh, I also remember doing a bible study YEARS ago about the Proverbs 31 woman. She was not all that in one season of her life. It was throughout her life. We can all take a deep breathe now. :o)

Hope you have a blessed weekend!
There is a time for everything.