THERE!! I SAID IT!!!
Seriously though, I think I have had a problem admitting that in the past. When people would look at all of my children and find out their ages and then GASP, I would comment, "It isn't as hard as you think" and "Well, we get by without a hitch!" and comments like that. After reflecting on it for awhile now, I think that somewhere inside of me I felt I HAD to do everything I could to make this look easy or people would doubt God's conviction for us to have this family. More times than not, I failed at making it look easy and then I felt SUCH guilt about it. I believe that I thought that if people thought my life was hard, they would think that God hadn't given it to me. Does that make sense? I KNOW that God gave me my life, don't get me wrong. He blessed me with each one of these healthy children and I KNOW that to be fact. It is just that every time we announced our pregnancies, more times than not, we got these looks that weren't so joyous. Most of the time, we were met with horrified looks that saddened my should-be joyful-to-overflowing heart. Sure, people cared for us and meant well. They were concerned and worried for us, but the looks and the lack of enthusiasm still hurt. So, I set out to show them (Ha, Ha right?) I would show them that this wasn't so hard and that I could do this easy as pie.
WRONG! What that did was that it had me always searching for a non-existent Golden ticket of sorts. Some miracle system or way that made this life easier. Nathan and I were always trying methods of discipline and/or organization that touted an easier, maybe less-chaotic way. Even though some were more successful than others, all in all I can tell you that there is no "Happy Meal" way to parent a large family or ANY size family for that matter. There just isn't. These systems are tools or resources that can be helpful, but it is still a hard thing to do; parenting.
So with Annagail's birth came that "ole familiar feeling" again. Except this time, I let myself ask for help. I allowed myself to accept and understand that this life that God has blessed me with is H_A_R_D. I am seeing that there is no shame in it at all. The fact that I can tell someone who asks "How do you do it?!?!" honestly with the answer, "Day by day and it is hard!" is okay. In fact, I sort of feel that it is even more of a testimony to God, because as hard as it is, we get by fine. We sleep REALLY well when we sleep and we are always blessed with a new day to do it again.
I don't think I ever tried to give the persona of perfection. That isn't me. However, I did try to make it seem as if I didn't always struggle with it. I DO! It isn't easy getting up early, after a long night of at least one child waking, and then going full speed until the kids are in bed and I pass out in my own bed. Then waking up the next morning to do it all over again. IT IS HARD! But by God's sweet and ever renewing Grace I am doing this. I have FIVE CHILDREN under the age of SIX!!! I almost can't believe it myself!!! This is hard! I am tired, but I am so very happy. My body hurts, but I am so overjoyed with my life right now. I feel so good about what God has granted me that I can admit that it is hard and STILL be an encouragement (hopefully) to someone feeling the same conviction I did years ago. Acknowledging that I what I do is very difficult and trying has freed me from pressure that I was putting myself under. It has opened up a whole other level of patience with my children that before I had bogged down with expectations that were probably unrealistic for them. I am a better teacher to my young-ins now than I was before, because I can wait for them to learn. I can let them mess up without pressure, but with truly loving correction. Does that make sense?
I took my crew to the mall today all by myself! We had a great time and nobody looked at as if they felt sorry for me! I had to stop many times and correct one of my children, but I never lost my temper and the kids did very well for their ages. On the contrary, I took the kids to church SOLO last night so that Nathan could get some studying in before his finals. It was difficult and I think a few people did look at me with pity, but oh well right? They don't know what I know. They don't know that, even though they may see chaos-they miss the hundreds of kisses and hugs I am getting in any given day. They also don't get the joy in their hearts that I get when I am driving down the road and my four older kids are signing "The Days of Elijah" at the tops of their lungs. I have so enjoyed these 7 weeks since Annagail's birth, because I feel free to be just the Mother God intended me to be them, no more and no less.
This morning, Cooper got in my lap and hugged me tight. He said, "Mama, I am having so much fun lately!" I believe that God sent that message through Cooper for a reason. That spoke so much to my heart. He is my only boy and, a lot of times, my hardest sell on any new idea. The fact that he too has enjoyed this time we have had since Annagail's birth is a blessing to this Mama's heart.
Nobody said it was going to be easy and it probably won't be. However, God's grace is new each day and, HALLELUJAH!, He will see me through.
Father God, thank You for my life! Thank you for my sweet, rambunctious, often-chaotic, often-very loud children! You are the giver of life and you have SO blessed me even though I am so unworthy. Thank you Father that even though this life is hard, You are gracious to me each new day. Thank You for the rest that You provide me when I feel that I might just give out sometimes. Thank you for the laughter You start between Nathan and I when we need that release the absolute most. And thank You Lord for the courage You provided us to follow this conviction you put on our hearts so many years ago. As hard as it has been and will continue to be, had we not listened, we would be lacking so much of Your blessings now. Each one of these children are their own joyful addition to our family. Each of them, I pray, will grow to serve You with all of their life and in their own unique ways. What a blessing that is to think on!!!! I love you Father!