Life With Nine Kids

Friday, March 3, 2017

Come to Think of it, How Do I Do It?

Madeline is a very clingy baby. Which means it's hard to get housework done.

I feel like I get nothing done. I have more clothes needing folding than I did with a newborn and my kitchen is grimy. I hate running out of room around here and feeling like we need to move to a bigger house. I hate our half painted exterior (we started removing the shutters and painting our house last year). I hate my unorganized basement and half hung curtains down there and a much needed plumbing repair for the washing machine outlet. I hate all the things that are undone, the a pile of to-do lists, our annoying goat fence repairs...I hate writing about it. I hate complaining. I hate being unappreciative. I hate using the word hate.

After reading what I just wrote above my frustration begins to wane. I am forced to remember how fortunate we are, how this home is large and we only think it's shrinking because we keep adding kids to it. I remember that we go to the grocery store and we afford plenty of food. I remember the kids are in gymnastics and homeschool groups and they go to homeschool dances and summer camp. We are healthy. We are so blessed. Life with nine kids is not easy, and this past year I have realized it more than ever. But we do love it even if it means that things stay undone and get neglected...even if it means I can't finish projects, even if it means I don't have time for painting or fixing up the laundry room. Even if it means stuff goes undone while babies get nurtured. Sometimes though, I have to tell myself that its also okay to get frustrated and fed up and not to feel guilty about it, I'm human!

When I have mini freak outs of 'I get nothing done' I have to recenter myself. I'm raising people. And thats a lot. So, when I feel like I'm losing ground and I just have to realize it and think about it. When I go shopping I say a prayer of thanks that we eat well. While driving the kids to gymnastics I think of my husband at work and remember that this is one more reason why he works so hard for us. (He has said so too.) Every time we get gas I appreciate we have cars. Every month, at least once or twice, I thank my husband for taking care of us. My worries start to seem small when I remember what real worries look like. 

How I Really Do It 
I get lots of people telling me they don't know how I do it. "It" meaning how I handle all the kids, housework, insanity, long hours, the screaming ( happy and sad kids scream!), the crying, the very little 'me' time, cooking, cleaning (oh dear God, cleaning is most of what I do!), and last but not least, the overall expense involved in raising a gaggle of kids. 
I used to just chuckle it off and give a half hearted "Yeahhh, it's a real hoot!" Or, "They keep me very busy!" and move on. 

It got me thinking a while ago though, how DO I do it? Pretty much what keeps me going, besides the fact that I love my kids and want them to have the best childhood possible, is that I have a really supportive husband. If I could stand there and explain this to every person who asks me how I do it this is what I'd say: I'm not in this alone. Ricky is fully present in our lives as a husband and father. He's almost always present with us when he's home and if he's not home he's always just a phone call away. We have a really close relationship, and he's in nine kids just as deep as I am. 

I absolutely love being a mom and wife, but part of the reason I love it so, so much is that I never feel alone or taken for granted. Ricky and I don't have "who has it harder contests." We have both joy and sympathy for each other on a daily basis. I'm so proud of him working hard and accomplishing what he does and I'm thankful he's a great dad and husband. I honor and cherish him and he does and feels all the same ways for me. I always get more than one kiss goodbye. He is optimistic. He's easy to love. He's a good dad. He loves me at my best and my worst. He supports me. He respects me. He's nice to me. He's funny. He laughs. That's how I do it. .

One thing that helps me through tough days is that he's always there for me. I can get a hold of him anytime when he's at work (unless he's in a meeting of course). Anytime I want to tell him anything, if I just want a sympathetic ear to quickly share my hardships with, he's there. If I'm cranky and un-showered. If the kids are screaming and crying in the background. If the baby just fell off of something. If I'm sick or tired. If I just want to tell him that I wish I had another job for the day where I didn't have people screaming, roughhousing, throwing food, emptying toilet paper rolls, clogging the toilet, losing a toothbrush down the drain, scattering potatoes all over the kitchen floor, coloring on the wall, making "potions" with spices in the kitchen, unmaking beds, playing with mud on the front porch, throwing a mud ball at side of the house, all while the baby is latched on me like a sucker fish as the kids fall off swings and get stuck in trees. I can tell him. Sometimes I want to escape the people who eat 20 lbs of oranges, three loaves of bread, and four dozen eggs in four days.... So I call him. He listens. He lends support. He agrees. He asks me what he can do to help. He's my rock. That's how I do it, and that's how I keep doing it. I'm allowed to have every emotion I have. And he listens.

Then there's the times that he laughs at me as I rattle off hilarious or ornery things the kids are up to. There's also the times he tells me I'm cute as I explain to him the quirky mishaps I have encountered throughout the day. I love his strong supportive voice, his calm demeanor, his attention to detail, his chuckling laugh - I know co workers must hear him laughing sometimes. I adore that laugh so much. I can feel the stress wash away from me and I start to smile because I can hear his laughter and love for me shoot right through the phone line and into my heart. This is how I do it. It's him. He doesn't just say he loves me, he shows it in everything he does. I see it in his eyes. I hear it in his voice. 

He calls me. Sometimes he will call me just to hear me ramble for a minute. I love that. So he'll call out of the blue sometimes and I'll just talk... he also knows it's a way I get some adult interaction and I can share my joys or frustrations.

We are a great team. Last weekend was full of so much crazy. We laughed it off all day. Every whine, scream, wrestling match between the kids, food on the floor, clingy baby, messes, poop, spilled drink, a certain kid defying us, we rolled with it all weekend. We often look at each other and wonder why we did this to ourselves. We often long for some alone time. We get interrupted by kids frequently. It's hard. It's realllly hard. But I'm not alone. But not only all that, we love kids. We love watching them, nurturing them, laughing at their antics, we love providing a loving home and building this legacy together. We love having a built in party on birthdays and holidays. We love it. We love each other. It makes it all so easy even when it's hard.

If I could, I'd stand there and tell complete strangers all of that when they ask how I do it. Or, when some people give me dirty looks or make rude comments because they think children are a burden and that one (or two) people could not possibly provide for or enjoy that many children, I'd like to tell them how wrong they are.