Recently at our weekly Costco visit, as several of my kids were sampling crackers and cheese, a younger mom mentioned “Oh, your hands are full”. Seldom do I take the whole crew out shopping and I wasn’t about to say there were more at home. “Yes, they are,” I smiled, as my kids all shoved their mouths full of food. But leave it to my tactful, yet, accurate 10-year-old daughter who aspires to set records straight, “This isn’t all of us, there are 4 more at home.” This mother’s mouth dropped open. And she boldly asked if I planned on having 9 children. “No, actually I didn’t plan on nine, I hoped on having 10,” I chuckled. “We’d love to have another but that is not entirely up to us.” She stammered a bit and asked me something like, ” Aren’t you overwhelmed, I mean how do you do it, I can barely manage my three?” This comment seems to be a constant. I like to quote that t-shirt, “I wish my life looked as good as it does on Facebook.” Yes, of course we have moments and seasons of feeling stretched and tired and spent.
Each day is an undertaking with the countless loads of laundry to wash and messes to clean up after and mouths to feed and boo-boos to kiss, and arguments to alleviate, and homework to supervise and schedules to coordinate and, and, and. Yes, most days have moments that are very chaotic and demanding, if truth be told.
But I am more overwhelmed with the beauty of each life. And the beauty of each day. Tom and I feel a strong call to this large family and this has emerged in us with each new baby. Before we got married we thought maybe 5, and as many as 7. And honestly we are awestruck that God chose this for us! Not that we chose this for Him or for ourselves. There is an inner pull, a wonder, a magnificence that deepens in the very depths of our hearts with each new addition to our family. It truly cements our vocation as a couple and as a family. And this beauty radiates outwardly in some other moments in the home. For example, when the almost teenager is rocking her baby sister to sleep or playing dolls with the toddlers or teaching her 6 year old sister how to read and sharing a funny Instagram post with her tween sisters. It is when I look out my kitchen window and see a gang of kids chasing their Dad around the yard or playing four-on-four soccer or capture the flag. It is at night after we’ve wrestled them into the family room to end the night in prayer being thankful to Him for this unbelievable call. These gifts of life, each one an unbelievable miracle from our Heavenly Father. “Each family is a cell of society, but large families are a more rich cell, more vibrant..” the Pope said recently in an address to large families. Now we don’t always feel fully equipped, and on any given day(or moment) would undergo some humiliation if you happened to stop by and see the pandemonium and boisterous craziness of our crew! But the joy, surprises, beauty and friendships are just too awesome to pass up!
So when someone asks, “I don’t know how you do it?” Inwardly I think, “I don’t know why we wouldn’t, if truth be told”.
And, oh ya, we have just begun the teen years so what do I really know? I’m sure all you parents of young adults are smiling with my total naivety. (Hint: I will be seeking more teen advice from all you awesome facebook friends! And I love the variety of opinions!)