So Far, Five Kids is Manageable Chaos

On New Years Day 2019, I gave birth to my fifth baby (and fourth girl!). The immediate postpartum period was difficult for me, because my aunt died of an accidental overdose the same week. I would definitely seek out more support caring for my older children if I could do it over again. Thankfully my depression and anxiety didn’t become too severe, and besides some lingering anxiety, I feel back to my regular self.

Since most American women do not have five children anymore, I don’t have too many local women to look to for advice. I dived into this sort of blindly. So far, it appears that life with five is manageable chaos.

  • There is NO such thing as a “quick trip” to the store. Getting my toddler and baby into and out of their carseats is work enough, but I also have my three girls squeezed in the back of the minivan. They often annoy each other back there, just when I’m unable to quickly pull over! It is actually one of the hardest parts for me personally, the constant in and out of the van for even simple needs.
  • My food bill is scary. I no longer buy organic produce unless it’s on sale (7.99 vs 2.99 for a pack of strawberries!), but there are still 7 people in this house and we EAT. A LOT.
  • Sometimes, everyone goes crazy at the same time. This is when I really feel overwhelmed. This usually happens right after I get a little too cocky thinking “I have this parenting 5 kids thing down! Look at how wonderfully behaved my little cherubs are!” That is when my kids have to remind me how outnumbered I am with the baby needing a bath from a poop explosion, and while I am gone for a few minutes the toddler smears cream cheese all over the couch, and the girls decide to fight over the same barbie despite an ENTIRE BOX full of barbies. Phew.
  • Meal times are crazy. Everyone wants something different, so at least one child is complaining about the meal. Then, it’s like whack-a-mole getting them to stay sitting.
  • Nothing is cheap anymore. A little toy for 5 dollars? Multiply it.
  • Your house is never neat. I sweep, mop, and vacuum. I scrub, clean, and pick up. Someone inevitably spills juice and drags mud across the floor the moment I put the mop away.

But you know what? It’s worth it. Life with five kids is a wonderful, beautiful, love-filled, awe-inspiring, manageable chaotic way of life.

Shalom

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Big Family Chaos, Letting Go and Letting God

Two days to my due date with our 5th baby, and after weeks of trying to keep our home clean and organized…it’s all falling apart. The holidays, the contractions, the chaos of four little ones who are inside most of the time lately; it is just impossible to maintain for very long.

Then, the sudden death of my aunt. While mourning her loss, it also means less help from my mother and other close family members as they (understandably) move their focus to the immediate needs of preparing to say goodbye to her. Not to mention the emotional pain they are coping with.

My husband is stressed over his job, and what his options are. He has worked his whole life, including military service, but he has also battled bipolar disorder for most of his adulthood. This has lead to difficulty in getting gainful employment and keeping it. He has been in solid recovery for the last few years, but it takes time. He knows that we need him, and he is worried. I am worried that he is worried! Not a good cycle.

Then, my oldest daughter goes from slightly sick to throwing up all over the couch today. I’m helping her get cleaned up and praying to God “Please, please do not let me get sick too!” I can’t imagine having to give birth while ill. And how long before the other kids get it and start throwing up too?

So there I am. Big and pregnant. Cleaning puke. Chasing my all-maniac-boy toddler. Managing arguments between the middle two girls. Squeezing my son onto my lap to nurse for the millionth time. The floors I meticulously swept, mopped, and vacuumed are a mess again. The bathroom that I scrubbed on my hands and knees has to be cleaned again. The toys I put away are on the floor, again.

And so, I started thinking, “how do I let go?”

How do I accept that no matter how much I clean, it will once again be a mess?

How do I accept that germs do not care that I am pregnant, and my kids still need me to help them when they are sick?

How do I let go of worrying over my husband so much, and allow him to figure things out?

How do I accept death, in the midst of bringing new life?

How do I really accept that I cannot decide when this baby is born?

It all reminds me that I really am not in control of much. Life is MESSY. Especially with a big family. But, it is a beautiful mess.

This verse comes to mind for me;
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. ” Matt 6:33

Seek first the Kingdom. Seek after His righteousness. All these things (our needs) will be given to us. In other words, LET GO. STOP worrying so much! The Father already KNOWS what we need, and he is a GOOD father who takes care of His children.

Shalom.

Momma, When You Feel “Touched Out”

This is a picture my 6yr old daughter snapped of me breastfeeding my 2yr old son, while heavily pregnant. I love what this picture captures, his smile at me and my joy in him. I also love that my daughter decided to take the photo. But breastfeeding through my 5th pregnancy has been challenging in many ways, especially when it comes to feeling “touched out”.IMG_E0307

 

Sometimes, all I want is for the little ones to not need me so much! 

Sometimes, I have to tell my son “not now” when he asks to nurse (and that is okay too).

Sometimes, I need half an hour to myself without the children on me, before I can relax with my husband.

All of this is true, but I want to remind you touched out mommas (and myself) of some very important things…

  • You are so very important to these little people in your life! Your babies, toddlers, and children need you. There will never be another time when simply being with YOU is so incredibly calming for them. Your touch, your kisses, your milk, your lap; you are giving them the love they need. The world may not recognize the work you are doing, but it is so important. Don’t lose sight of that.
  • The older children are watching you, and your love is a gift to them too. Those of you with children of multiple ages, you are giving them an incredible living example of what loving sacrifice looks like. Every time you rock a crying baby, sooth an upset 3yr old, and nurse a tired toddler. Every time you scoop them into your lap and read them a story. Every time you forget about that tea you had to heat up for the third time, because you were too busy giving. Every time momma, they see it. It matters.
  • It really does not last forever. They will grow taller, leaner, and more self reliant. They won’t wake you up at night to cuddle. They won’t beg you for one more story. They won’t cry for you to carry them on your tired hips. They won’t need your presence the same way they do now. But, these days will have built a solid foundation within them. They will still know and rely on your love, and your strength will become their own. They won’t always need you like this, but your sacrifices will always matter.

It may not seem like much more than a whirlwind of tasks some days. Running from mess to mess, child to child, meeting the needs all around you all the time. You finally fall into some sort of sleep, tired and TOUCHED OUT.

But momma, it IS sacred work. Raising these beautiful babies is a higher calling. It is something pure, wonderful, and holy. Often the most holy moments are caught in the most mundane and routine tasks of care-giving. It is humbling work. It changes you daily, in ways you may not realize just yet.

So, yes, put those feet up when you can. Give yourself time, and rest.

But remember what an important, and fleeting time this is.

Shalom.

 

 

Nearing Birth, 37 Weeks Unassisted

Lately, there has been a major shift; physically and emotionally. I frequently wake up in the middle of the night, and the very early morning. I carefully move my legs out of bed, trying not to cause my hips more pain. I limp over to the kitchen and get something to drink and snack on. I empty my bladder for the hundredth time. I sit in my recliner and enjoy the silent darkness, before my toddler wakes and comes running sleepily to find me and nurse in my heavy, burdened lap.

I need more rest, and more time to think. I’m less interested in what it going on outside and around me. My focus draws inward, to the life that moves so strongly inside of me. I am startled awake sometimes by the strength of this little ones kicking.

Most of the time I feel joyful anticipation over the upcoming birth, but there are moments of panic when I consider the task ahead of me. It is the hardest thing to do. It takes physical and mental strength like nothing else I have done. I draw deep from within myself to have the courage, I lean on my husband physically and emotionally, and I pray to my Savior for His strength to come to me when I lose mine. I hold in my minds eye the image of my newborn, and I remind myself of the joy to come.

My contractions have become more intense since yesterday. Still sporadic, like the casual tossing of a sea. Yet, stronger. Filled with the sensation of my babies head pressing down, helping to soften and open me up to their birth. At times it feels like a powerful hug, almost enjoyable. At other times, it wakes me up and I cringe in pain.

My toddler still needs me so much physically. It is very difficult to handle his demands against my own needs at the end of pregnancy. I have committed myself to nursing him until he self-weans, esp because of his concerning lack of weight gain (a subject for another day). But it is hard!

My due date is still two weeks away, but I don’t think the baby is waiting that long. Time will tell.

I never had a winter baby before. It is kind of fitting, as the earth goes into itself that I would also go inward. It feels right, in some spiritual sense.

Shalom.

I Have FOUR Children, and I Know What Causes it!

“Do you know what causes that?”

“Wow, your hands are full!”

“Are they all yours?”

Lately, I have noticed more of these kinds of comments when I’m out with my four little darlings. Maybe it’s because school is in and we homeschool so our family stands out even more during morning trips. Maybe it’s because my youngest is getting close to 1 year old, and causing mayhem. Maybe it’s the line of three little girls behind me like ducklings!

In any case, I hear it often now. People are genuinely surprised to see four children together with their mother. The fact is, most of the women my age who I grew up with do not have any children yet or at most 1 or 2. I have a veritable gaggle of kids compared to most 2 kid families these days. There isn’t anything wrong with a small family. but my little team raises eyebrows!

We went to the YMCA this week (just me and the kids) and we went swimming. After we swam, and I herded all the kids into the dressing room, an older woman stopped me my exclaiming “ALL YOURS?” My oldest at 6 years old piped up “Yep! All of us!”

The woman then offered to hold baby brother so I could more easily assist the girls in getting out of their wet suits and into dry pjs (easy for bedtime!). She was very kind, and helpful. She didn’t hide her amazement but it wasn’t meant in a negative way. Not all people who express their shock over our family are negative about it!

I think four is the magic “big family” number. It tips the scales in our society. Going out for pizza becomes too expensive with four. Your minivan gets full with four carseats/boosters. Four kids make you want to cry at your grocery bill. Four is..four! A lot.

Yet, it doesn’t always feel like a lot to me. I am an only child, and I always loved how it felt to be in a big family home. I loved how there was always something going on and people around. It felt safe and comfortable. The girls are very good with baby brother, and are already asking for another boy.  I told them that I can’t pick a boy or a girl, much to their disappointment!

Maybe I should start to coach the kids on hilarious comebacks to the “hands are full” and “are they all yours” comments. All in good fun, of course!

In the end, I love our family size and can’t imagine it any other way; weird stares and all!

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