Monday, June 10, 2013

Does This Make Us a Big Family?

What is that magic number that sends a family over the edge, into The Next Category?

I think Big is relative.

When we lived in China, we would walk down the street with our 3 littles and we would hear the astonished "Son ge!" Every.time.we.went.out. [Interpreted: 3] It probably didn't help the unbelief that I was giga-normous with the twins.

Our Chinese neighbors thought 3 was Big. And here we are, x number of years later... (I guess I can do the math... the twins are 6.5...) ...7 years later! and we have 6 kids and hope to adopt one more.

But like I said, Big is relative. And speaking of relatives, my hubby's extended family is full of Big Families. Ours looks totally Small at family reunions. 

I always looked at Bigs with awe and wonder. How great is that? How fun would that be?! That mom must be so organized. I'll bet those kids love having so many friends live in the same house!! Wow! When I grow up...

And then I did grow up and married a great guy who loves kids. I think the number 12 came up once or twice. And then we actually had a kid. That number slide down a couple of notches with every new baby. Finally we settled on 4. Then baby number 3 came along and hubby says, "I really like this family. I could be good with 3." And I begged him for one more. And... we got a package deal. 5 was a great number to stop with. But then God convinced us that we could handle 2 more. And #6 came home.

I really didn't think the number thing would change a lot. I mean, of course adopting would bring about a lot of changes and bringing a 3 year old into our family would certainly be crazier than bringing home a 2 day old who sleeps 75%. But hey, what's one more?

How many plates do I grab for lunch? The oldest kid is with his dad... 5-1... no, 6-1... we have 7... 7 kids? 7 total? we used to be 7... 8 total-2 adults...

And my time? It went from: 
        MyTyme x (24 hours)
              divided by 5 = 4.something
To:   MyTyme x (24 hours)
              divided by 6 =

See I can't even do simple math anymore.

My dear sweet oldest daughter was having a really hard afternoon the other day and I finally handed her a notebook and told her to write down all the reasons her life sucks right now. And then on the opposite page right down twice as many things that she likes.

After a while she came back with her list and it was pretty apparent that she was feeling bummed about having so many people in her family. And I thought about it: she has to work to get along with 7 people in close proximity every day. Growing up, I had less than half of that number. 

We did come up with a bunch of reasons that big families are super great.
Her contributions were:
3. a big yard
5. chances to be a role model
10. lots of chances for God to make me a kinder person
(Ok, she might have had some help on that last one.)

We are all still adjusting to this new normal. Some of us feel it more than others. Some feel it and just don't know how to express it. Some express it loudly.

It sure makes a big difference knowing that it was God's idea to enlarge our family and not just some cucko scheme of our own.

You know what I'm loving right now?
Date night!

Not just with my bestest man friend but with my kids.

Because it's harder to enjoy my kids when they are in a howling pack. But get them alone, away from the chaos... they are really great kids and I remember how much I actually like them!

And so tonight Zoe and I let loose. We hit The Savory. (Go ahead locals, cringe. I can't get her to choose anything else.) We rode bike. 

And I enjoyed my almost-8 year old silly-pants.

To all of you moms of any-number-of-kids: You rock! Mothering is hard. Let's be kind to ourselves. God is. Kind to us, that is. And don't let anyone fool you: mothering any number of kids has it's own challenges.

To all of you moms of Big Families: any advice would be so appreciated! How do you do it? How do you learn to balance everything? How do you stay sane? What are the biggest joys you get out of having a Big Family? Will you share your wisdom with me?

And seriously, is it anywhere in the realm of possibility to use the toilet without a knock and a tattle or catastrophe?


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