“I don’t know how you do it.”

Dear Mom-at-the-Gym,

“I don’t know how you do it!  I only have 2 kids and I can barely do it!”  

Sometimes, when people say this to me, they have a little roll to their eyes and a little snark in their voice.  But sometimes, friend, they sound just like you did yesterday: slightly in awe.  I try to take it as it is meant to be taken, a nod of affirmation.  I rarely get the chance to talk it out with someone, and yesterday was no exception.  I was trying to disengage two clingy pre-schoolers so I could get on the elliptical before KidZone closed.  So I just said, “Thank you!  But 2 kids is hard, too!”  You looked skeptical, but grateful for the acknowledgment.  So let me tell you now what I really wanted to say then.

Yes, you do!

You absolutely know “how I do it” because you do it every day, too.  You wake up in the morning and feed and clothe them. You get them to school or school them yourself.  You go off to work, or to volunteer, or back home to set aright what was messed up in the morning.  In the afternoon, you do it all over again.  In the evening you read to them, help them with homework, hug them and talk to them about their day.  You clean up after them or teach them to clean up after themselves, both of which require insane amounts of patience.

You do everything I do.  And just because I have more kids doesn’t mean I do it better, or even that I do it more.  I give parenting everything I’ve got and I’m willing to bet you do too.  There’s no such thing as more than “everything you’ve got,” right?

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They (usually) come one at a time.

When you look at my family, you may imagine your work load doubling overnight, but I assure you that’s not the case.  My kids, and most kids, arrive one at time, and I had a chance to get used to another tiny human in the house before the next one came along.  So don’t think I’m somehow better than you because “I can handle”* more kids.   I’d bet a thousand dollars that most women can do what I do, and many of them could do it better.

({Ahem.} Jury’s still out on whether I handle them at all.)

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Failure (even though it happens daily) is not an option.

Parenting is difficult.  It can be lonely and frustrating and confusing and never-ending.  (I checked with my mom, who has 10 adult kids and she confirms this last statement.  Sorry.)  I oftentimes think of Simcha Fischer, who said something along the lines of “Telling a mother of 9 that she must be an expert parent is like telling a kid who’s failed 3rd grade a bunch that he must be an expert at it.”  I go at this task every day because it is my vocation, not because I’m an expert.  For better or worse (and some days are definitely worse), I’m the mom and so I show up and do that mom thing.  So do you.

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I get re-paid in love, a million times over.

I wish I could say that I’m an organized person, but that’s far from true.  I wish I could say I’m selfless, but again: not true.  I wish I could tell you that being the mom of 4-going-on-5 is easy because I learned my lessons the first (second, third, fourth) time through, but it’s just not true.  The only thing that may be different from me and you, mom-of-2, is that by sheer force of numbers, I manage to snag a few more daily kisses, hugs, thanks yous and love yous.  So if anything, the difference between me and you is the fact that I’m more addicted to rewards.  But hey, I’ll take ’em any way I can get ’em.

Look, I’m not telling you to have more kids.  (Although whenever someone tells me they’re pregnant I’m all “SQUEEEEEEEE!!!! BABYYYYYY!!!!”) What I am saying is 1) you’re already working hard, so don’t sell yourself short, and 2) there is no magic formula to being a mom of many.  I just keep getting at it, day after day, praying for the grace to not mess it all up too terribly.  I’m fairly confident that most of us do that.

So if you feel like you want to have more kids but the thought scares you, consider this: if someone as imperfect, selfish, and disorganized as me can handle it, you probably can too.  And give yourself a pat on the back for the job you’re already doing.  You deserve it.

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Comments

  1. Thanks! That was a really good read and reminder for myself. I really don’t mind the “I can barely handle…” scenario. The one that gets me is, “I could never handle (insert number here) kids.” To me, it is honestly a untrue statement because you never know what you can handle until you are in that situation. It is usually a put down as well because they (specific person I know) always has that tone of having their ducks all in a row. I just want to respond, “Well then it’s a good thing God didn’t bless you with more.”
    Natalie recently posted…Oklahoma Vacation August 2014My Profile

    • It’s a completely different scenario when someone is trying to put you down, Natalie. I wonder if that comes from a place of insecurity, though. I like coming up with comebacks in my head. They rarely leave my lips (thank you, Holy Spirit for saving me from myself!) but it’s still cathartic.

  2. Long-time reader, first-time (finally) commenter ;D

    Good post! I agree wholeheartedly! I’m so glad that raising four isn’t four times what raising one was, and I wish I could someone transmit that to others who might worry it’s worse with more! You did a good job though, better than I’ve been able to phrase it ever for sure.. Will try and share this the next time it comes up

    Maria :]

  3. Thanks for the reminder 🙂 I think I get the backlash from family moreso. The if-you-think-things-are-hard-now-what-makes-you-think-you-can-handle-more faces and comments. Not a fan. So I just try to shrug them and stay excited for what God has planned. Also, I love every. photo. You take such beautiful pics of your gorgeous kiddos and life!
    Amanda recently posted…Childlike SimplicityMy Profile

    • Sheesh. I come from a family of 11 kids, so my parents are always waiting for MORE grandkids! 😉 I wouldn’t even know what to do if my family was negative like that. I’m so sorry, Amanda. Shrug it off and offer it up.

  4. I don’t know how you do it! I’ll have thought running through my head and I’ll come over here and see that you expressed just what I was thinking beautifully and coherently. You’re kinda awesome like that.
    Bobbi @ revolution of love recently posted…Online Daybook (8/18/14): The Birthday and Too Much TV EditionMy Profile

  5. Absolutely wonderful post!! Your humility and honesty are beautiful.

    Thank you, friend…(from a Mom of 2 who wishes she had more, and feels most days like she has 10!) LOL

    xoxoxo

    ~~Chris
    chris recently posted…Visions of the Southwest~ Hiking One of the World’s Seven Wonders: Grand Canyon National Park ~ WWMy Profile

    • Hi Chris! Sometimes when I just have 2 of the kids, it DOES feel like more work. I have no idea why, but I know what you mean when you say it sometimes feels like 10 kids!

  6. Lovely post! I am inspired by your charity, and want to emulate it!
    Maria recently posted…On triflesMy Profile

  7. Exactly! Sharing now 🙂
    Rosie recently posted…Twice vs. ThredUP – Which One is for Me?My Profile

  8. Love you perspective and your thoughts. What a wonderful post!
    Martianne recently posted…Sing a Song of Social Skills and Character!My Profile