I have six children aged 14 to 4 months. I have gotten to the number where those with fewer start to wonder and awe a bit at how I manage it all. (The trick is that I don’t!)
Sometimes, when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I envy people with 2 or 3 children. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to have all my kids able to get their own breakfast, use the toilet, or read a book. I imagine driving someone to dance class and cheering on the baseball team without a nursing baby and a wandering 3-year-old to juggle through the process.
Well, last week, we had an opportunity, thanks to some family friends, to bring the children to a beach house for a few days. It didn’t make sense for me to take up a bed in an over-crowded vacation home filled with extended family when I’d be indoors, nursing the baby most of the time. So I was alone with a baby for two and a half days while my husband/superhero took the crew to the shore. That would have terrified me 13 years ago, but I’m a pro, right?
It was peaceful. The baby got everything he needed when he wanted it. I took care of him and took care of myself. But, we both got lonely after a day. Yes, he missed them. I had to be everything to this baby. Then I remembered, having one baby is challenging. It can be overwhelming.
Don’t get me wrong. Having six is overwhelming sometimes, but in a whole new way. Here is what I re-learned last week:
ONE – You only have time to unload the top rack of the dishwasher before the baby screams to get picked up. It will take a day and half to complete the dishwasher emptying process.
SIX – Kids can help with chores, like emptying the dishwasher, but you need to turn over the dishwasher 2-3 times per day and the kitchen is almost always a mess.
ONE – It can be boring with nothing to do but nurse, clean things and watch this baby grow. If you do have more to do, you don’t have much opportunity to do it.
SIX – You are constantly balancing the needs of teens, school-aged kids, preschoolers and babies. You wish you had more time to nurse, clean things and watch this baby grow. You also wish you had more time and resources for each one of them.
ONE – You are always tired.
SIX – You are always tired.
ONE – You have no one to talk to outside of Facebook until you get some time with your husband. You proceed to talk to him nonstop while he takes the baby for a little while and you finally eat or shower.
SIX – You are constantly listening to stories, opinions, dramatizations, complaints, arguments, questions, and conversations which you relay to your husband when you get some precious time together. He doesn’t take the baby from you because he is giving the currently displaced toddler some special attention.
ONE – You can’t get a shower. This is where Pollyannas like me start thanking God that at least you live a country that HAS showers!
SIX – You can usually get a shower if you really want to, but you won’t be alone. This is where I start reminding myself that every time someone barges into the bathroom, I can be assured that they are still alive despite my 7 minute disappearance.
You get the idea. Going through it again for a few days brought me back. It also helped me remember that having two children could be challenging, having three and four and five all had their overwhelming moments. None of them were the same. I know a mom with 14 children who had the challenge of not feeling like she could participate enough in her daughter’s wedding plans because the toddler had some serious health issues.
There is an up side and a down side to every family and every situation. In the end, it is easier to focus on the up side. Trust that God gave you the family which is right for all of you. (He’s pretty smart that way.) Family size is not a contest. And remember, at least you HAVE a shower, even if you can’t use it!
What is your biggest blessing and challenge with the size of your family?
Copyright 2014 Kate Daneluk