I recently had a conversation with a good friend about transitioning from one to two children then two to three and so on. After I hung up the phone it really had me thinking about all the ideas and expectations I had and some of the harsh realities too once thrust into my new role as mom of many. Now by no means am I claiming to be any form of an expert. But simply one who has walked, run and been dragged down the road of motherhood. My mind couldn't stop reeling through memories of years passed so I thought I would write some things down. Not only to preserve the memories I have of my years as a mom of many little ones but also for reference for friends and my own dear children when they hit young motherhood.
Something I learned quickly after having my first was to never say never. I am sure all of you who have at least one can remember some things you swore you would never do. And now are confidently and happily allowing those parenting "no-no's" today! I garantee that all of you who say no that won't be me will cave at some point. We all have our own strongholds that will likely someday have to succumb to because our baby just doesn't work that way. Maybe the first one did but the second one sure won't!
I remember being terrified about going from one to two. I completely lacked confidence in myself. I was sure I would never be able to grocery shop or go to the doctors or park alone! I think that was a pivitol point for me as an adult and mother. I really grew spiritually during this time too because of my desperate need for direction and sleep! Thankfully I fell hard onto my knees in prayer, because that was the only way I was going to survive. God has always provided abundently and this time there was no doubt about it. Once Calvin was around six months old I remember feeling a sense of relief. All my fears of what to do when in public with two small children had subsided and it gave me real freedom. How awful to look back now and see how fear controlled my life. I was so foolish. But through all that I learned so much about myself and who God is. He sustained me through two sleepless years ( really, if you know me well you know what I am talking about :) ) he built my confidence and gave me deep desires for service to my family and others and a clear understanding of self sacrifice. Little did I know the self sacrifice I knew then was nothing compared to what I would experience once I transitioned from two to three!
Going from two to three wasn't scary at all. I remember thinking what is one more? Give me two or three more, I can handle it! This actually did turn out to be true. It wasn't hard adding more little ones because I had already been doing everything that pertains to little ones for 4 1/2 years. Mostly because I was already at home, already not sleeping, and already devoting my life to my family. The one thing that was very different though was the good old "me time". I HATE that phrase. It irritates me. Once I had three children the "me time" had been dissolved. There was no longer time for watching a show during nap time or napping myself. Funny that my "me time" was rotting my brain with TV or taking a nap. Pathetic I know. I guess this is when it became harder to sit down and get through books quickly too. So, then it wasn't all useless, I was reading too! Anyway, laundry and dishes seemed to triple. Any extra time I had was devoted to working on something in my home. Now for some this may seem like a miserable life but it wasn't. It was amazingly eye opening. First of all it helped me to really dig deep and examine priorities. At the point of two children only I actually still had a lot of flexibility and cushion when it came to household chores and routine. It was easy to skip things because I wasn't too outnumbered yet. It worked for our family. I see it working for lots of families in this situation. So, now with three I got thrust into a major change in thinking. I found myself focussed so much more outside of myself and into the world around me. Letting go of a lot of laziness once having a third gave me huge amounts of time for working around the house with the kids and cooking/baking with the kids. Now don't be mislead here. I don't think I have had all my laundry done and put away since sometime in 2006. I still have a very messy house at times. But, I really realized that I was not using my time as wisely as I should. And I was convicted about what time I was rising in the morning. "... She rises while it is yet night and prepares food for her household and a portion for her maidens... her lamp does not go out at night..." This is an excerpt from Proverbs 31 paraphrased sort of. I read and re- read this passage. I kept trying to find the part that said, except when she has a newborn, or not during the first trimester, or only if all is well and perfect in her life. I couldn't find those parts. The conviction grew. This was life changing. It stretched and grew me in good ways. This was also the time that I was convicted about my at home job. It occupied a lot of my time. I could no longer say it worked for our family to have me working from home. I prayed for a way out.
Thankfully my prayers were answered in ways one would never dream. I quit, we moved and I had my fourth. All in that order. It was an enormous weight off my shoulders to not be responsible for someone else's business. And it was a major stress relief to know that my concern and care was all for my family and not about job performance and renter satisfaction. Moving into a larger home was sort of an experiment. I had my theories that I preached to Steven on a regular basis about how it would be easier to clean a larger home and not so easy to dirty it up because of all the space. I would say my theories were right, with some tweaking. Schedule and routine became huge must haves. Steven got me a blackberry four days after I had Gregory and it has been an enormous aid in my quest to figure out motherhood with four. It has this great calendar feature that will pop up reminders for me for anything from vacuuming the downstairs to bible study on Wednesdays. It keeps me from having to remember everything that needs to be done. Technology is wonderful. My growth as a momma with four has allowed me to open up my home often for guests or for events like our home group. I love that! My family loves visitors so why not get my act together so people can visit? Another big part of this joy of sharing our home with others is to not be worried about what it looks like. Now, I am saying that we all have more time than we realize and we can stretch ourselves to accomplish more. But, there are times that it's just not happening, like when you are trying to let your kids play and swim outside and you are throwing up in the bushes next to them. Days like these I don't skip back inside and conquer the breakfast and lunch dishes. They sit there til the next day I feel well enough. And that is ok. I have to still be ok with everyone seeing what's real. Some days it actually is a clean house with a clean toilet and clean counters. Other days its not. I figure, if any one likes me because my house is clean or likes me because my house is never clean then they've got some issues. Not me and my sometimes clean or sometimes chaotic house!
Now I am well on my way to five. Ahh! I am still trying to master four! I have seven and a half months to go to figure it out. I keep visualizing myself in different situations. Like bed time and dinner time. Two nights a week I am on my own for bed time. And five times a week I am on my own for dinner time. Oh yeah, and baths. I just figured out a reasonable bath schedule for the four! I've really got to get creative with five! I don't know why the whole bath routine plagues me, but it does! Kitchen sinks are quick and easy for little ones. Think I could do two little ones at the same time in there? I will try and let you know! So much to think about and figure out. I admire those who have raised theirs up and have grown marvelous, loving, god honoring men and women. What a job. The hardest I know. Done well and right and without giving up or giving in I think we can make a difference in this world. Our lives as mothers right now is about the future and the legacy we have built. Our blood, sweat and tears are molding future generations. That reality gives me chills and forces me to constantly be thinking about my choices and motives as a wife, mom, friend, daughter, sister, woman and christian.
Just something to think about.