As I write this, it's the day that reminds me how unworthy I am to receive cutesy cards full of flowery gush. Mother's Day is fun when I approach it with a chuckle. The years I headed into it too seriously were hard years.
So this year, I made a list of my top ten favorite things about being a mother of many. It's a title I could never deserve.
I remember holding back the sobs watching toddlers playing at church after we'd lost our first baby.
More tears watching the visiting missionary family with their stairstep kiddos singing how Jesus loved them.
My husband finally telling me it was time to move on. The gulp as I listened. And moved on.
Fast forward all these years. It's surreal. And yet, it's temporary.
I won't always be known as "David Alan's mom" or "that weird lady with all those kids who's always pregnant." That won't always be my identity, but while it's the most visible feature of my existence, I decided to share some of the perks. (And there's plenty more. My brain is a bit tired now for some reason. But there are more.)
Without further ado, here are my top ten things about being a mother of many.
10. You stop being so picky. I'm not talking about the pacifier falling on the floor, or even the must-have matching crib bumper (do they even make those anymore? Mine sleeps in a Pack and Play).
I'm talking about me being picky. Food picky. Okay, so I'm still picky. But the more kids I'm trying to teach that sweet bell peppers really aren't hot, the more I'm willing to demonstrate.
(And they're really not bad with Ranch! )
9. You get a second (and third, and eighth) chance. With my oldest, I thought I was getting everything right. It wasn't until my fifth child that I began to see how my over-the-top perfectionism was shooting down all the good I'd attempted.
The last four have been infinitely easier now that I've realized that God sees me as perfect in Jesus, He's with me even when I stumble, and everything is icing. When I think of myself as "in Christ," all that fear from my failures falls away.
Perfect example. There's a place in the road a little past the mailbox that regularly heard me chewing out my kids. Both at this house and the old house.
And I just realized. That almost never happens now.
So while I pray the older kids forgive and forget, there's this joy that the younger ones may never have those memories of Mama mad about [fill in the blank]. So that's a huge perk of growing up with your kids and then having more. Suddenly I'm not such a baby for these babies. Praise God!
8. You realize your messy house back as a newlywed was NOTHING. I still remember my "junk room" as a newlywed. The walls were the perfect periwinkle blue, and that was the only thing in there I could stand to look at. It was a mess. I was so embarrassed even though no one ever saw it.
Now I chuckle groan.
Whatever you struggle with, a large family will amp it up. It'll also force you to face your issues and seek understanding help from people who've been there.
Like, if you've struggled and conquered disorganization with a big family, I love you and I want to talk for hours about what you've learned.
If you don't struggle with it, just tell me your life story.
I want to discover how you became you.
Maybe my kids can be like you.
For me, though, that boat has sailed. I'd rather not be told how to be you. Because I've tried to be you, and I'm not.
Listening to a naturally organized person lecturing on housekeeping is like going to a weight loss convention led by people with lightning-fast metabolism. Not fun.
Moving right along.
7. You're forced to make kids work. All hands on deck. It's a must, the more there are and the older they get. And very soon the payoffs replace the mommy guilt for making Junior work.
6. You learn kids really do grow quick. I turn around and they're big! And bigger! And now I'm having to look up!
I guess everybody knows that. However many you have. But with many, there's relief that you can hang on to those littles a little while longer.
5. Being called pregnant ceases to disturb you. When you're a mommy of many, people get used to seeing you pregnant. It becomes assumed, even when you're not. You're regularly asked, "Am I correct in assuming you're...?" The beauty is that it eventually ceases to bother you. You just laugh and remember to wear the girdle and suck in that gut, buttercup.
4. You feel younger than you are. Kids keep you young, and many kids keep you real young. It's a great perk. Just don't expect anybody else to see you as a thirty year old. You just tell yourself that.
3. You get to watch your older kids teach your littles like they'll teach your grandkids. I have no greater joy than to hear my older children teach my younger children to walk in truth. None.
2. You're forced to stay close to your husband OR ELSE. Having many kids is not a marriage cure-all. I've heard of plenty big families that splintered. But having many kids is a good motivator. A broken marriage breaks a lot more hearts than just two.
If I were the enemy of men's souls, I'd aim to attack the big families the hardest, along with pastors and government leaders, because of the potential influence they have. Big families are a threat to the evil one, because they have such power to exponentially encourage one another and the world.
If I were the enemy of the enemy of men's souls, I'd pray extra hard for big families, particularly the mamas. Please don't ever judge a mama of many unless you've walked in her exact shoes. HER EXACT SHOES. Thank you.
1. You realize what a hero your mama is. The more kids you have, the more you need your mama's love. And the more you need her to know how loved she is in return. I love you, Mama. I love you, mamas of many, mamas of few, and mamas of the heart. Happy Mother's Day.