As a mom with a larger than normal family, we are used to having friends with fewer children than we have. We don’t mind and usually they don’t either (unless they have to feed us all and then sometimes I sense a slight bit of panic about all these boys to feed).
I’ve noticed a curious thing lately though. I’ve had several conversations with friends who have less than my 6 children and I’ve heard excuses. Excuses about why they don’t have more children. It usually goes something like this…
“Well, we’d like to have more children but it just isn’t physically possible”
or “We always wanted a big family, but due to circumstances we only have 2”.
You don’t have to make excuses. And honestly, I’m just really thankful you’re not telling me that my 6 is more than I can handle or “don’t you know what causes that?” I’m thankful you’re excited when we tell you that we are expecting again.
Sure, we have a larger than normal family and we welcome babies as they come into our family, but we also know that the more children we have has no bearing on our holiness or our standing before the Lord. We know that trusting God for family size means trusting God for both large and small families. We also know that trusting God for family size, includes using wisdom and discernment when it comes to health and childbearing.
The point about trusting God for babies, isn’t about having as many babies as possible to show we’re “super duper” favored. It’s not a contest. The point is to view children as the gift and blessing they are…whether you have none, one or 15.
We are delighted to be surrounded by people who rejoice with the announcement of a new life. We believe children are a blessing, regardless of how many are in your quiver. Seeing parents raising children to love and serve God, embracing the task of parenting and celebrating life…no excuses.
So about a week ago I shared my goal for this year. In 2014 I want to Find the Joy.
I have prayed each morning for God to help me Find the Joy in each day. And I’ve had a week…with some great days and some not so great days. It’s been a tough week.
It started with me getting sick. I mean sick….with influenza. Fever, cough, achy feeling yucky. And of course it was right after my dearest husband had to go back to work after break. So last Thursday I drug myself out of bed…barely and tried to make some semblance of the day. I felt like I’d been hit by a truck, backed over and then hit again. As I’m laying in the recliner with half an eye on the baby and the big boys watching TV (I totally admit to TV time when mom is sick)…I remember my goal…Find the Joy. Seriously? What joy is there in being sick? In feeling so exhausted and rotten that you’re not sure how you’re going to make it? This was going to be way harder than I thought.
But then lunch happened.
We’d joined my brother’s family for supper the night before and my sister in law sent home leftovers! They might have been hotdogs and brats, but they were easy to heat up…throw a piece of fruit and some carrots and we’ve got a meal with minimal effort. That was my joy. Easy lunch…blessed by leftovers. For me that day, it was something simple, something I would have overlooked before. My joy for day 1 was hotdogs.
Friday brought a broken fever and a bit more energy (which means I totally over did it that morning). Thankfully my in-laws were willing to pick up the big boys and watch them in the afternoon for me so I could get some rest. And my afternoon was filled with things like this…
And so it goes. I’ve been purposefully finding my joy each day. Little things and big things (like having a warm home on very very cold nights).
And then my morning started this morning at 5am…with my son next to my bed…”Mommy, I don’t feel good” New sheets, a drink and emergency barf bowl just in case, along with a 3 year old brother who woke up in the process and said sickie 5 year old all cuddled in bed together. As I snuggled with them…exhausted before the day even started…I sighed heavy…Find the Joy.
And I did. Fitful sleep for another hour or so. While he dozed on the other side of the bed his hand reached….searched under the blankets for mine. I lay there with his palm resting in mine and I found Joy knowing mine was the hand he was looking for. Even in his early morning fever stupor he searched me out. And I thanked God for the blessings cuddled around me and sleeping in the next room. The blessing of children and family.
And I rested.
If you’d have told me when we first got married I’d have 5 boys…I would have laughed in your face! When we got married we knew we wanted to have a big family but I though surely I’d have a girl in there some where!
So here I am…mom to 5 boys who are 11, 9, 5, 3 and 9 months. And I love it! *Almost* every single minute of it. (Remember that Finding Joy post?) I can’t tell you how many times people comment about our brood of boys…either they are completely shocked that anyone would intentionally have FIVE children! Or they’re shocked that I’m still sane after having 5 boys (and you should see the looks I get when I tell them I’m homeschool them!)
Honestly, I think it can be super overwhelming to be a parent whether you have girls, boys or a mix of both. I am so thankful for other parents who offer insights, share lessons learned and in general give parenting “hacks” we can all benefit from. I want to share a few resources we’ve found helpful along our way.
One of my favorite books is Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys By Hal and Melanie Young.
Hal and Melanie are the parents of 7 children, 6 of those are boys! I’ve had the privilege of hearing them speak at several homeschool conferences and I’m always encouraged by them. The book is entertaining and full of practical tips from dealing with bickering and fighting to how they handle guns and playful wrestling.
Something I’m learning as my boys get older is that sometimes they can be a bit angry. Anger is something one of my boys really struggles with. He comes by it honestly. He’s a son of Adam so struggles with sin as we all do. And his mom and dad have both been known to lose their temper more often than we’d like to admit. The Heart of Anger by Lou Priolo has been our go-to book when it comes to this issue in our home. I’m only about half way through but it’s challenged me and given me practical wisdom for dealing with this issue.
Another great book by Lou Priolo is Teach them Diligently: How to Use the Scriptures in Child Training
I didn’t grow up in a home where scripture was woven into our daily conversations or lessons being taught so it’s been a challenge for me to figure out just how this looks in practice. This book helps formulate that picture for me and while it’s still a work in progress in my life, it’s helped me implement scripture in to daily lessons.
For some comedic relief I’ve really enjoyed Boys Will Be Joys by Dave Meurer.
There are days when stuff happens here at home and I can only shake my head. Sometimes I don’t think anyone will believe the craziness that’s gone on here. Like the night we found gum in a belly button or the fact that one of my children often forgets to take off his pajamas before getting dressed in the morning. Boys will be Joys had me in stitches one minute and in tears the next. He gives a few pointers along the way but mostly it reminded me that even with all the craziness that goes on…boys are delightful and bring so much joy to our family.
Trust me, I by no means have this whole thing figured out but I’ve learned a few things and I’ll be sharing those in the coming weeks, but these books have been a good start when it comes to resources for just what to do with these creatures we call sons. Do you have some resources you’ve found helpful in your parenting journey?
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As I sit here staring out of my dirty windows across the dusty sills I rock my long awaited 5th son. I could lay him down and get something done while the older boys are out helping dad. I could dust frantically ahead of the coming wind, that will undo it all. I could bake bread or fold laundry, but instead I sit rocking. Holding my son and sneaking kisses on his head velvet soft. After all, babies don’t keep.
Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton
Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.