Yep, We Know What Causes That (Part 2 of Why We Have Eleven Kids)
Since I could write a book (a very long book) full of all the questions/opinions/comments/advice concerning our ability to “know what causes that,” let me assure you at the beginning of this post, that yes, “we do know what causes that” . . . and depending on what state of mind you catch me in, you’ll get a variety of answers to this question. I’ll save all the most pointed and blunt responses for another day and another post. For now, I’ll get back to the really good reasons we have such a unique brood. So, where were we? Oh yes . . . I’ll touch on mismatched socks, beans and rice, and why, though it may be hard to believe, I’m going slower than everybody else . . .
4. Children help us relax. Keeping up with socks has been one of the biggest hurdles of my whole mothering career, and darn it, I’m not even close to mastering it. I’ve tried all kinds of different systems and ideas and some work only part of the time. I have joked that all the missing mates that never come out of the wash are piled somewhere up in my house in heaven so I’ll know when I get there that I wasn’t crazy! Along with pens, pencils, hair bobs . . . but I digress. One day my nephew put my mind at ease about a solution I have considered so many times. “Aunt Jenny, I don’t know if you knew this, but it’s the style to wear socks that don’t match!” Oh my. Who knew. We’ve been in style all along! All of that said, our kids have helped me decide I don’t want to sweat the small stuff.
5. Every baby brings their bread. Lorenzo and I have sung, played and officiated for many weddings over the years. One in particular was right around our sixth baby’s due date. I wasn’t worried that we’d miss the ceremony, but as big as my belly was, plenty of other people were. One older woman made our day during the reception when she came up to us and asked about the new baby. She wasn’t shocked at all when we said we had five little ones at home. She looked us straight in the eye and said, “Don’t ever forget this. . . every baby brings their bread.” Wow. What a gift she gave us. And I can say, unequivocally, yes! God always provides. Soon after Susanna was born (our tenth), I was really wanting to buy a new car seat for Elisabeth (two years old at the time.) I was audacious enough to ask God for a really nice, quality car seat because I knew it would last the longest. But at the moment, it just wasn’t in the budget, so I waited. Two weeks later, we drove up in our driveway and sitting on our porch was not one, but two toddler car seats, the exact kind and model I was hoping for! To this day, we have no idea whose hands set those gifts on our porch. Suffice it to say, He has blown us away with His provision. Though I must mention, being picky or faint of heart hasn’t been on the agenda. I’ve found treasures at garage sales and thrift stores, we’ve had beans and rice more than once a month (Dave Ramsey is one of my heroes for giving proper glory to this wonderful meal) and yes, sometimes we’ve done without things we have wanted. Delayed gratification hasn’t hurt our kids one bit, and it darn sure won’t hurt us adults either.
6. Children balance people and things. My husband has a saying that I love. “Life is all about balancing people and things. In the end, you want to be “heavy” on people and “light” on things.” It’s funny how younger people think often about all the things they can acquire, and as they get older, the final sunset hours might be spent in a small room in a nursing home with two chairs and a grandfather clock. That’s the time to be “heavy” on people! Our children have helped this happen with me a little earlier than I think it would have normally. Because it can frankly be overwhelming to maintain lots of “stuff” with our numbers (we have a fairly small house, too) I have been blessed by the unseen pressure that forces me to simplify. If something is not being used, someone else could use it. If it takes up space, I’lll chunk it in the trash. You might be familiar with the phrase made popular during the Depression . . . “Use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.” Yes!! There’s a lot of liberty in letting go of the things that take our precious time to maintain so we can invest in the people we love. Without our crew, I’m not sure I would have ever caught on to this truth. (Well, I’m still catching on. . . )
7. Children change the atmosphere. My hubby and I were visiting a car dealership one day. We were waiting on the salesman to come talk to us in the waiting area. Hannah was about 18 months old and sitting in her Daddy’s lap. An older gentleman was sitting there as well, and he appeared to be quite grumpy and “put out” with a child being in his vicinity. A few minutes later, Hannah crawled out of Lorenzo’s lap and walked over to grandpa, and held up her arms for him to hold her. He seemed momentarily indecisive, but smiling, picked up our little girl. Joy crinkled in his eyes and a conversation ensued that we as the adults were not able to find. A beautiful moment, to say the least.
Lest I tarry too long and lose your attention, let me wrap this up. Here’s one of the biggest secrets of parenting our tribe . . . drum roll, please. . . 8. It’s easier with more. I know you might not believe it, nor would you like to try and see if I’m telling the truth. But this principle has fueled our passion to keep going in our parenting journey, no matter how much it stretches us. After many years of trench work, our oldest ones help us teach the younger ones, and the younger ones learn twice as fast. After changing a million diapers, our six year-old is in training to do the same. After making meal plans and grocery lists and driving to the store every week, now my two oldest girls can do the job single-handedly and do it better than I do. And they are quickly becoming young people that can make a difference, whether mom and dad are around or not. Parenting is all about thinking about later, not now. Children won’t be little for long, in fact, the majority of their lives they’ll look us in the eye.
Now you know why I can say I’m not as busy as everyone else might think. I’m definitely going slower than the typical rush. I’m still trying to match the socks!