Looking back on my life, I feel like I'm on the "other side" now, the other side of chaos...not completely out of it, but definitely heading that way...as if my life, starting when I got married, was a huge letter "V", and I traveled from the top left of the letter, to the bottom, where as far as chaos level goes, I stayed for several years...now I am up near the middle of the right side of the "V".
Because honestly, there was a lot of chaos. I have mentioned the Laundry Mountain in the door of the laundry room, the Couch Monster of clean clothes, and with all large families, the Daily Dilemma of Dinner. Was I the only one running packages of frozen chicken under hot water at five o'clock? And running out of things, from toilet paper to eggs, perpetually. Appointments! School Events! Birthdays! These things added more monkey wrenches to the monkey wrench piles, until Mama here felt like she was going to crack! Sleep...oh what was sleep? It was something that everyone else here seemed to get enough of. (I am still STARVING for it, can't ever get enough of it...like the cat who was kept in the basement for the first year of his life, then could never get enough food).
Anyway. Life's pace has slowed down. Tomorrow I have an appointment at 8:45, then two of the girls have dentist appointments, but one of them is in California. I have a training session in the evening for volunteer work our church is doing at a food vending company for some fantastic summer outdoor concerts.
But these days there are no wobbly toddlers or tantrum-y two year olds, no nursing infants who only want ME. (Except for when Lydia visits, but the ratio of doting aunts (and uncles) to small child is like 4 to one).
We do have three large indoor dogs...the Labs...and they mess up the house almost as much as the kids did. They don't set up Duplo villages all over the living room, with Little People and Matchboxes, but they do chew things up and shed and come in with muddy paws. They go in and out and bark and hog the couches. (I realize that I love our lifestyle with these three dogs...they add to our family, we love them, they comfort and amuse and provide so many cuddles...but when company comes over, I feel really slobby, having these dogs in the house...)
Anyway. Some people might wonder WHY we had so many kids. It's very simple, really. When we first got married, we decided to let God send the children. We thought we'd just leave it entirely up to Him. So we never "tried" to have babies, or tried NOT to. We just trusted in God.
It sounds simple, and mostly, it was. There were times I was tempted to wonder if we were cray-cray, and times when I thought it was enough, times when I was sick and tired of being tired. But I always sensed that God knew just what we needed.
One thing I encountered many times through the years was this comment, and several variations of it, from other women/moms:
"I would have loved to have more but...(bad health, money, job, husband/boyfriend situation or them not on board with more, not enough patience, not enough room, ect.) Believe me, I dis no one! (Is "dis" a real word?) Instead, I have often felt so blessed that things worked out for us to be able to accept and have so many babies. My body held up and co-operated...I barely had issues, a little bit of high blood pressure a few times, swelling, and obviously being really fat, so it was no Disney ride to be pregnant. My back ached, I had frequent headaches, was tired for approximately 25 years..so I'm not saying I had no TRIALS, just that I had no major issues. After Robert died, there were a few comments from other people that maybe we should be done now, that of course something like this was bound to happen, having all these kids/pregnancies. And although I would wish it on no one to go through a stillborn birth, we learned so much from that experience, and our last three children were so loved, we felt so blessed. Life is fragile and precious.
I think it's extremely personal, one has to do what one has faith for. I know that my faith was tested and tried...I often thought I almost heard God asking me if I still trusted Him, when the crazy days were happening.
So it wasn't always a sunny day with feet up and a drink, but it has been totally and completely worth it, and I would absolutely do it all over again. If I had the choice between all the money in the world, and going back and living my same life all over again, I would most certainly go back and take a second ride through mommying these kids. They're so precious to me. Even the ones who are all grown up and on their own, I cry when they cry, and I hurt when they hurt. I wish them nothing but the best, and my very hopiest hope for them is that they also come to a life where they put their trust in God, and have rest from anxiety and worry, and aren't plagued by anger, bitterness, or envy. I don't care whether they are successful or rich or graduate top in their class, I want them to be happy.
For the record, a few of them are rich and successful...ha.
Here's what they are doing now, and if this bores you, you can skip it.
Emily: She's having a hard time right now, she's a nurse in a big hospital, and her patients are critical, and often at death's door. She never of course tells me any private details, no names or specifics, but she had a terrible weekend at work...a young woman with a large tumor, dying, pleading not to have to leave her daughter, bleeding when she coughed...very close to the end. A young guy with end stage cancer lost his battle, he was a long time patient of Mirielle's, on the cancer floor, and very sweet. The pressure and the suffering and the loss have overwhelmed her, so keep her in your prayers. She is a tenderhearted, loving, girl, and my heart aches for her.
Abigail: She's an accountant, lives with Emily and Mirielle, and is doing well. Abigail is a giver! She has a bad knee, but doesn't complain. She laughs and the whole room laughs with her.
Benjamin: He and his wife Ashley are expecting #2, Anya is going to be a big sister! Ben works in an apprenticeship, HVAC, and has a nice house in a nice neighborhood, and is very kind and responsible...ha, he is a walking miracle, after his crazy teen years and being an Army medic in Afganistan...he is doing well, thankfully!
Mirielle: Really Mariel, but years ago she said I could mention her on my blog, but not use her real name. She's struggling sometimes too, her job is too sad. The young man, her cancer patient, got into their hearts. Day after day, going in and taking care of these people wears on their souls, as much as they try to distance themselves so they don't shatter, it truly effects them. Mare is in California for the week, with Sam and Suze, so hopefully she gets a nice vacation and a good mental break.
Joseph: The other kids say Joe is my favorite, and I don't deny it, although they are all my faves. Joe does what I ask him, ha, nothing more, nothing less. He is extremely kind and very talented. He still lives at home and does art by contract, amazing stuff.
Aaron: He lives in California, is an R.N. at Stanford Hospital, and is continuing his education to be something "more than just a nurse", family joke. He lives in a beautiful house near San Francisco, with a nice pool in the back yard, which means I am dying to go visit him.
Mali: (Molly Rose, same deal, don't use my real name, she said). Mali is Lydia's mama. She is hardworking, she graduated high school a year early (in only three years), started nursing school, and has worked hard as an R.N. in a big hospital in the city, while balancing being a good mommy.
Samuel: Just out of the Army with big plans to use his G.I. bill to go to school, probably for criminal justice, as he wants to be a police officer. Sam is quite the guy...he's responsible and honest and kind but ever so funny. He could totally be a stand up comedian. He has these one-liners he's always spouting...he's as conservative as they come, and loves hunting and fishing and shooting airsoft guns with Jonathan.
Margaret: She is happily married to Adrian, they have a small puppy. She works full time as a pharmacy tech. I don't know if she loves it, but she seems to like it well enough, and is making decent money. Margaret is so fun, she likes to have us over to her apartment, she likes to take her sisters out and about, and it's always joy when their car pulls into our driveway.
Kathryn: Kathryn also works full time as a pharmacy tech, and is learning Norwegian, she is leaving in July for a year in Norway.
She finished up her school career by homeschooling 10th - 12th grade, then taking her GED. I am going to miss this girl.
Evelyn: Miss Ev, or Bev, as Mirielle calls her, she is an incredible girl. She is in her junior year of high school, gets fantastic grades, and works really hard at everything she does. She is considering spending some time in California this summer. She is spunky ans smart, but I feel like we are almost always on the same wavelength.
Suzanne: Miss Suze is on the high honor roll at school, and is a sweetie. She is a typical 16 year old, sometimes she gives the death stare, other times she is all smiles and laughter. She doesn't ask for much, and doesn't always like to go out and about, she would rather cuddle in bed with a good book.
Sonja: Today is Sonja's 15th birthday, and we are going shopping! Sonja is one of our sunnier girls, hardly moody, but is also a rabble rouser/victim...it's not her, she swears! But then sometimes she smiles a silly smile and admits that yes, she did add fuel to the fire with one sister or another. She is also on the high honor roll at school.
Jonathan: we already know how fond I am of Jonny.
Charlotte Claire: She has her back handspring, her front handspring, her aerial, and is so in love with gymnastics! She is busy practicing a song and a routine for the talent show we're having for the children's group at church.
Camille: Cam loves to read, loves to learn. She's the baby of the family, well loved, but has too many mothers, ha. She still likes to cuddle and has such a happy outlook on life.
And there. I have rambled long enough for one day.