Here it is– off the cuff and unrehearsed 🙂 — this is the good, the bad, the ugly of what life is like for me as a (home educating) mom of seven boisterous kids. (They’re, currently, 13 & under.)
FULL OF NOISE, CONVERSATION, AND LAUGHTER
- This morning during homeschooling, the 2 year old and the 7-month-old were belly laughing over the noise a game-timer makes (If you haven’t heard the one for 5-Second-Rule, it does sound pretty silly).
- There are always conversations going on… and that can be wonderful, and hard. Wonderful, in that people are learning, growing, laughing, building relationships, asking good questions, sharing funny jokes. And hard, in that there are interruptions to the homeschool lessons, interruptions to your train of thought, and words being spoken all day long. (Ever heard the “spoons” analogy?— I think there’s probably some truth in that analogy for large family moms in terms of how much more listening time we have left in us. Especially for those of us who homeschool and are with our brood all day, it dwindles significantly by the hour.)
- The last few years, I’ve come to the conclusion that I often operate as an introvert. In fact, given reactions over card games this last year at church camp, people who see the extroverted side of me appear quite surprised by it, because my normal interactions are (apparently) so mellow and reserved. Even my previous moments of solitude– like cooking, while the kids entertained themselves or listened to an audiobook– are now, often, accompanied by people, which means more talking happening at a time that used to be reserved for mental sorting and settling.
FULL OF ZESTY & VARIED LEARNING
There is always something being learned by someone, which is wonderful.
- Someone’s learning the violin…
- the baby is walking around furniture now, occasionally letting go… (or, as in the picture above, figuring out how to escape from his playtime barricade)
- someone else is learning how to whistle…
- one kid is learning to read basic letter sounds (aaaa, aaaaaaa, aaaaaaa)
- while another is learning more complex words (what is this word, mom, kah-now? … oh… why is it “no” if there’s a k at the front and a w on the end?),
- two boys are working together to master the same riff (an octave apart) on the guitar and the ukulele
- the toddler just mastered jumping with both feet,
- the oldest is learning how to structure a logical argument for debate
- someone is mastering flips on the trampoline
- while the big boys are trying to figure out how to use the new thrift store unicycle
It’s a joy to see so many different stages all at once, and see the amazing breadth of the human experience and how God has made us. This is a treasured part of my vantage point as mom.
EVERYTHING’S BIGGER IN TEXAS, AND IN A LARGE FAMILY
Having a larger-than-average family means a larger-than-average everything else, except (usually) a budget and house.
- More laundry,
- Learning to cook bigger portions
- More cleaning (because there are more messes),
- More items on the schedule,
- More splinters & ER trips,
- More diapers to change,
- More haircuts,
- Learning to make the budget work with more people living on the same amount of $$$
- Learning to drive a bigger vehicle
- Learning to be content with what you have when you (most likely) give up on having a cute vehicle
- When one person gets a stomach virus, look out! It can be 10 days or more to get back to any semblance of normal.
- More use of furniture... and appliances… and faucets… and dining chairs… which means, in our experience at least, that these things need replacing much more often than a family of 4 that leaves the house every day between 8am & 4pm. We’re in our house for twice as long, and there are twice as many of us. So yeah… we replace things more quickly.
- If a party seems sad and like no one has come, when our family shows up, it’s like the party has started, and the birthday child is happy and suddenly surrounded by friends. 🙂
- There’s more housework, yes… but as they get older, there are more hands to help, and being involved in the household economy gives them opportunities to learn life skills.
- There’s a trickle-down effect that I didn’t really anticipate before a few years ago– there is a great BENEFIT in disciplining the oldest children well, because their baseline “norm” for kindness, respectfulness, and fun attitude toward one another passes down in many ways to the younger ones.
- BUT BE CAREFUL! Because not everything trickles down. You can forget to pass on basic instructions that you were SOOOOO purposeful about to the older ones (i.e., your personal clothing choice rules; why we don’t say “butt,” why we look away and focus on other things when we see someone in too little clothing).
One thing I love about having a big family is that it puts a lot of things in perspective.
There are some things that our culture touts as good or acceptable, that become obviously nonsensical, when you consider if/how it would fit with a larger-than-average brood.
- Long-winding, scripted interactions in order to correct and discipline a child become absurd if you multiply them by 5, or more, children (each needing correction, guidance, and discipline throughout the day).
- Being a short-order cook, where each child has a list of items they won’t eat, is a non-starter.
- 3-5 activities per child, per year, is also– nonsense… that many commitments are simply impossible when you have more than 1-2 children.
- Carrying out KonMari style decluttering and minimalism isn’t quite as crystal-clear as you’d like for it to be, when you have multiple children who may or may not (at some future time) use a pair of shoes, item of clothing, or set of toys.
This is a random conglomeration, but it’s the daily minutiae of life that make up life, today, for this mom of 7.