I am often asked how I can do it all, generally in reference to having a large, bustling brood. I am always quick to answer, “I don’t.”
What I mean by that is that it is a group effort. I don’t do everything on my own. It would not be humanly possible to “do it all” on my own. I have a great team of people who are down in the trenches with me. I have a husband who works hard, supports me, and comes alongside me as a teammate to share the load when he can. I have a great set of kids who lose their way at times, of course, but for the most part they are great kids who do what they are asked, do what they can to help, and work for the good of the family in whatever way they each can.
I often say that in a large family there is no room for self. It really is quite ironic that I have a large family since I was raised as an only child for nine years before I had a sibling, and the world really did revolve around me in many ways. The more children I have, the more I am convinced that God has given me these children to teach me how to be less like me and more like Him.
In a large family there seem to be common themes woven throughout the tapestry of family life. Many of these are things that are easily seen as a challenge, an annoyance, or a frustration, but in reality these are all part of the heartbeat of large family life.
- mealtimes, even the most basic, take at least an hour from start to finish
- there is always a mess somewhere, usually in several places at one time
- the best things can ever get in terms of housekeeping is “organized chaos” as I call it
- when the house is looking great, it will still looked trashed to outsiders just because of the amount of “stuff” that comes with this many people
- there is always some staple ingredient that we are out of, unbeknownst to me
- I will never walk through the house without stepping on something
- there is rarely silence
- without fail, there are always at least two children who want to use the same bathroom at the same time no matter how many bathrooms there are to use
- siblings rotate who their “best buds” are
- there will almost always be some type of squabble going on
- we will always draw a crowd of gawkers no matter where we are in public
- as more babies come into the house, the more “spoiled” they become as there is always someone to hold them at every moment of every day
- it will be a rare occasion when everyone agrees on a movie to watch or a game to play
- every question I am asked will be asked at least twice, by two different kids, since there are always people who don’t listen for the answer
- the box of unmatched socks will reach epic proportions on a regular basis
- finding a pair of mittens will be a rarity as well
- kids will always have clothes in their closet or drawers that belong to other kids completely by accident
- the things that were taboo with kid #1 and kid #2 will be commonplace by kid #5 and later
- there will almost always be someone who is sick
- kids will fight over the “good seat” in the car every time
- there will be “sleepovers” most nights as kids all seem to sleep in someone else’s room, often including several children sleeping in one room
- even with a gaggle of children, Mr. Nobody is still the one who commits most of the infractions in the house
- it is almost always possible to get the “real story” on most things since there are so many people who can provide pieces of what actually happened
- used bandaids stuck to the bottom of socks are the norm
- there will be days that I will feel like my sole purpose for being on this earth will be to turn off lights and to flush toilets
This list really could go on and on. Maybe I’ll even make a second list at some point. But these are things that so many friends with large families agree with, things that not only occur in my home but in the homes of many others. Many of these really are challenging at times, but there will be a day when all of these things will disappear. Although not so much at the time, reading through this list makes me smile. It really is what occurs nearly every day in a large family.
What did I miss?