We attended a play last night put on by our homeschool co op’s (mostly) Middle School students. Katie saved us great seats but I was standing in the back anyway because my sciatic nerve pain was so bad. I was chatting with another mom who was back there with her foster baby and she said it “pregnancy is the worst”. This is a mother of five biological children and several foster children. “YES!” I said so grateful to be able to say it out loud. That conversation made me think about all the myths people have about larger families.
1) “Pregnancy must be easy for you” – Just because I have 12 children on earth and many saints in heaven doesn’t mean I like being pregnant. I don’t. From morning sickness to heartburn, sciatic nerve pain to severe swelling I hate being pregnant. I have long, drawn out labors that usually end in severe bleeding (grateful for more than competent medical staff that I’ve been blessed with every time). My recoveries are not easy and the first few weeks of nursing are torture every time (with the exception of Clare and I really wish I knew why because I’d do it again!). Pregnancy is not easy for me or my family (be nice to Jesse). I do, however, feel called to these babies and am ever so grateful for each and every one.
2) “You have teens so you have help” – Yes and no. I adore teens. I’m not one of those “wait until the teen years and then you’ll get how hard parenting is” type of person. I believe teens (like puppies) need to be trained early to be loving and respectful (like when they are 1) and if you do that then usually the teen years aren’t so bad (some days are better than others). But having teens does not mean that I don’t have to clean, cook, do laundry, or take care of babies. Also, they were not born teens. I had to carry them, deliver them, and raise them and at one point I did have 6 children 12 and under. I still do, actually now I have 6 (soon to be 7) children 10 and under. It is nice to have teens around and mine are very, very helpful but they also require care, driving places, etc. They are not paid domestic help (nor do I want them to be) and they do not provide me with a life of leisure.
3) “You must be so organized” – No. Come over. I’ll show you my closet, my basement, my car, and my garage (I have no shame, really). I am not organized. I’m a good shover, however, and I hide things well. I enter things in my google calender like twice/year and most of the time I do it wrong so I have my iPhone yelling at me to get to the dentist three days too early and then I forget to go on the actual day. So, no, I’m not organized. I am very type A and not being able to be uber organized drives me insane but that’s not the same thing as actually being organized.
4) “You must be on government aid” – First of all it is never appropriate to ask me that (especially if you are a stranger and in the middle of Costco). Second of all there is no shame in being on government aid and I was on it when I was a single mother with ONE child. I’m guessing that many people government aid have one or two children and just because I have 11 doesn’t mean I need government aid. Along those lines, yes, my husband works. Again, not an appropriate question to ask me insinuating that we are multiplying like bunnies to collect unemployment and government aid.
5) “You must be rich” – No. We are not rich. We have one more than ample yet modest income that more than provides for our needs and gives us some extras too. We do not live in a huge house (although by history’s standards it’s a mansion) and our children all share bedrooms. Well, Hannah just took over Brandon’s room so is alone for a bit but Josie will move in there if I can ever convince her that sleeping with her head in my armpit and her feet wrapped around me really isn’t ideal. We ARE rich in children and love. So there’s that. But there’s no vacations in our future that aren’t funded by someone else, Jesse has an old beat up car with all sorts of broken things that we can’t afford to fix and spending $30 on just about anything is a “big” purchase (unless we have gift money – then we hit IKEA – yeehaw!).
6) “You must be patient” – No. I am not patient or particularly kind. I actually used to be more patient but years and stress have changed that (I’m working on it). The other day my lovely 16 year old told me to go out for a while which indicated to me that I was being really mean. So, no, I have no more patience than the next guy.
7) “You must have tons of energy” – No. Coffee. That is all.
There are more assumptions flung my way on a daily basis but I have a line of children waiting for me to be done so they can ask me questions that I will say no to. I don’t write these things to be condescending. I write them to say that anyone can have a large family. I’m not special. I just begrudgingly (some days) listen to God’s will for my life, let go of the reigns (the best things in life are not planned by us…they are gifted to us by God) and try to enjoy the ride (except lately because I’m really crabby).