Thursday, October 11, 2012

Letting my kids know they matter

I now consider my family large.  Somehow, going from four to five children has qualified us as an officially "large family". At least in my mind.  Because this is the point where I shake my head and wonder how other moms make it look so easy.  How other moms don't lose their sanity managing such a large brood.

To the strangers I meet at the grocery store, I have my hands full, lots of helpers, the patience of a saint, and my own basketball team. And about a dozen other sayings that I'm sure many of you have heard.
None of them are true! Except maybe the basketball team one... in five years when they can all get the ball into the hoop.

No really, none of them are true.
I do not have it all figured out.  I do not have all the answers. And no, you should most definitely not bow down to me.
I'm just a mother trying to do her job, and trying my hardest to keep my head above water and stay half a step ahead of the pack.  I make mistakes all the time. I say and do things I regret. I want to crawl into a quiet hole to recoup and actually think clear thoughts on a monthly basis. Okay, make that a weekly basis. Daily?

My recent ponderings have me mulling over my children and how being a part of a large family affects them.
You see, I want each of my children to feel valued and loved.  I want them to know that they are special and unique. I want them to know that I believe in them, and I want them to believe in themselves.

But I have five children.  It's not that I can't love each of them, for I certainly do.  They each are so different, they each bring different joys and gifts to our family.  Its that I hardly have time to think clear thoughts, let alone remember to act on them.  When the school children come home, the amount of noise and activity in this house increases ten-fold.  When its time for dinner, it increases twenty-fold.  Bedtime, 50-fold.  I have all I can handle just trying to keep some peace as I feed the brood, get homework and chores done, ready them for bed, and finally, quietly slip out of their dark bedrooms.

And it is the school children I worry about most.  I demand a lot from them, as they are the most helpful and responsible. The youngest ones demand so much of my time and energy that I worry that the oldest ones feel lost in the shuffle of daily life that equates to busyness and sometimes chaos in a large family.

How do you show your children, especially the oldest ones, that they matter?

This question keeps swirling around my mind as I try to praise them and thank them for their help.  I try to schedule Mom and Child dates.  I occasionally slip notes in their lunches. I try to really listen when they are telling me about their school day.  I try to give lots of hugs.

Some nights I lie awake and wonder, is it enough?  Do they feel as important and cherished as the babies?

Do they feel confident?  Do they feel worthy?

I am not naturally a physical or demonstrative person.  I am working hard to change that with my children.
It is slowly becoming easier, slowly becoming second nature.

Last night, as I was in the kitchen, Aubrey and I were talking about a song she liked called "If I were a mother, for just a little while".  After we sang a few fun made-up versions of our own, I surprised myself by thinking clearly for a change and making up a song, special for her.  I sang that if I were Aubrey, for just a little while, I'd hug my mommy daily because I know she loves that, and I'd keep on being so beautiful and so cute just as I was.  Basically, if I were Aubrey, I wouldn't change a thing - I'd just be me.

And my heart still clenches at her reaction.  Her smile, her beautiful smile, turned kind of shy and kind of pleased all at once.  My heart sang and my inner self jumped and cheered, chalking up one point for this busy mom. Ideally, I'd get five points in a day, but I'll take this victory.  I'm getting there.

My prideful self is gloating at my humbled self;  I'm making up for a past grievance.
Last week, with a few crabby toddlers at my feet and supper sizzling on the stove, I lost my temper and snapped at my oldest.  I caused tears to pool in his eyes.  I made my little boy (because at 8 he really is still so little) feel bad.  My humble self frowned at me (heavens how I try to avoid giving my kids that look, though the disapproving look slips out so easily!), shook her finger in my face, and crossed her arms.  She made her point, quite clearly.
I sometimes move forward one step, then fall back two more.  Am I ever going to come out ahead?!

But you know, perhaps I worry too much.
The other week Aubrey said to me "Do you know where my favorite place is to be? Home!"

My prideful self is fist pumping again and chalking up yet another point!
My humble side is thanking God for these precious children I get to call my own.

Mother's Day 2010.  I need a new picture of me and my kids!


  1. Now that my baby is 21 and I look back I realize that indeed I was a failure at being a mother. But in spite of all my lackings, my children turned out beautiful. And I know why. It's because God raised them. So many times when the kids were little and I would tell my Grandma "I don't know HOW to do this- I don't know what I'm doing!" And she would tell me that all God asks is that you try your best. And to never give up- always keep trying. I would pray to God for help and guidance and He always helped. I can tell you are trying your best so I just wanted to encourage you- never give up and you will be fine!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement Carol! I agree. I always view my children and God's children, I'm just lucky enough to be called to raise them and be their mother!

  2. This post really hit home! I guess I can reassure you that you are not alone, especially with my 5 kids being very similar ages to yours, I felt like this post could have been me talking (if I had your writing skills) I can relate to watching mothers of 10 or more kids and thinking How do they do it when I feel like I am barely getting through each day with half as many kids? Then I have to remind myself - "Don't compare the insides of your family with the outsides of other families" Every mother faces her own private struggles and doubts and fears every day. You did a great job of expressing them. It's good to know Im not the only Mom going thru life feeling like the biggest failure half the time and then like I struck gold when something I say or do makes my child glow just for a moment. And yes constantly wondering- am I not doing enough? Or do I worry too much? Ah, such a roller coaster!

    1. It's so relieving to know that we are not feeling alone! I love your quote about the inside of our families vs. the outside of others!