Lately I've been out and about with my kiddos- all of them. This week it was to the dentist and the grocery store. Usually I don't have all four boys with me, but even if I do, we have a good time. They are such good boys and I'm proud to have them with me. But on all of these recent outings, I've run into women who have said the same things to me. They all say, "I don't know how you do it! I'm overwhelmed with just two. I can't imagine having more." And I smile and say "I hear ya!" and kind of laugh. And then we go about our day.
But the other day I said something different. Instead of just chuckling and moving on, I said, "Oh, I was overwhelmed with two too! And three! And four!"
And it's true. I would hate for anyone who sees me or reads my blog to think that there is something unique about me that makes one, or two or three kids a breeze. Or four! It's not and it wasn't. Every woman has it tough- whether she has none, one, two, three, or more! Every time we have a baby there is a learning curve and life harder than it's ever been before. I say now that I wish I could go back and tell myself how easy only one or two kids is, but that's impossible. When I had one, it wasn't easy because I hadn't learned the lessons that being a mom of one brings.
With every kiddo we have added to our family I have been overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed with number one because he was my first. I had never had to give up so much of myself or my time or effort to take care of someone else before. I didn't know what I was doing half of the time and going from none to one was hard! What was I supposed to do all day with this baby? There were plenty of days that it felt like more kids would be impossibly hard.
But I loved Easton more than I thought was possible. And he was the CUTEST seventh month old in the history of the world- so we knew we wanted another. And 9 months later Kesler was born.
When we went from one to two kids I was equally overwhelmed. How could I take care of my toddler with a newborn? It was a constant juggle to keep the 18 month old out of things and entertained while taking care of a new baby and rearranging any semblance of a schedule from scratch again. It was overwhelming to be outnumbered when my husband was at work and I was at home trying to take care of two kids and a house and my side business at the same time. There were plenty of messes and long days. There were definitely nights when all three of us were sick at once.
But they were so cute together. It was so rewarding to see them become brothers and the joy that giving Easton a sibling brought. We loved having two even though it was often really hard.
It took us longer to decide when to have our third. Knox is 2.5 years younger than Kesler. And going from two to three kids was just as overwhelming as the other transitions. Maybe more, but I think it was about the same. With the third baby I felt like I knew what I was doing. Finally my earlier years of parenting were paying off and the knowledge I gained with one and two was easy to apply to my third. The baby aspect wasn't overwhelming, but three kids sure was! How would I ever leave the house again? How would I ever get ready or make dinner or catch up on laundry? There were so many little people who needed help with things! It was constant and there were so many days where I felt like- "We have too many kids!" "How can I take care of everything and even come close to doing a good job!?"
But guess what? I adjusted. I stretched. The kids adjusted and stretched. Our family and how we do things adjusted and stretched. So much that by the time Knox was about a year old, we felt okay about life enough to start a business and have Soren quit his job! (And don't get me started about how starting a business felt like having a fourth baby!)
It was overwhelming. All of it. This transition to a family of six? Overwhelming. Launching a new website and our holiday line five days after having a baby? Overwhelming. Getting all of us to church or anywhere for that matter on time? Overwhelming. But it's getting to be less so. It's getting to be more manageable. Baker is such a great addition to the family that we can't imagine line without him. I'm stretching and finding myself less selfish, more flexible, and more prayerful than ever. I will admit to anyone that I can't and don't do it all on my own. But I trust that because I've put motherhood as a top priority in my life and because I want to raise kids that will do good in the world, that God will make up the difference. He'll make it possible for me to get things done and to grow and to be a capable mother of four, five, six or however many kids we end up with.
I definitely don't think that four or six or three or two is the right number of kids for someone to have. There isn't one. But I do believe that it's a lie for women to be afraid of having more kids. I would encourage any mother to make that choice out of faith and confidence rather than having a worry that she won't be able to handle any more.
The last thing I want to do is for anyone to feel like I'm judging them- I am so not! Have as many kids as your situation and your husband and your body and your life allows. I'm happy for you no matter what! I just wanted to tell my side of things. If I could say all of this to the women at the store I would. But only if she really wanted to know how I do it. I do it because I've learned that being overwhelmed isn't something to be scared of. It's a an opportunity.