The Committee Meeting

As I was mopping my floors for the first time in a long time today, I had a funny thought. What if God had done interviews of my family and friends when I was somewhere around 19 years old. And he said, Hey, I’m looking for someone to have 10 children and run a household and keep everything in order. What do you think about Esther? I’m pretty sure that none of my family members or friends or roommates would have nominated me for the job. Esther? She’s rather messy. Housework and Esther? Nah. She’s kind of absent-minded too, not real detail oriented. Honestly, I don’t think Esther is much of  kid person, I don’t think she’s even babysat much, and she never tries to hold other people’s babies at church or anything like that. She’s not exactly the crafty, fun, play with kids type. She’s rather sarcastic, that surely can’t be good for raising children. All Esther wants to do is play her piano and read books. I can’t see her taking the time away from that to raise a family. 

 

Ok. So probably my friends and family would be too diplomatic to voice their true feelings, but I’m sure they would have thought at least some of that. 

 

I am visiting, once again, the amazing discovery that God doesn’t always match our callings up with our gifts. Or, to put it another way, we don’t need to work on the areas we are strong in, we need to work on the areas we are weak in. 

 

I can just see it: A committee meeting. God proposes to a couple angels, I’ve got a position open for Stay at Home Mom of Ten, I’m thinking that I’m going to put Esther in this position. The angels raise their eyebrows (I’m going to presume they have eyebrows) and look cautiously at each other. Umm. God, we know that you know everything, so you must be right, but we really don’t see how this is a good fit. Can you explain? 

 

Then God would say, Look, you see how she has been lazy and selfish about helping her mother out with washing dishes for her entire life? Every time she has to wash dishes she has a temper tantrum. See, I’m going to put her in a position where she has to wash up the dishes after 12 people, 3 times a day. She’s going to learn how to change her attitude, stop treating it like a death sentence, and in fact, one day I will teach how to make that time of serving her family, a time when she can put on worship music and worship me. 

 

The angels nod in amazement. Wow, Esther washing dishes and worshiping? Is that possible? 

 

Then God would continue. You see how she’s really messy and doesn’t take care of her belongings? I’m going to surround her with a houseful of people who are equally messy and who also don’t take care of their belongings. She’s going to learn how annoying that is and start taking steps to change it. She’ll also have the ironic position of trying to teach her children how to take care of their belongings. Esther’s mother will find the whole situation very amusing. 

 

The angels grin, yes, I’m sure that will be good payback for her poor mother who’s had to deal with her mess for years. 

 

God will smile, and continue. Yes, and you see how absent-minded she is? I’m going to make her have so many details to keep track of that the only way she’ll be able to do it is by clinging to me and my strength and power every day. She’s going to become a lot more reliant on me. 

 

And you see how she doesn’t even notice the existence of children? I’m going to change her heart and make it so child-focused that she won’t be able to enter a public place without seeing all the kids. And she’ll have a heart for them. And she’ll start praying for them and being kind to them. Only I can change a person’s heart like that. And I’m going to use her own children to make this change. 

 

You see how proud she is? She thinks she’s really smart. I’m going to let her be a mom to ten children and she’s going to learn very quickly that she really doesn’t know much at all. And instead of trying to do everything out of her own ability, she’s going to learn, slowly, how to rely on me for wisdom and direction instead of her own intelligence. 

 

I’m going to take this girl and make her a woman with a heart for me. 

 

The angels get all excited…How long is this going to take God? 

 

God smiles, Her whole life. But what a journey it’s going to be!

 

 

 

Diary of a Mom of Ten

blueberry muffins

Summer. Day 597 of rain. (Maybe a slight exaggeration.)

 

9am

 

I currently have eleven children in my house. (Mine and some extras.)

 

I made some beautiful blueberry muffins. Not because I was feeling especially domesticated, but more because we are out of cereal and blueberries were on sale at Aldis and I stocked up. 

 

Of course, half my kids looked at the muffins and decided they wanted eggs instead. Since eggs are theoretically healthier than blueberry muffins, I gave them permission to cook their own eggs. They then proceeded to cook their eggs in my iron skillet and forgot to add oil to the pan first. When I exclaimed loudly about this to the son who was responsible, he looked at me in confusion, “Oil? I never put oil in my pan.” (Which now explains why the pan is always so hard to wash after he cooks eggs.)

 

From one of the blueberry muffin-eating children there has also been a complaint that I put too much sugar on top of the muffin. (Too much sugar?) I explained that if that particular child did not want to eat something sweet for breakfast, they were welcome to have a piece of toast. Child then explained that they wanted the muffin, they would simply scrape all the sugar off the top. Which somehow seems sacrilegious.

 

11am

 

After breaking up approximately 27 fights, I have now banished all children to their rooms. 

 

11:30am

 

I have put on an educational movie about the jungle. All the children complained, because it was educational and not animated. 

 

11:40am

 

Children are calling me into the room to come see the amazing flying snake that flattens itself and then glides through the air. Hurray for educational movies. 

 

12pm

 

I could cook some rice and open some cans of beans for lunch. Or I could gather up the last remnants of our bread and try and make some sandwiches. Or I could run down the road five minutes to Kroger and get a big box of corndogs. 

12:30pm

 

I’m at Kroger. Oh look, strawberries are on sale. Strawberries and Corndogs. That’s a well-rounded meal right?

 

1:30pm

 

All the children have been fed. Dining room has been cleaned up. Rain has stopped. Children have been banished to the outdoors. They are all playing a game which involves chasing each other from one end of our playset to the other without letting their feet touch the ground. When I question the wisdom of tightrope walking across the beam that holds up the swings, they all assure me that they would never fall, accidents never happen, and they are in fact, invincible. 

 

3pm

 

The two year old has been fussing all day. He has a bad cold and has not been coping well. He thought it would be funny to smack me in the face. I did not think it was funny. I swatted his behind. He did not think that was funny. He is now crying for his daddy. Which is his new method of foul-play. Every time I do something he doesn’t like, he starts crying for his daddy. Like I am no longer the parent of choice, I have fallen out of favor. I have never had a child do this. It’s quite lowering to the moral. I suddenly have a lot more compassion for my husband who has had all his other children cry for mama at some point in time when he was alone with them. 

 

5pm

 

Time to make supper. What is the easiest, quickest thing I can make??? After wandering through my kitchen, I have decided to make burritos. Heat up the tortillas, open some cans of beans, cook up some beef. Add cheese and salsa. Presto. Supper. I ask one of my teenagers to help heat up the tortillas on the skillet. She keeps burning them. Smoke fills the kitchen. I complain that she is not doing it right. She says I gave her the wrong job. She has asthma, she shouldn’t be around smoke. I point out that creating smoke is not part of the job. 

 

6pm

 

A wave of despair. Tonight is my husband’s night off. We have figured out that if he can have a night to himself to work at his shop and if I can have a night off to get out of the house, and we can both have one night when we go out together…We are mentally healthier. But it means that tonight I am parenting solo.

We watch the movie Rio which I rented from the library. Personally, I think the voice of the main character is something akin to fingernails scraping a chalkboard. But, there is some fun music. 

 

9pm

 

Bible stories have been read, prayers have been prayed. Teeth brushed. Lights out. It’s time to clock out. Day is over etc. Except the two year old took an “unauthorized nap” somewhere around 4pm and he is now energized and ready to go. 

 

It’s been a long day. 

Good thing these babies are cute.

 

 

Mom of Ten: My Very Own List of Stats

The other night my husband and I were out on a date. My teens, who were babysitting, called to inform us that the two year old was throwing up. Yikes. So, we drove as quickly as we could to get home. As we were driving I told my husband I would hold the baby when we got home if he would clean up the throw-up. I then apologetically explained that nowadays, if people even talked about throwing up I would start feeling queasy. I could no longer handle throw-up… I thought about this for a minute…I didn’t use to be that way. Nobody likes throw-up, but I used to be able to handle it ok. What had changed? Oh yeah. I remember. Ten pregnancies, four to five months of extreme morning sickness per pregnancy. That equals, after I did the math, Three Years of Throwing Up. Three Years. Good grief. No wonder I can’t handle throw up anymore. I have a very good reason. I am justified in my squeamishness.

This train of thought led me to think about some other statistics.

 

I have been pregnant for 90 months or 7 ½ years.

 

Seven and half years guys. No wonder my body is a little out of whack. I have reasons!

 

I have gone to an estimate of 140 prenatal visits.

 

That is probably a low estimate as some of my later pregnancies were considered high-risk and I had extra appointments. Plus extra appointments for dealing with the morning sickness. It’s no wonder I don’t blink an eye when people jab my arm for blood or when strange doctors expect me to carry on an intelligent conversation with them while I sit on a cold table with nothing but a piece of flimsy paper covering my body.

 

I have spent 12 years and counting nursing a baby.

 

Nursing bras are a way of life. While I don’t flaunt myself in public, I also don’t mess around too much with cover-up blankets, and I’m not really thinking about what your opinion of me is while I nurse in public. I have nursed in an unheated car in the middle of winter in Alaska, I have nursed on a canoe, somehow managing to keep all life vests on. I have nursed while hiking. I have nursed while camping. I have nursed in sickness and in health. I feel pretty privileged that I’ve been able to have that experience with my babies.

 

Going on an average of 5 diapers a day, a low estimate, my husband and I have changed around 49,275 diapers.

 

Ok. This one makes me feel bad. I don’t use cloth diapers. I’m not a tree hugger, but I don’t want to be irresponsible either. That number feels irresponsible. In my defense, we were living in a bush Alaska with our first baby where you have to buy your water and it’s pretty expensive, we couldn’t afford the extra water bill. Second baby was while we were in Chile and all I had was a simple agitator washer and I had to hang all my clothes up to dry. I couldn’t even keep up with our regular clothes, let alone cloth diapers. Our third baby, we were living in a camper and then a rental house and I went to the laundromat. Somewhere around baby five or six, I hesitantly suggested cloth diapers to my husband. He was very skeptical of my ability to wash poopy cloth diapers. He said, I know you, you would just throw them away. He’s right of course. Remember that three years of throwing up? It also made me very reluctant to deal with any stinky, yucky, messes. I am hoping to potty train my youngest this summer and then, NO MORE DIAPERS!!!!! We will have a party when that happens.

 

I have been buckling kids in and out of car seats for over 18 years.

 

Car seats are my best friend and my worst enemy. They keep my child contained and they give me sense of security. Yay. But Oh, it’s a pain in the butt when your baby falls asleep in their car seat and you have to remove them from the car without waking them up (this takes great talent which I don’t have, even with 18 years of practice). And then there’s just the annoyance of always having to twist around in your seat to unbuckle them or climb around to a backseat to help them buckle up. No fun. I’ve still got many years to go before we pass this stage. Sigh.

 

Going on the average, I have taken children to at least 151 Well-Child Checkups.

 

I am blessed that we have an awesome pediatrician. We have been seeing the same doctor for 15 years, and she’s had the same nurse helping her for those entire 15 years. She’s an older lady who has six children of her own, nursed her kids well past the Fashionable One Year Mark, has a grown-up daughter who is a homeopathic doctor so she knows all about alternative medicine ideas, and she’s open to having discussions with me about vaccines. Honestly, in a weird way, I consider her my friend. She cares about my kids and has given me good advice over the years, even been a sounding board when we’ve gone through some particularly rough periods with one of our kids. So, I have come to not mind those appointments so much.

 

Last but not least..

 

We have owned 6 cribs.

 

Cribs should last forever. After all, how much harm can a baby do to a bed? None in fact. The problem lies in the older toddlers and school age children who always seem to gravitate to the crib as some awesome playing place. Let’s pretend it’s a cage and we’re wild animals locked up! Let’s pretend it’s our spaceship! Let’s pretend it’s a trampoline! Yeah. Despite all my efforts, warnings, punishments, etc, an older child always does something to the crib. We have moved our youngest out of his crib just recently. I am officially done with cribs. Woohoo. Anyone want some well-used crib sheets? I can’t give away the last crib because…it’s broken.

I didn’t even get in to how many pounds of fruit I buy a week (around 55 pounds) or how much meat I buy a week (around 20 pounds). Or how many socks our family owns (who knows, maybe a couple hundred?).

I’m glad we have a large family. It’s fun. Life is never dull and I am surrounded by cuteness, mischievousness, curiosity, drama, and comedic relief. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but I’m glad for this unexpected role I ended up with. Mom of ten. That’s me.