Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Big Family Musings

Feeling a bit discouraged today.

Feeling a bit judged today.

Feeling a bit mis-understood today.

Feeling like a lot of people just don't get how big families operate.

~sigh~

We had a bit of an "incident" the other day where one of our been-here-nearly-3 years-now kiddos was calling his friends a loser when he was playing outside.

Yeah.
Not ok.
That much I know.

But the response from a mother that overheard him and how she chose to handle it......
well
has left me incredibly frustrated.
And appalled.
And....well
Let's just say it was a rough afternoon.

But overall here's what I think,
And admittedly I think I oftentimes internally bring this presumption upon myself
but I also think it's based in quite a bit of reality....

I think a lot of people look at big families and think that they can't possibly have it all together.

It's a bit like being viewed as the old lady who lived in shoe and she had so many kids she didn't know what to do. 
That there simply must. be. chaos. 
That there just isn't anyway possible that all of those kids are getting their needs met.
That no wonder one of her kids says things like "loser".
She has so many they are all probably half way to juve' by now.  
Never mind this child spent years of having nothing but hate poured into his little spirit.
Never mind the healing that is continuing to happen in his heart.
Never mind that it's been less than three years and if the only thing we are still hearing every now and then is "loser"....
then we are doing pretty darn good.

But that mantra of:
Your kid screwed up = You have too many kids and can't handle them all. 
Makes. Me. Sad.
And I think it's unfair. 

That train of thought seems to go hand in hand with the all to familiar, "I don't know how you do it, I've only got (insert number of children here) and it's crazy!"

And I get that.
Hear me on this.
I. Totally. Get. That.
I completely know what you mean. 
I get that we each have our version of something we don't think we can do.

I, for example....cannot, cannot, CANNOT do math.
Kristi....seriously. How on earth are we friends?
I don't know how math teachers do it.
I could never handle that.
I could never teach that.
Never, never, no, not going to happen, it does not come naturally to me.
It is so not my gifting.

But seven kids?
That I actually can do.
It's my bend, I thrive on this type of fun, loud, fast paced, structured, organized, sports gear a plenty craziness.

Math = Heck to the NO.
Big family dynamics = Heck Yeah!

But I feel like
(and again, my own thoughts/perception.....)
when my kids don't have it all together,
that it is automatically attributed to the fact that there are so many of them.

I partly {probably} bring that on myself since for some reason I am quite sensitive to it,
but it is partly because it gets insinuated to me every now and then and each time I hear it, it sticks.
"I know you are busy but....."
"He's not bringing in his homework, I know you are busy but....."
"He called his friend a name, I know you are busy and have a lot going on....could he be attention seeking?" 
For some reason that "I know you are busy but" translates in my brain to:
"You have much more than you can handle so let me assume I know everything and here's how your child is suffering...."
Fair or not, that is what I hear.

But since this is my blog and I can cry point out things if I want to,
Here's a view of what's actually going on in our house:

When my son doesn't have a lunch, trust me it's not because I forgot to make it.
I haven't ever, in nearly 17 years of parenting, sent a child to school without providing for his lunch whether by making it or giving him lunch money.
I loathe handling lunch meat in the mornings, but I do it. Because I like, love them and stuff and blah blah yadda yadda.
But when he "forgets" his lunch it's because he's been told and reminded that it's his responsibility to grab it off the counter 800 times.  And about the 10th time that you show up to school to drop off the lunchbox that he forgot, you realize that chasing after him is teaching him
absolutely.
nothing.
So today when he showed up with no lunch? He's learning that actions have consequences. And surprise-surprise, he will probably remember tomorrow and the day after that and the day after that.

When my son doesn't have his planner signed I assure you it's not because I am too busy to sign it.
It's because he chose to play around during reading time in the evening instead of reading as he is supposed to.
And I won't sign that he read when he didn't actually....ya know...READ.

So let me let you in on the bigger picture.
Overall what I am trying to get across to them is this:
Actions = consequences.
Good consequences.
Bad consequences.
Whichever it may be I am trying, trying, trrryyyyinnnngg to instill a sense of responsibility
(however trivial the task may be)
into these boys, because trust me,
I am not trying to raise a 40 year old man that still sleeps on my couch.  

I am trying to raise young gentlemen that honor the Lord in all that they do.
Young men of character and responsibility.
Young men that will one day grow up to become husbands and fathers and leaders in their homes
and all of that training and teaching and preparing for that role,
trust me
starts with things like the lunchbox. 

And if I am unwilling to let them fall every now and then and learn in that fall, then where are they going to learn it?
Who is going to teach it?
Someone.
For the love.
Please explain this to me. 
Some of my kids teachers get this.
Oh how I love them.
Some people in our community get this.
Oh how I love them too. 
But by and large the perception remains.

Now granted, I truly don't have it all together.
Ahem.
Hello?
Is this thing on?
Because I just wanted to make that very apparent. 
I don't think any of us do.
We are imperfect people doing the very best that we can do.
Jack, for example, went to school today wearing his much older brothers shorts.
But it's not because we live in chaos with no clean laundry, it's because he changed into his cross country uniform yesterday and left his shorts at school and I cannot, for the life of me, figure out where his other pair is.(My guess? Shoved in his locker after changing into that same CC uniform last week)
Ahhhhh 6th graders.....love them.

We were also late walking out the door today,
not late to school because I have built in a full 20 minute cushion of when we can leave and still be on time, (did you know that big families by and large are actually very organized? Gasp!)
but just left 5 minutes later than we usually do.
But that is not at all because there are 7 kids that live here.
It's because one, not-to-be-named-teen
(Hey Jordan, when you are grown and you read this, it was you buddy. Love ya, your sleepiness in the morning is driving me craaaaaazy)
is my one out of the 7 that likes to sleep late and he was hard to wake up today.
I would hazard a guess that families with 1 child that likes to sleep in probably has that same problem every now and then. 

My point being, none of our imperfections, none of the places we falter and fall are due to the size of our family.
It's just because we are a family.
And in a family no matter the size you are going to end up wearing your brothers shorts to school one day, and you are going to forget your homework sometimes, and you are going to leave your football cleats on the bus accidentally. And that's ok, but please let's not attribute every behavior to the angst of a large family, it's just family. 

Big
Small
Black
White
Tall
Short
the challenges are much the same.  

Hello.
My name is Sonia.

And I have 7 boys.
Don't judge us by our size,
judge us by the content of our character.
Character that was built out of moments like forgotten lunch boxes, and unsigned planners.

42 comments:

  1. A STINKING MEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    AGREED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    LOVE YOU :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved your post and can relate! I recently had to let a child suffer the consequences of forgetting her sweater (after being told daily) in 50 degree morning temps. Like you said...I'm raising young adults...not children.

    BTW, I'd never judge you on that one. Ten year ago, yes I would have. But, I've been through a lot of stuff with my kiddos in the last 7 years and have been quite humbled as of late...

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  3. You are raising very wonderful young men. When my kids would forget something I charged them $5 to bring it to them and if it was real important, I charged them 10.00, it did teach them responsibility. YOU GO GIRL !

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  4. THANK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!!!! I cannot even express to you how much I undergo this. And I admit it, sometimes I think it's funny to play into the I'm the crazy lady thing. But seriously though, come on. We function everyday and we are doing life just like everybody else. Sharing! :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. A quote I heard on faceb@@k and totally love, "what I say about so-&-so says more about me than it does about so-&-so." Whatever people want to believe or perceive has more to do about them than you:) you are a confident, wonderful mother and daughter of the Most High:) pray that He may soften her heart and bring her humility through your response to her. I had an incident this past week with another Christian. She didn't agree with me on something and so instead of agreeing to disagree, she slammed me on FB. And even though I made an effort to mend the gap, she refused to forgive. So sad and pretty hurtful. But I remembered that quote and I honestly believe that it's true. Hugs to ya!

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  6. Amen sister! I recently have heard the mumbling under the breath over my latest stand for responsibility! (And it wasn't from my kids!) My 16 yr olds temps are about to expire but he won't be getting his license until he has job for a set amount of time in order to show he will be able to pay for his portion of the car insurance. It hasn't been a priority for him which equates to he's not ready in my mind. What?! He didn't get his license the day he turned 16?! Oh heck to the no!
    The parents who think their kid has never said something mean to another kid are probably more neglectful than those of us who know our kids aren't perfect. We are tuned in enough to see the good,the bad and the ugly.

    ReplyDelete
  7. AMEN! I so needed this therapeutic read today. I get it. I am livin it. And I am SO glad you are blogging again. Thank you for keepin it real and speaking truth! Kim

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  8. AMEN SISTA!!! (I *loved* when I realized you also had seven kids...it brought our friendship to a WHOLE new level - you could "get" me and I didn't have to explain!!)

    ReplyDelete
  9. You should move to Lancaster County, most of us have 7 kids...well maybe not most, but...
    Done the same thing with the lunch, cause man! gas is expensive! Their wives will thank you later. I always wonder too, what is behind the "I dont' know how you get everything done" Umm, I DON'T!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh thank you so much. I had to lose my mind just yesterday (not my finest moment) because our child who was asked 4 times to grab his jacket refused. Of course his teacher had to give him a jacket and I got the big family look. I finally had to tell her when I had just 1 I parented him the exact same this was not a big family issue! Grrr

    ReplyDelete
  11. AMEN! Yes, I'm busy, but I have the EXACT same planner issue and NO I don't lie. If she doesn't read, I don't sign, simple as that! I also have a sleeper (Mr. 17-yr-old) who will not get out of bed until the last possible minute because you know it really only takes him 3 1/2 minutes from horizontal in bed to out the door, right? Thanks for sharing and I LOVE having a big family--feeling so blessed, even on the crazy days!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sonia!!! It's so great to read your blog again! I love what you had to say and it is encouraging to read about others parenting for character and not just comfort. Thanks for posting.

    ReplyDelete
  13. LOVE this post, and can't wait to read more about your fun family. (Just popped over from my friend Dawn's fb, because I guess she is your friend, too.)

    Laurel
    mama of 12

    ReplyDelete
  14. Great post!! Jenne mom to 7 (and bringing home 2 more)

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sonia,
    You are a good MAMA!
    It's that simple.
    Don't ever questions that.
    Love you,
    Stacy

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post! Just so you know...when you say "That train of thought seems to go hand in hand with the all to familiar, "I don't know how you do it, I've only got (insert number of children here) and it's crazy!" ...I only have two, wish I had more but when I say/think the above, its because I'm impressed with how well large families operate and I wonder if I would be able to have the gift/talent/resolve to handle and guide that many children.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Love it, you and the post!! Mama to 11 wanting to make it an even dozen but that might just create chaos!!!

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  18. Can I just say Sonia that I am WAY more in awe of how much you have your life together than little ole me just figuring out what "x" is? And I love that God gave us all different gifts so we can serve Him in many capacities!

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  19. AND.... if you see something that you think needs doing re: a big family, feel free to offer support (sincerely) in a nonjudgemental way, rather than making a comment like that, e.g., a family who showed up to practice with a pair "extra" soccer socks that they needed to get rid of because they had noticed two of my kids arguing over a pair of soccer socks! :)

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  20. And I don't mean "you" Sonia... I mean if ONE sees an area in which a family could use support. :)

    ReplyDelete
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