I didn’t intend to have six children.
In fact, only one of my kids was planned.
All happy accidents, of course!
When I was in college, getting a degree in journalism, I saw myself working at SELF magazine in New York. But when a prestigious internship at SELF was offered, I turned it down.
I had a kid and my husband was still in college. Sure, we could have made it work, but at the time I knew it wasn’t best for my family.
10 Things I’ve Learned as a Mom of a Big Family
The truth of motherhood is that some dreams get sacrificed on the alter of family…or at least delayed (sometimes inevitably).
At the time I sacrificed an internship that could’ve landed me my dream job, my husband was two semesters away from getting his degree in Radio Television Film. He would have had to stop attending college, which meant we would have had to start paying student loans AND pay to live in New York AND pay for someone to watch my 2-year-old daughter…all while I was working at an unpaid (or barely paid) internship. My husband would have had to find a job (without having a degree yet) that could support all this and more. It just wasn’t feasible.
Now looking back, I realize it was the best decision I would EVER make. One that would quite literally determine the entire course of my life.
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2. Not Regretting Sacrifices
My entire childhood was filled with books. I had a voracious appetite for them. I easily finished four thick books a week. I dreamed of being an author and write books like I was devouring. As I got into my teen years and worked at The Sealy News writing editorials, I decided on pursuing a journalism degree. I wanted to be the next Connie Chung.
I ate, slept and dreamed of writing. Sure, I wanted to get married and have a family, but I always imagined them like little ducks trailing behind me as I paraded down the streets of New York with my published manuscript in my hand.
If I would have taken that internship at SELF, it could have landed me my dream job…but not my dream life.
Had I taken that internship, I would have been a self-made woman who worked non-stop (I’m a total workaholic) and ignored the needs of her family. I wouldn’t ever have known it either. My children and husband would have known I loved them…but that I loved my work more (a battle I still face some days).
If I had taken the internship…I would have NEVER had six kids.
I don’t, for a second, regret sacrificing that internship because of all the reasons stated and because it made me a more selfless person. More capable of serving the world at large.
3. My Sacrifices Do Not Go Unnoticed
My husband constantly reminds me how proud he is of me for staying home and homeschooling our children. He reads news articles about political and moral attacks on our school system and emails me quick notes of praise.
My children might not yet fully grasp what I am giving them by staying at home, but one day they will. And in those days they will be still reaping the benefits of it.
But more than anything, God doesn’t forget my sacrifices. He sees my efforts and the longings of my heart to still be that writer I once dreamed of. He holds them in His hand, waiting for the right moment.
4. Dreams Still Do Come True for Moms
When I had my fifth child, I thought, “That’s it! My dreams are done. I will forever be ‘just a mom.'”
What I didn’t know was that God had been preparing me for years. I’d been reading books on how to be a godly wife and a godly mom. He set my family on a firm foundation before starting to build my dreams.
Honestly, I was kinda angry that I was pregnant (I hate to admit that).
I was happy to have another baby. I actually had been asking my husband for months to have another one, but he was adamant that he wanted to wait. When I finally got on board with waiting, I went out and bought my first ‘skinny mama’ swimsuit in 10 years. It was a beautiful Marilyn Monroe blue one piece. A week later I found out I was pregnant. All of a sudden I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. I had wanted to be pregnant but when my husband told me no I started to dream again. I started performing my poetry at local open-mic nights again. I started to become the ME that I was before I had kids (or at least as much as I could with four children at the time).
It was late one night that I started thinking about a story line of three women who had dreams that didn’t come true, but somehow found contentment with it. Something I was desperately seeking.
Within six months I had a full outline of a novel. In six days, I wrote the entire first draft. It was nothing short of a miracle for a girl who’d wanted to write a novel since she could first read!
I’d been blogging off and on when I was pregnant with baby #5, but when I wrote my novel and realized that I needed to have more of an online persona to promote a book to a publisher, I started getting more serious about my blog. As I got more serious about my blog, I knew I needed to edit my book.
And then I had my baby boy.
There is nothing like a newborn to put an end to ANYTHING you want to do: clean, take a shower, edit a book, poop alone.
Balance is key to being a successful mother, wife and woman. You can’t sacrifice too much of yourself, or else you’ll be miserable, but you can’t be too selfish or you’ll make everyone else miserable.
One day your children will move away. God-willing, your marriage and your sanity will still remain in tact while they are off having their own babies and living out their own dreams. It’s important to have some semblance of YOU when they do leave!
In 2016, I published Without Regret. It is one of eight books I’ve written all while having six kids.
6. There is a Time for Everything
King Solomon penned the ever-famous words, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” in Ecclesiastes.
I cannot think of a better thing to apply that phrase to than being a homemaker.
There is a time for breast-feeding, there is a time to wean, there is a time for naps, there is a time to wake, there is a time for TV, there is a time for none, there is a time for shooing children into the backyard and a time for calling them in.
(There is a time for denying your husband, there is a time to give him some. *Wink. Wink.*)
Realizing that everything we desire has an appropriate time and place can give us the contentment and peace we often seek.
Homeschool is for daytime, writing/blogging is for night. If I mix the two up, it most always bites me in the butt!
7. The Days are Long, but the Years are Short
Many moms hate it when people at the grocery store say, “I miss my kids being that age!”
But if we think back when we first met our husbands, all the butterflies and flirting, we would tell ourselves to enjoy it…to soak it all in because marriage is work…hard work. We would tell ourselves to not get bent out of shape over the silly things we thought were important back then. We would have all sorts of advice because we know better now. We are wiser with age.
As a mom, when we are in the thick of crying toddlers, pissy teenagers and our own PMS, life can feel like a nightmare that you desperately want to wake up from, but these moments do come to an end (even if for a second before the four year old comes in and announces she has gum in her hair…again).
But take it from those that have gone before you. They are serious. They want you to not make the same mistake they did and wish for the next stage in our children’s lives when they can do X. Y. and Z. They want us to savor the moment…because they are fleeting.
My (#4) five-year-old daughter just lost her second tooth today. It astonishes me that she’s that old already. Don’t even get me started on my eldest daughter.
8. No Object is Worth the Stress
One of my kids broke something glass that my dad gave me one day. The item wasn’t super important to me. And maybe I was at a bad time in my life (probably postpartum depression)…but it felt like something in me was as broken as the glass shattered all over the floor.
With six kids, you can only imagine how many things of mine they have broken: favorite necklaces x 2, favorite coffee cups, Blu-Ray players…well, you get the drift.
I’ll admit, I don’t always respond graciously to my children when they accidentally break something (if they break it on purpose, that’s a different story). But the Bible says, “A soft answer turns away wrath.”
There is no nick-name (chatzky), piece of clothing or jewelry that is worth the stress of yelling and anger.
If there is something so dear to your heart, please hide it until your children move out of the house.
9. they only have one mom
Growing up, my mom was one of my best friends. As my parent’s marriage began to get rocky, she told me things that she probably shouldn’t have. She placed the burden of being an adult on a child not yet ready for that weight.
Raising my own five daughters, I’ve really struggled to realize that I have to act differently than my (wonderful) mother did. I have to be the mom and I have to let them be a kid.
There are over 7 billion people that can be their friend in this world, but they only have one mom.
I am THE mom.
10. You Can’t do it alone
I don’t care if you are a single mom in a new strange city with no friends or a married woman with tons of family nearby, there is ONE person that is always with us mothers.
God. Jesus. Holy Spirit.
We can be utterly alone in this world…but we cannot do this mom thing on our own. We need Christ. We need His forgiveness and His power.
We are going to mess up.
We are going to get tired.
We are going to have mom guilt.
We can’t be everywhere, protecting our children at all times.
God says He is our front and rear guard. He goes in front of us, preparing the path of motherhood. And He goes behind, cleaning up all our messes.
He can heal our children’s hearts in those deep dark areas that you and I don’t even know need healing.
He can prompt them to turn away from danger without them even knowing what is around the next bend.
If we try to do this mom-thing alone, we will be like Sisyphus who rolls the boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down for eternity.
Of all my things I’ve learned as a mom of six, this is the greatest one.